by David Nance
As any small business owner knows, the success of your business is all about cash flow (and generating it!). Each dollar is precious, but investments must be made in order to generate a return. The make-or-break decisions relate to which investment will generate the greatest return, and often more importantly, the greatest positive cash flow.
One of the areas that many people believe you have to invest a lot of money into is SEO (search engine optimization), when in fact, you can perform many of the tactics yourself, with just a moderate amount of website savvy. There’s one positive on the cash-flow side, however SEO activities usually take some time to generate measurable results (depending on how competitive your niche is). However, SEO tactics can generate significant and long-lasting returns.
One of the most important tips for anyone trying to perform SEO is to have great content on your page. It doesn’t have to be voluminous, but if its “thin”, hardly relevant or otherwise just not value adding, you’re going to pay a penalty for it. Google has stated time and time again that they love great content and they attempt to adjust their algorithm to reward it. You can have two billion backlinks for keywords that you really want to rank for but if your site is giving the visitor no value, your site will eventually drop lower than you would want it to. Or, even worse than an algorithmic penalty would be a manual penalty, the result of a Google employee actually analyzing your site, reading the poor content and manually dropping your site in the search rankings.
One hidden gem that few businesses are taking advantage of yet is the significant power of YouTube from an SEO perspective (Google owns YouTube by the way…). Have a keyword that you want to rank for but the top spot has way too many backlinks? Create a video for your business with that keyword in the title, description, and tags. This should give you a significant boost in traffic. Even if the video doesn’t rank quite so quickly for the keyword being optimized, YouTube videos are looked at by Google as being of high quality (remember the comment about poor quality mentioned above though), so backlinks from videos are typically favored.
If you are a business that can cater to local clients or customers, it is essential that you add your business to Google’s Places (and the Local Business Center). Normally, if someone is searching for a particular business in a certain city or state, local results will be shown first. Get your potential customer’s eyes on your listing first over all other sites ranked on the first page by adding yourself to this list. Most searchers will click on a local business listing first before even thinking about clicking on the first result. Use this to your advantage.
Another thing to keep in mind with Google’s Places page can be optimized for search. No “gaming” the system here, just using the data elements available to you to best communicate what your business is and who your customers are. Make sure you use (but don’t overuse) terms that your customers would be searching for.
Establish your business on any social media website that you can. Create a Facebook fan page, start a Twitter account, or add a LinkedIn profile. By doing this, you are encouraging users that follow your business to both click on and share your links. This will increase both your visitors and potentially your rankings, as Google will see you as a more highly authoritative website compared to others.
Improving your site’s speed can have a drastic effect on your SEO performance. Google has recently implemented a speed ranking algorithm, meaning that the sites that load faster will get ranked higher. There are plenty of free tools out there to check your business’s website speed. To ensure that your website is running at the fastest speed possible, make sure you are running on a virtual private server (VPS) where you are on your own server and your business is not sharing space with someone else.
By utilizing many of these SEO tips, you can ensure that Google may look at your site more favorably, which may increase your rankings in the search engines. While SEO companies can be hired to do the dirty work for you, with just a little time and effort, your business can do exactly what they claim to do, but for free. All it takes is a little bit of time and effort.
This article was written by David Nance for Aeroparking.com, a SeaTac airport parking company and small business who has focused on these very tactics to improve their online presence.