Search Engine Optimization for Your Small Business Website

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Search Engine Optimization for Your Small Business Website

 SEO Small Business Website

So you’d like your website and even many pages within the website to rank at the top of search engine results? But everyone else wants his or her results at the top, too! And millions of people everyday are putting a lot of energy and effort into it.

So what do you have to do to get great search engine placement? Do you have to outwit everyone else who is competing for placement? Do you have to outwit the PhDs whom the search engine companies have on staff to create search algorithms?

No, for most small businesses, you can get decent search engine placement by creating a good website and just following a few of these simple tips that follow.

4 Basic Steps for Search Engine Optimization

  1. Choose URLs for your web pages that include a couple of descriptive words of what’s on each page.
  2. Have a bunch of headlines of various sizes that emphasize some of the key phrases that you hope to land results on, including some less competitive searches that you are more likely to perform well on.
  3. Have several hundred words of text on a web page you are trying to place in search engines.
  4. Use original content.

If You Have a Little More Time to Spend, There Are Plenty of Additional Steps You Can Take to Try to Crank Up Your Search Engine Results

But I first want to emphasize this: don’t let the tail wag the dog! Don’t get so carried away with trying to place well with search engine results that you neglect the fact that you are trying to run a business.

Specifically, I totally believe that the aesthetics, how attractive a website is, is extremely important, especially for a new small business. You need at least to look professional. People tend to spend more time on websites they like, are more likely to return to them, and are more likely to recommend them to friends.

Why do I emphasize this? Well, search engines don’t rank the attractiveness of images, for example, so by trying to optimize just search engine placement, you might create a website that ranks really high, but without images it may look unattractive, if not amateurish.

The same goes for the quality and type and presentation of content. I would think about my user experience first and search engine optimization second.

So How Else Can You Crank Up Search Engine Results?

Keep in mind that you are probably going to get much better results if you focus hard on less competitive, more specialized search terms than on the more general, more popular ones. Furthermore, the more specialized the terms you focus on, the higher the chances that, first, people will click through on your search result; second, they will really be interested in the information on your website; and third, they will more likely be a buyer rather than a browser.

In past website businesses, I have spent, along with some other very bright people, a lot of energy and effort trying to get first page rankings on incredibly popular and competitive search words such as “jobs” or “careers,” and I now believe this strategy is generally a loser’s game. Even if you do manage to land on the front page, chances are you are aren’t going to last long.


First, I would try to register or buy a website domain that seems really relevant to the business. Then I would use descriptive “friendly” and easy-to-understand words in the individual page URLs. What do I mean by friendly? If a professional software engineer is coding your pages, he or she just might be tempted to neatly organize your pages with some kind of numeric or alphanumeric coding system or use a lot of symbols. No way. Keep it simple and descriptive. And keep these descriptions short—very short. One word, maybe two or three if needed, but not a full sentence. Separate the words with hyphens.

Avoid lots of symbols and dashes. While making your URL descriptive, also try to keep it as short as possible. Use hyphens to separate words to make it more readable both for humans and for search engines.

Meta Tags

Meta tags matter a lot less, if at all, in search engines today. Meta tags for keywords in the early days of the Internet were totally critical, but today search engines tend to ignore them. But I would still tend to fill them all in carefully. Why not give it your best shot?

The page title meta tag and the page description meta tag will show up in search results, so they are very important for increasing your click-through rate and also for helping ensure that the people you most want to attract are the ones clicking through to your website.

Search engines display the first 65 to 75 characters of the title tag in search engine results. And they usually truncate the page description tag after about 160 characters. However, users tend to spend seconds, at most, looking at search results, so the first couple of words in your title tag will typically be of overwhelming importance (after page placement, that is) for generating click-throughs.


Within each page, use headlines of various sizes that are descriptive and useful to search engines. Try to structure headlines logically, with larger ones offering a broad overview of the topic and smaller headlines of increasingly narrow focus. If you are really trying hard to maximize results for particular searches, then write headlines to reflect that.


