I get questioned about SEO a lot.  It seems that the majority of SMB’s (Small – Mid-sized Businesses) are willing to pay a company to help their Search Engine rankings without a full understanding of how search engines crawl your website.

I use a couple of techniques on the initial build of a website that are simple enough for anyone at any level to incorporate into their website.  You don’t have to be whiz kid or a website developer to do the basic search engine optimization.   SEO is a constant, the key to remaining on top is remaining relevant and understanding that there isn’t a magic fix all tool.  Your search ranking improves organically  when you are the appropriate search for someones query.

Understand, that I think there are a lot of great and legitimate SEO companies out there, and if you are in a saturated market with a lot of online competition these companies really help. A negative seo guy can help you with ranking above your competitors.

Here are a list of SEO basics (BASICS FOR BEGINNERS) for you to start implementing today.

Understanding the landscape, the goal and the competition… 

Start by logging out of everything and doing a search of the keywords you think your company should show up for and see what sites show up.  Search keywords your customers would search.  For instance, if you are a jewelry store don’t look up “Jewelry” look up “Engagement Rings” or “Men’s Watches” because the majority of searchers on search engines narrow their searchers and stay away from broad wording.  If your Hyperlocal add the name of your city, township, business district, even street if it is a popular one.

Note the top sites that show up.  These are ultimately the guys you want to be searched with.  If you happen to find none of your contemporaries on the search you may want refine your search terms and try again.  This process will allow you to understand what terms that trigger your industry to show up.

There are ranking tools and websites that will do this for you but they either come with a price or they’re fake and trying to sell you a quick solution to better ranking.

Covering the basics…

[icon name=”icon-ok”] Build a network of quality backlinks using your keyword phrase as the link. Remember, if there is no good, logical reason for that site to link to you, you don’t want the link.  Share links with trusted partners because you will both improve each others rank.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] All title’s of your pages should be keyword focused.  Try to avoid using your company name as the title for pages because searchers are discovering you as the solution to the search not searching you out.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] Find a way to continually create new and fresh content, relevancy is extremely important to search engines.  If your site stays the same for  a year and is crawled every two days you are basically telling the spiders nothing new here to report about.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] Make all links keyword phrase focused. In other words don’t say “Click here” say check out our catalogue of  “Athletic T-Shits”.  If you are doing this make sure all hyperlinks are distinguishable by color.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] Spiders can crawl text, not Flash.  If you have an old flash site or a lot of flash elements they are doing you no good for SEO.   HTML5 is the way to go.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] Get Google webmaster tools and/or Bing Webmaster tools and submit the site to be crawled on a regular basis.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] BLOG… just force yourself to blog.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] The blog posts hierarchy is TITLE, CATEGORY, TAG.  Don’t forget categories.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] The trick to link building is in the quality of the link.  A bunch of fake links from silly sites are hurtful.  You want a news organizations or trusted business registries to link out to you.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] Search engines want natural language content.  Search engines will look at how many times a term is in your content and if it is unnaturally high it can count against you.  Don’t try be tricky be clever in your writing and be relevant.

[icon name=”icon-ok”] Do a blacklist check for other sites on your server if you doing a shared server.  If you are connected to blacklisted sites it can really affect you.

Content, reputation and relevance…

Following those basics and getting them done sooner rather than later will help put you on the right path.

The three most important things to remember moving forward is content, reputation and relevance.  Keep creating great content that is social, entertaining and informative.   Make sure you are not trying to trick search engines and do black hat SEO it will only hurt your reputation and ultimately hurt your rankings.  Be relevant.  Even if you are receiving a lot of traffic if the traffic isn’t converting into actions than your probably not relevant for the search term or your not making clear in your content how relevant you are.

Keep going at it.  As an SMB it is important to spend some time understanding search engines so you can save money while still improving your online visibility.