About Me

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Len focuses on helping small and new businesses succeed through developing appropriate marketing and sales strategies. Len enjoys mentoring, relishes in getting both arms and feet wet in addressing technology, marketing and sales issues. He understands the drivers impacting business results for today and tomorrow including time-to-market, time-to-revenue, marketing, sales channels and social media.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

SEO: How Your Small Business Can Attract Potential Customers On The Web

There has been a lot written about search engine optimization (SEO), that process of improving your website’s visibility when someone enters a search engine query on Google or Yahoo or MSN. SEO ensures that your website pages produce higher search result listings, getting you onto the first page ideally, if not within the first few pages. To optimize your website for queries it is important to know how search engines work and how people use them.

Crawling the Web

Have you ever used Google Alerts? This free application from Google allows you to create a web crawler based on you entering a phrase or descriptor on a subject of interest to you. Based on the search frequency you choose your Google Alert goes out and finds suitable information and reports back to you in your email.

The crawlers that web search engines use are very similar. They are robot collectors that examine websites, finding information and storing it. Crawlers look at HTML pages. They look at PDFs. They look at file names and the names of URL links. They have more trouble with images, video, Flash and Javascripts.

When a crawler looks at a page it extracts word information from the page header. it looks a key word tags. When it is finished it creates a data index which the search engine stores in a database. Every search engine query accesses that information database.

Searching Results

A query in Google or another search engine creates an online report listing relevant pages. Every search engine has different criteria for determining what results should appear. Google, for example, uses over 200 criteria in its search engine. Search engines rank results based on what is considered most relevant first and less relevant last. The positioning of search results is what SEO is designed to assist.

Some Tips for Improving Search Ranking Results There is so much written about SEO on the web and so many companies providing SEO services that for small businesses the whole subject can become very confusing. What to do? What to do? Well here are some very simple rules for you to follow to improve rankings.

1. Create clear and accurately named page titles. This helps web craw
lers immensely and makes it easy to display relevant search query results. Make sure that your homepage contains the name of your business in the title. Make sure that you put the name of your products and services on relevant pages in the title position.

2. Use URLs that describe page content. Here are two URL names:
http://rosen.len.googlepages.com/services and http://rosen.len.googlepages.com/page112 A crawler can do very little with the latter. There is no relevant word in the URL to indicate the nature of the page content.

3. Create headers that reflect what's on the web page. If you do tradeshows like I do then you may understand this analogy. Unstructured content is like the booth you walk by that has lots of information but you cannot tell what the exhibitor does. Structured content is the booth that features clear, intuitive messages. When you construct a website you have to make sure that each page has a clear message that starts with the header and goes on from there.

4. Use relevant words and phrases when creating page links. Take a look at the following example:

(Click on image to enlarge)

The links specifically describe the content of the pages they link to. If at all possible avoid ambiguous expressions for links such as "click here."

5. Give image files names that describe image content. As we stated before search engines have trouble indexing image content. A description of the image in the file name, however, is easy to index. So instead of calling an image file "image1," give it a descriptor "NewJerseyshorefall08."

Remember that this blog is dedicated to finding you resources that are free or very reasonably priced so that your small business can succeed. For free SEO tools and resources I recommend you visit SEO Tool Land.

As always please feel free to send me your comments and questions.

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