Given the current state of the economy, the days of being able to afford professional, full-scale Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are little more than a distant memory. As corporate website traffic struggles with the economic downturn, companies need the services of market-leading firms like Bruce Clay, SEO Inc. and HighRankings.com now more than ever. Unfortunately, we have no hope of affording their five-figure start up fees, much less the $4,000 per month it costs to actually get these overpriced (and often arrogant) firms to do something productive.
[ Note: Regarding the ‘arrogant’ comment . . . it is not uncommon for leading SEO firms to riddle their websites with statements like “Do not contact us unless you are ready to spend at least $25,000” and “We only respond to SERIOUS inquiries from LARGE companies.” I don’t think use of the word ‘arrogant’ is unfair in these cases. ]
But the good news is, there are plenty of things small companies can do to make a positive impact on both search engine rankings and organic search engine traffic. And the best part of all is, most of these things are both easy to accomplish and absolutely free.
This posting is Part I in what will be a multi-part series (I’m estimating 4 parts total) on Inexpensive SEO Strategies for Small Company Websites. In each of these postings I will cover 3 to 4 SEO tips—let’s call them ’secrets’—that small companies can implement on their own and with very few resources. Part I will cover three basics: 1) Using Keyword Themes to Create Web Content, 2) Utilizing Text-Based Navigation Elements, and 3) Maximizing Your Title Tags.
SEO Tip #1: Using Keyword Themes to Create Web Content
Most people don’t realize that writing for the web is a skill all its own, markedly different than any sort of writing ever taught in school. If the goal of traditional writing is to communicate an idea or theme, the goal of writing for the web is to communicate an idea or theme using specific sets of keywords and key phrases. Before developing content for a web page, it is important to identify not only what the page is about (the Theme of the page) but also the words and phrases people will use to search for it. Then, be sure to logically and contextually use the identified words and phrases within the body copy, being careful not to OVER use them—a practice that search engines can and will penalize you for.
SEO Tip #2: Utilizing Text-Based Navigation Elements
Although super-cool rollover and fly-out effects made for awesome website designs in the early 2000s, the fact is they make for horrible search engine rankings today. Navigation elements like graphics, buttons and animated menus are by nature rich in site content and keywords. Unfortunately, search engines can’t index them. With a few exceptions, it is safe to say that most keywords or phrases used in graphics, buttons or animated menus are invisible to Google, YaHoo and MSN. If you want credit for having these keywords and phrases as part of your Keyword Theme (described above), it is in your best interest to figure out an attractive and clever way to present them . . . in text format.
SEO Tip #3: Maximizing Your Title Tags
If you spend a few moments today visiting your favorite small to medium-sized websites, I guarantee you will find at least one site with nothing more than a Company Name in the Title Tag (here is an example from a graphic design firm I work with . . . the contents of the Title Tag appear in the bar at the top of your browser). This is a huge mistake many small companies make, not only because the Title Tag is used by search engines to index your site, but because the contents of your Title Tag are actually displayed by default in a search listing. Title tags need to be both descriptive and keyword-rich. If you need an example of a good title tag, check out what Amazon.com is using—Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs and more. Truly a thing of beauty.
This concludes Part I of the Inexpensive SEO Strategies series. In Part II, which I hope to complete and post within a week or so, I will cover Using Meta Keyword and Meta Description Tags, Implementing Linking Campaigns, and Submitting Site Maps.
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