The story goes that in ancient times (B.C. – and I don't mean before computers) women of ill repute would have a symbol carved on the sole of their sandals. As they walked through the dirt and mud of the streets, the symbol would be impressed on the road, and men could follow the trail to their "business" location. This makes advertising the second oldest profession in the world.
If you have a business, of course you want the world to beat a path to your door, or at least the right customers coming to buy. Advertising has long been the route businesses would take. Smart businesspeople knew that this included signage, any publicity you could get and word-of-mouth as well as the traditional paid print, radio and television ads.
Well, now the marketplace has moved off the street, and tools such as marks on the bottom of a sandal or the biggest sign and best location, while still serving a purpose, have made way to finding a way onto that first page of Google when people search for your product or services. It's all about SEO — Search Engine Optimization. You may have heard about it and even have a basic understanding of what it is and how it works, but are you prepared to focus your website to use SEO to your best advantage?
Here are some basic tools and ideas you can use to start paying at least some attention to optimizing your website for Google and any other search engines your customers may be using.
Pay for it: You can ensure that your website has a premium position by paying for it, as either pay-per-click or as an ad on the side when your search appears. However, this can get expensive with no guarantee of impact and savvy searchers often skip the paid sites when looking for resources.
Register: Most search engines provide opportunities to register your site, but this is a long slow process with much less impact on your search position than the engine's own search algorithms. In other words, they'd prefer to find you on their own, so help them out with tool number three below.
Make your website spider-friendly: Spiders are the automatic search programs that wander through the Internet and look for sites that should be included in a search. These spiders look for certain items and including them gets their attention.
- Position commonly-searched keywords in your page titles: take a moment to determine what words or phrases people might use to search for your services. For example, if you sell tacos in your community, be sure your titles mention tacos, your community's name, Mexican food, tostadas, and any other word that people may use to search for a restaurant like yours.
- Add content regularly: it's good to have something new on your site at least once a week, and three times a week is optimal. This can be blogs about anything related to your site. For example, you might talk about how to make any bagged tortilla chip taste fresh (put them in you toaster-oven to get them warm just before eating) or what's special about your salsa. It can also include something as simple as weekly specials and up-coming events.
- Make your content rich and readable: yes, you want to make sure your keywords are used regularly, but if your copy reads like a vocabulary list of Mexican food items, the spiders will see this as spam and boom, you go to the back of the line.
- Keep keywords in text form: If they are part of a picture, flash or java script, the spiders won't be able to read them.
- Revel in rich links: Is there a Hispanic culture website in your community? Provide a link to them and see if they will link to you. Your community's chamber of commerce, any restaurant associations and any other non-competing organizations. Quality is more important than quantity.
- Caption your photos. Those spiders can't read your jpegs, but they can read captions. This is another good place to position some keywords and phrases.
Finally, do a before and after check. See where your search position is before you make any changes, and then see if your changes affect your position. This is not a fast process, but it can reap serious rewards in better search placement and more customers at your door.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.