The Web is the great equalizer in business. Resources aside, every day, billion-dollar businesses and startups compete on an even playing field for Internet exposure. To the victor go the spoils: top rankings on major search engines that can skyrocket a business's revenue into the stratosphere.
The key to a successful search engine optimization campaign is to create a unique language that captures the attention of consumers and becomes synonymous with your brand name. Owning a brand language means that every time prospective customers type your keywords and phrases into a search engine, your site--as well as other Web sites and media that support your Web site and its offerings--is the first result they see.
Begin by identifying keywords and phrases that are highly relevant to your product or service. Entrepreneur offers a keyword search tool, and there are other sites such as Network Solutions or Google AdWords to assist you in narrowing down your verbiage. In the early stages of your SEO campaign, your brand language should consist of no more than two or three keywords or phrases. Likewise, it is important to make certain your brand language is uniquely yours so you can "own" it. As an example, an environmentally friendly car-wash business may never be able to own the words "car wash" due to the sheer number of car washes in the world, but it may be able to own the phrase "eco-friendly car wash."
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Once you've selected your main keywords and phrases, incorporate your brand language into your company tagline, a one-sentence company description and one-paragraph company bio. Along with your individual keywords and phrases, this content will serve as the primary media you will utilize for your SEO campaign.
After you have completed your brand language content, its time to distribute your keywords and phrases to specific Internet channels. This tactic will increase the number of links driving traffic back to your site and increase the amount of real estate that you control on the Web--effectively building your sites visibility on search engines. Here are five ways to use your brand language to dramatically improve the efficacy of your search engine optimization efforts.
- Optimize your Web site
Making your Web site search engine friendly is vital to improving your online visibility. Search engine optimization entails placing your brand language in specific areas on your site. For starters, you'll need a Web site header title no more than 70-80 characters and a site description no more than 200 characters. Both the title and the description need to include all of your brand language. Additionally, be sure each of your keywords and phrases is included in your sites meta tags and body text, but be careful not to overuse them. Only use each keyword once in your title, description and meta tags; twice in the sites main body text is sufficient. Overuse may cause some search engines to define your site as spam, resulting in a lowered site or page ranking. You may also want to consider using online services such as Web.com or hiring a reputable SEO firm or consultant to help improve SEO efficacy. Should you decide to use a firm or consultant, avoid anyone who "guarantees" he can get your site to the No. 1 position on Google's organic search. He'll probably also have a bridge to sell you.
- Distribute optimized press releases
Distributing and posting press releases online monthly will create a large number of link-backs to your site, which steadily increases your visibility and site ranking. When composing your press releases, include your keywords and phrases once or--at most--twice within the body text of the release. Once you lock your copy, hyperlink each of your keywords and phrases to link back to your site. In some cases, press release distribution services, such as PR Web, will have you create hyperlinks using their proprietary software. For all other cases, click here to see how to write a simple hyperlink HTML code. To avoid your releases being read as spam by search engines, only hyperlink one keyword or phrase per 100 characters. Once your release is completed, use wire services such as PR Web and Business Wire to distribute your release to hundreds of sites and journalists. There are also a plethora of free posting sites you can use to increase exposure.
- Create social media channels
Social media sites offer your brand the chance to control hundreds of pages of prime real estate on the Internet; many of which have high site rankings and lend credibility to your site in the eyes of search engines. Populate your social media profiles with your company tagline, bio and Web site URL. Tag all image, video and media files that you upload to these sites with your keywords and phrases. Include elements of your brand language in status updates and posts, and utilize free services such as Ping.fm to syndicate your content.
- Commenting on blogs and forums
Commenting and blogging on relevant industry threads, Web sites and forums is another way to create valuable link-backs to your site. Make a list of the top blogs and online sites in your industry. In some instances, you may be able to offer your services as a guest blogger, which would allow you to include your company credentials and brand language in guest posts. For all other sites on your list, comment and respond regularly to posts made by site content providers with relevant advice that incorporates your brand language and Web site URL. Avoid self-promotion or spam messaging. Whenever you register a user account, use one of your keywords or phrases as your username and include your Web site URL. In many cases, usernames become hyperlinks when your comments go live.
- Produce a viral-ready newsletter
Newsletters that offer valuable content have the ability to exponentially increase a sites exposure in search engines. Every time you create a newsletter, share it on various social-bookmarking sites to increase exposure. Enable users to easily share the content as well by integrating social media tools such as ShareThis and Tweetmeme or social-bookmarking tools such as Digg and Delicious into your newsletter template. Since social-bookmarking sites and other social media sharing tools will pull the title of your newsletter onto their sites, make sure to always include your brand language in the newsletters title.
Scott D. Gerber is Entrepreneur.com's Young Entrepreneur columnist and CEO of Gerber Entertainment, a brand development and venture management company that specializes in the entertainment, Internet, media and marketing industries. For information on speaking engagements, media appearances or Gerber Entertainment's portfolio of businesses visit www.GerberEntertainment.com. Follow Scott Gerber on Twitter @yngentrepreneur.