Search engines like text. It’s easy for them to read, count, and to analyze. Ideally, you want to have several hundred words on pages you are trying to optimize the placement of. You also want to have good, original content—and the more unique, the better. You might want to repeat the words in your headlines a little bit, but don’t push it. Don’t damage the quality of your text. And if you really overdo keyword repetition, then search engines may penalize you.

Search engines may put more weight on keywords that appear higher on the web page than lower on the page. By “text” I should say that search engines are first designed to read HTLM text. So-called rich media formats, including text in Flash files, video, photos, and audio, are hard for search engines to read.


Use a descriptive file name for images and use the “alt” image designed to alternatively display text when images can’t be displayed. Search engines may use both. Also consider storing all of your images in one directory.


Have an easy-to-navigate website. Keep navigation logical. For example, start your navigation broadly and narrow it down more specifically as someone proceeds through the website. Keep the website organization simple—for instance, do not link every single page to every other page. Use mostly text for navigational links, not drop-down menus or images.

Consider a site map for users and a separate one just to be submitted to search engines.

Have a useful “404” page that links back to your home page or maybe a choice of popular other pages as well. Have a page that comes up when users come to a page that doesn’t exist on your site, such as a broken link.

Links within Your Website

Search engine robots crawl websites using links. If the links aren’t accessible to search engines, they can’t crawl your site. For example, if you need a form to be submitted to go to another page, the robots won’t go. If you need to use the search engine on your site to get to a page, the robots won’t go. If you have way too many links on your page, such as hundreds, the robots probably won’t follow all of them. If the robots can’t see your links because they are in an image they can’t read, they won’t go.

Using non-text links, such as image links, is risky. Maybe you want to have them on your site anyway, and you don’t want to design your website just for search engine optimization. If you do use images for links, you may want to limit it to just a few.

Make the text for your links descriptive but very short, such as just a few words or a short phrase. Don’t use generic words, such as “click here.” Links are very important for search engines, and this is how search engine robots explore websites.

Links to Your Website

With so many spam and poor-quality websites out there, search engines are very concerned with delivering quality results to their users. One of the most important ways they judge this—and hence, an important criteria for search engine algorithms—is the quantity and quality of links that point to your website. Search engines particularly prize links from highly valued sites, particularly universities, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The freshness of those links may be another factor.

Social Media Links

Social media links to your website are noticed by search engines, but it is not clear how much of a factor they are in influencing search engine results. They are likely much less of a factor than links from other websites, for example.

Duplicative Copy

Duplicate web pages or web page copy can be a particularly vexing problem for a large website. Search engines penalize duplicative content because this was a trick that people used to game search engine results. Instead, you want to keep the content on a particular URL fresh and unique, and perhaps instead have multiple links or sections of your website linking to it.

Mobile Sites

Search engines can miss mobile sites. Google suggests that you create a mobile site map, if don’t already have one, and submit it to them.

Another potential issue for mobile sites is that they may be programmed only to allow access by mobile devices. So the code may have to be adjusted to allow for access by search engine robots.


Search engines give a lot of importance in sending their users to quality sites and particularly avoiding spam sites trying to game search engines. They might note, for example, whether searchers quickly click the “back” button after clicking on your website in a search result that would indicate low quality. They might also penalize you if you have outbound links from your website to spam websites. Some search engines, such as Google, have tried to use a number of algorithms to judge the quality of a website, trying to mimic with their robots the way a human would judge a website.

No Crawl Code

You can place code on a web page to tell search engines not to crawl that page. If you do and you later decide you want it to be crawled, such as with a test page, make sure you change the code. Note also that such code will likely, but not necessarily completely, keep search engine robots off the page.

Relevance, Importance, and Popularity

Initially, search engines simply searched just for words; now they may use more than 100 criteria to rank search results. Basically, search engines focus on relevance and importance, which may be measured in popularity. So you could have a perfectly designed website for search engine optimization, but if you have no traffic, you may not get even half-decent search engine placement. Hence, especially for a new website, it might take a while to gain traction to get search engine placement.

