The Internet is where meaningful customer contacts are made, so it makes sense to know how you can make your business website as visible as possible to potential and existing customers.

A common misconception is that the Internet is a place and that the same tactics that can gain awareness for a physical location can work online. But the web isn’t Times Square. Big graphics and razzle-dazzle Flash animation won’t get you a single new visitor—in fact, such brick-and-mortar tactics are likely to LOSE you traffic.

There are five ways to get your business found online:

  1. Advertise—expensive and not very effective at driving web traffic
  2. Organic Search—this option is the one that delivers results if you know how the game is played
  3. Social Media—works hand-in-hand with Organic Search and can be very effective
  4. Backlinks—backlinks are links to your website from another website. The best backlinks are one-way backlinks from websites with “high authority.”
  5. Advocacy—word of mouth is still the best marketing tactic, and it’s one of the reasons why Social Media is an effective strategy.

In this article, we’re going to share some tips on how you can impact the three key methods for getting found: organic search, social media, and backlinks. Ultimately, all of these tactics will help your search engine visibility, which is the most important marketing tool for businesses today.

Tip 1. Research and use keywords on your website

  • Use the Google AdWords Keyword tool to research a keyword’s volume and competition levels.
  • Check competitor websites to see what keywords they are using (use View Page Source right click option on most browsers.)
  • Think about the questions customers ask you. People online are likely to type similar questions into the search engine.
  • 90% of search is long-tail keywords, which are words and phrases that are fairly specific and don’t have big volumes, so don’t focus exclusively on broad keywords, such as “website developer.” Including thorough, relevant content on your website is the way to get your fair share of long-tail keywords search results.
  • Localities should be part of the keyword mix for most businesses, e.g. Issaquah or Seattle. So you need to find ways to create relevant content that can include the mention of localities.
  • Use appropriate keywords in your content titles, metatags, subtitles, content and alt text. Keep in mind that your content must also make sense. You don’t need to stuff content with keywords. In fact, doing so can have a negative impact with some search engines.

Tip 2. Include optimized Title and Description tags on your website

  • Your homepage title metatag should have no more than 60 characters (with spaces) and it should read like a brief description of your business and include at least one or two main keywords.
  • Your description metatag should be no longer than 160 characters (with spaces) and it should also read naturally.
  • If you don’t have access to make these changes to your website, you don’t have the control necessary to maximize your visibility online and you should either get access or get a new website.

Tip 3. Own your own domain and use readable/indexable URLs

  • Domains hosted free by a provider won’t earn you visibility so avoid them.
  • All the links on your website should have URLs that can be read and that are relevant to the content on the page. A string of gobbledygook numbers, characters and letters is a lost indexing opportunity.

Tip 4. Use a blog as your online hub

  • Blogs are the best websites for gaining visibility through search.
  • Blogs emphasize fresh, relevant content, which is what search engines love.
  • Blogs create pages dynamically, so every piece of content has its own URL. All those internal links help Google’s spiders track down the site’s relevant content.
  • Fresh content gives you the chance to share your expertise, which builds trust and supports your brand.
  • The blog content can be “broadcast” to all your social media pages.
  • To get the most search engine benefit, your website should be a blog, not just have a link to a blog hosted elsewhere.
  • Of all the blog platforms, WordPress is acknowledged by Google and SEO experts as the best of the bunch.
  • If you don’t have a WordPress-based website, you should seriously consider getting one, because as soon as your competitors figure this out…

Tip 5. Build social communities on sites such as Facebook and Twitter

  • Communities share a common interest so by placing links to your blog content on your social media sites you’ll be sharing value with your community.
  • Community members aren’t necessarily customers. Don’t think of them as customers or treat them as customers. Share with them. In return, their visits to your website via the links that you post will help your website’s search engine visibility.

Tip 6. Register your website at Internet directories

  • Take a few hours and do the registration thing for as many of the free directories as you can.
  • Directories often have fairly high authority, so a backlink from the directory has value.

Tip 7. Leave comments on websites and blogs with topics related to your area of expertise

  • Add something of value to the discussion.
  • Don’t promote yourself.
  • Check back on the comment to see if there were follow-ups.
  • Commenting is another strategy for building visibility as an expert in your field.

Tip 8. Publish articles on content-sharing sites such as HubPages and InfoBarrel

  • Free content sharing sites provide another opportunity to get backlinks by your own effort
  • Write a How To article or Top Tips article of general or specialized interest.
  • Include a link to your website where related content can be found.

Tip 9. Encourage content sharing by including Facebook “Like” buttons and links to popular social sharing sites, including Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Yelp and others.

Tip 10. Include your website’s home page URL everywhere.

  • It should be prominent on every printed item, including stationary, business cards, and promotional items
  • It should be displayed in all advertising
  • It should be on signs, vehicles, windows, anywhere that someone could see it in the real world
  • It should be on support materials, such as instruction booklets or brochures.