“If you build it they will come” rarely applies to small business websites. That’s why we talked to Roger Mendoza, an Intuit web advisor, on strategies for getting found on Google and other search engines. Read on for Mendoza’s expert tips.
- Choose your domain carefully. The best domain name for your business might not be your company name. In fact, it often makes sense to include a keyword in your domain name to clue in search engines and web surfers on what your company actually does. “Nowadays your domain name plays a big role,” says Mendoza. “Do some research on what domain name would be best.” See what keyword-oriented domains are available, but don’t make your domain too long or it could be hard for people to remember.
- Submit your domain to search engines. Just because you set up a website doesn’t mean it’s automatically indexed by Google. Mendoza suggests manually submitting your domain name rather than leaving it to chance. Major search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com (which doesn’t accept submissions, instead you can follow these instructions).
- Incorporate keywords into your website. The quality of content and the keywords you choose are important factors in your website’s success. “I usually suggest going through your business plan and figuring out how you want to be found,” suggests Mendoza. “Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.” Google has several tools that can show you how many people are searching for certain keywords, as well as how many sites are competing for those words. “You’re looking for the best combination of less competition and more people searching for that word,” explains Mendoza.
- Seek out relevant backlinks. Links are another search engine consideration, so many businesses apply to online directories or ask other non-competing businesses for backlinks. But this can backfire: Earlier this year, a New York Times article revealed how J.C. Penney soared to the top of search results by employing “black hat” SEO techniques where links appeared on websites that were unrelated to their products, only to be penalized by Google. This highlights why businesses should focus on quality links, rather than quantity. “The main tip there would be getting on business directories that fit your business model,” explains Mendoza. “If you do landscaping, you might not want to put yourself in an automotive directory.”
- Consider hiring SEO help. Yes, many small business owners choose to handle search engine optimizations themselves. But as Mendoza points out, “It really comes down to a matter of how much time you have. A lot of it is keeping up with the times and new developments.” Google and the other search engines are constantly changing their algorithm, and a savvy SEO consultant can stay plugged into these changes while you focus on running your business.