Getting noticed on the Internet can be tough, and expensive. Companies with deep marketing budgets can invest in full-time social media staff, advertising and public relations. For the small business, there are important steps to get started. Following are 5 steps to begin your journey into Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

1. Get Listed

The major search engines allow businesses to create a simple profile for free and offer add-on $$ services for additional listings and advertisements. To start, get the free listings on Google+ and Google Maps, Yahoo, MapQuest and Bing. It might take you 2-4 hours and you have to provide the basic company name, address, hours of operations and email. Search for "how to list my business on ....." and follow the instructions. A couple of the search engines (e.g. Google and Yahoo) may require verification by sending to you a postcard in the mail. They are just making sure your business is legit.


Analytics graph showing % of returning visitors2. Identify Search Phrases

You may be surprised to learn all the different phrases people may use to find you in a search engine. And if those phrases are not on your web site, why would a search engine show your site in the results?

Start with your intuition and make a list of what you think people use. For example, I would include web design, web site design, web development. 

Next, ask your customers. Don't give them any hints - just ask them (face to face, by email, in a survey).

Expand your list by finding additional phrases listed on Google AdWords > Keyword Planner. This tool will look at your web site and give you a list of ideas or start with a phrase or industry. For my business, this tool added the phrases design freelancer, page design, ecommerce design, web portfolio and affordable web.

3. Embed the Search Phrases

Working with your list in step 2, work the search phrases into your web site without taking away from a positive experience - i.e. don't over-stuff the text and frustrate the visitor.

There are many ways to do this including using phrases in page titles, descriptions, keywords, opening paragraphs, menu items, photo captions, headings, subheadings and page text.

4. Create a Site Map

A site map is a guide for search engines to use, providing more in-depth information for them. This is important to have when there is more in-depth information available. For example, I could have an image of a site I developed, and the search engines know that and can find the image. But with a Site Map, I can add information that may help my site get noticed, such as "WordPress web template with red and black color palette and social media integration".

Use the site map to describe images, photography, videos, and documents. There are tools that generate Site Maps, and automatically update the Site Map as you update the web site. If this is too technical for you to do on your own, we can set up a Site Map tool for you.

5. Use Responsive Technology

The search engines know what kind of device you are using when you search. If you are on a cell phone, web sites that display well on cell phones may get higher ranking than web sites that were build for display on a desktop.

In 2015, most of my time has been upgrading web sites to be "responsive" so that their layout will respond to the device of the visitor. For my clients on average, the number of visitors using a cell phone or tablet has now exceeded 25%.

Web sites should respond to the type of device being used - cell phone, tablet, desktopYour Next Steps

If this seems overwhelming, just start at the top of this list and plan to do one thing each week.

If you would like help, contact us at to get a free quote. Steps 1-4 for a small business may take 4-8 hours. Step 5 might require a rebuild of the site, which means copying the current images, documents, and text into a new template that is "responsive".

Peg Doyle