SEO For Your Small Business Website: Get Found and Make Money

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This article will give you a good understanding of what SEO is, why your website needs it, and how to achieve it.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is simply ensuring that people can find your site by typing in search words in a search engine that have to do with what your website sells.

For example, if you sell decorative clay pots, you would like your website to show up in the results list if someone goes to Google and searches for decorative clay pots. While there is no 100% sure-fire way to make sure your site pops up, SEO techniques increase your chances of being seen in search results.

Why Would My Website Need SEO?

SEO increases the number of visitors to your site. More visitors mean more people who might spend their money on your products. So,

SEO = More Sales = More Money!

What Good Will It Do Me to Worry About SEO If Any Website Can Do the Same Stuff I’m Doing?

While it is true that anyone with a website can employ SEO techniques, the fact is that a lot of website owners either a) don’t know about SEO or b) waste their time using ineffective or outdated SEO methods. Attempting to do SEO is one thing: Actually seeing an increase in traffic because of SEO is quite another.

Where Can I Find Information About SEO Techniques?

The Internet is full of articles about SEO.  Just like most things on the Internet, there are some really good tips, and there are some really bad ones.

The two best things to do are read a book from a respected author (such as The Art of SEO [ISBN: 1449304214]) or hire a person who has experience using SEO techniques to improve search engine results listings.

When choosing an SEO professional, be wary if they say they can guarantee you a certain spot in search engine results for any specific set of search terms. Anyone who claims this is either uninformed or a liar. Also, if they act like SEO is a magic bullet that can be shot at a website, you probably need to find someone else. The truth is, good SEO takes time and patience. Sites often need to be tweaked over a period of months to get the right combination of techniques in place before you see a huge difference in the amount of traffic (or sales) coming from your website.

What Do the SEO Pros Do That I Can’t Learn to Do Myself?

If you are willing to invest the time into learning SEO, then you could do it all by yourself. However, serious SEO techniques require extensive knowledge of web servers and a myriad of web technologies. If all you want to do is make your clay pots and sell them online, you probably don’t have the time to learn all that is required.

Common SEO Techniques

  1. Write product descriptions that match keywords you think users might type in if they were looking for that product. For example, suppose you are selling a clay pot that is handmade. A bad SEO description might say:

    A beautiful, clay flower pot that was fired locally in a kiln.

    Whereas a good SEO description might say:

    A beautiful, handmade clay flower pot that was fired in a kiln in Jackson, KY

    This simple change can now target homemade, Jackson, and KY as keywords.

  2. Get well-known sites to link to your site. The way that Google, Yahoo, etc. decide which sites to show for certain keywords is to look at the number of other sites that link to a site. The more sites link to a site, the reasoning goes, the better the content on the site must be. And, if a site that has a lot of links going to it links to a site, it must be good. For example, if Kentucky.com linked to your website, it would go a long way in helping to get your site to show up high in the search results list. (Bad SEO Pros will advise you to pay shady link-swapping sites to boost the total number of links to your site. This is unethical and will get you kicked out of the search engines!)
  3. Put the most important content at the top of the page. If you have a lot of content on your pages, make sure the stuff you really want users to find while searching with a search engine is near the top. Most search engines give more weight to the items at the top of the page when deciding what keywords match the stuff on the page.
  4. Update your content regularly. Search engines are more likely to crawl (SEO speak for visit) your site more often if it finds new content between visits. You could, for example, have a daily or weekly special that changes so the search engine will have something new to crawl.

Choosing a Domain Name for Your Business

Choosing a domain name for your business is a very important decision. In case you don’t know, a domain name is what most people think of as a web address, such as www.prosumtech.com or google.com. Before choosing a domain name, it is important to understand the parts of a domain.

Parts of a Domain Name

Consider a domain name such as www.example.com. As you can see, it consists of parts separated by periods (usually just called a dot). To properly identify its parts, we actually start with the part after the rightmost dot. In this example, that would be com. The rightmost segment is known as the Top Level Domain (TLD).

All parts before the rightmost segment are called subdomains. In this example, example is a subdomain of com, and www is a subdomain of example. So, as far as a domain is concerned, it’s actually read by the computer who points to a webserver from right to left by the dot segments.

Consider this color-coded example with a domain such as docs.google.com

  • Top Level Domain (TLD) – com
  • Domain – google
  • First Subdomain – docs

A web address can have up to 127 subdomains before the TLD! (I’ve personally never seen any more than 4 subdomains in one address, but it is possible!) This may seem confusing, however, the average person buying a domain need not worry about anything more than the TLD they choose and the first subdomain.

The Top Level Domain – The Hardest Decision

The hardest part is choosing the right TLD. Why? Because many of the subdomains under the .com, .net, and .org TLDs are taken and very hard to get. It doesn’t matter what subdomain you want if that subdomain is already registered to another business. Let’s assume you own Smith Plumbing Company, you might want  SmithPlumbing.com. The problem is, this domain is registered already. So is SmithPlumbing.net…and SmithPlumbingCompany.com.  You can eventually find something that fits, but it’s not always easy. Almost any single word .com and .net is taken already. Keep these three things you must keep in mind:

  • When entering a web address from memory, a LOT of customers will automatically try .com whether or not that is your actual TLD. Why? Because .com has been around since the beginning. Also, most addresses repeated over and over in the media end with .com. My elderly parents, and many people just like them, think everything ends in .com.
  • Many of the newer TLDs are unknown and people don’t trust them. Anybody who has spent time on the Internet in the last 10 years is probably familiar with .com, .net, and .org. How many people are familiar with newer domains such as .info, .biz, .mobi, .jobs, .cc, or .me? There’s nothing technically wrong with these TLDs. They work exactly like a .com, but customers like the familiar because they’re used to it.
  • If your domain is too long, you will lose customers because of typos. Many people hate to type or can’t type well. So, if your domain is more than 10 characters, you will have a lot of customers trying to type it in get it wrong. So, the rule of thumb: keep it as short and meaningful as possible.

Balancing these three rules isn’t easy, but if you do, you will make life easier for your customers, which will help bolster your bottom line.

Where to Get a Domain Name

Years ago, the governing body known as ICANN began granting companies the ability to sell domain names. All ICANN accredited sellers must  follow the same rules and procedures when selling domains. However, all are not created equal: Different companies charge different amounts for the same domain, and some of them have terrible control interfaces for allowing you to tie your domain to a server. ICANN maintains a HUGE list of companies who are allowed to sell domain names, but there are only a handful I would recommend.  These include:

I recommend these companies because I have had some exposure to them in the past and they have all been around for quite awhile.

Tech Articles

Periodically, ProsumTech's founder Jerry Travis Smith posts tech help articles. He loves to solve tough tech problems, and he loves even more to share his knowledge with the world.