As an entrepreneur, you’re pursuing your dream, taking risks, and making moves. It’s likely that your company is a major conversation topic to you, to the point that some of your close friends and family have asked you to calm down. No matter where you go, there’s some form of networking that ends up happening, whether you’re simply telling those around you what you’re doing when they’re introduced to you, actually handing out business cards, or asking for advice from others.

So why are you keeping your business a secret from everyone else?

If you aren’t making search engine optimization, or SEO, a priority on your website, then you might as well be in stealth mode.

We asked the team of 180Fusion, the leading provider of SEO, PPC and social media marketing services, for some advice on how small businesses can get started. Here’s everything you need to know:

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the practice of making sure your website is as easy for search engines to “read” – or more accurately, crawl – as possible. This allows them to accurately place you at an appropriate spot in various search results.

Want to be at the top of a particular search result? It will take a combination of your page becoming more reputable, and your content using the right keywords.

The result of this is that your site will be found by more visitors, which in turn increases your ranking in search engines even more, and so on, ad infinitum. What this means for your business is simple: the more people you can attract to your site, the more potential customers are aware of you. The more people who come to your site because they’re looking for it, the more sales you make.

“The system works in a way that’s reminiscent of a socializing at a networking meeting or party. When you walk into an event and don’t know anyone, and don’t say anything, it can be hard to get others’ interest. However, if you arrive prepared with a few topics you know some of the attendees are interested in, you’ll be able to easily start conversation,” explains 180fusion. “Finally, the more people who gather around talking to you, the more people end up coming up to you, instead of you needing to introduce yourself to them.”

So Where Are The Rules?

The tricky thing about SEO is that there are no listed rules to the algorithm that each search engine uses, and each are slightly different. What we do know? Content that is valuable, highly readable, and hits a sweet spot of keyword placement does the best, and much more so once view counts pick up.

How Do You Get There?

Provide Value

The best starting point is to write an article that is actually valuable to your viewer. Nope, there’s no shortcut, no easy way around it – with new algorithms able to detect black-hat SEO (namely placing your keywords in the same color as the background of the page to help your count), it’s best to buckle down and do it the right way, the first time.

Write For Humans

On a similar note as providing value, make sure you write for humans. Google is updating it’s algorithms all the time – the last one, RankBrain, was in September. These algorithms are built by some of the best engineers in the world to determine if content is useful – don’t try to outsmart it.

With all of the incredible features that consumer-grade A.I. systems come with, it’s no surprise that Google’s own proprietary artificial intelligence and machine learning systems are significantly more advanced. It’s able to determine the value of a site almost as accurately as a human could – so that means the best way to boost your rank is to honestly offer great content,” says 180.

Don’t Forget Keywords

Yes, you need to write for humans. However, on the other hand, you need to let search engines know what your site is about by phrasing your statements in a way that works for them, and putting that information in as many places as possible.

This sounds harder than it actually is. For example, if I was writing a blog about how the election process works in America, I might use the following:

  • Page Title: How Elections Work In The USA: A Definitive Guide appears in the search results
  • Headline: How Elections Work In The USA: A Definitive Guide appears on the page – the title and the headline are usually the same, except in a few cases for clarity
  • Body Text: I would first write my blog as I would if I was explaining the concept to a friend or live audience. Once the draft was completed, I would run it through an SEO analyzer, and target 4% keyword density for “elections.” If it was too high or too low, I would adjust the content accordingly, editing so that the draft still flowed and was easy to read.
  • URL: “www.myfakesite.com/usa-elections-how-they-work” would be a nice choice – it includes my keyword while also being descriptive and short
  • Image: It’s important to have an image whenever possible, complete with an alt description which tells the search engine what the image is.
  • Meta Description: This is where you write the blurb that appears under links in search results. For this blog I would write:“Not sure how the American elections are set up? This comprehensive guide will walk you through, step by step.”

SEO can take a lot of practice and trial and error. If you’re trying to ramp up your company quickly, it may be best to hire a professional service to get you started, and teach you the ropes.

Make Sure Your Site Is Friendly To Crawlers

While you’re creating all of that wonderful content, don’t think that you should just ignore the search engines. Ensure your website is friendly to crawlers, or the code that looks through your website content.

Two common mistakes:

  • Flash websites or sites that have their text appear as images – to the search engines, this just looks like a bunch of pictures, and they’re unable to detect the text.
  • Ensure your website has new content on a regular basis – this is the core reason why most corporations have a blog, and many also have a resource page and a news page. Adding new content lets Google know you’re still relevant.

No matter if you go the DIY route, or if you call in professionals, it’s so important to get your SEO top-notch as soon as possible. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a customer just because they couldn’t find you, right?

David Wither is a BusinessTown.com contributor