Small business marketing and search engine optimization

Raising awareness of a brand or product line is difficult when people are hard to reach. The decline of newspapers and television has led to a world in which people can pick and choose the media to which they're exposed. This makes it extremely difficult for advertisers and marketers to effectively share information about goods and services with customers. Consequently, this situation has given rise to the phenomenon of inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing essentially attempts to bring customers to businesses. This contrasts with the traditional model that put business' information in front of consumers. Inbound marketing has many different facets, but the most significant and successful might be search engine optimization (SEO). By properly configuring a website to appeal to Google's keyword algorithms, an organization can ensure that users searching for particular terms will be directed toward its own online presence.

While becoming the first page on a list of results is very valuable and important, the first goal of any company should be to just get on the front page in any position. According to a study by Optify earlier this year, the top ranked page for particular keywords had a click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent. However, further down the line were number two at 12.5 percent number five at 6.1 percent. This illustrates how important it can be for companies to make their websites well aligned with Google's equations. Here are some of the more unconventional ways to do that.

URLs
The actual code that directs a browser to a particular website might not seem so important, but it can actually have a significant impact in a number of ways. First, it never hurts to fit keywords into some other part of the code that creates a website because it too will be examined by Google and put toward search ranking considerations.

Second, people pay more attention to web addresses than one might think. There's a big difference between the gibberish that many pages use to identify themselves and an organized series of headings and subheadings. Memorable words and descriptive titles in a URL will help users to remember a site if they ever want to return and to recognize addresses that have been bookmarked for later use.

Hierarchy
A navigable website is a frequently visited one. If getting from one page to another is difficult, users will have very little patience for an online presence and will seek other resources.. Make sure that different sections are ranked into tiers or nesting categories that correspond to URLs. For example, if a person is reading a news story and wants to return to the full list of articles that it came from, they can easily chop off the end of a URL to return to that master list. This is especially helpful if a news story was the landing page at which a visitor arrived from a search engine or other website.

Page titles
One reason that being on the first page of Google's search results is so important is because it gives searchers a preview of the top-ranked websites. Most search results are accompanied by an excerpt of the portion of text that a keyword came from as well as the title of the page it was found on and the URL of the page itself. This is the first introduction most consumers will have with a website, so it is important to keep it clean, organized and informative if they're going to take the plunge and click away.

Page titles that don't accurately reflect the content of a page are not only misleading – they also fail to add keywords Google can use to identify a website.

Meta tags and pictures
The nuts and bolts of any website is HTML, or the code in which the internet is written. Most small business marketers likely rely on programmers or code writers to attend to these matters, but if they don't, they should be sure to be aware that HTML provides yet another opportunity for the inclusion of some keywords and additional information.

For example, most pages that show up in Google search results might have some of their meta tags (which designate certain parts of a site) visible to users. Additionally, if a problem loading a website occurs, the meta data might appear. This is especially true for pictures. In addition to captions, they should all include alt text, which describes them further, appears when the mouse hovers over them and is visible to Google when trawling for websites after a user has requested a search.

Ultimately, the name of the SEO game is richness. This applies to what Google will see and what might appear before customers, so be as descriptive and detailed as possible when constructing a website.  

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