BY BARBARA SHELLMAN
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A website is a necessity for any small business.
But simply building your website is not enough. You also need to ensure customers can find your website. Increasingly, customers use search engines like Google or Bing to research their options and choose a provider. Given that 80 percent of traffic goes to websites on the first page of a Google search, it’s more important than ever that your website ranks well with search engines... ideally near the top of page one.
Optimizing your website for the search engines (SEO) is critical and has become a more complex process as search engine guidelines and algorithms are ever-changing. Thus it may be helpful to hire an SEO specialist or firm to ensure your website is optimized. Done properly, this investment in SEO will improve your website’s visibility over time and help drive additional traffic and sales for your business.
If you aren’t able to hire an SEO specialist, there are several things you can do on your own to optimize your website. Using targeted keywords is an important part of your SEO strategy. Research common keywords for your product or service using a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Include the most productive keywords for your category on your website in areas like title tags, URLs, blogs and your site map. Experts recommend a keyword density of 1.7 to 2.5 percent within a website. Using longer descriptions known as long-tail descriptors can also improve your ranking and the productivity of your keywords. This is especially important if you’re investing in pay per click (PPC) advertising to drive more traffic to your website. Long-tail terms often give you more bang for your buck. An example is using the term “mountain bikes in Traverse City” versus “bikes.”
Maintaining relevant and timely content is also important. Keep your website fresh with regular blog posts about your industry. Another effective SEO strategy is building incoming links to your website from other quality websites.
And finally, make sure your website is optimized for viewing on mobile devices with the most important information at the top, known as responsive design. Maximizing your website and online presence is just one of the many important issues small business owners must focus on to achieve success.
For help with starting, marketing, or effectively managing your small business, contact Traverse City SCORE at 888-796-4913 or visit www.UpNorthScore.com to schedule a free and confidential appointment with an experienced SCORE mentor.
Barbara Shellman is a volunteer SCORE mentor with experience in search engine optimization, online marketing, sales, and business development.