Optimizing Overlooked Search Engine Opportunities for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses

With more than 120 million Internet domains and indexed pages for potential customers to browse, it takes a new approach to generate interest to your website, especially as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business.  Here are some basic steps to take that will help boost your web presence.

Search Engine Opitimization

All companies, big or small, struggle to be noticed by Google users.  But every company can attract a larger audience of Google traffic, and every company, big or small, can draw more Google traffic by using search-engine optimization – SEO for short.  This optimization process improves the visibility of a web site or page via the “unpaid” or “organic” search result and in the world of SEO, that is key (or at least it is according to Carter Raines and Erik Arnold at Prepfire).

This market strategy is directly related to your site’s rank among Google’s search results – the higher the rank, the more “hits” you get….it is simply that easy.  Google and other search engines have “secret” formulas that rank websites, but the basic components are widely known.  SEO rules tailor your website to optimize your site with specific ideas to up your ranking.  Traffic is directly related to your site’s rank among Google’s search results – the higher the rank, the more you get.  SEO involves tailoring your website to satisfy as many of the ranking criteria as possible.

SEO vs SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Two of the more important ranking factors are illustrated next.  These factors alone should improve website search performance to a great extent as long as your website offers value to customers and relevant content.  These visibility improving factors are:  1. How well you address the organization and functionality of the website and 2.  The strength of keywords associated with a page on your site.

Once you have determined the best keywords to use on your site, you need to consider their placement.

In the HTML code.  The search engine ultimately associates a keyword with a webpage, and the first place it looks to read a page is at the top of the page’s coding – within the so called head tag that defines the pages overall characteristics.  (This code isn’t normally visible in a browser window; to see it, use the “source” or “page source” command.)  Incorporate the keywords you have chosen in the title, description, and keyword tags.  These are often called meta tags, and the code often begins with that word.

The title tag may be the most important place on the page to use your main keyword.  The title shows up across the top of a Web browser and is also the text that many search engines use as the hyperlink on their results page.  Therefore, use your keyword near the beginning of the title.  The title should be coherent and concise – and be six to 12 words, and the description, 12 to 24 words.  Your title and description should reinforce each other and the page’s visible content.  If you have a lot of keywords, choose judiciously, because search engines look for natural sounding language.  You can load all your keywords, even misspelled variants, into the keywords tag field.

Visible content.  Your keywords should appear frequently in the text of your website to improve SEO.  You also need to include keywords in the descriptive “alt” tags that underlie images and in the headlines and subheads atop a section of text.  Place your main keyword as close as possible, preferably in the first sentence, of your first paragraph.  Search engines like Google and Yahoo appear to give a slight preference to bold words, so bold one or two instances of your keyword.  A good rule to remember – if people find your copy worth reading, a search engine will too.

The basic premise of keyword optimization is simple:  Discover the search words that potential customers are using to find products or services like yours.  Start with Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery, which will give you insight as to what people are searching for.  The best keywords will show up on many of these searches,; then build your Web content around those words.  Choosing the best keywords is complicated also by the fact that other websites are trying to do the same thing.

No explanation required

Learning about the competitive ratio.  Generally, if a search term is popular, more websites compete using it to rank high for that search term. Yes, you want to rank high on popular terms – but realistically you should only target the search terms which you have a shot at.  The best keywords are words and phrases that are being searched by people on Google and Yahoo but that may have been overlooked by your competitors.

How do I do it??? First, draw up a list of the keywords – or keyword phrases – a potential customer might possibly search if he or she were looking for your product.  Calculate the ratio of the number of pages a search returns to the popularity of the search term.

Then, see how often users search for these terms by plugging each into keyword-tracking sources like Wordtracker, and Keyword Discovery.  Besides showing how many times these phrases are searched on average in a day or month, these tools will also suggest other relevant terms.  You may learn, for example, that blue widgets is more popular as a search term than widgets blue.

Next, run each phrase through Google.  The more websites returned, the more competition you will have with that phrase.  Then, divide the number of indexed pages by the number of daily searches; the lower the result, the more promising the term.  Most sources say the ratio should be 500 to 1 or less.

Restricting keywords.  If your ratio is higher than 1000 to 1, you will probably want to choose narrower or more specific keywords.  Blue widgets Washington DC for example, uses a geographic term for a business that deals locally.  The search may be less popular, but the competition to win it is also less fierce, and is more likely to generate a better ratio.

Because each page of a website has a different focus or objective, each should have its own keywords.  The homepage should have the most general terms, and the keywords become more tailored and specific as you burrow deeper into the site.

How your site is organized, designed, and built will affect its search-engine ranking.  Organize content into themed or “silo” categories.  Imagine how people will search for content and line up your content on that basis.  You can group similar pages together into separate directories of folders and subfolders, or you can create “virtual silos” by using links that guide a user from page to page.

Learning the basics of SEO isn’t difficult, it’s time-consuming, so you may need to rely on a Web developer for assistance.  SEO consultants can offer a variety of services, especially the more technical services, but Web site owners should educate themselves on the fundamentals.  The site should be hosted on a fast server and the page code should be debugged and comply with the website structure standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium.  Include in the site’s code a special protocol known as Sitemap, which makes it easier for visiting search engines to scan the site.  Sitemaps can be submitted directly to the search engines.

In closing, SEO isn’t a magic formula.  Nor will it drive traffic to a site that doesn’t offer anything of value to the end customer.  Still, you should be able to increase traffic dramatically using the more important of the SEO principles which we outlined above.

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