“Google.” At one time it was only used as a noun, specifically a title/name. Now, it’s a universal verb, for utilizing a search engine, that has even made it into the dictionary. That’s how important the internet has become to society. And with all the information immediately accessible to us, it’s no wonder we had to even coin the term.

Young adults are often warned to be careful about what they post online. Online profiles may influence the decision of future employers or admissions committees. Why? Because they see it as a representation of yourself and your true character. The same principle applies to businesses.  What are your potential patrons seeing when they Google your organization’s name? What images are you showing them? What vibe are they getting from the results? The answers to these questions are directly connected to search engine optimization.

According to Wikipedia, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results.

Steve Olenski over at Forbes.com gives some great information on why exactly your business needs to buy into SEO.

SEO, first of all, helps you grab more business from your target market. With 80-90% of consumers checking online reviews before they purchase a product/service, you want they to be able to locate your business quickly and easily. Oh, and by the way, that percentage is only expected to increase. Think of this as your online ‘storefront’! You want to be visible to your consumers and drive traffic to your business!  

There are two great ways to do this. First, ensure that you are optimizing and categorizing your business properly. This includes posting attractive, high quality photos, having accurate hours of operation, and detailing exactly what products or services you offer. When categorizing your business, what want to choose categories that correlate and describe what your business does. It’s crucial that you choose at least one category (but ideally between three and five), as some search engines will categorize them incorrectly or even fail to list uncategorized businesses! Not having a ‘healthy content profile’ for SEO can be very damaging to your business.

Another reason to invest in SEO is the increased opportunities that will be available to your business, specifically in regards to mobile bandwidth. With consumers always being on-the-go, and thus relying more heavily on mobile devices, it is expected that some new SEO techniques will open up, such as local search optimization. Having local pages with the three major search engines (Yahoo, Bing, and Google) means you only compete for exposure with the businesses in your immediate area (instead of county, city, state or  even nationwide). And you know what that means: a greater chance for your customers to visit your business while in your area!

Even if you choose to forego going to whole nine yards, at a minimum ensure that you have consistent information for your NAP (name, address, phone number) on all search engines and social media platforms!

With your online storefront, you want to make it the most user friendly experience possible. Effectively using search engine optimization is one step in the right direction. True, it’s a never-ending process, but it’s necessary and valuable tool for your business!

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