In my role as a digital marketer and web developer over the last ten years, I would start to discuss SEO, and be asked, “What is SEO?” So here I will shed some light on the mystique of SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. There are five basic SEO steps that all small business website owners should implement to make sure they get the best website rank in search results. It is not enough to create a website and add the address to your business card. By addressing some basic SEO steps, you can improve your chances of ranking on page one of Google search engine. Hence, your website can become a valuable source of new leads.
Table of Content
1. Keywords and SEO
“If nobody is searching for what you’re writing about,
you won’t get traffic from Google—no matter how hard you try.” Ahrefs
Before looking for keywords, you firstly need to know what your customers want to know. It is essential to research who your customers are and then what needs they have that correspond to your products or service.
Customers have different intents. Some customers want to find a specific website, while others wish to find informational content on a particular topic. Still, others are looking for transactional content to purchase a particular product. It is critical that you understand the users intent to find the keywords that match this intent. By looking at your Google Analytics data, in particular, the queries your uses are making you can get some ideas. Once you obtain this information, you are ready to investigate the keywords that your potential customers are using to see you.
There are many tools to achieve this. One easy tool is Google auto-complete. As you start to type your keywords into the search box, you will see further suggested words to type that real users have already searched. You can go through the alphabet with each keyword and get new ideas.
Other free tools you can use to find keyword suggestions include: Answer the public, Google Trends, Reddit, Content Explorer, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Podcasts, and even the content section of related books. There are professional tools to aid you in this research and to pinpoint the searched volume of each keyword or phrase.
It is necessary to choose long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are phrases containing three or four words or maybe more. These are easier to rank for than just a simple keyword and can hone in on your niche. Once the keywords are discovered—that have ease of ranking and volume of search queries—they need to be assigned to the relevant pages of your website in such a way that the words flow naturally. After this, it’s essential to test your ranking regularly. All site changes will make a difference to the SEO value.
2. Content SEO
The imperative focus of the content on your website is to meet the needs of your consumers. Ensure that your content is updated regularly and provides value to your potential customers. Identify common user problems and focus on genuinely solving these needs. As mentioned above, by looking at your site search data (on Google Analytics), you can see the type of queries and issues your potential customers make. Create content to serve these queries.
Your content must load fast. Consequently, when you add a graphic or image, it must be optimised, so it doesn’t slow down your website. Tinyjpg is an excellent tool for optimising your pictures quickly.
Videos are another content type that can slow down your website if not handled correctly. Videos loaded onto third party sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia will perform better than videos directly uploaded to your website.
There are other technical aspects of your website that also need to be optimised to assure your site loads fast. You can do a speed test here to check that your site is loading preferably in less than two seconds. If your website is slow the next place to look would be your hosting to find out if they can optimise your site for speed.
3. Titles Tags & Meta Descriptions
Titles are the first thing you see when you search on a Search Engine such as Google. They also appear on the top tab of your browser when you open a new page. The Title tag is one of the most important of the basic SEO steps. It is crucial that the title includes your keywords and that the description below compliments this with similar keywords. Make sure your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions are all unique for each page. A Title should have fewer than 60 characters. In comparison, a Meta Description should be fewer than 160 characters to ensure they are not cut-off (truncated) at the end.
The primary purpose of a Meta description is to be descriptive and engaging to entice the reader to click through to your page. Once they click through to your site, they should also find that the description matches the content on your webpage.
4. Image Filenames and ALT Tags
Image file names and ALT tags are basic SEO steps that are often overlooked by website owners. Add images to your website that relate to your product or service. The photos will make the site more enjoyable, but the image file names will create opportunities for you to add keywords that will help your site SEO. The process involves naming these beneficial images with meaningful and descriptive keywords. For example, if you are a chiropractor, you might have a photo of a spine to accompany your article on disc bulge. You could title the image “spine-disc-bulge.jpg”. By separating the keywords with dashes as shown you are making the image readable by robots and hence adding value to your SEO.
ALT tags are another area where you can improve your small business SEO. An ALT tag is an alternate text description applied to the image to provide meaning for search engines and also for screen-reader software. It is necessary to describe the picture, so sight-impaired people can understand what they are looking at on your website. If you are selling a product, the product images and ALT text provide further valuable SEO benefit for your small business.
5. Local SEO
Local SEO is vital for your small business if you operate the type of business that needs local traffic, such as a Pizza Store. The first step for local SEO is to register with Google My Business and utilise all the resources that they offer. Make sure to include your contact details, opening times, reviews, images, and web address. It’s also important to ensure your main details – Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are consistent across all your marketing. This is a way of building trust with your audience and improving your SEO.
How many times have you used your mobile phone to find a restaurant open near you only to find the listing details are inaccurate! This has unquestionably frustrated me. Make sure you keep your details up-to-date. Because most of us seek local businesses via our mobile phone, it is also essential to have a mobile-friendly website. You can test your site here to make sure it is mobile-ready.
Another way to be more readily found in your community is to submit your website to local and reputable business directories. The more neighbourhood guides you have, the more backlinks you will have to your website. Backlinks are undoubtedly crucial elements that are used by Search Engines to determine your authority on the internet.
This article is just the beginning of the SEO journey. Still, I have certainly covered off the five basic SEO steps that are critical when you start a new website. To look at more technical aspects of your SEO for your small business, contact us. We can address issues such as, minifying your code and caching to speed up your site, optimising the structure of your site and links, toxic backlinks, schema, and more. Get a free audit to discover what you need to get the best website rank in search results. For more information on SEO, check out our SEO page.