Inexpensive SEO Strategies for Small Company Websites: Part III

Given the current state of the economy, the days of being able to afford professional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) help are gone.  As website traffic struggles with the economic downturn, small companies need the services of market-leading firms like Bruce Clay, SEO Inc. and 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.

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 III in a multi-part series (I’m estimating 4 parts total) on Inexpensive SEO Strategies for Small Company Websites.  In each posting I will cover 3 to 4 SEO tips that small companies can implement on their own and with very few resources.  Inexpensive SEO Strategies for Small Company Websites: Part I covered the concepts of Using Keyword Themes to Create Web Content, Utilizing Text-Based Navigation Elements, and Maximizing Your Title Tags.  Part II of this series covered Minimizing the Use of Flash and Graphics, Using Meta Description Tags, and Submitting a Search Engine Sitemap.  In Part III I will discuss topics related to Blogging, Linkbacks, and Social Networking.

SEO Tip #7: Start a Blog

Back in January I posted a very well-received article on the importance of blogs for small company web traffic.  This post basically stated that making a site-relevant blog entry every three or four days will eventually make your small company website rich with content and keywords, which is something search engines love.  The post also discussed using a blog as an ‘editorial column’ to say things about your products and competitors that might not otherwise be well-received on your main site.  At the risk of repeating the entire article, I will simply redirect you to it: The Importance of Blogs for Small Company Web Traffic.

SEO Tip #8: Find Sites that Will Link Back to You

If Search Engine Optimization were a quest for religious artifacts, getting websites to link back to yours is the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail.  Regardless of how much content you provide or how great your website looks, search engine rankings will be less than disappointing until other websites start linking back to you.  Developers at Google, MSN and YaHoo understand a high ranking website should have lots of outbound AND inbound channels.  Is a cell phone list of 1,000 friends REALLY any good if none of them will call you back?  Of course not.  And neither is a website lacking inbound links.

So how do you fix this problem?  Every industry has at least one directory to get listed in, and one industry portal that will take an article or press release.  Also, you might consider offering a discount on your product or service to a demographic sub-group (moms, Java developers, construction workers, cycling enthusiasts, etc.) and find some related websites to post your offer for free.  And finally, if your site has a blog, you need to start submitting it to blog directories TODAY—here is comprehensive list of blog directories published by  Take it from someone who has walked in your shoes: the first linkbacks will be the hardest ones to get.  But if you work hard and get creative, good things will happen.

SEO Tip #9: Form a Business-Related Social Networking Group

One of the most common social networking mistakes I see is when otherwise intelligent people try to use their social networking accounts (FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) to promote a business.  Here’s a tip: unless your 10-year old daughter is selling Girl Scout Cookies, friends and relatives do NOT want to buy things from you.  As an alternative to alienating the people who love you, try setting up a separate group related to your business.  If you own a bike shop, start a group for local cycling enthusiasts.  If you operate a mail-order wine store, start a group for fans of rare vintages.  There is no small business model in the world that can support itself selling exclusively to friends and relatives of the owner.  Take a chance, and start a group that doesn’t include them.

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