If you’ve done a good job running your small business this year, there’s a good chance you will be celebrating the holidays with a little more fanfare. On the other end of the spectrum, a bad year in the business world could mean your spirits are a tad bit dampened as the holidays arrive.

With that in mind, what is on your Christmas wish list this time around?

For some small business owners, it may be for continued success in the New Year, a plethora of new customers, and perhaps even a break on their expenses. No matter what the wish or wishes may be, there is likely one thing many small company owners are forgetting to ask for – search engine optimization.

Better known as SEO, this is an important cog (or at least should be) in your marketing plans.

With the right SEO plan in place, you can do wonders with your brand.

According to San Diego-based Organic Media Group CEO Miguel Salcido, “Search engine optimization is one of the central points of your Internet marketing strategy. Whether you’re selling health care or hand-made jewelry, chances are your customers are using a search engine to look for you. A foundation of strong content, supported by SEO and social media, will generate natural compliant linking which is the foundation for organic search traffic growth.”

Given those customer searches, what are you doing as a small business owner to improve the odds of consumers finding you before they get to your competition?

A good SEO plan should include:

  • Strategy – What are you looking to achieve with SEO? Those who have a plan in place typically succeed far more often than those who do not. If you’re confident that your small business team (or yourself for that matter) can handle the SEO needs in-house, save some money and have more control over the strategy by keeping it within. On the other hand, maybe you do not have the time and/or expertise to do SEO, therefore turning it over to an outside option. Either way, make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to a sound SEO strategy;
  • Commitment – Just like most things in life, a winning SEO plan does not come to fruition overnight. If someone comes to you and tells you they can handle your SEO needs at the snap of a finger, be more than a little skeptical. Sound SEO takes time and commitment, so be prepared for both;
  • Strong Content – The best laid SEO plans will not amount to much if your site’s content is mediocre at best. Once again, whether you do the content in-house or end up having to outsource it, make sure it is worth a reader’s time. As the small business owner, stop and ask yourself if you would take the time to visit and stay on your company’s website for a period of time. If the answer is no, you’ve got some work to do. Your content should be fresh, relevant to your target audience, and leaving the consumer with a reason to want to continue learning more about your products and/or services;
  • Tweaking – Face it; many plans oftentimes need some tweaking or even a sizable overhaul. If your SEO efforts are coming up short, don’t be afraid to tweak them or even start over. It could be your keyword selections are not drawing much interest, your content marketing efforts are not being properly applied, or even the fact that you’re lacking in the social media department.

With a New Year around the corner, now is the perfect time to see how SEO can take your small business to new heights over the next 12 months and beyond.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business and marketing topics on the web.