Real-World SEO Tips For SMBs

Search engine optimization expert Stephen Woessner -- author of "The Small Business Owner's Handbook To Search Engine Optimization: Increase Your Google Rankings, Double Your Site Traffic... In Just 15 Steps, Guaranteed." explains how businesses of all sizes can significantly boost their Web traffic in just a few weeks -- without investing anything besides their own time and expertise.

Stephen Woessner

Stephen Woessner has 15 years of experience in Web strategy development, search engine optimization, marketing, sales, market research, and strategic planning. He has consulted with hundreds of clients on the development of Web sites and online promotional strategies. And for the past few years, he's been working at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Small Business Development Center Outreach Coordinator teaching SEO as a non-credit course for local businesspeople.

His work with real-world businesses led him to write "The Small Business Owners Handbook To Search Engine Optimization: Increase your Google Rankings, Double Your Site Traffic... In Just 15 Steps. Guaranteed." bMighty has excerpted the book, and also got Woessner to share some of his insights on what time-strapped SMBs should do first. And what they should stay away from.

Don't Miss: Book Excerpt: Strategic and Tactical Keyword Selection

bMighty: Why did you write this book?

Woessner: I'm not a geek, I'm a marketer. The book is written for business people, not tech people. It's written so that SMB owners can do all 15 steps themselves. I removed all the geeky stuff.

bMighty: What's the one SEO task that every business should do first?

Woessner: If they do nothing else, they should optimize page titles and add meta keywords and meta descriptions to all their Web pages. Even if SMBs are using content management systems that don't let them add meta data to their pages, they can still add a description to every page, even if it's not labeled for that.

I also recommend they really spend time picking the best keywords. Keywords should be relevant to the business and actually used by their potential customers. You can track down those stats so you're always betting on proven performers.

The other thing is link building. Given the same content, popularity wins. Link building is free, but it's time consuming so it usually has to be an ongoing process.

bMighty: What's the most common SEO mistake SMBs make?

Woessner: Trying to cram 6 products onto a single page, each with a 2-sentence description. 30% - 40% of the companies I see fit into that category. I tell them, "Guys... you can't do that!"

It does Google no good, and it does the business no good. You need specific content pages for each product.

bMighty: What about the dark side of SEO?

Woessner: No tricks or gimmicks. You can't try to outthink Google with Black Hat SEO techniques -- keyword spoofing or stuffing, or deceptive links to gain popularity. You run the risk of being delisted. Google is way to smart for that junk any more.

bMighty: Is there a role at SMBs for Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Woessner: That's a really good budget question. If you don't have the money to invest in Google Adwords, SEO is nearly free. I like the idea of doing both, with a saturation strategy. But most small businesses don't have the money.

bMighty: Do SMBs need to do it all themselves?

Woessner: I'm not opposed to outsourcing in least bit. For small businesses with 20-page Web sites, you can start with optimizing 4 to 5 pages, spending an hour per month on each. For that, you want to keep it in house to save money.

But if you're doing 30 - 40 pages, you might consider outsourcing if you don't have a week per month to invest. It might cost you $500 to $1,500 per month.

bMighty: Can SEO really make a difference for small businesses?

Woessner: The size of the business is not relevant to the effectiveness of the Search Engine Optimization. I've seen traffic go up 20% to 30% in a few weeks. Rankings can dramatically improve. The number of unique visitors can double within 90 days.

bMighty: How can this affect the business?

Woessner: Traffic without doing anything with it is just a cost. Businesses need to track conversion rates. You should be converting 2% to 4% of your unique visitors. If not, it might be a content problem, not a traffic problem.

bMighty: You're teaching a course in Search Engine Optmization. Why isn't SEO taught in business schools?

Woessner: I'm not sure why it's not taught as of yet in business school. SEO, social networking, cloud computing are all burgeoning trends that should be taught to undergraduates and maybe even graduate schools. It's important. It just takes a lot of time for the to happen.

See more bMighty Q&A's With Business Leaders

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