Every small business owner wants to be number one. You want your potential customers to see your name before your competitors’ whenever they are searching the internet. But how does a small business maximize their internet visibility? You’re heard that search engine optimization can be both time consuming and costly.
I have some good news for you. There are a number of things you can do to assure that your local customers find you first, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of your time.
Customers will usually search for you one of three ways
- By your business name.
- By your type of business in your local area.
- By the products or services you offer.
Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But, every day, many local businesses are losing out on sales because customers cannot find them online.
For example, if you are a hairdresser in Independence, Ohio, you want people to find you when they search for ‘hairdresser Independence Ohio.’ You also want them to be able to find you when they look for individual services such as, ‘shellac manicures Independence Ohio.”
Now, how do you make sure this happens? It’s all part of the search engine optimization (SEO) process. Whether you hire a designer to create your website or you put it together yourself, you want to be sure everyone understands the following points.
Your Virtual Real Estate
If your website is up and running, your site is ALREADY a valuable piece of virtual real estate when it comes to ranking in search engines. Your site may benefit from a SEO tune-up.
However, if you are just getting your website up and running or you’re thinking about rebuilding your site, you will want to begin with these basics to increase chances of being number one.
Register your own domain name. This bears repeating. Register your own domain name. This is your virtual real estate. You wouldn’t buy a car and put the title and responsibility for renewal of your license plates in someone else’s hands, would you? Your domain name registration is every bit as important as your car title. Don’t give control of this away.
One of my favorite regristrars is hover.com. They’re not the cheapest, but all domains come with privacy (normally an extra charge) and they don’t drive you crazy with upsells when you’re trying make a simple purchase.
Location, Location Locations
Consider purchasing a domain that is specific to your state or region if your business is specific to the area
For example, you might register a domain with .us for USA, .ca for Canada, or .uk for the United Kingdom. You can take this one step further and register it as ny.us for websites in New York, USA or .bc.ca for websites in British Columbia, Canada.
While a geographically specific domain may help target a local audience, a .com or other domain may be a better choice for a worldwide or multi-national audience,
Web hosting services are internet services that make your website available to everyone on the internet. Web hosts are the companies that provide this service using their own or leased equipment called servers.
For an additional level of security, ask your web host for a “unique IP address.” For a small fee, your unique IP will ensure that your websites has its own unique space. This means that your website won’t be affected by any search engine cheating done by the web host’s other clients. This is one more way to be sure you’re never at the mercy of another person’s mistakes.
As this series continues we’ll talk about building your website, optimizing it for key search terms and getting listed in important online directories.