Small businesses can build the most state-of-the-art website filled with images, interactive tools and sales capabilities, but it doesn’t really matter if consumers can’t find it.
Long gone are the days when consumers in need of a product of service skim the Yellow Pages; now they hop online and do a quick search.
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a vital role in maximizing a website’s online presence and giving it the exposure it deserves. Techniques like strong keywords, rankings and searchabilty all have a major impact on making a business show up before its competitors
Jason Hennessey, CEO of Everspark Interactive, a full-service SEO agency, said small businesses often struggle with what SEO tools to use.
"There's a lot of theories on what works and what doesn't work," Hennessey said. "[Owners] don't know where to go to get the facts, and in most cases it may not even work. It can leave them with a bad taste in their mouth."
Here are Hennessey's six SEO tools to improve your small business' searchabilty.
No. 1: SEOBook's SEO Toolbar. This is used often to reverse engineer for SEO, Hennessey said. The toolbar sits in a Mozilla Firefox browser and allows users to have a birds-eye view of the ranking factors on any and all websites visited.
"It tells you the page rank of that site and shows all links pointing back to that website," he said. "Links are the currency on the web, if you know what links are pointing to a certain webpage for a keyword, you need to reverse engineer it to get those same links [for your page]."
No. 2: Keyword Spy. This tool allows users to have full access to competitors’ organic and pay-per-click strategies, Hennessey said. Organic keywords are the words that bring web users to your site.
"You can see the keywords they are ranking for, bidding on and how much money they are spending," he said. "When you go into any given market, you should mirror what is already working and look at their data."
No. 3: SEM Rush. This is a keyword research tool that allows you to analyze the keywords for which competitors are ranking, both organically and via AdWords, or keywords being bid on or paid for.
"You can see all of the keywords they are ranking for and how much traffic they get," Hennessey said.
No. 4: Yahoo Site Explorer. The browser can be used for more than just surfing the net. The Yahoo Site Explorer can be helpful for small business owners looking to find the most accurate data for links pointing to a website. Hennessey said this is as simple as typing "Link:" followed by the website you are looking to research.
"It will take you to the site explorer and expose how many pages of content that page had indexed on Google and all links pointing back to the site," he said.
No. 5: Google Analytics. "Every small business should add this to their website," Hennessey said. "It is the only place to get factual data.
You can see everything—where people are entering the site, exiting, how long they stay… it's hard enough to get traffic to the site, you want to keep them there while you can." This tool allows users to analyze traffic data and enhance their strategies accordingly.
No. 6: Google Webmaster Tools. This site breaks down what is affecting your website’s rank.
"You can view errors within your source code, if you happen to get penalized for some reason and your ranking suffers, you can report it," Hennessey said. "You can also check your speed on there." Webmaster Tools can diagnose any issues your page might be having and analyze the links coming to your site.