Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science that is used to make sure web sites are set up correctly to take advantage of search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and thousands of other lesser known services. The process is difficult, arcane and filled with folklore, voodoo science and misguided assumptions. There's a slew of consultants and service companies offering SEO services; many prey on web site owners who have little or no idea of what SEO truly is, but know they need it. If you find a good practitioner, the service can be expensive, typically between $500 and $5,000 per month on a six to twelve contract. 

The other alternative is to do some studying and become proficient at maintaining your own site. It's time consuming but really worth it. One way to get up to speed is to use the newly updated SEO Starter Guide that Google just released. You can download a free PDF copy of Google’s SEO Starter Guide here.

Another free resource that you'll find useful is http://websitegrader.com. You enter your website address and the Grader pulls together a range of testing tools that will tell you if you need to make minor tweaks to your site, or if there's some significant issues that need addressing. If you want to see how your site compares with your competitor's sites in terms of traffic, go to http://alexa.com . Enter your website address and the addresses of your main competitors and you'll see a chart comparing traffic. You'll also see your "Ranking", which is a global ranking of web site's popularity. For example, Alexa ranks Google.com as number 1, Facebook.com as number 2, and so on. The SCORE.org site (Our national site) is ranked as a very respectable 23,280, and the Ulster Chamber of Commerce site as 3,334,036. This may sound like a very low number, but if you consider that there's probably 100 million web sites now it doesn't seem too bad.

These free tools are not only useful in helping you make more use of your web site and drive more business, they provide you with an ongoing set of measurement tools that you can use to monitor how you are doing. But there's an even better way to monitor your site's performance, and it too is free. Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ and sign up. Google offers any site owner a tool to monitor traffic, identify where your traffic comes from, where it abandons your site, and more. All you do is add a small tag to your web pages and Google does the rest. 


Web traffic is becoming more important to small business so make sure you're getting the most from your site.

 


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