The key question for all small businesses is "is being found by search important to my business "?
The slideshow to the right contains some detailed questions on how to determine this. The simple answer is -not for as many businesses as you think- so if the answer is no: don't worry just forget about it!
If the answer is Yes, then are two basic options:
1. Paid search
2. Organic search
The slideshow to the right presents an overview of Search for Small Businesses.
Paid search is where you pay a search engine provider to display your details when specified search term are entered. The results are displayed at the top or side of the Search Engine Report Page ("SERPs"). The advantage of this approach is that simple websites can be used, thus minimising investment, and resources can be used instead for getting paid search traffic. The key to success isgetting a positive Return on Investment ("RoI") in that increased gross margin from the activities should be greater than the cost.
Pay Per Click ("PPC") is the most common form. More details in the resources paper.
Organic search is getting listed at the top of the organic SERP listings i.e. those listings that the search engine deduces most closely matches the specified searchers requirements. In reality to get noticed this means being on the first SERPs page.
Google provides the most used search engine. This uses a complex algorithm to rank websites called the Page Rank Index("PRI")
The process of optomising your website to get it listed as prominently as possible is callled Search Engine Optomisation. ("SEO").
If a budget exists then further information on choosing an external SEO supplier is available here.
For most small businesses the DIY approach is the best starting point.Google has worked hard to evolve it's search algorithm to ensure it identifies the best sites, rather than those whose rankings are inflated by trying to game the system. This is good news and makes high rankings possible without technical expertise for even the smallest business.
Key SEO Factors
On Page Factors
-Image labels (alt text)
Off Page Factors
There are fundamentally to three different approaches a small business can take to SEO:
-Buy in external SEO services
-Do Nothing: Pot Luck
Pot luck is by far the most common strategy, which may work if you have unique offering and great website content! However for most other businesses whre search is important then one the other two approaches are generally better.
To exploit SEO is necessary to have a basic understanding of how Google search works. This identifies the Key SEO factors (see box). By addressing each of thiese issues in a systematic manner it is possible to optomise your businesses postion in organic search. The slides and the resources document contains more detailed information on SEO factors and how to optomise them