Tag Archives: SEO

7 ways to promote your local business

"Patience, my young padawan!"
“Patience you must have, my young padawan!”*

Small business owners who contact me about creating or updating their website often ask, “Can you get my site on the first page of Google results?”

Business owners often get so focused on the supposed holy grail of “first page Google results” that they forget the purpose of Google results: to get more traffic to their website. So, even though my answer to the above question is “no” (and here’s why), this is no reason to despair. Here are a number of things any small business owner can do for free or minimal cost to get more traffic to their website — which is the real thing they’re after:

Connect with local bloggers. Look for bloggers who are already placing high in search results related to your business and area, and consider how you might partner with them. Offer your product or service for them to feature in a giveaway, or offer to contribute a guest post (IF your writing skills are up to the task).

Get your business on the map. Be sure to claim your business in online directories such as Google+ BusinessYelp and Yahoo. Free listings are available for all three. (Source: Biz Journals)

Get your website listed in specialty directories. Many business and industry associations allow you to list your business on their Web site. In addition, there are individuals who maintain popular lists of resources; use Web search engines to find these lists, and then create an entry for your business. (Source: Verio)

Sponsor an event. Look for charity events in your area, and inquire how to be a sponsor in said event. Ask if sponsorship includes a link from their website. You’ll get exposure to a larger, more diverse audience — and exposure that puts you in a positive light.  (Source: Chron)

Speak up! Organizations are often looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Take a deep breath and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro at speaking, as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. And it gets easier the more you do it. Plus, it positions you as a credible authority in your field.

Freebies of your product or service. Give a free trial or sample. People are usually more comfortable purchasing something they’ve been able to experience first, at little or no cost to themselves. But use this option with caution: you don’t want to create an audience who doesn’t value what you offer at regular price because it’s so often discounted.

Encourage your happy customers to be walking ads. Give away t-shirts that promote your brand, but are also cool, humorous, or unique. (Just slapping your logo on a shirt? Doesn’t qualify as cool.) Also, reward word-of-mouth by giving a substantial thank-you to those who bring a friend: a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop; home-baked cookies; or even just a sincere, handwritten thank-you note. That’s pretty rare, these days, and may help your happy customer connect with you even more.

*One last caveat: Patience you must have, young padawan. Don’t fall prey to the thinking that you have to find THE ONE thing that will drive immediate, impressive amounts of web traffic your way. View promotion as an ongoing endeavor, made up of various strategic elements, and you can expect to see results add up — snowball, if you will — over time.

And time is one of Google’s algorithm factors — the one that absolutely can’t be faked.


Image use based on advice here and here.

How do I get my site to show up on the first page of Google search results?


Search Engine Optimization is a tricky science, made more so by the fact that Google is constantly tweaking the 200+ factors that determine search results. But there are some safe bets.

Make sure your website is populated with useful, information-rich content; updated regularly. Place keywords in strategic places, in strategic quantities. But be careful! Too many may count against you. Incoming links from relevent, respected sources are also helpful, and the best way to earn these is, again, by providing useful content.

How long your website has been up is also factored into its ranking in search engine results. New and young sites should not depend on ranking well in search engine results for the first year or more, but should rely on other methods of driving traffic to their site. Other methods include traditional or online advertising, pubic relations, and blogging on sites that already have high traffic.

And more advice, directly from Google itself:

  • Make pages for users, not for search engines…. A useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?
  • Don’t participate in link schemes, also called link farms; your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
  • Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. These consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service.

For more information:

A detailed list of what Google considers good and bad site behavior.

Confirmation that stacking the keyword meta tag gets you nowhere.

Discover other free and low-cost ways to promote your local business.

On choosing a SEO (search engine optimization) company.

By Jana Snyder – If quoting, please include attribution and a link to this page.

Image: Billy Mills 1964 Olympics; Official Marine Corps Photo # A411758 (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

“How can I increase traffic to my website?” (This may be the wrong question to ask.)

website traffic cop

Let me say up-front that I’m not claiming to be an SEO expert. What follows is my personal opinion, based on what I’ve researched and observed on the web since about 2003.

Site traffic is important for websites which sell products, and critical for site owners who make their income off of advertising sold on their site.

For the average professional who provides a service, however, I believe that, “How can I increase traffic on my website?” is the wrong question to ask.

The vast majority of clients who visit your website do so because they already know about you — either having personally met you, or having been referred by a mutual contact. Therefore, the most important question you can ask about your website is, “How can I get site visitors to contact me once they’ve hit my site?

This is best achieved by:

  1. having a professional-looking site;
  2. making sure the personality or emotional feel of your site is a positive experience for them;
  3. making the information they’re after easy to find;
  4. seamlessly introducing them to info they didn’t know they needed but which tip their choice in your favor (if that is the case);
  5. making it really easy for them to find your “Contact us” buttons and/or links. (But not to the point of being obnoxious.)

There are firms who specialize in SEO, who really know what they’re doing and can help you successfully wade through the complexity of SEO factors. However, most web-design-hosting-package providers who tout their SEO services tend to focus on:

  • meta-tags, which are really just not that important; and
  • submitting your website to Yahoo!, Google, etc., which you can do yourself. OR just wait for it to happen, since search engines are constantly crawling the web and will find new sites within a few months, at most.

The MAJOR factor in a website’s ranking is relevant content. That is, are there appropriate keywords in there (making up no more than 5-10% of the page’s content), and can people find the kind of information they’re looking for?

And lastly, I believe that one of the other major factors that weighs search engine ranking is the age of the domain. That’s one thing you can’t fake.

Hope this helps!