Bruce Clay Small Biz ContestExcellent work by Brent Rangen with his wiinning article:  SEO for Small Business: Get an SEO Primer.  The article won Bruce Clay’s Small Biz Discovery Contest to answer the question, What one recommendation would you give to small business owners to improve their online presence?:

In a nutshell:  SEO.

We are often asked, “How are rankings determined?” “Why does my site rank so poorly?” and the answer is simple. Back links, title tags, keyword saturation, and new content.

I agree.  Here are some of the main takeaways from the article.

Backlinks:

  • Google rewards are greater for natural link building.
  • Links from older-authority sites with high PageRank are best.
  • Relevancy plays a huge role between linking sites.
  • Utilizing your keywords as the text used in the link (anchor text) is the key. You would not want to use ‘Brainerd Real Estate’ for every link because that is not natural. Google may see this as spam. Naturally, people would link to your site using the URL, City+keyword, and profiles and forum activity might yield anchor text like this: ‘my site’, ‘my blog’, ‘page title’ ‘mydomain.com’ and ‘www.mydomain.com’. Use variety in anchor text but at the same time stay focused on keywords.
  • Utilize a variety of sites for back links.
  • Learn a few basic commands to monitor competitor links.

Don’t:

  • Do not build obscene amount of links too quickly.
  • Do not use one keyword for every back link you build.
  • Do not buy links on sites that sell a lot of links or sites selling links openly.
  • Do not waste time on building links on sites with no commonality.

A couple ideas:

  1. Your business contacts’ websites – links from sites in the same geographic location can be very influential in rankings.
  2. Relevant blogs – comment on dofollow blogs.
  3. Top article directories – submit articles on your keyword to the top ten article directories.
  4. Relevant or high authority directories – this is a good way to get a link on high authority domains like DMOZ & Yahoo.
  5. Social media sites – Your Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. Most of them will not pass link equity, but they will help bring visitors to your site and get your site indexed faster. Most importantly you have a new platform to connect with your target market. Ideally, your target market would be building links to your site so place a lot of time and resources on this.
  6. Web 2.0 sites – These are the sites which allow you to do more than just retrieve information. You can upload, write blog posts, and talk with others in an online community. Each industry has different ones. For real estate its sites like Zillow, Real Estate Webmasters, Top Seller Sites. With something like Architecture it’s Flickr, Squidoo, Hubpages, and Scribd.

On-page:

  • Use good title tags.
  • Do not use the same title tag more than once.
  • Use keywords in the URL (or web address).
  • Keywords should be used in heading text (h1, h2, h3, h4).
  • Keywords should be used in alternate text for images.
  • Keywords should appear in the body of the page.
  • Remove www or non-www version of your site.
  • Use a robots.txt file.
  • Set up a sitemap.

Despite the hordes of information on search engine optimization available online, by understanding and implementing the above concepts, you will have accomplished 75% of the most important aspects.

Looking for some more link building techniques?  Here are 5 practical link building tips from Avvo’s SEO pro Nick:

1) Create a blog on your domain

2) Do guest blog posts in other people’s blogs

3) Sponsor local nonprofits

4) Submit to quality directories

5) Check out the competition

All great suggestions.  I would also suggest distributing unique content on legally relevant content platforms (make sure to include links within your content to your site).

And, as always, never implement any of these strategies in a manner that compromises your professional reputation.