Kelly Spors of the Wall Street Journal Interactive has a feature on the importance of search engines as a marketing and awareness driver for small businesses.
The feature is actionable in its intelligence, providing a solid primer (reg required) for the basic steps SMBs should take to have a higher profile on the major search engines' radar scope.
It also explains specific characteristics and expertise you should be looking for when you're trying to enlist the assistance and expertise of a search optimization firm.
On a tangential but related note, Forbes outlines the risks of becoming too dependent on Google or other major engines' traffic when you're a smaller fish in the deep online marketing sea.
Case in Point: Online diamond vendor Skyfacet.com, whose sales dropped $500,000 in three months when its results were relegated to Google's "supplemental index."
The supplemental index is a place in Googleland which the Forbes piece describes as "a dreaded backwater region of Google search results that goes by another name in online marketing circles: Google Hell."
What are some of the key reasons such companies soon find their results heading due south into the supplemental index?
Low-hanging fruit includes web pages inadvertently duplicated in whole or in part and which are mistaken for SPAM pages.
What can you do to pass Google equivalent of Dante's Divine Comedy inferno test?
The Tropical SEO tells you to make sure you give each page a unique title and meta description. It's also helpful to make sure your page content is unique (and not duplicated).
A few trusted links certainly can't hurt, nor can some internal linkbacks.
Whatever you do, keep an eye out for those nasty Centaurs.
All the linkbacks in the world can't protect you from them!