SEO for Small BusinessI ran into a friend at a downtown bar the other night and he began complimenting me on my newly redesigned website. He went down the list of attributes that he admired, nice, clean design, I like the sign-up forms, all the services you offer, logo design, web design, marketing services… Then he hesitated a little, looked at me a little disapprovingly and with a serious tone meaning that he was a little ashamed of me he half-asked…" but, SEO? Come on," he said.

SEO is one of those topics that's a little like the moon landing, there's plenty of evidence to show that it is for real but there are still those people out there with a blend of skepticism, blindness to the facts and disillusionment by businesses who have made unkept promises.  


Search Engine Optimization is not some mystical panacea whose admission is reserved to the indoctrinated. It is real and it's accessible to every business owner with the inclination to figure out how to get his or her business ranked better by search engines. The purpose of this article is to show that a small business owner can afford it and utilize it and hopefully to inspire you to investigate it more thoroughly.

It's easy to be turned off by the prices that SEO firms charge, the nebulous non-commitments that they make, and the ongoing commitment that they request. I wouldn't say that anyone can do all of the SEO that their site deserves for themselves, but I would say that almost anyone can learn a little more about it thus demystifying it and empowering themselves as a merchant who has taken their trade cyber. I want to discuss a few of the aspects of SEO that from my perspective as a business owner have seemed off-putting.

Price: Quality Search Engine Optimization services may seem expensive until you consider that you are paying for the consultant's knowledge of the nooks and crannies where search engines look on your site to find out what it's all about.  You're also paying for the analysis of the data that resides in these places. Thirdly, you're paying for the creation and collection of the information that will be placed in these places like bait.  Fourthly, you should be paying for finish-work -- the melding together of what is attractive to search engines with what is attractive to potential human customers. 

SEO isn't all or nothing: Every little bit, if implemented correctly, helps. Of course a job worth doing is worth doing right, but because Search Engine Optimization involves many different aspects of your website (keyword choice, metadata implementation, proper use of tags, page titles, proper keyword density to begin with) any of these aspects that can be improved will make your site more attractive in the eyes of Google,  Yahoo!, Bing, et al. And because SEO is not really a thing, but more of a process you should kind of expect to always be mindful of it.

Access toThe Proper Tools: If you haven't opened an account for your site on Google Webmaster Tools linked to a Google Analytics account, do so now.  It's free, easy to set up and easy to access and make sense of once it is set up. If you don't have access to your website files and templates you will need the help of whomever maintains your site.  Another best kept secret is Search Engine Visibility - a GoDaddy Product. This tool allows you to do everything from generate the right keywords, analyze your site content, optimize your tags, control how your site is crawled by search engines, create a site map, submit your site to search engines and it gives your reports to show how you're doing.  Basically, it saves you time of getting past the SEO learning curve.

Doing the Work: When you pay a reputable SEO firm to do the work for you you are paying for their understanding of SEO, but what you must almost always provide to them is the understanding of your business. They will often come to you to have you provide them with likely keyword candidates that they will then put through the paces on Webmaster Tools or something similar. At very least, they will have you approve or edit the content written by their copywriters. What I'm getting at is that it's not just a process that you can completely outsource. It's your website and you'll want to be sure that the content truly reflects your business. 

Utilizing SEO on your site does require time and familiarity with the process. It requires thinking about how you word your site's content in a new way. You kinda have to think like a computer as much as you're thinking like your customers. I would recommend getting your feet wet and I would recommend the tools that I mentioned to begin the process.Therefore, why not begin dabbling in SEO?  You'll have more control of your site.

When done right it is analogous to a finely tuned car engine. I think that SEO companies have done a lousy job in selling their own product.  The good ones are fine-tuning your website. Making it a vehicle that powers down the information superhighway like a race car; sleek , powerful, safe, streamlined and most importantly efficient. Once you understand what you're paying for it shifts from cost to investment.


Rick Ortiz is the principal of ROCommunication. He is a web designer, writer and small business aficianado. 

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