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Internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization have not been around for very long, so it’s hard to find an ‘official guide’ on what you should do. It’s easy to get caught up with SEO tactics and get a little heavy handed with certain keywords or strategies, so it is just as important that you are as familiar with what you shouldn’t do, as what you should do.

In 2012, Google changed its algorithm for pulling search results. Prior to this change, the quality of the site didn’t matter so much. As long as there were a high number of inbound links and keywords, Google pulled the site higher on search results.  After Google implemented the change in how it ranked sites, it moved towards a focus on quality, rather than quantity. You should ensure your site has correct grammar and spelling, text formatting on the page (bold, bullet points, italics, etc), good length of content, and outbound links. It’s important to have other sites link to yours. Inbound links are the heaviest-weighted factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Keywords are a powerful tool and you should absolutely be using them, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re a local business you might not want to be using global keywords. You should stray away from using generic keywords that might lure visitors to your page, but don’t actually result in any interest in your product or service. You should also be sure to include keywords that have a variety of competition online. Bear in mind that the broader the keyword, the higher the competition. You’re going to want to find an ideal balance between some of the broader keywords and the more specific ones to your business that might not have as much competition online. Don’t forget that the goal is to find real clients, not just create a high volume of website traffic.

Although we discussed the important of local listings last week, we’re mentioning it again because it’s such a valuable resource. For the most part, local listings are free, but you’ll have to take the time to ensure that your information is consistent throughout all listings, or it’ll actually negatively affect you in results because the search engine thinks you’re two different companies.

Regardless of the size of your business, it’s important that you have your own custom domain name, and make sure that it’s registered for at least three years. Short-term domains are viewed as potential spam sites and could have an influence on your search ranking. Customers also view business email addresses that use their custom domain name as more professional and trustworthy.

One of the best ways to maintain a good search engine ranking is keep updating your site with high-quality content, such as a blog. A blog is the most organic way to regularly update the site and it creates a sense of authority that translates well with customers. If you don’t have any kind of blog yet, it’s highly advised that you start one as soon as possible.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your online marketing strategy. It takes a long time to build a base of clients and you should not consider marketing a short-term investment. If you’re serious about the success of your business, you need to be prepared to invest money and time to the cause. Eventually you will see a return on the investment, but it will take time to gain online credibility. It’s also important that you know your strengths. If you don’t have any experience in online marketing, trying to take this on yourself might do more harm than good, so it’s important that you turn to a professional.

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