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“For your SEO” is a term all too common in today’s business vernacular. Every business owner or manager must have thought at least once about how best to take advantage of online search engines to grow that bottom line.

But search engine optimization can prove costly, especially for the back-end tricks that high-profile websites engage.

So, what’s a small- or medium-sized business owner to do? Here are 5 things you can do to improve SEO for free. All it costs is time and consistent attention.

1. Write.

What do you think search engines look for when they try to match results with what people typed in?

Words, phrases or images that align with what’s typed into that little box. It’s that simple.

With that in mind, concentrate on adding content to your business portals – e.g. website, social media accounts, emails whether single-topic or newsletter, etc. Every business has something to write about: a key new hire, a promotion, a sale, a special, new hours, new location, new branch, new idea, etc.

Simply ensure these “news” items are put in digital form somewhere linking to your business. The more you enter and save the better for SEO.

Don’t think you have to compete with the big boys’ websites, either. Think about three or four paragraphs per item, maybe in a sidebar on the company website, maybe a new blog page, maybe in social media posts.

Get in the habit of writing about your business and not only might you learn something about it and help get the word out about what you’re doing, but long-term the search engines will like you better.

2. Use What’s Available.

There are many ways to improve SEO by simply using what’s there for the taking. For instance, always save photos you plan to use for business with keywords that customers might search for.

For example, instead of “Photo 1” as a file name, try “ACME Buy Gizmo in Los Angeles Image,” or whatever suits your business. You are free to make file names long, and when saved to websites or social media, those words get caught by search engines.

In the same vein, go back to photos you’ve used and tag them all with keywords appropriate to your business. Go back to Facebook posts, for instance, and tag photos with your location, or add a caption with the name of your business or a key product.

For websites, ensure all images are given titles and tags that a search engine may find.

This is important – basically its free space to use your keywords. Yet, many businesses don’t take advantage.

3. Spread URLs Whenever Possible

That is, your business website address as well as the URL associated with individual pages or even pages you don’t own such as for a YouTube video.

Don’t forget this vital practice as you move forward with digital marketing for your business.

Sometimes it’s as simple as adding the full internet address at the bottom of a social media post or linking it to a photo to click. Other times consider free content-posting services such as Patch.com or AmericanTowns.com, and get some of your business items posted there even if just in classifieds.

Then include your URLs where possible, or insert links to the posts where allowed. Again, no cost to do this except your time; and it gets easier if you get in the practice of doing it regularly.

4. Bomb Social Media

This doesn’t mean just saving more posts, tweets, pins or whatever the medium allows. It means to ensure all posts contain enough content, and keywords (and URLs) important for your business, as much as possible.

For example, look at business-related YouTube videos. What most businesses fail to do is use as much space as allowed for the subject line (title), as well as the information the platform lets you use below the posted video.

Think about this: Google owns YouTube, so it makes sense that Google treats YouTube videos pretty well in terms of searches.

So … Use as much space as allowed for that video title, and then write as much as possible below it including all links and social media accounts pertinent to your business. And do this every time.

LinkedIn is another great example. LinkedIn profiles often perform well in searches. Ensure your personal and business profiles on LinkedIn are robust, full of as much information, links and images as you can fit. LinkedIn and other social media platforms offer a lot of free space to take.

The search engines pay attention to websites that are attached to your business somehow. While it’s difficult to get your company website link listed in the New York Times, it’s not difficult to give credit to a major publication when used for information related to your business.

In any digital business communication, such as a web page post, or blog post, there are opportunities to give credit where credit is due, and also provide information that your readers (customers) might find useful.

Search engines like it when we share information, or try to provide information that others may find useful.

Therefore, if you convey information gathered from a recent news story, credit the source if it’s a trusted website, such as a national publication or respected regional newspaper.

You can be amazed by what this can do for your SEO in the long haul. It also helps make your content look more authoritative.

In summary, much of what’s included in these tips are actions that a business owner, manager or marketer should get in the practice of doing.

None cost money to do. And much of it is involved with everyday marketing that most businesses already engage with, such as social media posting or blogs.

Just know which keywords or phrases your customers might use in searches, and be sure to take full advantage of what’s already there, available and free to use.