Do-It-Yourself SEO for small Business

Do-It Yourself SEO for small Business

DIY SEO for small business owners - Targeting Your Ideal Customer's Searches

The secret to success for small businesses online is simple…wait for it…drum roll…

Show up in Google when they search for things you sell.
It really is that simple. The hard part is getting into that search. Throwing up a website and waiting for the phones to ring just doesn’t happen.

Regardless of how nice you website is. Regardless of how valuable the content is and how desirable the product/service is. And, regardless of how much Google says it values quality websites. Here is a fact of generating business from the Internet:

You will not get any visitors without helping Google find and value your website.
That’s where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in. What’s even better were going to give you a Do-It-Yourself guide to SEO.

1. Use WordPress.

Create your website on the WordPress platform. It does 90% of what you need for small business SEO out of the box. And the other 10% is easier with WordPress, like: XML Sitemaps, proper Title tags, meta-data, HTML structure, etc.

2. Site Architecture/Design

  • How you organize web pages on website!

  • How web pages link to each other!
  • How your site is coded!

These are very important points which will have influence on search engine rankings. Using keywords in navigation can give website a rankings boost. Navigation should be coded in way that search engine spiders can read it as text.

3. Research and pick your keywords

Use Google’s Keyword Research Tool to identify and select keywords that your target customers are using to search for products and services related to your business. Focus on the keywords that are relevant, but have less competition.

Choosing the right keyword will help you rank your website ranking in search results. The high competition keywords will not be easy to rank a new business, because search results are always the highest priority. Analyse alternate keywords, review competitor’s web sites and start writing.

Use MajecticSEO or ahrefs to explore and analyse the Backlinks of competitor’s website.

Here are The Best SEO Tips and Resources you can use.

4. Writing Content and On-Page Optimization

After deciding the keywords we will be targeting on which web page, Write title tag, Meta description tag, write eye catchy headlines and subheadings, and create the main text for the web page.

Use good (keyword) titles, URLs, anchor text, and HTML structure (H1, H2, H3).

If you listened to my advice on number 2 then you have this pretty well covered. If not, here is the short version:

  • Use keywords in you title, but make them human readable and interesting

  • URLs should be simple and human readable too, with keywords

  • Text that is hyper-linked should always be a keyword (not Click Here)

  • Use headings and subheadings to make your content more readable to your customers and Google. Do them in order—H1 for the Website title, H2 for the article title, H3 for sub-headings

Here is Complete On-Page Optimization Check-list

Google loves good content. If you are routinely adding fresh and relevant content to your website, content focused on your customer’s questions, then Google will reward you with higher search position.

5. Use Google Analytics

Go right now and sign-up and install Google Analytics on your website. If you can’t track who is visiting and where they came from all the rest is useless. Remember the old saying: “You can only improve what you measure.”

6. Publish a Sitemap.

This is not as important as it once was, but I still think the easier you make it for Google to read your website the better. So, create, publish, and register with Google and Bing an XML sitemap.

If you use WordPress there is a handy plug-in called XML Sitemap.

7. Start Promoting by telling your friends and neighbours.

One of the best ways to improve your search engine rankings is to simply get the word out. Telling friends, neighbours, and business partners is a great way to get new traffic and spread the word that you are online. However, the big SEO impact happens when these folks start linking and referring to you.

That is as simple as them linking to your website as a business partner, sharing your website via Facebook, or sharing an article via one of the hundreds of social networks out there.

Don’t forget to ask them to do some of these things when you first introduce the website. Even better, include how to do that in an email you send to them announcing your website launch.

8. Use Social Media To Boost Business.

Why use social media?
A recent study by "Internet Advertising Bureau UK have revealed that nearly 80% of consumers would be more intrested in buying from a brand which has social media presence.

Once you get your social media marketing strategy right in place then you need to think how to convert that into sales.

9. Get listed in local directories and online forums.

Every town, big or little has a multitude of local directories and forums that lists and discusses local businesses. Get listed. Often you can sign-up yourself. If not email the Webmaster and ask him to add your website (and a link to it).

