In the current business environment small business (retail based or online only) MUST have a digital mindset whether they are offering products for sale online, or simply looking to help drive traffic to their store-front locations via searches on the web (Google, Bing/Yahoo, or Facebook, etc.).
Being New is An Advantage: Small business websites that are brand new (less than 18 months old), seem to be provided with a unique opportunity in Google search rankings, where the sites pop up in competitive keyword search results lists for a very brief period (1-6 weeks). It is therefore vital to effectively maximize the use of on-site website meta fields (url names, page titles, on-page descriptions, keyword and header tags). These fundamental user-controlled website page fields are the primary source (aside from on-page content) for search engines to initially understand/classify what a business is all about. Business owners who ignore these fields, or set it aside to do later, often miss this key opportunity that can be instrumental in delivering the first few critical sales that keep the company afloat during launch stages.
Back-links: Generating inbound links to a small business website is probably the most challenging part of website promotion and aside from the quantity of links that must lead to a site for it to be competitive in website search lists, the quality of web-links are also vitally important. Small businesses can start building their inbound link volume with a few simple strategies including: 1) Post a business service ad in the 'services' section of Craigslist once a week; 2) Participate in discussions on LinkedIn; 3) Set up a Twitter page; 4) Create and drive discussions in a new community on Ning; 4) Create a group on Facebook, and link to it from your personal profile (if you have one).
Google is extremely sensitive to the relevance and volume of sites linking to a small business site when determining search page results, and getting inbound links from partners, colleagues and other websites are essential to showing up in search results lists. Ask customers, friends and business partners to review your company on Yelp, Viewpoints and other social networks. See if these trusted individuals will also provide you with a permanent web-link to your site from their business websites, and offer a link back to their site in return.
Keep in mind links coming from .edu and .gov websites are much higher in authority, so if you have any friends/contacts in schools, colleges that can post a link for you from their website, these connections are much more influential than are .com, .biz or .net links.
Stay Dedicated: Keep in mind as you keep connecting your small business website to other sites on the web that SEO efforts lag behind SEO results by about 6-months. So do not become discouraged about working hard now, and not seeing any immediate results. Install Google Analytics as a means to understand where your traffic is coming from, and use Google web-master tools to help improve the flow, and value of your site.
My friend Clint Garwood offers top notch services to help small business with SEO, search marketing, and social networking. You can learn more here: GarwoodPR