Oh, how we all wish we knew the secrets to getting your business’s website to the top of search engine results. Yes, you can pay for the right to be on top, and I’m not saying that isn’t worth trying if your budget allows, but that’s getting ahead of myself. Every entrepreneur has his or her own SEO battle story, and the methods that work for one company don’t always work for another.

That said, here are some SEO guidelines to get you started:

Read the Google Guidelines: No, Google is not the only search engine that matters, but for now it is the most important. The guidelines offer tips such as using lots of text links, making sure your pages don’t have any broken links, and submitting a site map to Google so they can learn more about your site. Don’t even think about using sneaky tricks such as cloaking and doorway pages to improve your SEO. Google’s algorithm protects its rankings against unscrupulous practices, and using them will hurt rather than help your rankings. Mostly, the guidelines advise you to make your site informative and rich with the keywords searchers would enter when looking for businesses like yours.

Keywords are simply the words most searched on, and vary for every type of business website. For example, for my small business website, our keywords are small business ideas, small business opportunities and so on. The secret is to use keywords in your content but not to overdo it. Search engines know if you’re throwing keywords in just for ranking, and you’ll be penalized. To find out the keywords for your industry, you can use tools such as Google Adwords, which is free, or pay for a tool such as Wordtracker or Keyword Spy (both have free trials so you can test them out).

One of the most enlightening conversations I’ve had about SEO was with a local SCORE mentor. Seriously, these people know their stuff. In addition to being free, is their advice is personalized and actionable. It’s one thing to read advice and another to get it explained to you in plain English. And when it comes to SEO, plain English is not always easy to find.

About the Author(s)

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and SmallBizDaily.com.

CEO, GrowBiz Media