The business market in Richmond, Virginia (where I run my business) has been growing fairly steadily, despite the bad economy and the closing of Circuit City headquarters. Many innovative and creative minds have come to Virginia to start up their own business. With this influx of business, theres also been an influx in competition. Since we live in a digital world now anyone can be a competitor for most businesses.
This is why SEO is so important for business owners in Richmond, Virginia and everywhere. So just what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of increasing your websites visibility in the major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Without SEO your website may be virtually invisible in the search engines.
It is estimated that 85% of people go online first before making a buying decision. Thats a lot of potential customers searching for you online. Lets take a quick look at 3 ways to improve your SEO.
On Page SEO
There are several factors which play an important role in helping your site rank. Some of these factors are known as on-page factorselements within your website which must be configured properly in order to help with SEO. Richmond, VA business owners that I work with often are unaware of these.
First is your meta data. This includes your meta title, meta description and meta keywords. Your meta title is what shows up as a headline in your search engine results page. Your meta description is was shows up under the headline. Meta keywords have been deemed unimportant by Google but some companies still use them for search engine robots.
Second is the copy of your website itself. This copy should be keyword rich and descriptive, without using spammy techniques such as keyword stuffing. Proper keyword research will help you identify which keywords to use. A great free tool to use for this is Googles Keyword Tool.
Third is the use of an xml sitemap. A sitemap is basically a roadmap of your site. An xml sitemap is a roadmap of your site built for search engine robots, often referred to as spiders. This information helps tell spiders how to crawl and index your site. You can easily submit an xml sitemap to Google using the Google Webmaster Tools.
Off Page SEO
Once you have your site configured properly for search engine robots, there are several things you can do to help increase your rankings.
First, you can submit your site to the major search engines. Submitting your site will help your site to get crawled and may help get your site indexed. Avoid submitting your site to 100s of search engines as this process has proven to be fairly useless.
Second, create Google, Yahoo!/Bing Local Business listings for your business. When people search for a something online using a geographically relevant keyword set such as business owner Richmond,VA Google often displays results that include Google local listings. These listings supply a quick overview of the business, reviews, maps, photos, videos, and a link to your site.
Third, you should look for opportunities to get more quality content out on the web. There are various ways to do this including guest blog posts, your own blog, article writing, social networking sites and so on. All of these channels can help drive more traffic to your site as well as help position you as an expert in the field.
Having a great website isnt enough anymore. In order to stay competitive you must optimize your site using the SEO tactics I discussed above or by hiring a trusted source to optimize for you.
The online marketplace is where advertisers and customers are spending more and more time. Make sure your business website is an accurate reflection of your professionalism and that it can be found!