SEO For Small Online Business Owners

How to Learn SEO

The first thing that should know about SEO is that it is an ongoing process. There is no such thing as set and forget when it comes to search engine optimization. What works today will most likely cease to work tomorrow and if you stop monitoring and continue on with your SEO campaign, you will definitely be outranked by your competition. That’s a fact!

Anyway, the best way to learn search engine optimization is by actually putting what you learn into practice and seeing the results as you work. The idea is to set aside about 30 minutes of work per day to put into practice each SEO technique you learn and see how much it impacts, if any, your results. If you do everything at the same time, you will never know which one worked and which ones did not. This is why monitoring your SEO progress is a crucial part of your campaign.

Best SEO Practices

SEO for Small BusinessSEO is traditionally a task that has been viewed as something complicated and mythical. The reality about SEO is that anyone can do it, provided you put in the time and effort to make it work for you. While there are many reasons why you would prefer to not DIY, you should know that adhering to white hat techniques and conducting a best-practice SEO campaign actually involves nothing more but the application of relatively simple set of ethical principles. There are essentially four key elements that you should be worried about when conducting your SEO campaign. These key elements (which should work together) should form an integral part of your thinking when optimizing your website.

1. Proper Keyword Research and Implementation – Conducting a proper and thorough keyword research is the only first step that makes sense. You are, after all, optimizing a website for search engines. The only way that “real humans” use to find whatever it is they are looking for is by means of using keywords or phrases. Perhaps this could change in the future, but for now, this is a key ingredient to a good SEO campaign. Learn as much as you can about conducting keyword research and remember to target for “less competitive” keywords, specially when you are just in the beginning.

2. Content Development – You may often seen a lot of times the phrase – “content is king”. It is indeed a fair assessment and is probably more relevant than the SEO campaign in itself. Your sites content is paramount to success and the way you structure and present your content can make or break your online marketing efforts in a lot of ways. It is without a doubt that search engines prefer quality over quantity and needless to say that delivering only great and high quality content will ultimately be responsible for your website having more traffic that is relevant for your small online business’s success. Learn how to write optimized content, without hampering the usability and users experience. Remember that you are first writing for your audience. You can then compliment your content by applying the best SEO practice for content optimization.

3. Web Development – Content may be “king” but a poorly structured and technically flawed theme or coding, can equally be damaging for your website. Plan ahead as to what theme and navigational structure will suit your needs bests and try to stick to it for the long run. Changing themes often can and may hurt your rankings.

In addition, ensure that your navigational flow and menu structure are using the keywords that you identified earlier during your initial keyword research. Avoid “bells and whistles” in your website as in most cases they only serve to distract your audience. Keep it clean and as logical as possible. If you are using Thesis theme, there are many ways that Thesis customizations can help too. Also, don’t forget that page load time is something that you should seriously be looking at as well.

When developing your website, keep in mind the following, at least as far as SEO is concerned:

  • navigation flow and menu structure
  • sites copy, post or articles
  • headings and sections (sub-heading)
  • Page Speed Loading Time

4. Link Building – Having covered the core aspect of on-page SEO, it’s time to stir away from your site and apply off-site or off-page SEO. Building inbound links links is also very important and while there are several link building techniques, remember that again, it is quality that counts and not quantity. The key factor to remember is that the quality and relevance of your inbound links are what matter most. Focus on receiving fewer, higher-value links, rather than lots of low-quality or irrelevant links. The later, may even hurt your sites credibility and reputation, so I suggest to stay away from it.

Not so long ago, I provided some useful tips on how to build inbound links. That is a good place to start.

Deep Linking or Internal Linking Matters Too

While link building focuses primarily on external sites, you should also be aware that links within your own site helps to strengthen your overall relevance and authority. When appropriate, try to link from one matching keyword to another post or article within your site. You can see the example I have just done, by linking from this article to another (e.g. keyword research link above).

5 – Social Engagement – While this could be considered as part of a link building campaign, I preferred to keep this separate as it is important for you to know that social engagement is now a very important part of your SEO campaign. Many search engines are now using “signals” to determine trust and credibility of users and websites via this medium. Take the authorship markup verification, that has been recently introduced by Google. It might not be the most important ranking factor just yet, but I am convinced that in the very near future, it will play an important role on search results. Learn the ropes on how to build and establish your brand, and you will see that the effort will pay off. On a side note, don’t neglect the power of social media in your SEO campaign.

