Small business owners rely on exposure, word of mouth, and repeat customers for their annual revenue. Where large corporations can afford paid advertising in print media and television spots, small businesses may not be able to afford these marketing avenues. This is where SEO, search engine optimization, can play a huge role in gaining new customers online and leveling the playing field.

How do search engines work?

Customers have been flocking to the Internet for over two decades to research products and find the best price available before purchasing. But what directs customers to certain websites and how does that brand get their online traffic?

Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing have programs called crawlers or bot spiders whose sole purpose is to look at or crawl website content. Crawlers move from web page to web page through hyperlinks. They create a list of keywords called an index, which is based off of these hyperlinks and repeated keywords they’ve spotted on a web page.

For example, if a person searches for “live Christmas trees“, the search engine index would determine which websites have the most relative content related to these keywords on a local level based on where you are searching from. The results page shown to the customer might include links to websites such as Home Depot, Walmart, or to a local Christmas tree farm where that small business owner is now playing in the big leagues and is listed among large corporations that have most likely spent millions of dollars.

They are showing up in organic search results, perhaps on the first page, because their website was setup properly for search engine optimization which includes specific keywords related to their business, the use of hyperlinks, information rich content as well as link building which ultimately helped their website show up in a related search. This leads to an increase in leads and ultimately to more sales all because they came up at the top of the first page on a Google search in their area.

Getting on the SEO Map

The trick is getting search engines to recognize your quality content and direct users to your website. So why isn’t simply having a website enough to get indexed and route traffic to your company? The answer is building hyperlink bridges and relationships to relevant keywords

When a person does a web search, an SE like Google must instantaneously return results based on billions of bits of information. It narrows results down to popularity and relevance. This sounds impossible to compete with but it is where basic onsite web coding or optimization ultimately comes into play and will set your site apart from your competition.

Web crawlers first look at a website’s URL, the title tags as well as the name and location of a website on the internet. It then looks at keyword rich content in the readable content in the URL’s webpages. Having keyword rich content on a page, as well, can trigger these crawlers to index you as relevant to that search term. In addition, link building plays a very important roll in helping your website rank so the more backlinks you have from other high quality websites the better your chances of showing at the top of search results.

For example, if your company partners with another business or vendor, having a back link from a page on their site can increase your relevance in search engine results. Remember, the bots are using web links as bridges to crawl from one website over to yours so if your site is isolated and separate from other pages on the internet, it makes it harder for the bots to get to your website and ultimately find you.

If small businesses are not able to link to other high ranking websites, they can easily provide links to support their product brands, showcase endorsements and awards, and link to a company blog. Blogs can be an enormous source of keyword rich content which can reach a huge audience and generate relevancy and popularity for the hosting website.

Investing in the proper initial website set up or revamping an old website can be an investment that will blossom into a high-yield, long-term gain and having an SEO expert in your corner is a great way to make sure your site is getting the best visibility possible on your corner of the web.

The Value of Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization can bring customers to your proverbial door and increase sales exponentially, if done right. Exposure to an online audience is necessary in today’s digital environment. Statistics show that Google provides 90 percent of customer search returns and a small business that has not harnessed this powerful tool may find themselves falling behind and not able to ever catch up. Initial setup of a well-structured website is an important investment that you cannot ignore.

The ongoing maintenance of a proper webpage with links to blogs and relevant content will yield a regular flow of leads and ultimately new customers. Large corporations can easily afford print, digital, and media marketing but through SEO, small businesses can easily compete for new business and reap the rewards of having invested in proper SEO.

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