Search engine rankings can change daily, and search engine algorithms can change significantly from time to time. And their emphasis can change. For example, Bing was recently reported to put significant weight on whether a website had a privacy statement.

You Can Get Really Sophisticated with Search Engine Optimization

For example, if you want to test how powerful various keyword choices might be for your web pages, you could consider buying the different test words for paid search engine results and comparing the results. Or you can create, on a new URL, a one-page website just for testing, perhaps on a very obscure or even make-believe topic. Then you could experiment with optimizing it for various search engines, see what works best, and then try it on your regular website.

The Best Time to Perform Search Engine Optimization

Obviously, the best time to perform search engine optimization (SEO) is in the early stages of designing your website. But don’t feel bad if your website is up and running and you haven’t given it much thought. Most people, if they focus on SEO at all, do so largely after the site is already up and usually after it is already up for a while and they are frustrated with the lack of traffic.

More Information

A lot of information on the basics is available from the search engine companies. They also provide lots of information and suggestions about choosing keywords.

Should You Hire an SEO firm?

I have hired SEO experts in the past to improve rankings for keywords. Usually they made very strong promises. Sometimes they delivered. Using an SEO person might make a lot of sense for a short assignment as you are launching a moderately complex website.

However, you need to be keenly aware of the downsides. The biggest risk is that you hire someone who “games” the search engines, then your website gets hits with a penalty, and it takes a long, long time to have any chance at getting good search engine results. This is not uncommon.

Secondly, some SEO people may do a great job of optimizing your performance for the latest edition algorithm from the leading search engine, but once the algorithm changes, you lose your top search results. Also, an SEO person who does a great job with your search engine placement, if you break off his or her retainer, might be tempted to use the knowledge gained to try to line up your nearest competitors.

Bottom line: yes, it would be great to have your total website optimized for search engines, but you can’t make doing so your entire business!

Bob Adams

Bob Adams is the founder of BusinessTown the go-to learning platform for people starting and running their own businesses. Bob has started dozens of successful businesses, including one he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He also has an MBA from Harvard Business School.


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Hi there, I’m Bob Adams.

I’m a serial entrepreneur and self-made multimillionaire.

I’ve started dozens of successful businesses of all types and sizes including … bike rentals, house painting, employment service, retail business, multimedia company, book publishing, tourist maps, job fairs, Internet businesses, software business, employment advertiser, and used boat sales. 

Most of these businesses I started in my home on a very small budget. 

My biggest success is my book publishing company that I started in my basement apartment with just $1500 and later sold for $40 million. 

I’ve learned what really matters in business. I’ve discovered the concepts that make or break businesses. And I’ve used them to build one successful company after the next. 

Now, my mission is to share what I learned with you – so that you can succeed in your own business. 

That’s why I created Start-a-Business 101.

Success = recipe + ingredients

In Start-a-Business 101, you will get my exact recipe and ingredients for success. I will show you what to do at every step in starting a business. 

You’re not going to go through years of trial and error. 

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My books and courses have been featured in…

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Here’s the course for your new business journey. Beginning entrepreneurs will hugely benefit from Start-a-Business 101. The videos clearly explain each element of building a new business. The advice is savvy and on point throughout. I highly recommend it for anyone involved in any kind of startup.

Rick Williams – Managing Director, Williams Advisory Partners LLC

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  Start-a-Business 101 Course Content

1.  How to get started with your business

2.  Discover hundreds of great business ideas

3.  How to choose the best business idea for you

4.  How to validate your business idea

5.  Find the perfect name for your business

6.  How to choose the best legal entity for your business

7.  How to create a powerful competitive advantage

8.  How to create your business plan

9.  How to do your accounting and financial statements

10.  How to get the money you need to start your business

11.  How to create your marketing and attract customers

12.  How to build your online marketing presence

13.  How to make sales and land your first customers

14.  The Small Business Toolkit

15.  The Discussion Board

Every step of the course is filled with videos and companion tools to show you exactly how to start your business.

