SEO Tips for your Small Business

Build your website and they might come but optimize your website and customers will come

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Photo: Kevin Blitz

When Todd Yamanaka joined Island Insurance 11 years ago, the company’s website,, was essentially a tool that shared basic information about the company’s products.

That was it.

Needless to say, the site didn’t rank at the top in search results, and that was a missed opportunity for the state’s largest locally owned and managed property and casualty insurance company.

So how could it move up the ranks in search-engine results?

“I was aware of the need to optimize title tags and website content to match targeted search terms,” says Yamanaka, VP of marketing, “but I wasn’t familiar with the broader tactics needed to achieve a top ranking in the most competitive searches.”

So Island Insurance hired Rob Bertholf, a local expert in search engine optimization, to improve its page rankings and draw more potential customers to its site. Its investment in SEO paid off quickly.

“As our page rankings moved up in our targeted searches, so did the quality and quantity of website visitors,” Yamanaka says. “Coupled with the growing use of the Internet in insurance-purchase behavior, we know SEO will continue to play a key role in the growth of the Internet as a sales channel.”

More and more companies, from restaurants to real estate firms, are getting SEO help, realizing how better rankings in search engines can impact their bottom lines. Many of them are hiring experts to handle the complicated and tedious SEO work.

“Definitely, more people are in tune with how important SEO and social media are,” says Neal Kido, owner of Akamai Search Industries.

SEO’s goal is optimizing a website by improving its visibility in search engines through “natural” or “organic” – meaning, unpaid – search results. The idea is the higher a site is ranked on search results pages or the more frequently it appears on these lists, the more visitors it will likely receive. That could lead to increased revenue for the company.

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