Last week marked the 30th celebration of Canada’s small business week. Across the country, hundreds of activities were held to showcase and support Canada’s small business sector. I had the opportunity to attend the Small Business Forum at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. With over 100 exhibitors and 15 seminars, excitement filled the air as entrepreneurs learned about the latest products and services available to help them build their business.
I was lucky to attend a seminar by Jeff Quipp from Search Engine People on the “Tips for Better Rankings on Search Engines”. After sitting in on the seminar I realized that in today’s competitive environment, having a website is not enough. You also need your website to appear high in Google search results so people can easily find the services you offer.
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you to do just that. To explain SEO you need to understand that Google uses a complex formula to decide where your website should appear in search results. The exact formula remains a secret, but there are two major components (in-page and off-page factors) that help determine how high on the list a website will appear.
In-page factors are basically what you say about your website and rely on keywords to help Google identify your website in search results. Keywords can be used in your: website URL, the titles and headings you use to describe each web page, the navigation links on your site and in the text on your website. If you use a standard set of keywords to describe the areas mentioned above, Google recognizes your site as more relevant to search results. The key here is to focus on choosing keywords that properly represent your business. The other thing to keep in mind is that the more content you have on your site and the more often it is updated; the more valuable your site appears to Google. Content can include website copy, videos, images, and widgets. According to Jeff, in-page factors account for approximately 30% of your page ranking.
Off-page factors refer to what other people are saying about your website and are made up of links on other websites that lead back to your site. Jeff estimates that approximately 70% of your page ranking consists of off-page content. Most of this 70% is made up of the keywords that other people use to describe your site. Are they using the same keywords as you are?
After learning about off-page content, many people wonder how they can get links. Jeff suggested that you can get more links by providing quality content on your website, or by building them on other websites. For example, you can create content by writing news releases and articles that will increase media attention. To build links you can talk to suppliers and complementary businesses about linking to your site, or you can make directory submissions. It’s important to understand that off-page content is about quality not quantity. For example, if you can get media coverage from powerful sites that end in .edu or .gov, or from popular news websites, Google sees your site as more credible.
It is often said that entrepreneurs wear many hats. As we develop our skills, wearing different hats becomes a little more comfortable. That’s why – no matter what business you’re in – it’s important to always keep learning.