Search engine optimization (SEO) rules are confusing, complex and constantly changing. For many businesses, for many reasons, hiring an SEO expert to figure it all out for them is too expensive to even consider. So how do they stay in the know?
Luckily, online sources give a lot of information for free. In fact, HuffingtonPost recently provided general information for SMBs without a dedicated budget for SEO. Most of the recommendations are basic, but still things that SMBs may not consider, such as ensuring that “any occurrence of your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) remain consistent online,” because search engines seek information that matches. If your NAP information is abbreviated differently on a website or social media page, the information may not be picked up and thus, may not show up in search results. Another tip is to get your company listed among “quality relevant business listings.” That includes the Better Business Bureau, LinkedIn, Yahoo Local, Facebook, Yellow Pages and City Search—and be sure the company name and information is consistent among each listing.
According to an interview in VentureBeat, Todd Friesen, director of SEO for Salesforce, recommends that businesses get their information from the master:
“The Google Webmaster Guidelines are a great place to start, and will help you build your website in a way that Google and Bing can easily crawl your website and abstract the information they need to rank your website appropriately. Your HTML should be clean and your site should load as fast as possible. All search engines want to provide their users with the best experience possible. If your site loads slowly or cannot be crawled easily, you will lose points — because if Google can’t retrieve and understand your website, they assume their users can’t either.”
That’s a good tip. Google itself provides a lot of documentation on SEO that’s easy for even novices to understand. In the Webmaster Tools Help, you can find the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide along with a quick, get-to-the-point, one-page summary of information. Another good read is the “Google 101: How Google Crawls, Indexes and Serves the Web,” which explains why SEO is important and how it all comes together.
Business2Community also recently listed its best practices for small businesses to use to stay ahead of the SEO game. Among the tips that will likely remain relevant for quite awhile, they list:
- Take your social footprint seriously. Remember to provide content based on what is getting the best activity on your social networks.
- Website safety is very important. Don’t skimp on ecommerce provisions and ensure that updates are always deployed to provide protection for your online shoppers and visitors.
- Mobile is becoming a necessity. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and if it isn’t, get it that way ASAP.
Another basic guide that is perfect for novices to SEO practices is this list of terminology from Leadsius. It explains everything from back links to meta tags.
And finally, Hobo Internet Marketing in the UK offers this recent tutorial on SEO for beginners. It has a video on how searches work and details the important facts that a business should understand about SEO and its importance in today’s digital market. It follows with simple tips and then delves into keyword research, page title tags, meta keywords, and lots of information on all other aspects of building a page and ensuring that it will be picked up by search engines.
A lot of this information is updated regularly. Don’t be afraid to search online for SEO help, but be sure that information comes from a reputable source. And remember, as Hobo says, “It takes time to build quality, and it’s this quality that Google aims to reward.” So getting your pages recognized and finding yourself at the top of the search results may not happen overnight, but following some of the basic rules will likely help you at least show up in the search.