Search engine optimization for local businesses.

We've all heard the term "Search Engine Optimization" without really taking the time to understand what it means and why it's important.  In the following paragraphs, i hope to give you a brief but clear overview of the topic.

Think of your web presence as advertising. Your website is your ad copy. Unlike print advertising, web publishing is nearly free.  To get your print ad in a preferred position, say the first page of a magazine can be very expensive.  In web publishing, the goal is to get your website (advertisement) visible on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP).  There are many ways to do this, none of these methods stand alone - in fact you need to do most or all of them in parallel.  Some of the topics to be addressed are competitive analysis, directory listings, reviews, article publishing and link building. Add to this list the need for on-page optimization, search engine submission, status monitoring and website analytics and the task can seem almost overwhelming.  Each of these areas is complex and yes, you'll need to do a little of each to be successful.

Since the advent of "Google Places" the task for local businesses has become more specialized and this is what we specialize in.

 So how can we simplify the problem?

The first step is to optimize the website for search engine "crawling".  This starts with keyword research.  Sounds like a fancy term but it just means knowing what your next customer is likely to search for when looking for your business or service.  Remember the most important keyword is not the word which you feel best describes or differentiates your business but rather the word or phrase people will use when looking for someone like you.  Put yourself in your customer's shoes. Think like your customer and you'll be successful.

The second step, frequently called "on-page SEO" is fairly technical and involves tailoring the hidden part of the website to encourage proper crawling and indexing by the search engines.  This step includes creating site and page titles, descriptions and other so-called "meta data".  We also need to pay attention to the website's text and tailor the written copy to contain enough but not too many of the important keywords.

Next we need to "launch" the site, set up hosting, status monitoring and analytics.

That was the easy part! It was easy because the work was totally under our control.  

The next steps carry natural lag times. Link building for example is a process of placing entry pointers to your site in varied locations around the internet.  The more you  have, the more diverse the locations and the more popular the linked sites are, the more likely a random searcher or a search engine robot will find you.  The lag time is due to crawl frequencies and it may take weeks or more for any given link to be discovered and indexed by the search engines.

In conclusion, gaining a preferred position in the SERPs does not happen overnight.  Progress happens slowly.  Search engines take their time.  Plan on 4-6 months for the process to mature.  But the payoff is well worth the wait.

© From This Century Technology Consultants Inc. 2011