Beyond Your Website: 5 Ways to Improve Search Rankings

A few years ago, standard SEO techniques such as on-page keyword densities and link-building programs were very effective in helping small business websites improve their rankings in the search results.  Today, however, optimizing your website using only standard techniques is just not enough – the search engines now evaluate a multitude of additional factors to determine whether your website will be listed on page 1 or page 101 (or worse!).

So what does this mean for your business? It means that Google and the other search engines look for ranking signals not only from your optimized website, they also look at other sources all over the web.

So what can your small business do to build a stronger online presence? Here are 5 things to try:

1.  Get Social Now!
Search engines now use social “content” in search results (e.g., “sharing” on Facebook, re-tweets on Twitter, etc.).  However – don’t just slap together a business profile or two on the social sites!  To be truly effective, your social profiles should match your existing branding (colors, logo, message), and you must have a solid going-forward strategy for providing valuable content and connecting with customers. A social profile that just sits there (or spews pre-canned robo-posts) provides little value to visitors or to the search engines trying to evaluate your online relevance.

2.  Get Blogging
Blogs are great for attracting search engines, since they are updated often and contain lots of content for search engine spiders to index. Blogs are also extremely popular with users, and can be a great source of additional web traffic and new leads. In addition to posting on your own blog, be sure to visit other industry blogs and participate in those conversations as well. Leave comments and feedback, and always include a link back to your own blog in your signature. Remember, however, you need to add something useful – don’t self-promote or advertise your business on someone else’s blog.

3.  Build a Content Pipeline
Create a “Content Pipeline” (similar to a sales pipeline or editorial calendar) and fill it with pre-planned marketing activities. Start by adding at least one online marketing activity per week; e.g., post an article on your blog, post a useful tip on your Facebook wall, tweet a link to your monthly special, etc. Keep your content pipeline filled so your customers and the search engines will always find fresh, new, useful information across all your online “properties” on a regular basis.

4. Send Out Press Releases

Today, online press outlets accept press release submissions from all types of businesses, large and small. One of the key benefits of using online outlets for press releases is that even if your news isn’t “picked up” by a major news site, it can still generate some new, high-quality inbound links back to your website. It also gets your business name and message out to a variety of quality websites, improving your overall visibility and credibility online.

5. Integrate Your Online Marketing
Integrating your website, social profiles, blog, etc. is really the key to creating and maintaining an effective online presence for your business.  Be sure to add your social networking links to your website, create custom pages in Facebook, use widgets and apps that allow you to cross-promote, take advantage of RSS feeds, etc.  All of your online properties should form one seamless, branded experience for visitors (and search engines) that shows your business is relevant, engaging, and visible online through more than just your website

About the Author
Lauren Hobson, President of Five Sparrows, LLC, has more than 16 years of experience in small business technology writing, marketing, and web site design and development.  Five Sparrows provides professional website, marketing, and social networking services to small businesses and non-profits at affordable prices, giving clients access to customized services that meet both their needs and their budgets. More at www.fivesparrows.com. Copyright 2010, Five Sparrows. All Rights Reserved.


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