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What is SEO and Why Do you Need it?

If you are building a website for your business, you need to take into account SEO. You probably have heard of the term “SEO” a few times thrown around, but maybe don’t fully understand what it is. SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization” is, in short, the constant process of trying to make sure your website is performing as well as it should be. It is getting your website higher in search engine results.

When you think about something that you want to google for, you type in the information in your search engine, and you will get certain results on top.

maxresdefaultYour website’s success is based entirely on where your website is in those rankings. The websites that are in the first two get far more clicks than websites even further down on the first page. So the more you work on SEO, the better your website will be in the rankings.

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What to do:

There are limits to how much SEO you can actually do to drive your website up in the rankings and you will have better success if your website is pretty specific or has certain keywords. To increase your rankings in search engine results, the most important content needs to be in HTML. Pictures, Flash files, Java, files, and anything else that isn’t text is going to be ignored by the search engine. Technology just isn’t caught up enough for that. The best way to get your website up in the rankings is the use of keywords. You will put the keywords in the HTML text that is on the page. Having keywords in an image file is going to do nothing for you.

If you do have a lot of pictures on your site, just have the keywords listed in a description below the pictures. Since the images are not searchable, the keywords will be able to pull people in as long as you have tagged your pictures.

Pictures alone will not help SEO or your rankings, so just be sure to list the details of the pictures.

Look at Google cache. It will reveal to you what your website actually looks like when it is only text. You might be surprised that there is barely any text there depending on the type of formatting that was used on your website.

seo-treeMeet Keywords

To break down the concept of keywords, you are going to put a lot of words that people may be typing into a website search engine into the text of your website. For example, if I wanted to make this post really easy to find, I could use keywords like “what is SEO,” “SEO,” “search engine optimization,” “beginning SEO,” “how to do SEO,” and so on. The more of these kinds of keywords that you can litter throughout the HTML text on your website, the easier your post is going to be to find.

Why People Aren’t Finding Your Website

There may also be reasons your website is not increasing in its rakings. Here’s a quick breakdown that I’m going to explain further in another post.

  • Submission Forms: If users have to submit a form before they can get into the content of the site, it will not be found.
  • JavaScript: If you are using JavaScript links, the search engine is going to ignore you. Stay with HTML.
  • Meta Robots: The Meta Robots tag and robots.txt will block search engines. People put them in place to try to block bugs, but it blocks more than that.
  • Search Forms: Even if you put a search bar on the site itself, the search engine bots are not going to find you.
  • Using Flash or plugins: Embedding links, even though it looks cool, will make the search engine bots blind to you.
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Steps to Building a Website for your Small Business

If you are just starting out your business, you will certainly need a website to be relevant in today’s world. It does not matter what kind of business that you have; you need a website. With the prevalence of smartphones in today’s world, everyone will look up a business’s website before they look at anything else. They are more likely to want to see a website than to call your company and ask whatever inquiry they have.

A website does not mean that you need hire a fancy web designer. Especially if you are just starting out. More complex businesses or larger businesses may need to invest in a full web designer, but that is not always the case for a small business.FitsAllDevices

If you want to take a stab at designing a website yourself, here is what you need to do.

Step 1: What is the purpose of your website?

Think about what your website needs to do. This will depend a lot on the type of business that you have. Do you have a shop and need to have hours? Do you offer a product or service to customers? Are you selling something to customers?

Some websites are purely informational. They will explain what your business is, the location, and when you are open. Others offer detailed explanations of services.

Knowing what you need the website to do is important to figure out where you need to go next. It can also give you deep insight to the nature of your company as well.

Step 2: What management software should you use?

Depending on the kind of website that you need, there will be a few different web management software that you can choose from.

WordPress: This is a great source if you need a blog or you just have a website that is strictly informational. WordPress comes with templates to set you started and it is really simple to walkthrough and setup. And, best of all, it is free to use.

E-Commerce: If your business’s website has a commerce element to it, you need to go with a software that is meant for e-commerce. Many of them are little to no cost. Some good commerce software is:

  • Magneto
  • osCommerce
  • VirtueMart
  • OpenCart
Step 3: After you know what the website does and the kind of software you are going to use on it, you need to pick out a web host.

This is the company that will host your website’s information for you. Depending on the software, this many have already been chosen for you.

If you are hosting yourself, that will be when you need to pick a host. A popular one is GoDaddy.

Step 4: Design your website and Write Content

Once you have reached this point, it is time to consider how your website should look. A great tip is to look at other websites of your competitors or even just look around to see what kind of website that appeals to you that will suit your business needs

You will then need to fill in the design that you developed with the content about your business. This can be the hardest part for some people. This is what the visitors will actually read so you need it to be appealing and legible. You will also need to take into account SEO, which I will discuss in another post.

The visual elements will need to work well with what the content says. If you have images, they need to illustrate what you do in your company. Do not use clipart, whatever you do.

Step 5: Maintain you website

Most websites will self-manage and require little, but you should provide updated content when appropriate and look for anything that could be broken on the site or if customers are complaining about your website.

7 Things that your Business Website Needs to Have

While it is important that your company has a business website to begin with, it also needs to do its job. Whether it is a website that is purely for information, or if it is an e-commerce website, it still needs to perform the function that you are setting out for it.

Think about what visitors are going to see first when they go to your website and what you want the website to actually achieve. If you were the customer, what kind of website makes you happiest? What types of things are you looking for in a user experience? Look around at other companies’ websites and see if you have any thoughts about how what another business has done well can translate to the success of your own website.

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Here is a quick list of some of the things that need to be included in your business’s website in order for it to be successful and for customers to have a good experience.

  1. Explain what you do: Your business’s website needs to say what your business is. Do not beat around the bush or try to be too clever. If someone finds your business’s website through search results, they need to know right away if your website has what they are looking for. Ideally, a potential customer should be able to sort out the usefulness of your website in under 5 seconds.
  2. Have a logical website address: Having a cute or clever name is great, but you also don’t want people to immediately forget how to find your website if it is too complicated. Your domain name is part of your brand identity. That’s right; websites have become so important that they are actually part of your brand.
  3. Don’t make it cluttered: Having website that is streamlined and easy to navigate through will give a better user experience. Have a streamlined layout and visitors will like your website a lot more.
  4. Put the contact info up front: People often go to a website looking for hours, addresses, and phone numbers. Do not make them have to sort through a ton of things or make them jump through hoops to get what they are after. Keep it simple; make things easy for your customers and potential customers. Don’t be stingy with your contact information either; Put it all right up front where they can find it.
  5. Don’t be shy about flattery: If people have given you positive feedback, tout it loudly. Customer testimonials will encourage people to use your services or buy your products. It will establish a level of trust right away without having to earn it over time. Whether they know it or not, people love to know that people have said great things about you.
  6. Make SEO your best friend: SEO is not a mythical unicorn. You need to use the crap out of it to help make people find your website when they look for it. SEO will draw people to you when they are looking for something online. Using the smart keywords, you will be able to have your website pop up easier and faster in search results.
  7. Remember your audience: Users today have no attention spans whatsoever thanks to the speed of the internet. It is hard to grab the attention of people who have every business dangling something shiny in front of them. One useful idea is to have a call to action on the website, like “call us today,” “call for a free estimate,” “call for a free consultation,” that kind of thing.