When you own a small business, it is vital to have a Web presence. It is unwise to assume that customers will find you through traditional word-of-mouth, especially since online mediums are now consumers’ go-to spot to look for business recommendations. In fact, Nielson reports that 43 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product if they see a recommendation on social media.

Most customers find out information on businesses by using a basic search engine like Google or Bing. Studies have found that the first 10 positions on a search page receive 97 percent of traffic on a particular phrase or keyword. You want potential customers and clients to be able to find you both by name and by industry keywords. You want your small business to be visible in search engines when people are looking specifically for your business, or when they are looking for any business that offers your products or services.

So how do you make your small business more search-engine friendly? Each search engine uses its own algorithms and formulas to determine page rank, but some common elements can help your small business achieve Internet success.

Here are a few suggestions to increase your visibility when it comes to search engine results pages:

  1. Think about keywords. Aesthetics are not the only web design aspects to consider when building and maintaining your site. You should also think like a potential customer in terms of the keywords you use, particularly in titles and headers. Use a site like Internet Marketing Ninjas to determine which keywords will bring customers to your site, or hire a professional search engine optimization firm to help you. The placement of words on your page really will make a difference when it comes to long-term traffic to your site.
  • Branch out. Think beyond your official company website when it comes to the digital identity of your brand. Include your business in local and industry directories and be open to inclusion on consumer review sites. You should also make sure you have at least a basic social media account for big sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest.
  • Seek out cross linking opportunities. Look for complementary businesses to partner with in digital terms. For example, if you sell office supplies, find a printing company and then give each other digital ad space on the other’s website. You can also consider being a guest writer for industry blogs and linking to your company in the body or biography section of your posts. The more outside sites that link to you, the more credibility the search engines will give your site based on industry keywords.
  • Add a blog. Websites that are consistently updated with fresh content fare much better in search engines than those that are stagnant. A great way to update your site regularly is through a company blog. Even just one post per week will up your search engine page rank. You may even want to consider a blog attached to your official site, along with a separate blog at a separate domain that discusses broader industry issues and links back to your official site.

You do not need to spend a lot of your small business marketing budget to have a stronger Web presence. Incorporating these ideas can mean higher page rank for your business and a boost for your online visibility. How many of these tactics do you already use?

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