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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Look for documented success

The cost for SEO ranges widely, from a one-time fee of $100 to millions of dollars a year. For simple situations, SEO consultants charge one-time rates; in other cases, monthly payment plans create long-term efforts and strategies.

“You get what you pay for,” says Bertholf, who charges from $1,000 to $10,000 a month. “And what you pay depends on how competitive you are.”

Experts advise businesses to choose SEO consultants carefully. Know what you want and make sure the expert you’re hiring knows how to achieve that goal. “Look for references, see what they’ve actually achieved,” Segal says. “You want documented experiences and results. There are people who can talk the talk, but don’t believe someone by his words alone.”

This is important advice, because a lot of people don’t understand SEO and its complicated formulas. It’s easy to be confused or impressed by consultants who claim they have SEO skills and then pay a lot for something your 10-year-old nephew could have done.

“If he can’t explain it in English,” Bertholf says, “he’s obviously not the right guy.”

 

DIY SEO

Can’t afford to hire an SEO expert? Here are simple things you can do on your own:

•  Use keywords wisely. Most people with blogs or websites focus on selecting specific, low-competition keywords and phrases that will garner links and then rank in search engines. Add these words and phrases to tags, use them in your post title, and repeat them in your article. But don’t overuse single words such as “food” or “jewelry”; you’ll be vying for position with millions of other websites using the same words. Instead, focus on specific phrases and back it up by providing clear, relevant content that makes users come back and, even better, link to your site.

Think links. One way to raise your rank in search engines is to have other sites link to yours. “Have your kid link to it. Or tweet a link to it. Post it on a public wall somewhere,” says SEO expert Rob Bertholf. “The idea is to get it out on as many places on the web as possible to link back to your site.” You should also consider getting links from business directories such as chambers of commerce and the Better Business Bureau.

Own your profiles. Claim your business listing on sites such as Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local, says Neal Kido, owner of AkamaiSEO.
 

Get social. Search engines incorporate social data into their results, so using Twitter, Facebook and other social media is critical. “Search is now social,” Bertholf says. “And social marketing is playing a much larger role in the link-building process. Every time you tweet your blog post, for example, it does wonders.”

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