Irrelevant of whether your small business is based primarily online or offline, there’s no doubt that it can be extremely difficult to not only succeed, but survive, particularly in the current economic climate.
One problem that so often presents itself with starting up a small business, however, is that it’s very often thought that online is considerably easier than offline. And although it may be quicker to setup a website than a retail store, for example, there are numerous aspects that need to be considered, with search engine optimization – SEO – being just one of them.
The process of optimizing your website so it ranks highly in the search engines for your chosen keywords, SEO can be a minefield for small business owners, as the techniques and processes can change regularly.
Therefore, although there is a lot to consider – and it means that you have to keep an eye on the latest, changing trends – the following three points should provide you with a good, solid basis to allow you to get started with search engine optimization.
1. Always start from day one
With so much to do when it comes to both setting up and running a small business, it’s common for certain things to be put off until a later date.
Fine for some things, when it comes to SEO, you will do yourself no favours by not carrying it out from day one.
And there are two reasons for this.
The first is that with so much else to do and the fact that you’re website will likely be developing in size, you’re unlikely to ever get round to looking at SEO properly.
The second is that to get the full benefits of SEO, you really do need to start from day one. This is because not only will you get into a routine of, for instance, ensuring your content is optimized properly every time you upload something new, but any optimization will be natural and organic, rather than being carried out all at once later, something that’s both difficult for you to do and not considered particularly great by search engines.
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2. Your website’s copy is more important than you realize
Each and every word you place on your website is there – or should be there – to give customers enough information so that they go on to make a purchase.
However, your copy is also there to help you increase your positioning in the search engines.
Therefore, whether you decide to write all website content yourself or hire a writer to do it for you, it’s imperative that you / they fully understand your requirements – it needs to be attractive and informative enough so potential customers convert into paying customers, but written so it includes keywords naturally and in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the user experience.
3. The customer always comes first
As shown in the fact that content needs to be written primarily for the customer, no matter how much time or money you’re looking to invest in SEO, it’s imperative that you understand you need to always think of the customer first.
Search engines may have once been relatively simplistic in how they ranked websites, but today they take into account a range of different factors and simply put, if your website is packed full of keywords so that the content isn’t user-friendly or it has so many random adverts on each page it makes it difficult to understand what exactly is being offered, the search engines won’t look upon this positively.
You need to always look at SEO from the beginning of any online small business development, but you must never forget that the customer should always come first.
SEO is one of those aspects of online business that everyone needs to take into account, but unfortunately it’s one that not everyone does. Learn it yourself, hire an agency or do a bit of both, but whatever you do, if you want to ensure a continued level of success online, you really need to ensure you’re always implementing at least the most basic of SEO techniques.
Note: This post was originally featured on February 28, 2012.