10. Link Building

The quality (important) and quantity of backlinks will determine your websites search results. On-page optimization alone cannot provide result in high ranking sites unless your website has sufficient backlinks to beat the competitors.

11. Claim Your Business On Google Places.

Claim or add your business in Google’s local business directory—Google Places. Local search is becoming a very powerful marketing tool for small businesses. You will very likely rank immediately on Google Maps and in relevant searches via the Places search inset.

Try it out. Search for your product or service in your town or city. Something like: Pizza in Flat Rock, MI.

12. Track How You're Doing.

In addition to Google Analytics, you should do simple Google searches of your keywords and track (in a spreadsheet) who shows up. Hopefully, one of them will be you in the near future. Compare these results from week to week and see if you’re moving up (or down).

How to Understand and Manage Blog Comments

Blog comments can be very gratifying but also stressful. You want comments that are thoughtful and (let’s be honest) that make your business look good. Not in a shallow, flattering manner, but because a great discussion makes people feel positive about your brand. Conversely, a negative discussion makes people feel negatively towards your brand and even changes their opinion of the post that contains negative comments.

Comments are content

Another important puzzle piece comes from something I heard Liz Strauss say at SOBCon 2009, and it’s stuck with me ever since: “Comments are content.

Let that one sink in for a moment: comments are content.

I’d spoil this by talking about it too much. It’s simple enough.

Comments are an Investment

Why do people comment on your blog  posts?

  • Because they enjoy it, because they’re stimulated by the discussion and they have something valuable to share.
  • Because they’ve become emotional and they’re reacting.
  • Because they have a question, suggestion or want to point out a mistake.
  • Because they’re on the prowl to “generate traffic” or backlinks and they’re engaging in SEO spam.
  • Because they’re trolls and think you’re easy prey.

There are many reasons, but the above are some of the biggies. Knowing why someone comments can help you decide how to manage their comments or their presence on your blog. Repeat commentators are making an investment in you: they enjoy your blog posts and enjoy engaging with you. They’re not just about getting traffic for themselves. They value their relationship with you. Do you value your relationship with them?

Comments are work

When your blog is new and you’re not getting much traffic or comments, all your work goes into building your network and creating content. Once the ball gets rolling, what you’ll find is that managing comments is a lot of work. It can easily take just as much if not more time than writing blog posts. It doesn’t matter how you decide to manage them (moderated or not, you reply to all of them or not). Because comments are valuable content, and because they represent a valuable investment in you from your readers, you can’t phone this in. If you’ve decided you want to respond to your readers’ comments, I believe you should put as much work into your responses as they did in their comments. I believe in meeting people halfway.

Comments are community

Your frequent commentators are just as much a part of your brand as you are. Visitors to your site are going to be affected by what they read in the comments on your blog posts. An impression will be made. Hopefully, it will be a positive one. Your frequent commentators are your highly visible core community. Treat them with respect. They’re also likely to be your best customers. Not only will you get to know them, they’ll get to know each other, too. Never take them for granted.

Choosing a system

There’s nothing wrong at all with WordPress’s native comment functionality. I like the features and functionality of Disqus and choose to use that service. Some people really like Livefyre or Facebook comments. Triberr comments are another alternative you can use. Various plugins can enhance WordPress comments very nicely, such as providing an easy way for people to have new comments to the post emailed to them and subscribing to your newsletter at the same time. A quick search of the WordPress plugins directory will reveal all kinds of goodies you can use if you want to. The reasons why I like third party comment services is that they combine what would otherwise be a Frankenstein’s monster mish-mash of other plugins and a lot of work into a seamless interface.