Start-a-Business 101 includes 46 templates, worksheets, checklists and samples

These tools will save you a lot of time, keep you organized and further guide you along the way to launching a successful business as soon as possible.

Fill-in the blank templates make it easy to plan your business.

Watch sample videos

Looking for a business idea? Discover the critical questions that you must ask to find the very best idea for you.

Learn how to create a one page business plan – the most important document for starting your business.

Learn how to find the best customers for your business.

Discover how to create a unique sales message for your business.

   Having run across your videos was a godsend to me. Your method provides me the structure I need to be successful. I am willing to put in the work to go through your complete course which so far has been incredibly helpful.

Phyllis Marks – Starting an Online Business

Will Start-a-Business 101 work for me?

This course is made for you:

  • If you want to generate a new income stream.
  • If you don’t have a business idea yet but want to be your own boss.
  • If you have an idea but are not sure how to get started or what to do first.
  • If you are ready to get started but want to make sure you are doing things right.
  • If you want guidance from someone who has done it before – multiple times.

Start-a-Business 101 will work for all types of businesses. And it will work for all sizes of businesses from one-person home-based businesses to larger enterprises.

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You can test drive the entire course for 60 days.

That’s right. You can have full access to the whole course for 60 days. If you decide it’s not for you, or if you don’t love it, I’ll give you a 100% refund. No questions asked.

I can’t promise you that your business will absolutely succeed. No one can.

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And I stand behind that with my 60-day, 100% money-back guarantee.

I want you to start a business. And I want you to start it right.

 I have researched the marketplace for over a month to identify a viable and comprehensive ‘go-to’ guide on how to best launch a small business. This course offering from Bob Adams met more than what I was looking for.

Steve Cox – Experienced Businessman

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I am pleased to tell you that I am adding two limited time bonuses to Start-a-Business 101

These bonuses will make it even easier and quicker to get your own business up and running. 

The Ultimate Checklist to Starting Your Own Business 

This 18 page checklist will show you exactly what to do to start your business.

This extremely comprehensive 18 page document includes all the steps to start a business. Plus I give you my expert advice on every single step. 

This checklist will keep you totally organized and make sure that you are not missing anything important. 

This checklist is the ultimate shortcut in getting your business up and running. It will be your constant companion in starting your business. The checklist has a $500 value but I will give it to you as one of my welcome gifts for joining Start-a-Business 101.

How to Launch a Business Fast and on a Tight Budget Using MVP

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 Bob has been a close friend and trusted business adviser of mine for years… guiding me through the challenges we all face as entrepreneurs. Hands down Bob is one of the most talented, and successful entrepreneurs I know. Thanks Bob!

Matt Marshall – Founder, MGM Capital Investments

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?

This online course is completely self-paced – you decide when you start and when you finish.

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After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across any and all devices you own.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

If you are unsatisfied with the course for any reason, please contact us within 60 days and we will give you a full refund, no questions asked.

What are the course requirements?

This course is for anyone thinking about starting a business. You don’t need to have any previous business experience whatsoever. Even if you have business experience, you will discover a vast amount of powerful new ideas that will help propel your business ahead.

Can I download any of the content?

Of course! All the worksheets, case studies, samples, and templates are downloadable.

Start a business you love, earn more money and live the life you want.

Start-a-Business 101 is the fastest and easiest way to learn how to start a business and become a knowledgeable and successful entrepreneur.

Start-a-Business 101 is a complete proven program that will take you step-by-step through your entire startup journey.

You will get…

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In just a few minutes a day, you will learn how to start your own business.

You can test drive the entire course for 60 days.

That’s right. You can try Start-a-Business 101 risk-free for 60 days. You will have full access to the entire course. If you decide it’s not for you, or if you don’t love it, I’ll give you a 100% refund. No hassles. No questions asked. I want to help you succeed in your own business.


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