Search Engine Optimization.
You Entrepreneurs and Authors could spend thousands of dollars for that guy who keeps emailing you about the wonders of his company and its ability to get your website into the top 5 results on Google, but you really don't need to. I'm no expert, but I have kept MommyLoves.com in the #1 or top 3 spots on Google for all our keywords for the past 8 years, and I'm a techie like my sons are quiet.
Here's what I do:
1. Keyword and Content Rich. Okay, if you have a website that only contains links to other websites (we have all seen these "link farms", and have been confused as to their purpose when we stumbled upon them), the GoogleBots will not like you. What are GoogleBots, you ask? They are those pesky little (or gigantic, probably) spider bots (yes the connection to the "web" isn't lost on me, either) who search the web for content on websites and report back to the algorithms Google uses for ranking. Blah, blah, blah, right? Well, they are real, so you gotta know about them. If, however, your site actually says something, and says it often, your chances of a higher Google ranking are...well...higher. Keywords, for anyone who has no idea, are the words that are key to your site and it's function. If your site represents your online presence for your flower shop, then I sincerely hope you talk about flowers, and use the words your potential customers might use to search you out online (and in person). Think of the yellow pages...I would probably look under "flowers" if I wanted to find the nearest flower shop and didn't know the name of your business. Of course there are several other words one might use. The week before Valentine's day, Google probably sees a huge upswing in searches for "red roses," for instance, and if you not only talk about red roses, flowers, arranging, lilies, etc. on your home page, but also have pictures and links labeled with those terms you are maximizing your keyword usage. When I say "talking about" I am referring to content. Your homepage can't be simply pictures and links for ordering, directions and hours for your store. Share some of your flower knowledge on your homepage with the world and the GoogleBots...they are effectively one and the same. Having a higher ranking than your competitors, however is a little more difficult. If your competitors have been on the net longer, they have the advantage of more people finding them first, and possibly linking to them. You can overcome this, however with more niche keywords that talk about your awesome uniqueness.
2. Other websites link to you. Just think nepotism, and you've got half the search engine optimization problem solved. The web is, after all, a web of connected servers (aka people), and the GoogleBots like to see that you are connected to that web too! The more other websites link to your website, the higher your ranking. Now, if those "link farms" I mentioned in number 1 above are the only ones linking to you, they will hurt your ranking. Like in life, your website is judged by its friends. Seek out businesses, authors and non-profits you trust and admire. Give them some good promotion without being asked, and the chances are (if they are as kind and do business like you) they will return the favor. Networking hasn't gone out of style yet, and probably never will.
3. Check your ranking almost as much as you check Facebook. You can't be aware of the changes you need to make unless you check your work. Have more than one browser on your computer, and use them to search your keywords and see where you rank. Change your content and keyword placement (the higher on the page the better) accordingly.
Now, this is a simple representation of the challenges of search engine optimization, and you may want to seek expert advice if you seriously want to make money online and you sell in a market as saturated as say...carbonated beverages. I was lucky in that I created the first online novelty maternity company on the web in 2003, so I started with an advantage. Showcase your uniqueness, and you will be lucky, too!
~Mary Kathryn Johnson 2012