Updated: Feb 10
Search Engine Optimization is written a lot about but seems to be much misunderstood by most of how it works and what has to be done to make it work for your small business website. Though I had search engine optimization on my website initially, I couldn't understand why my rankings were not improving. As a small business owner myself, I looked at the different tools, and I couldn't understand why they cost so much and why SEO professionals charged so much. It was not until I started using an SEO tool and spending time on my website for a few hours each week making changes and seeing the results, did I truly understand. It can become a full-time job keeping your ranking in search engines.
Tips to Consider
There is a need to keep up with it regularly, and you must have the basics down when you have a website developed. I have compiled a list of facts and tips about SEO that might help you when you are trying to decide how important this is for your small business website. I eventually would like to create a Tips and Technique Guide, but for now, here are 12 Basic Tips to help you with your SEO.
Understand what keywords your prospects will search on to find your company, products, or services. If you decide this without understanding their search strings, your website will most likely not be seen by the prospects you want. Sometimes as business owners, we can be short-sighted on what prospects search on for the products or services we sell. If you are not sure, ask some of your actual customers.
Do not just add 150 keywords, and then you hope someone will find you as this will not happen. You need to have ten or so keywords to rank the highest on and work on those. There is no way to write/optimize text, titles, descriptions, or other SEO options for 150 words. Find out the rankings on Google and the competition for those keywords. There are tools out there to help you do this. If you choose ten keywords that ten people search a month, that will not help you build traffic.
Know what keywords your competition is using. Finding keywords is as simple as going to their page and right-clicking the mouse and view source and see if they list them on their site. Look near the top of the page, and you should see a list of keywords. Finding keywords may not work for newer sites this way, as this is no longer a requirement for SEO to have this within your website. If they are ranking higher than you, they are utilizing the right organic SEO techniques or paying for other advertising to rank higher.
Create meaningful meta descriptions and title tags for your web pages so that when they are found in the rankings. It will give searchers enough information to click on your link versus your competition. A meta description appears as the text on a search engine below the title tag in the list of websites found for your search. Your title tag also appears on the tab on the web browser when you open a web page. Make sure that you utilize keywords both in your meta descriptions and title tags. Using geographical locations of your business or where you do business can also be used as well.
Utilize backlinks on your site. A backlink is a URL from another website to yours. The best backlinks are from relevant sites such as partners, customers, or complementary services, products, or information related to your site. You can get backlinks from adding your site to directories and social media sites as well. Please make sure they are relevant, or this can count against you versus help.
Make sure you utilize headings and different heading levels in your pages and use keywords in them when it makes sense. If you had a web developer create the site and you are now maintaining it, make sure you understand the heading structure that they set up on your site.
Keep your content fresh. Whether this is modifying a page, adding new pages, posting an original blog article, this will help. After a while, the content gets old, and your pages will not get re-indexed by the search engines. Besides that, you want users to keep coming back to see new content.
Take advantage of other items that can help increase your traffic and rankings, such as social media, video, Google Business and Google Maps. Have like, share, and buttons on your pages from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Have a video made and add it to your site or link to it from YouTube. On your Contact Us page including a Google Map from your Google My Business Page.
Use bold and italic fonts to highlight keywords or emphasize key points. This is looked at by search engines. A tip that has nothing to do with rankings but aesthetics and functional web design is to make sure your fonts are large enough to be read and are a readable colour.
If you have pictures on your website, make sure you use alternate text for each image, which outlines the picture content. If the picture is relevant to a keyword, include the keyword in the text. The alternate text needs to reflect what is in the image.
Use Google Analytics and understand how to read it or have someone interpret the results for you. If you did not have a professional web developer create your site, the code would need to be added to your site. If a web developer added it, make sure they give you access to the tool to see the data and develop reports to see how your website is performing. Google Analytics tells you: what geographical locations site visitors are coming from, what pages prospects are visiting, what browsers and mobile devices they are using. whether they were referred to your site from another, whether they searched using a keyword or keyword string. what your bounce rate is (how many people are leaving after landing on one page for a set number of seconds) and much more. This information can help determine what changes you need to make to your site.
This list is by no means inclusive and will not make you an SEO expert. Still, if you make sure your website is submitted to the main search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) and use the tips above, this will put you ahead of the game. If you understand the basics, then you can utilize an SEO tool out there on the market. Most of them are offered now as Software as a Service to increase your rankings by following their recommendations. If this is Greek to you, then hire an SEO professional to help you. Check out the firm you are using. We have often seen our clients spend 1000's a month on a large firm and not see a return. The firm is focused on large clients paying 10's of thousands a month, and the owner gets reports that they produce and have no understanding of what it means. We had a client who was paying 7500 a month, and they used his business name as a keyword and bragged about ranking for it. If you don't rank for your business name, which is usually unique, you have larger issues. There are some excellent firms out there, be sure to check them out before signing the contract. Make sure they sit down with you regularly and explain the reports and what they mean.