Does Your Business Website Rank Well in the Search Engines? Five tricks to increase your online visibility now

No one can deny the importance of maintaining a strong online presence these days. While this aspect of business might once have been reserved for e-commerce sites and Internet-media platforms, now it seems social interaction, digital brand strategy and search engine optimization are terms that are heard regularly in business communities across all industries and in all parts of the world.

Mobile phones, iPads and PCs are being recognized as the devices your target market uses to search for and even purchase products.

Whether you're a local service company, regional distributor, national food brand or global clothing outfitter, where your company shows up in online search results is essential to your success.

Search Engine Optimization is hard to ignore and may take additional planning, time and resources to conquer – but when executed properly, it stands to yield huge gains for you.

To get you started, here are some basic principles for those new to online marketing, or those reevaluating their online identity, which, when paid close attention to before making major decisions, can save time and spare you a headache.

1) Think in Terms of Keywords – Keywords are very important. The way people search online is extremely varied, and keywords are a huge part of building your online identity in a way that is advantageous to your particular niche offering. Proper research is the most important part of integrating keywords into your website page titles, page content and related online company profiles. It is important to integrate keywords in a balanced way so as to avoid penalization by the search engines, while at the same time taking into account the different ways that people search for things, using the terms that are most appropriate to your company's offerings, and choosing terms to optimize that are not so highly competitive that you will never see the results that you are hoping for. Easy, right? It actually can be.

2) Building Something? – Make it a link. Link Building is described as the linking of other websites to your site; the number of those is also referred to as a company's backlinks. The more backlinks a particular website has, the better. Also important is the relevance of the website linking to your company site, both in regard to its own page rank (search engine determined) and relevance within your given industry. If Company A distributes widgets and links to Company B, which also sells widgets, that is much more powerful from a link perspective than if Company A that distributes widgets links to Company C, which sells flowers. Always be aware of reciprocating link schemes.

3) Blog Consistently – Your company blog (Weblog) is your chance to add valuable content to your company's online brand in any way desired. Obviously, the more creative blogs gain more readers. Don't just blog because you know you're supposed to be blogging for SEO purposes. Instead find a way to be passionate about whatever your topic is so that it resonates through your writing.

Many people often wonder how often they should blog. The answer is simple: Blog however often that you can consistently commit to doing it regularly.

The more often you add fresh content to a piece of Internet real estate, the more often the search engines will index it. The more often you are indexed, the more relevant you are seen by the search engines within your given industry, therefore your search rankings start to creep up as a result.

That being said, don't be overly ambitious (ie. posting blogs daily only to realize you are burned out and lacking good content). A once-per-week quality post is better than daily junk with zero keyword relevance, especially if you get tired of it and quit altogether.

4) Get Social – Of course, we all know the benefit of networking on the local level. We all go to our local Chamber events, right? Or at least to some of the many festivals that go on in our northern gem of a city.

But think of how it could be applied at the regional, national or even global level. All of a sudden your product, brand or service has the potential to reach multiple hundreds of thousands of people, across borders irrelevant of potential barriers to sale including a particular geographic area. Does that have you thinking differently about your business? It should. Facebook and Twitter are a reality now. The trick is learning how to use them effectively and efficiently to establish a reputation that is in line with your brand – and then figuring out how to profit from it.

5) Let your Website be Flexible – Too many people are stuck with a website that is a placeholder ­- a quick explanation of your business because you're supposed to have one. Re-think that. Today, your website is your identity. Think about this, too: How many times have we all changed in our lives? How many times have we picked up a new hobby, grown in certain areas and as a result changed things about ourselves, or our perspective?

Just like us and our business, a website needs to change and evolve as well.

It needs to reflect the stage you're currently in and showcase what you can provide to your customers now.

If it's not able to do that, consider taking a closer look. There are many easily manageable website platforms on the market that can be updated regularly by the site owner after learning some basics.

This seems like a lot, but it is manageable. The most important point is getting started or taking the time to evaluate what you're currently doing. Once there is some clarity, realize that these tasks can be learned by employees that have downtime during the week, or used as that form of expression that an owner has been looking for to get the word out about what they love to do. You just have to find a way to make it you.

Warner is a search engine optimization specialist and owner of TC Search Coach, which offers SEO training and campaign management for small- and medium-sized companies. 231-342-9381, drew@tcsearchcoach.com.

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