How to Make a Small Business Website Stand Out in the SERPs

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The Register reported on new research that suggested “49% of small businesses fail to submit their company’s website to search engines.” Furthermore, only “2/3 of Internet users told researchers that they only look at the first two pages of their online search results.” This is both a serious problem and a huge opportunity for businesses.

It’s a serious problem for businesses, because potential customers aren’t finding their website. That means Internet users are finding their competitors’ websites first, and they’re losing business. This situation reminds me of my web design philosophy, which states:

“…If people can’t find your website, let alone use your website, then there’s really no point in having a website at all.”

Luckily, there’s several things these businesses can do to usurp their competition. The research pointed to 49% of small firms that don’t submit their websites to search engines. However, submitting a website to a search engine is only one small component to search engine marketing (SEM).

Submitting a website to a search engine is an appropriate start to launching a website, which every company should do, but there are more important aspects that need to be addressed. Such as, how optimized the website is for search engines, the type of content the website has, and how the website is being marketed.

Search Engine Friendly

It’s crucial for businesses to have a search engine friendly website. Fortunately, Raven makes that process easy and free. Raven provides a free SEO Analyzer tool that quickly analyzes any web page, and produces a detailed report that states how standardized and search engine friendly the page is. Using the report, a web designer can make the necessary changes to ensure that their entire website is search engine friendly.

Original High Quality Content

Another important component to doing well on search engines is content. Original and high quality content is essential for being noticed in search engines and having good SERPs. The ideal content type is a page or tool that many people will be interested in. For example, tutorials, informative articles, or online guides are all things that Internet users find interest in, and will most likely bookmark and link to. Having people bookmark your website through services like del.icio.us, and getting users to link to you on their blog, promotes organic linking. Organic linking is when users stumble upon your content, and then provide a link to it from their website or bookmarking service. Search engines give a lot of weight to organic linking, which will in turn improve your SERPs.

Effective Marketing Strategies

How you market your website is crucial to gaining preferred traffic and organic linking. The overall design needs to be conducive to your core audience, and the website should always offer the user something that they’ll find useful or interesting. Through the use on online advertising, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and through offering online services and valuable original content, a website can practically market itself.

  • hi just wondering, did you take into consideration google site submission? even yahoo and msn? they are the three major search engine players, and websites don’t really have to be submitted to them, as long as they can be found linked somewhere? =) just wondering around. nice story though

  • Well written and informative article, if a bit brief. A mention of Google Sitemaps would also be helpful, as it is another way for new businesses to get their websites indexed by the biggest search engine.

    Overall, nice article.
    – Justin

  • dhundee, that’s certainly a good point — all a website really needs to be noticed by most search engines is one inbound link to it from another website. However, this article is definitely not an exhaustive resource on all of the ways to get placed and ranked well in search engines. It was more of my reaction to the study that The Register was reporting on. That study was just looking at whether or not companies were submitting their website to search engines, whereas I felt that focusing on just that was just tipping the iceberg.

  • Good point Justin! Google Sitemaps is a great way to let Google know about all of your pages. It won’t guarantee that they’ll put all of your pages in their index, nor will it give you better SERPs, but it’s another example of the many things you should do when promoting your website to search engines.

  • Povilas Styra

    Sorry for boasting, but today my site (created a month and a half ago) was indexed by Google. And I want to say a great thanks to Sitening team for SEO analyzer tool! Every time I make changes in my site, I always check them with this tool, I read all your articles and now I have an indexed web page. Hooray!

    By the the way, it is first by my keywords in Yahoo!, MSN, Google and 8th in AOL, but after reading latter article I realized that I was creating my site for SEs, but not for humans. Doh! :

    Extremely good point about content, now I will cope on improving it!

    Best regards,
    Povilas
    Lithuania

  • Cube-Dweller

    Having your new site linked off of any site/page with a Google PR 3 or higher will get your site indexed and searchable within 24 hours or less.

    Also, its possible with only on page changes to take #1 position on MSN, and certainly 1st page in Yahoo, and alta-vista. I recently did it with a site that had no SEO done to it at all previous to my experimentation with SEO tactics.

    So you have a choice really. Run your submission on Google, Yahoo, etc.. Or link to a site. Myself, I would rather get a link back to my site. Reasons being:

    1) Helps my search engine ranking.
    2) Possibilty of visitors coming from linked sites traffic.
    3) Creation of one link, instead of multiple online forms to fill out (Figure one for each search engine)

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Cube-Dweller, thanks for your comments. That’s why we have the Backlink Analyzer — to help you find good sites to get backlinks from. This post is hardly an exhaustive list of SEO strategies and tactics, and getting good backlinks, as you suggested, is certainly part of a holistic strategy to improve SERPs. Even Google suggests that you get high quality backlinks to your website on their Webmaster Help Center.

  • IMHO:

    – Improve PR by good content.
    – Improve SERPs by ‘gaining’ incoming links with the right keywords.

    I ain’t a specialist, just what seems to me after dealing with some websites like mine. Hope makes some sense.

    BTW, nice Article, Jon.