When you own a business, you get calls. Lots and lots of calls. Some are good—like maybe you won the Johnson account or just sold 1,000 “We Love America” shirts to Canadian Tire—but often, it’s just some random guy offering to build you a website or re-bore your pan flute. Realistically, very few of the services being hawked to the small-business person are necessary for long-term success.

Some are.

On the bizarre off-chance that you don’t already have a website, get one. It isn’t a fad. Phone books are going the way of phone numbers with a word in them. Remember those? Operator, get me Jenny 5309, see.

But unlike phone books, the internet isn’t alphabetical. If it were, I’d be the proud owner of AAAAAAAAAAAAAAlpine Fence Company. It doesn’t work that way.  What really happens is more like a popularity contest with the ‘votes’ coming in the form of a backlink.  Look at my tagline at the bottom of this column. See the red link to my company? That’s a backlink, and Google keeps track of them.

Backlinks tell the internet (Google) that this CoBiz website is friends with my company website. That’s good. So the more of those the better – as long as Google believes CoBiz is a friend worth having. (It is.)

Teaming up with unpopular websites, or sites that exist only to provide backlinks, count against you. Don’t buy backlinks; Or friends either—probably.

So what is a ‘good’ website?  Google judges the hundreds of websites on the internet and gives each a PR (page rank).  A 10 is the best, and only a couple sites have a 10. Google does. Maybe Yahoo does, too. You can check the PR score of any site here.

ColoradoBiz has a PR of 5, which is quite respectable. Links from CoBiz make my website look good because I’m friends with a popular kid.

The BBB, for all their uselessness in the age of online reviews, is also a popular kid. The Denver BBB has a PR of 6 and the national BBB website has an 8. You get a link from them by being a member, a decent enough reason to join.

Whatever industry you’re in has a trade association, and they’ll give you a backlink when you sign up. That’s good, now Google knows you’re tied-in with the big boy in your field. PSI (the association for professional pet-sitters) for instance, and yes, I looked for an idiotic association, has a PR of 6.

Remember all the calls I talked about earlier? Half of them are companies that promise to make you more popular online. If you’re just starting out on the interweb, they can probably help. (If you actually call it the interweb, take their call.) But once you get established with the basics, you can do most of it yourself. The name of this particular field is ‘SEO’ (search engine optimization.) Of course, you could remove your own spleen, too, if you study long enough. But maybe you don’t have that kind of time.

I don’t, and I’m not an expert in SEO, but I do have pretty good results for “fence” searches in Denver. And I did it myself. You can do it, too.

Write blog posts using key-words; update your site pretty often to make sure it’s helpful; and establish a relationship with websites better than yours. Those are the big three ways to rank higher on the World Wide Web.