SEO for small businesses – Can you get to the top of Google on your own?


Times are hard for small businesses and search engine optimization is probably the last thing on your mind right now, but ignore SEO and your business could suffer more than you think.
Many people think that SEO is too technical to do themselves and too expensive to pay someone else to do it for them but both of these are myths. With this in mind, here are some tips to help your business mix it with the big boys and get to the top of Google.
1.     Start writing a blog
Whatever your business, whatever the size, start writing a blog now if you haven’t already done so. Write about your company, new products, what’s going on elsewhere in your trade, anything really that relates to your line of work. Google loves blogs and as long as you update it regularly (at least 2 posts a week) you will see a marked difference in traffic to your website. Use free software such as Wordpress which has SEO plugins built in to track your progress.
2.     Target keywords
Find out what people would search for most when looking for a website like yours. Use these keywords to increase traffic and stick to them. Try and choose 10 keywords or phrases that prospective clients would search for and avoid things like wordy URLs to make the most of your position in the market.
3.     Socialise!
By this I don’t mean go to parties (although networking is useful), I mean set up an account for your business on social networking sites. The most useful are Facebook, Twitter, Digg and Delicious so set up your accounts on these now. They will need optimizing and maintaining so don’t just set them up and forget about them. Social networking is one of the easiest ways to optimize your website and, it’s free!
4.     Deep linking
Ideally you want links coming into as many different pages as possible. If other websites are linking to different pages on your website it tells Google that you have worthwhile content and should be ranked higher.
5.    Things to avoid
· Flash – I know, I know, it looks nice but if your entire site is a flash design search engines will have a pretty hard time reading it. If you really want some flash, try and stick to something small like the navigation.
· Purchasing links – This might sound like a good idea at first but it could cause more harm than good. Google actually prohibits link buying under their website guidelines so leave well alone.
· Time wasting – Don’t rush your efforts or they will all be for nothing. Getting to the top of Google won’t happen overnight, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Invest the time, be patient and it won’t be long before you begin to reap the rewards.
6.     Monitor your rankings
Various companies offer a ranking monitoring service for free which will check your rankings on a daily basis. They notify you by email as soon as you are ranking in Google or Yahoo. It's also a good idea to use some online SEO software such as Analytics SEO, which will help you manage your SEO campaign and track your progress whether you decide to get someone to do it for you, or go it alone.
Remember, you’re only just starting your campaign so you can’t expect to be in Google’s top 100 yet, but sooner or later if you do the right things at the right time, you’ll find yourself climbing up the ranks. So now you know what to do, what are you waiting for?