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Chatting with a search-marketing expert

Using a search engine like Google or Yahoo is the most common way customers look for products online. Without effective search engine optimization, your business may get left behind.

In a chat with SEO expert Dustin Williams, the recently promoted senior SEO analyst offered some tips for those hoping to market their smaller companies to the next level.

He said that cutting through the cyber-clutter requires your website be near the top of the search results when people search for your product or service online.

“You can build a company, but if nobody knows where it is or how to find it, it’s not going to get business,” Williams said.

Whether you do it yourself or hire an SEO firm, Williams said businesses today cannot afford to not rank highly on the world’s most popular search engines.

The owners of some businesses probably believe that beefing up their company’s presence online will bust their budgets. If they have any money for marketing, it’s probably a very small amount.

But over the telephone, an SEO expert can assess which methods might work best for you.

“If they contact us, we can really assess their needs,” Williams said. “We can evaluate their website and we can evaluate the competition.”

A small startup company might not have the money to pay a major SEO firm, he explained.

“There are different companies that provide different services at varying costs,” Williams said.

But closely scrutinize any SEO firm before hiring them, he stressed.

“There are a lot of companies out there that promise results but don’t always get it,” he said. “You need to do some research.”

Hiring a professional is the quickest way to provide your business a noticeable presence on the Internet. One sign of a credible SEO firm is that their website ranks highly on Google.

“If their website ranks high, that’s a great indicator,” Williams said. “If you’re searching in Google and you can’t find the SEO company, then they can’t do it for themselves.”

Also examine a list of the firm’s clients.

Meanwhile, businesses with time on their hands may try themselves to improve their presence online.

“SEO takes a while to learn to the point where you do it effectively,” Williams said. “Time is money.”

Generating leads among people who are genuinely interested in your product takes patience and persistence. And staying up to speed on the most current SEO trends is critical.

More important, however, is having strong content on your website. The material should be unique and rich in keywords.

“Google and the other search engines rely on the content on your page,” Williams said.

Using keyword phrases in your copy tells “the search engine crawlers what the website is all about,” he explained.

Williams made a comparison to a book without any words.

“A book isn’t a book without content,” he said. “It’s the same idea with the crawler. It has to know what the website is about. If there is no content on the website, there is nothing to tell the crawler what the website is about.”