Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to get your products and services in front of potential customers. After all, Google processes at least 1 trillion searches each year. When you leverage SEO, your site is more likely to appear at the top of the page when someone conducts a search.

Improving a site's search rank can be a challenge, but businesses that take steps to thoroughly understand SEO best practices and stay up-to-date on the latest algorithms can help put themselves on the right track for strong rankings. Here are five ways you can leverage SEO to enhance your marketing efforts:

1. Think Like Google

SEO specialists spend a lot of time trying to decipher exactly how Google works, but it's not an exact science. Experts such as Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, have made serious headway in determining what types of content and websites garner the most hits. In general, Google's algorithms favor pages that deliver searchers exactly what they're looking for. Content that educates or helps your audience learn something and providing links to other informative, trustworthy sites helps improve these results.

2. Provide new, relevant content.

Posting fresh content on your website or blog helps Google recognize that your site is currently providing valuable resources. Create content that will lead people to your site more than once. Be sure to include frequently searched keywords. For example, if you sell makeup, writing a comprehensive blog post on a term many people search for on Google, such as the "best lipstick colors for blondes," can help drive traffic to your site.

3. Make your site friendly to search bots.

Certain technical enhancements make your website more attractive to search engines. For instance, Google prioritizes websites that are fast, so make sure your page's load time is less than half a second. You also want to ensure you have a clean URL and well-formulated meta data, which is made up of the title tag and meta-description for each page.

4. Look for link opportunities.

When your site is linked to from another site, that's a signal to Google that your company is relevant and trustworthy. Paying for links is no longer a viable strategy, and it's always been morally questionable. Businesses now leverage influencer marketing tactics as well as guest posting and partnerships. Point Blank SEO provides a great resource to help determine what link-building opportunities might help your small business.

5. Leverage a local search.

If you run a local business, make sure that review sites such as Yelp and Angie's List have any relevant data for your company. Any locally trusted sites, including newspapers and industry organizations, should also list your contact information and a link to your site, if possible.

For small businesses, one of the first steps to enhance and improve marketing efforts is to leverage SEO. Make sure your potential customers can find your site easily on search engines to help minimize the chance that they will give their business to a competitor instead.

Tags: leverage SEO SEO small business websites online presence search engine optimization