If you have a home-based business with a blog, informational site about your services or an e-commerce site to sell products, search engine optimization, or, SEO, is a good way to get more and new visitors.
However, Google in particular fights spammers aggressively, so one must be careful with SEO strategy and tactics. Just four or five years ago tricks such as keyword stuffing (placing many keywords in the footer of a Web page) might have been acceptable. Now, though, doing that is likely to get your site pushed down in the organic rankings on Google.
Some webmasters and site owners went so far with keyword stuffing that they would set the color of the footer keywords to the same as the page’s background, so users wouldn’t see the large block of unreadable text, but search engines could.
So depending on the age or your site, you may want to consider un-doing any of these manipulative things in case they cause your site to get penalized and either removed from Google entirely or pushed below the top 100 organic search results. If your site is brand new or you are still in the planning stage, hopefully you know better than to employ aggressive manipulation, also known as black hat techniques.
Fun Fact: Black hat here is actually a reference to the bad guy stereotype from old Western movies. White hat or ‘good guy’ strategy is the way to go these days, because Google favors the sites that play by their rules, and because most online searches are performed with their search engine they have a great deal of power.
It should be said a general idea about SEO is that if your site is set up to rank well on Google, chances are it will also rank well on the lesser search engines such as Yahoo! and Bing.
Since one of the old bad guy tactics (keyword stuffing) was referenced it makes sense to also mention inbound link building, which is getting links from other web pages to your own. This tactic used to work because Google placed a great value on links to Web pages to rank their search relevancy using the notion that if people were voluntarily linking to Web pages that meant those pages had valuable and useful content or functionality.
SEO consultants and Webmasters figured out how to manipulate that focus by buying links and placing keywords in the anchor text for them. When users entered those keywords in Google Web pages with links to them containing those keywords tended to get the best rankings. Today, Google has fought back against this manipulation.
So, if your homepage suddenly received an increase in inbound links because of a manipulative effort on your part, it might actually cause your site to get penalized and it would move further down in the organic search results.
That said, it is important to make some effort to give some attention for getting new links to your site naturally, because Google does factor them in when ranking Web pages. The way to do this is simply to create the most useful and valuable content for users and allow them to reward you by choosing to link to your Web pages. Another way is to get a Google + account and share your links there, because it is a current strategy that might help get your Web pages indexed into the Google search engine faster. The point is to be very careful about where you are getting inbound links and not to get too many suddenly.
Also if they are all linked to your homepage, it may look unnatural to Google. By posting your links on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and LinkedIn it might generate interest, so the chance of someone voluntarily linking to your content is increased.
So what works today? The simple answer is to play ball by Google’s rules. If you don’t know them then head on over to the Google SEO Starter’s Guide. While reading a PDF may seem like a boring way to begin, it can help dissolve the perspective that SEO must start with a manipulative mindset.
Google wants to rank Web pages so that their users have satisfying search experiences. They don’t want their user base to get frustrated because they can’t find useful information. If that happens, they lose their audience (and can no longer make buckets of money by selling Pay-Per-Click ads). So if you create the best and most useful content for you prospective customers and readers you will make your site’s pages rank better on Google.
Also, it does help your search rankings to have some links to your Web pages, but not from sites that have irrelevant content or from low-quality sites, and especially not from link farms, which are sites of useless quality that exist only to provide links to others sites for the purpose of manipulation. It is thought now that if you have such links, it can get your site penalized and your rankings will then be so low you will get virtually no visitors.
Follow the sites that document Google’s algorithm updates, because there are many and each one can cause changes in the search result rankings. When you become more familiar with ways these updates affect rankings, you can make sure your site is up to date.
Another option is to join some online forums like SEO MOZ and read what SEO consultants who are professionals in the field are saying about the latest techniques. You don’t have to take what they say as law, but it helps to see things from other points of view. In fact, you may want to join several such forums and make sure to peruse their posts at least once a week.
Tip: Use the Google alerts feature and enter the keywords SEO, SEO for home business, SEO for small business, SEO for e-commerce and the like, so that when you are logged into your G-mail account, those news article links are waiting for you all the time. (This assumes you already have G-mail, but if you don’t, you should.)
Some Key Points on How to Approach SEO:
1. Think Text
Some sites today are still made in Flash so they are image-rich but lacking text. The search engines essentially are text-readers though, so they tend to highly rank Web pages with text. For example, Wikipedia pages occupy the number one rankings on Google for many keywords and keyword phrases as they contain hundreds if not thousands of words.
So if you have a blog, it isn’t sufficient any longer to make posts with just one or two hundred words. Longer blog posts like 500 words or more will very likely rank much better than short ones. The same is true of other pages within your site.
2. If you have an older site
Make sure you undo any manipulative tactics that you implemented previously, or an SEO consultant did.
3. Make useful, valuable content for real readers
Make a lot of it, with regular frequency. The more quality content you create the better, because sites with more pages typically rank better on the search engines, and you will be attracting more visitors because fresh content is more appealing than the old stuff.
4. Participate in social media
But only in an honest way where you post your Web pages on Google+ and Facebook, but you also post other people’s content and vote on their posts. Some are saying now that participating in good faith on Google+ may carry a slight SEO boost when you post links to your site. You wouldn’t want to only post your own links, and only vote up your own content
5. If your site is brand new, don’t make the mistake of applying the bad guy tactics to it.
Your site will probably suffer very low rankings and it may take a long time to undo your mistakes in the future. Take the high the road and stick with it.
6. Make the effort and put in the time to learn about what Google wants
Read their SEO and Webmaster content. Also, participate in online SEO forums or at least read what others are posting. Additionally, there are content sites such as blogs with many helpful articles on SEO, and if you don’t want to read you can watch SEO videos on YouTube.
7. Do keyword research using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool
See which keywords are most popular in your field and then create Web pages to match them, so you have a better chance of having those searchers visit your site when they show up in Google searches.
Focus on as many keywords as possible, rather than just two so you will have many more Web pages that are searchable and therefore a greater chance to get visitors.
8. Investigate SEO tools
They can help organize and enhance your efforts. Some have all-in-one dashboards where you can see various relevant metrics to gauge the success of your SEO strategy, and they can assist you in making effective decisions.
9. A Web analytics package
Shows the number of visits and unique visitors to your site from search engines and other sources is required. Otherwise, you won’t have enough useful data to help you determine what to do. Google Analytics is free and provides many different types of data.
Are you implementing the above SEO tips to your home business? What are other tactics you consider great SEO for a home business? Please share your comments below.
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