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How to maximize search engine marketing

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SmallBusiness.com How-tos are step-by-step instructions for specific small business tasks. They are created and edited by readers like you. You can help edit this How-to or you can create your own. Find more How-tos at the SmallBusiness.com How-to Hub.

Introduction

Search engine marketing (or internet marketing ) is a term used to describe the efforts you should take to assist potential customers to find you when they go to the web to find a provider of the product or service you offer. There are several basic steps you should take to begin your efforts to increase the chances of your business showing up when that customer starts looking

Search engine marketing tips for your business

Craft meaningful, search engine friendly copy

You wouldn't print a brochure about your business that includes the words "awesome deal" 20 times on each page, would you? So why would you include those words 20 times on your Web site? Using the words "awesome deal" in the right place one time works well. In the wrong place 20 times, not so much. Before thinking about the other search engine optimization (SEO methods, carefully draft the copy that appears on each page of your website. Then, take a look at each page and ask yourself what keywords would bring someone to that page and where best to place the keyword.

Use key words in your title

The title -- the bar at the top of the browser -- on every page of your website should include a concise list of keywords for your business, but not necessarily your business' name. The title is generally what appears as the title in the search results, which is what searchers are likely to glance at first.

  • Tip: Don't forget to fill in the ALT tags on your images. Google only knows what an image is by reading its ALT tag. Writing a description in that alt tag area gives you another chance to let search engines know what a page's content is about.

Don't write false or misleading copy in order to trick search engines

You don't want to mislead customers about what you offer. Sure, the words people use to search don't necessarily reflect exactly what they're searching for, but adding your competitor's brand name to your tags just because it's comparable to a brand name that you offer doesn't make it right. You're not just penalizing yourself with customers, you could be upsetting the secret (and always changing) code that Google engineers use to catch those who attempt such things.

Don't overdo it

Adding extraneous words to your tags won't get you anywhere. In fact, cluttered tags can actually hurt your search engine rankings. In the same way people immediately trash spam emails that have long, disorderly subject lines, search engines do the same if your titles, tags, URLs and Web pages have overtly extraneous information.

Don't get too flashy

Sure, sites that use Flash animation can be fun to look at, but search engines don't take notice (they read text), which makes it harder for your pages to be properly indexed, the process a search engine takes to record all the content appearing on each page of your site. Instead of creating an entire page in Flash, make the Flash presentation just one component of the page. That way, both your Flash talents and your search rankings win.

See also