[box type="note"]Google Authorship and Author Rank is becoming the New SEO! Click here to find out everything you need to know.[/box]

By understanding and educating yourself through the application of these principles, your SEO campaign will most likely thrive. Stay away from bad SEO techniques and those so called “quick” ranking schemes. They might get you good rankings quickly, but rest assured that they will eventually fade away. As I said before, SEO is an ongoing process and only with regular monitoring and adjustments can sustain your rankings for the long haul.

About 

A Business Consultant, an Internet Marketer and founder of iBlogZone. iBlogZone's main objective is to help you achieve online success in internet marketing, blogging, SEO, making money online, and anything else related. DiTesco is also a co-founder of WordPressJunkies.net, the WordPress Social Network.

79 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. It seems to me that there are many people who don’t know what keywords to use. I can’t explain the reason of it, because there is much information about it on the Internet. But I agree with you completely that this is the first thing on which we should pay attention.

    • I agree with you Jeanie. Most campaigns fail because of having improper keywords. Some have good keywords but fail on content development. If you fail to have either one of this on you campaign list, you will surely not hit the big pot of gold :)

    • Hi Jeanie. My point exactly.. it all starts basically on what keywords you should use. If one does not know what to target for, most likely it is also an indicative that they are not sure what topic they are in :) Thanks for stopping by

  2. Doing proper keyword research is important and I found it takes time to understand that process, its more than just going into adwords tool and look for keywords. Also reviewing your old content and optimizing it also helps.

    • Totally agree with you Sanjeev. Keyword research does not stop just on using tools such as Adwords KT. There is a process of finding the right “keywords” to use and that is really important. I am glad to know that you have “this one” under control :) BTW, your tip about reviewing old content s great. I do it, but sadly just not often enough. Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts.

  3. It’s great that you listed keyword research as number one here. Learning how to properly research for the right keywords to use can really make a lot of difference on getting people to visit your site. This is one of the things that new bloggers should invest in as I learned from my experience.

    • Hi Adeline. Thanks.. It is true that keyword research is the first logical step when doing your SEO. However, that is just a part of it, and optimizing for keywords alone will sadly not do the trick.. It is however, like you said, very important and doing a proper research is exactly what its all about.. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Agreed!! Social Media now play vital role in search engine ranking no doubt about it, If your certain post get good number of likes and retweets then there are very good chance that it’ll rank in SERP for targeted keyword. Other points are important too but social media influence has increased in recent times.

    • No doubt Aaron that the Social Web plays an important part of an effective marketing and SEO campaign. The networks are actually there for all for all of us to use and you are right, using it properly will never hurt, that’s for sure :)

  5. I think Francisco had cover all the important SEO techniques here, nothing to add :). SEO is interesting subject and never ending story as mentioned above. The latest Google’s Panda updates more concern to content quality, short and decorative posts will get hard time to get listed on SERPs. Thanks for sharing this info packed post.

    • Hi Rammesh. Well thank you very much for your kind words. Glad you found this article useful. Thanks for stopping by and all the best

  6. I think it all starts with proper keyword research. If you are unsure of the keywords that you will be targeting, then the rest of your SEO techniques won’t be as effective.

    When learning how to properly implement SEO, it is also important to ensure you don’t do anything that is frowned upon by search engines. While black-hat methods may move you up the rankings quickly, your site will suffer in the long run when search engines change their algorithm. When done properly, however, proper, white-hat SEO techniques can greatly benefit your site long-term.

    • Could not agree with you more on this one Paul. You have basically summarized what I said, lol. Seriously, it actually boils down to what you just mentioned, without implementing the SEO techniques properly, no campaign will ever be as effective. Thanks for leaving your views. much aappreciated

  7. Apart from this traditional on-page and off-page optimization, there are some services that a good SEO company can offer you. The more time consuming and tricky can be to find the related and high ranked posts and pages where you would like to acquire a link for yourself. If your SEO partner is good enough, you can save lot of time and effort to boost your business.

    I agree with all the points you’ve mentioned about optimizing your blog for Search Engines, but the story goes a little further from there.

    • Hi Suresh. You are right.. SEO in essence actually never stops as it is a process driven effort to get and stay there on the coveted first pages of major search engines. Obviously, I have not gone into the lengthy details of how exactly one can achieve the steps above. The point is to make sure that it is understood that SEO is a whole set of key elements that should be taken and whenever possible in the right order.

      Your suggestion about getting a SEO partner is definitely a good choice, specially when you have spent so much time searching for inbound links and for reason, still can’t manage to get what you need. Thank you for stopping by. I hope all is well with you.

  8. Selection of good keywords make on site and off site SEO campaign successful. You have often see a cart is nothing without bull,I can say that the driving force of cart is bull. In SEO we say that driving force is good contents that are helpful in SEO campaign.

