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Search Engine Optimization

Are you getting the most out of your web site?

If you build it, they will come may be true of baseball fields, but it’s not about web sites.

How is it that you can have the most beautiful, well-written web site and no traffic?

Whether you have an online store front or offer professional services, if you want people to find your web site, you must pay at least some attention to how search engines (mostly Google) rank it.

Why you should care about SEO

You need to care about SEO because search engines are the Yellow Pages of the Internet. They help people find your business.

Say you need a plumber. In the past, you’d ask a friend or look in your phone book. Today you still might seek a referral or you’d google “plumber southeast Denver,” “cheap plumber south Denver” or “catastrophic sewer fail south Denver help now!”

When Google returns your search results, it displays the highest ranked sites first. If you were a Denver plumber wouldn’t you want to be high on that list?

How do you know if you need SEO help?

Not all businesses depend on directory-type searches. If you get most of your customers from word of mouth, you might not need to concern yourself with SEO.

But if your business depends on people finding you through Internet searches, you’ll want to ensure your web site is well-positioned SEO-wise.

To see how you rank, do a “vanity” search of your business on Google. First type in your business name. Then try searches you think customers might use. When Google returns your results, notice the placement of your business on the screen. Did you show up on page one or two of your search results? If not, your site could probably use some tweaking.

The SEO upside

No SEO consultant can guarantee a page one ranking. What he or she can offer is the potential for improvement: Better rankings and hopefully increased traffic that converts to sales.

Jennifer Croft, who handles the SEO for Sage Creative, says that basic search engine optimization can double or even triple traffic to a web site. Or it can do virtually nothing, depending on many factors, including the age of your web site, competition in your sector and current rankings.

“Results vary,” she says. “Based on an assessment and based on what we’re doing for the web site, we can give customers a realistic guess on what they can expect.”

Not all SEO experts are created equally

Bad SEO can be worse than no SEO. Why? Because Google both penalizes and bans sites that engage in what it perceives as unscrupulous practices. When hiring an SEO consultant do your due diligence. Get recommendations. Then get several bids just like you would if you needed plumbing services.

“You can’t game the system,” Croft says. “You can permanently damage a site. Whatever SEO company you hire, know what you’re paying for and get realistic expectations about what you can get back.”

Get thee to a search engine optimizer

Google effectively owns the Internet. If the 800-pound search engine guerilla can’t find you, nobody can find you.

But basic search engine optimization is relatively inexpensive compared to most marketing expenses. Croft advises small businesses to get a web site assessment to start. “You can have the best web site in the world, but if you can’t be found,” she says, “it’s very frustrating.”

Click here to see if optimizing your web site can help get your site found.

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