How to improve the SEO of your small business or nonprofit website

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Mary Fletcher Jones

Maintaining a robust online presence is critical to creating a favorable impression online, and part of that effort is search engine optimization (SEO).  Creating a website that search engines will index for content in search terms relevant to your business, industry, or cause is hard work, but the effort will pay off in increased awareness for your business or nonprofit organization. Even with your best efforts, your website may not appear in the top ranking results for your industry on Google.  However, you can influence how terms specifically associated with your business, such as your business name and names of key personnel, appear in search engine results.  Here’s how.

  1. Google your company name and keywords associated with your industry or website topic. Study how Google currently indexes your website. Are there changes you would make? Make note of these improvements as you makeover your website.
  2. Create a reference list of keywords that are important to your industry, or to the topic of your website. Use the free Keyword tool in Google AdWords to discover high frequency search terms.
  3. Use these keywords frequently in page titles, body copy, image captions, and video descriptions. But don’t over-use them. You should strive for a keyword density of five to seven percent in body copy. That means that for every one hundred words you write for your website, keywords would occur five to seven times.
  4. If appropriate, include your most important keyword in your domain URL.
  5. Create a free Google Maps account for your company and a free Google Profile for yourself. Include links to websites and social media in these profiles. Upload the maximum number of images and video to both accounts.
  6. A website with plenty of images and video is enjoyable to experience. Alt-tag your images, and use captions for images and video to increase your SEO.
  7. Make your website useful to your readers, in way that engages them. You should write content with a particular audience in mind, focusing your content on their needs. Ask yourself, why would the target audience want to read this? What is the benefit of our services or products to these readers? When you write in this way, you will automatically use keywords that search engines will pick up as they crawl your website.
  8. Most search engines pick up the first paragraph from your homepage and use that in the description associated with your website URL.  Therefore, make sure that the first couple of sentences of this copy clearly and concisely describe the focus of your business or cause.
  9. Create a generous number of pages. Search engines give ranking priority to websites that are updated frequently and that have many pages.
  10. Short on space? Have a lot to say? Upload PDFs of articles you have written about your business or topic to your website. Search engines will crawl those, too.
  11. Create a blog, and add content to it once or twice a week. It should be connected to your website for best results.  Blogs are one of the most effective ways to increase the SEO of websites.
  12. If you don’t have time to blog (or even if you do), comment on reputable and well-read blogs and online news publications related to your business or topic, listing your website in the comment registration information.  The comments will generate SEO-building backlinks to your home page. The more backlinks you create, the higher your website will rise in search engine rankings.
  13. Take advantage of social media to create backlinks to your homepage. List your website in the profile section of your YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Flickr accounts.
  14. Judiciously link to other reputable websites. For example, if your company belongs to a national trade association, it will benefit your SEO to link to their website.

Mary Fletcher Jones is the owner of Fletcher Prince, a Washington, DC communications firm.

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on June 23, 2010, in Web Site Design and SEO Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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