  9. Nice rundown of the key strategies, Ileane. I’m beginning to wonder, though, whether those of us who do it manually can compete with the automated approaches described in my post below on Behind the Backlinking Curtain.

    • Hi there. Hmmm, can’t really say that one technique can compete with the other. The only I can almost be sure of is that doing it manually, although takes more time and effort, as usually links that are of good quality. Automated software to do article submissions, etc., are not bad, provided you do it properly. Automating something does not “substitute” doing anything properly, but rather to save time. I have to admit though, that I have not used UAW before, so I am not in a position to say anything about it. Thanks for you thoughts.. Really appreciate it. Might have given me just another blog post idea :)

      • DiTesco, I exerted a failure when I called your name wrong. This makes Astro appear foolish and unappreciative. If an idea for you results, it gives some joy.

        • Hi. NP.. I am sure that it was not intentional. These things happen and just by the fact that you are acknowledging it, is already a wonderful gesture from your part. Thanks

  10. The keywords seem to always end up sending less traffic than the Google Keywords Tool suggests they will. Could be geo-targeting I think. Nice post :)

  11. Hi Darren. You are right, but bear in mind that most of the tools that you use are mere estimates. Also, the fact that, say, a specific keyword supposedly is queried xx thousand time a month, does not, unfortunately guarantee that you will get a share of that “pie”. Keyword analysis and correct usage does play an important part to get more traffic, but that is only the first step :) Thanks for stopping by and all the best

    • Of course you’re right. There are just estimates, but they give you an idea relative to other keywords how much traffic they’ll send. Plus Google shows you the ‘competitiveness’ of the terms, which can help you decide on which ones to chase.

      • Agreed. that is exactly what proper keyword research entails. Researching for terms that are relatively well queried and with low competition is the “ideal” words or phrase to target for. Thanks again for your input.

  12. Hey Ileane. So sorry I was a little late on replying to the comments here. Thanks a million for giving me the opportunity to showcase this article on your blog. You got a great audience.. Love it!

    • DiTesco, In my opinion, you always show up on time! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and providing a resource that everyone can come back to time and time again for SEO guidance and advice!

      • Thanks Ileane for your kind words. I do hope that this article provide some good SEO insights for your readers. BTW, tried your “technique” about using CommentLuv with a YouTube feed, and it worked. Just awesome :)

  13. Thanks Ditesco. Putting together good keywords in the post title, description, the link itself, etc. is definitely important for the page SEO, which could eventually of course enhance the PR.

    I would always follow Google’s best practices and stay away from quick ranking schemes, they don’t only fade away, they could very well penalize your page ranking.. I learned that the hard way unfortunately, been there done that :) And it takes time for your page to get visible again in search engines.

    • Hi Mohamed. Well said, applying the SEO best practices is really the only way to go. It might take a bit more time to achieve results but once you get there, it stays there for a longer period of time. Of course there is always the matter of keeping it up there.. but that«s another story :)

  14. For link building one main concern is the relative links and links from the quality contents.For SEO you site should also have quality contents.

  15. Hi there! I really enjoyed reading your article you wrote and published on Technorati – 6 Tips to Build Inbound Links. I am just learning about SEO and link building and your information was quite valuable to me. As for finding blogs to write guest posts, how do you go about doing that?

  16. if anybody want more traffic , he have to do search engine optimization (SEO) for his website. For traffic when you create website , you have to follow Tittle, meta description, meta keyword, many tags such as H1 h2, strong, etc, But keywords is the most important fact of them for SEO. So off course follow keywords .

    Thanks to DiTesco for your Tips, it will be helpfull for SEO.

  17. Wow! That sure was an insightful and informative post!

    While we all do try our best to optimize our keywords by looking out for the best tools to be used for the same, is there any one tool that can do the trick? All-in-one kind of thing, so that the hunting gets a little lesser for us, as it does get confusing with so many in the market, as to which one to choose. Or does it have to be a combination of many tools while selecting the right keywords.

    • Thanks for your comment. I believe that these “key elements” are indeed very important for SEO and applying it would only bring benefits.

  18. Hi Ileane,
    Great tips for everyone, not just the small business. Although, I would emphasize that it’s really important to concentrate on the quality and readibility of your content as opposed to SEO. In the end, it’s people, not the machines that will be your customers.

    • I agree Richard. Any website owner should first and foremost focus on delivering quality content for its readers. In addition I too would emphasize that a website that is looking to increase its online exposure for business, should not neglect SEO :) In the end, a balanced approach would be best, don’t you think?

  19. Hi DiTesco,
    It is a very informative post on SEO and small business owners can get much help from this article. SEO understanding is important for good traffic.