Moderation in all things

One important decision you need to make if you’re going to allow comments (not everyone does) is whether or not you’re going to moderate them. Moderating blog comments means no comment is published to your post until you’ve read it and approved it. I don’t moderate comments in this way because I don’t want to hold up the discussion if I’m not free to approve comments. I’d rather come in afterward and clean up the few spam or unintelligible comments that make it through. What can happen if you don’t stay on top of comment moderation is that you’ll get like five people who all think they’re the first to respond to the post. You can choose settings in WordPress that will cause some comments to be held for moderation based on criteria such as containing links or certain words. If you place a link in your comment text on WayToBlogging, your comment will automatically be held for moderation until I can take a look at it. If someone is offensive enough (whether in language or tactics such as spam), you can ban them entirely from your site. This is easily done with Disqus, which I’m using for my commenting system as of this post. It can also be done in “regular” WordPress. Here’s some information straight from WordPress on combating comment spam. There are also plugins for dealing with comments. I will moderate comments that are inane or nonsensical. Empty flattery does not contribute to the discussion at hand. If I can’t even understand what is written, then that person’s English is so bad there can be no real conversation… or they’re using a “spin” program or a translator program to spam worthless content.

Responding to comments

I try to respond to every comment I receive. I want you to know your efforts at commenting are acknowledged. That you’re not just speaking into the void.

If you put a lot of effort into your comment, I will likely put a lot of effort into my reply. If you don’t, I’ll still acknowledge you.

Do this enough, and you’ll begin to feel like you’re repeating yourself. Most people don’t like that feeling. But each person who comments deserves their reply and often that means you’re saying the same things over and over, like “Glad you liked it,” and such. There are only so many ways to say these things, it’s inevitable.

Don’t take your commentators for granted, if you don’t like feeling repetitive, too bad. First world problems, and all that.

Suck it up.

People will always debate whether or not it’s okay to swear on a blog. I swear here all the time and if you swear in the comments, I’m fine with that as long as you’re not being lazy or trying to shock people for its own sake.

But swearing and being nasty or mean to people are two completely different things. As soon as anyone gets nasty and becomes insulting or engaging in personal attacks, they’re gone. Argue about ideas and facts and opinions. Don’t allow personal attacks.

You’ll also run up against arguments and disagreements. These can degenerate into unpleasantness because often people don’t know how to debate without employing logical fallacies or getting overly emotional–and then they start to get personal. Make sure you can recognize and deal with logical fallacies. The same wisdom people apply to email applies to blog comments: don’t respond in kind, and don’t respond when you’re angry.

What works for you?

I’ve shared a lot with you about how I manage comments in order to give you a good overview of comment management. What works for me won’t always work for you, but at least you’ve got a framework for understanding comments and managing them. What’s your approach to managing comments?

Best Way To Use Forums to Grow Your Blog

For new bloggers who are looking to find more readers and grow their blog, forums can be a valuable resource. While forums may not directly result in large numbers of visitors to your blog, there are substantial benefits from participating in forums.

Why Are Forums Useful?

1.  You can learn from others and get your questions answered. The information you gain may make the difference between having an average blog and a standout blog.

2.  You can help others by answering their questions. If you are able to be a valuable source of information to others they will remember you and will be more likely to become a reader or refer other readers to you.

3.  Forums are an excellent way to network with other bloggers. Blogging is very community-oriented by nature. All successful bloggers have effectively networked with others. Your network can be a source of information, advice, and links.

4.  You can use a signature that includes a link to your blog. If you actively participate on forums with a link in your signature, some other users will click-through to visit your blog. While this type of traffic is nice, it is not the best that forums have to offer.

5.  You may be able to promote your blog posts. Most forums have specific places where you are permitted to advertise or promote your own work. Like point #4, this traffic is beneficial, but it should not be your focus when you are using forums.

How Can You Effectively Use Forums?

As we have seen already, there is a lot of potential with forums. However, most bloggers who are trying to drive traffic through forums don’t use the most effective methods. While there are ways to get visitors to your blog directly from forums (points 4 and 5 above) that traffic is very unlikely to amount to anything significant. Most forum users are not there to find other blogs to read, so it is difficult to generate big results with this approach.

