By Ann Marie van den Hurk Lexington Herald-Leader.
Search engine optimization, aka SEO, is the key to your small business being found on the Internet.
Grant Kantsios, of the Charlotte, N.C.-based SEO firm Grantkantsios.com, thinks small-business owners need to have an understanding of SEO and what role it plays in helping customers find websites.
By performing SEO on your website, you are essentially trying to increase its ranking and traffic, he explained.
There are many misconceptions about SEO that can be costly to a small business. First, many business owners think they don't need to invest in SEO. Also, they believe organic and well-planned SEO takes time to implement and that it can take up to six months to see results.
But, if SEO is done right, it is an investment. Depending on the type of business you operate, SEO will not cost a fortune, but it will require some resources. Small businesses on a limited budget can get help from SEO when it comes to increasing their visibility, rankings and more importantly, leads.
There are a lot of external factors that determine how difficult it will be to rank a website, and it varies vastly from business to business and industry to industry. Some competitive industries might require a larger SEO budget, but a lot of small businesses can invest wisely and have SEO make a difference.
Partnering with an SEO firm that does quality work is worth it, said Kantsios, adding that because SEO has replaced many traditional marketing tactics, investing in it is just good marketing.
Kantsios shares these insights on how to help your SEO:
-Discover what your potential customers are searching for. You know your business best and you know who your customers are. Think about your potential customers. If they were trying to find your services online, what would they be searching for? Understanding this is important for any successful SEO campaign.
-Improve website page speed. Page load time is an important factor for user experience. Whether it is a direct ranking factor is unknown. What we do know is that people want instant gratification and do not want to wait for a website to load. If your website is built on WordPress, you can install a caching plugin to help improve the load time.
-Title tags and meta descriptions. Each page should have a unique page title and meta description. Think of the page title as a chapter title in a book. The meta description should be a short, actionable phrase that entices users to click through to your website.
It is very important to take time to set up your website properly and to think of how your potential clients will interact with your website, Kantsios says. After you figure this out you need to spend time optimizing the site; writing page titles for each page, meta descriptions, improving the speed of your website, just to name a few. The biggest issue I see with SEO is that people have not spent any time doing SEO on their website. It all starts on your website.
Every business owner should want Page One on Google Search. Being discoverable on the Internet and landing on Page One takes hard work; however, it benefits your business greatly in the long term. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Ann Marie van den Hurk, an accredited public relations professional, is principal of Mind the Gap Public Relations and author of "Social Media Crisis Communications."