    • Hmmm, 26 keywords is really a lot to target for.. Now 6 primary keywords and 20 related keywords is a different story and it could help :) But I agree with you. It is effort wasted to target for many keywords at once, and in most cases would be elatively difficult to actually rank for anyone. Fortunately, you had 6 that managed to do well. Overall, I think you did a good job :)

  20. You hit the nail on the head with each of these points, even the overlooked web development. Less is more when it comes to having a clean site, easy to navigate, and fast loading. It’s a shame that some sites don’t know that the flashy sites hurt them because the visitor gets lost, or the page takes a long time to load.

    • Hi Lionel. Sharp eye, lol. You are the first to mention about it and indeed, it is so easy to overlook the “web development” part when it comes to SEO. I think you get my point ;-) Thanks for stopping by and all the best

  21. I am really need of a site change. I think the design is hindering my business progress. That is definitely on my list of things to do to help boost my SEO.

    • Hi MArcie. Saw your blog and you are using a very powerful theme. Genesis is great for SEO and even for pseed. Their coding is probably one of the best out there. Perhaps you just need a little “spicing up”? LOL Thanks for stopping by

  22. The best way to get long lasting benefits from search engines is to make your website/blog content strong. After the recent panda update Google has started focusing more on Quality and Fresh content. Content has become the king nowadays. If you keep updating your blog/website with fresh and quality contents definitely you are gonna see a sudden rise in your statistics. Secondly, another factor on which small businesses need to work is the Backlink. Backlink is such a factor which can boost your website keyword rankings high in the SERP. Backlinks makes it much easier to get a website on the front page of Google search engine.

  23. Great pointers for small business SEO, especially the web development tip. SEO goes far beyond just onsite tweaks, changing a few tags and building a few links now. More and more factors for ranking are looking at the design, coding and functionality/usability of websites and these all play an important role into the optimisation and (essentially) ranking potential of a website.

    Please also check out our latest blog post (linked via ComLuv below) which discuss what we feel are the ’6 Most Critical Elements to Onsite SEO’ currently.

    • Hi Pete. Thanks for leaving your thoughts. I guess we are on the same “radar” and I will be checking your post as soon as I finish replying to your comment :) All the best

  24. Hi DiTesco,

    Of your excellent tips, this one seems to be most overlooked:

    links within your own site helps to strengthen your overall relevance and authority

    On visiting many sites, this is something you will not see much of — deep linking to their own content. Perhaps it is not recommended enough that site owners consider it important?

    • Hi Vanessa. You are so right about this part being often overlooked by many website owners. SEO aside, there are other reasons why everyone should be doing it. One reason is that it allows for you to link to other relevant content and make your visitor stay longer and get more familiar with what you have to offer. Overall, I think that it is important and obviously, care should be taken to not overdo it. For SEO purposes, it helps search engines know more about your overall topic :)

  25. Hi DiTesco :)

    Nice post on basic SEO! I’ve been participated in Internet marketing for almost a year now but SEO only came to me about 4 months ago. I understand the basics and am practicing them. But you’ve opened my eyes with the “social engagement” aspect!

    To be honest, it’s the thing I’m doubting for some times after the Panda update and now I think I would give it a serious try.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience. Have a nice day man!

    Duy.

    • Hi Duy. Proper SEO actually helps you ensure that your website won’t be hit by the Panda wave. Obviously, first and foremost you need quality content, but I think that, that is already a given :) If you are not investing any time on your SEO yet, I suggest you do as it will only benefit your site in the long run. Social media is important and should not be neglected for all purposes.. Thanks for stopping by

  26. Great tips Fransisco. I think lots of people still dont realize the power of internal linking. A good internal linking structure helps to flow pr and authority evenly through out your blog while keeping readers on your blog for longer, thus lowering your bounce rate.

    • Hi Satrap. Indeed, internal linking is a very important not only for SEO but also to help users find more quality content on your site. Like you said, linking to related topics can improve the flow of the content and helps a great deal to reduce bounce rates, which in turn also improves your sites overall quality and authority. Sharp eye my friend. Thanks for stopping by

  27. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game.

  28. Debbie

    This is a very well written article with lots of interesting debate following it. The main bit is to do little and often I think.

  29. A some kind of DIY SEO. Your tips are recommendable! SMB owners could find them realistic and highly applicable. With all these tips, ensuring quality links must be monitored.

    Thanks Mr DiTesco for your valuable contribution.

  30. Solid article DiTesco. It is kind of funny how this was wrote in 2011, but yet pretty much all of this article remains true today, despite the industry being totally transformed within the past year or so.

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