Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The 411 on SEO

I’ve written a few times lately (on this blog and elsewhere) about pay-per-click advertising as a key marketing tool for small business. But there’s a complementary tool that more entrepreneurs should be looking at: search engine optimization.

SEO is the art and science of (re)building your website so it appears at the top of the Google results charts whenever someone does a Web search for a “keyword” that’s important to your business. If you run a bicycle shop in Coquitlam, for instance, you would want to “own” keywords and phrases such as “bicycles lower mainland” “bike parts coquitlam”, “ccm bikes port moody”, and so on.

Burlington, Ont.’s Scott Wilson, a corporate-video producer turned search marketing consultant, calls SEO “the single most important marketing and communications medium available today… It can take your business to entirely new levels."

I wrote about Wilson and his SEO pioneering in my column in Monday’s Financial Post. Here’s an excerpt:

Wilson offers a three-part formula to reach the top of the Google charts:

Trust: Before Google -- the leader in Internet search -- will rank your site, it must trust your site. You score points when other sites link to yours. Anyone can do this: "Talk to businesses you're dealing with and trade links," Wilson suggests. Seek listings in industry and community directories. Ask your staff and friends to link to your site.

Read: Before Google can link to you, it has to be able to read your content. Avoid burying key content in graphics, Flash programming, or databases that the search engine can't read.

Key words: Identify words and phrases people may use when seeking products and services such as yours. Find the most cost-effective terms. If you sell golf accessories, for instance, you will never own the word "golf " -- there's too much competition. Maybe you can dominate searches for "left-handed golf clubs." But you have to know how people search. Wilson found, for example, that more people search for "golf clubs lefthanded" than "left-handed golf clubs."

You can read the rest of the story here.

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