Search engine basics for small business owners

The internet is quickly becoming the new battleground for businesses, large and small, to succeed or fail upon. As a result, it is important for small business owners to know the basics of internet marketing before engaging in a branding campaign. Search engine optimization (SEO) has become a crucial part of small business marketing, and companies with the ability to understand and utilize Google and other search engines' complex ranking system set themselves apart from the competition. Here are the basics that every small business marketer should understand.

Keywords
There are certain phrases or arrangements of words that are searched for more than others. For example, the phrase "advertising advice" is the subject of a Google search only 1,300 times per month in the United States. However, the phrase "marketing tips" is searched for around 74,000 times each month. The difference in meaning between these two phrases is negligible, but in terms of search engine results, there is a big difference. Small businesses can use Google AdWords tools to find out which phrases related to their company or industry are used the most. Websites heavily laden with these keywords will be ranked higher and therefore get more exposure.

Links
Google, Yahoo! and other powerful search engines also look favorably on websites that have many connections to other websites. The value of a website that doesn't work as part of a network of links is deemed very low by the metrics of search engines. Companies looking to increase their online presence would do well to find partners, clients and collaborators with whom links can be shared. It is also important to note that links to other informative sites can help with the page rank of a small business' website.

Content
More than anything else, content is king. Search engines are designed to find the most relevant and helpful websites at the click of a mouse, and consequently search engine algorithms have been designed to look for sites that contain a large amount of text. Of course, copying and pasting text from other places will not work. Content must be unique to a website, and the more of it, the better. The content should also be regularly updated to provide Google with plenty of new text to work with every time there's a search for relevant keywords.

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