Instead, here are some tips for maximizing the potential of forums.

1.  Schedule time to use them.While forums are an excellent resource for bloggers, they can also be a huge time-consuming activity if you aren’t careful. If you plan your activities ahead you can be sure to participate on forums without sacrificing time that you need for other priorities.

2.  Provide help and feedback to others.This is the best way to be recognized at forums and to get others to notice you. Don’t be afraid to ask your own questions of others, but focus on providing assistance and you’ll quickly increase your value to other forum members.

3.  Focus on networking, not direct traffic. The key to effectively using forums is to focus on building relationships with other bloggers. Earlier we mentioned that click-through traffic was not the best that forums have to offer, networking is. Forums may not show up in your statistics as large sources of traffic, but you may meet other bloggers at forums that will wind up linking to you, or will be willing to post one of your articles on their blog. This is where forums really become valuable and this is where efforts should be.

4.  Ask for feedback from other forum users. Most forums will have an area for you to introduce yourself and get feedback from other users. Blogging-related forums often have a place to provide a link to your blog and get the opinions of the other users about your blog design and content. Be careful to solicit this feedback in the appropriate places. Some forums are not friendly towards this type of communication if it is not in the designated areas. When I was designing my blog WayToBloggingI got some valuable feedback from others that I was able to use to improve the design (some of it I still haven’t gotten to yet).

5.  Use an effective signature file.As you post to forums you messages will include a signature file that can (and should) include a link to your blog. Rather than just providing a link to your blog, give a quick description of the blog or something else that will interest others.

6.  Follow your messages and build ongoing communications. Most forums will email you when someone has replied to one of your messages. Be sure to read the responses and try to engage in a continuing dialogue. This is a big part of networking.

7.  Be polite. This one should be obvious, but sometimes it’s not the norm. If your goal is to network and build relationships you can quickly ruin those opportunities if you are rude or demeaning to others.

8.  Focus on one or two forums.With the large number of forums available it’s tempting to try to use them all. What usually happens if you try this approach is that you will not use any of the forums enough to really be able to network effectively with the other users. At least when you are first getting started with forums you should focus on one or two. The focused approach will allow for the best networking potential. Once you have used a particular forum for a while and you feel like you could be more effective somewhere else, move on and try one of the other forums.

9.  Use an avatar or picture if possible.With an avatar other users are more likely to remember seeing you on other parts of the forum. It helps to build your identity.

10.  Focus on the subjects that you know well. Most forums will cover a wide variety of topics. If you are looking to network by providing help and assistance to others, you’ll have the best results if you focus on topics that you know the best.

11.  Look for win-win opportunities.One of the keys to effective networking is finding win-win situations. If you meet other bloggers that write on the same topics as you, try to find areas where you can help each other. Maybe you can write a guest post for another blogger and a particular topic that you know well. This would be good exposure for you and it would provide valuable content for the other blogger. Link exchanges are also common.

If you are looking for some forums for bloggers, here are a few to get you started:

3 Simple Reasons To Not Sync Your Facebook/Twitter Status

There are many applications out there that help you update your social networking statuses all in one place (such as TweetDeck, etc.), but there are some disadvantages of updating your Twitter and Facebook simultaneously so that they mirror one another. I have provided these reasons below:
  1. Relevance – When you update your status on both services, the events and people that you specify in your status may not be relevant and pertain to the users on one social network, but not to the other.
  2. Twitter Jargon – When updating your status on Twitter, your friends on Facebook may not understand the different terms that are native to Twitter‘s jargon, such as hash-tags (e.g. #blogging) and @ symbol user tagging.
  3. Repetition – With people knowing that you update your status on both social networks, it may detract friends from visiting your account on either network. This is why it is key to have some variety in your statuses on both networks, even if you paraphrase one status differently than the other.
If you are an on-the-go type person, syncing both statuses to the mentioned social networks may be the only way to update your friends about your happenings; however, I am sure there are users out there that would agree with the above premises.
Happy Blogging!


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