Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the most important marketing strategy you need to consider and enact when looking to improve online visibility of your growing SME. In this guide you will find twenty to thirty SEO tips for small businesses that will turn headwinds in to tailwinds, maximising potential traffic and sales and re-focusing your reach and brand activity.
Within one second of a visitor to a search engine entering a search term and receiving results, that user could be your website’s next visitor if ranking for that particular search term. Within another two seconds they may have landed and made a purchase decision, in another three seconds a sale could be completed. This is how fast a search to sale can be completed when a buyer knows what they want.
Are You Even IN The SEO Game?
IN is for intelligence. And it is a game, every company and SEO agency in the world is trying to game the search engine for their own benefit. The potential results from gaming SEO correctly can be vast amounts of traffic, increased turnover, heightened revenue and commissions that make your company more competitive in the short to medium term. Longer term you could destroy a competitor’s presence with just twenty to thirty small business SEO tips to hand.
When a customer is looking for a product or service, a quick Google search is their first port of call – more often than not. Either textual or by voice. For that reason it has become more important than ever to get your small business website’s pages noticed by customers who otherwise might not find them, or even be aware that your small business exists. Google is the equivalent of the telephone yellow pages. Only smarter, faster and one click away on any device and with DIY SEO potentially free at source.
By following these small business SEO tips you’ll be able to get your small business enterprise to where you want and need it to be – even if you have little to no technical knowledge. In the process you’ll learn how to do the following:
- Entice customers to visit your site and make your website more appealing
- Gainan edge over your competitors by using tried and tested SEO strategies
- Drive sales by posting relevant and engaging content on a regular basis
In this SME SEO tips review we’ve compiled a list of the most important things you need to do to give your website the boost it needs to take your small business to the next level.
While many small businesses can get a head start on the basics and gather a solid foundation, SEO takes time which many companies cannot afford to allocate.
What Is DIY SEO And Why Do We Care?
Much like your dream of sending your web pages to the top of SERPs, an SEO agency writes tips, guides and how to’s for small businesses, entrepreneurs and even staff at corporations to find. In doing so they themselves learn how to do SEO correctly, discover how to game the algorithms and get set up on the path to SEO success.
DIY SEO is the ability to find the time to enact optimisations to web pages and game search in your business and website’s favour. It’s not a novice achievement, in some instances it can be Herculean. The learning curve is vast, before you set out to employ an SEO professional it is good that you have a basic understanding of the technicalities and strategies used by those professionals.
Which is why when an agency assists in that knowledge and you see an upturn, perhaps you might remember and return to enlist us to take you through the further steps to complete SEO domination in both local and general search. DIY SEO tips for Small businesses is proffered as a temptation of what could result if you enlist a true SEO professional.
Several Small Business SEO Tips To Kick It All Off
It has already been established that it’s hugely important to pay attention to your SEO campaign if you’re looking to take your business to the next level and drive sales. But small business owners might be led to believe that it costs a huge amount of money. In reality yes a large percentage of any company’s revenue does go back into marketing and advertising, that’s normal.
However, it is actually possible to get great results, even if you have a small budget and / or limited technical knowledge. Here are some of the best SEO tips for a small business – allowing you to considerably boost your online visibility, extend your brand’s reach and make your current business activity known the instant it occurs with actionable reports and results in real time.
1. Know Who Your Competitors Are
By performing a quick search on the keywords and key phrases you’re hoping to rank pages for, you can determine exactly whether your chosen keywords are relevant to your line of business, and whether your competitors are utilising the same keywords. This will be looked at in more detail later in the SEO tips guide. In turn you can find out who your real competitors are and which you should be fighting and on which terms.
Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console and Adwords Keyword Planner to help you judge which terms would be beneficial to you. If possible take advantage of keyword URL structures and be sure to write for your intended visitors and do not get carried away with the keywords you are targeting.
If you have a local target market Include geographic terms (e.g., property development East Anglia) and industry specific local phrases which you know people search. Do not be scared of being technical if the people searching for your services are knowledgeable, even if they are not technically minded the extra information and detail will be appreciated.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel if you can replicate the success of your competitors – don’t be too proud!
2. Make Sure Your Keywords Are Relevant
If you’re hoping to gain an edge over the competition, you’re going to have to make sure that the keywords you use on your website are relevant to your business. If you fail to do exactly that, then your site will most definitely struggle to compete with the top-ranking sites for your keywords. In other words you’ll fail to get yourself noticed.
Keyword relevancy is ascertained by averaging the factors and not just going by a single set of numbers. For instance, if you found a keyword that has a suggested keyword volume of 300k searches a month, you could anticipate that there would be a lot of traffic. But is that traffic part of a larger phrase set and worth any money compared to a keyword with 8k searches a month? What is the intransient financial value of a keyword?
View the keywords as the foundations of your website – if they don’t stack up then your site will not perform.
3. Get Rid of Duplicated Content
Duplicate content is one of the biggest things you need to avoid when it comes to effective SEO. It can harm your website’s search rankings, as search engines might become confused as to where the content was first published. Not only within your website, dup content is a problem when poor copywriters develop content for your website that is too similar to that of the original or worse, is word for word. Have you tried Copyscape?
Essentially, this means that the same content is located on more than one web page and it can effectively reduce your credibility. Especially within your own website. Many businesses still think having multiple pages covering the same subject is a good thing, it isn’t. Search engines prefer a solid page that is knowledge based and contains detailed information, whether it is 4k words in length or 2k.
Replicating data across many pages is not as great a behaviour set as consolidating with correct and easy navigation. Doing otherwise could potentially reflect badly on your website’s Trust Flow reputation if it contains duplicated content. Therefore it is best to be avoided altogether. Instead, you should focus on creating high quality content which is completely unique. We’ll look into this in the next section.
Originality is key to content from an SEO angle……never forget that.
4. Ensure Your Content Is Original and Unique
One of the worst things you can do on your website is adding content which isn’t entirely original. If you’ve simply copied and pasted content you’ve found elsewhere this can be a sure-fire way to get your site downgraded and pushed right down to the bottom of the pile and will result in a Google penalty ala Panda or Penguin. You might think that it’s a good idea to simply take content from elsewhere in order to increase the amount of content on your site. But that’s most definitely not the case.
The search engines love unique content; there have been studies showing the length of the material matters, indicating that longer more informative posts go much further in establishing you as an industry expert than short articles that lack the answer the visitor was searching for.
An example of this is that Google very much observes back clicks from websites returning to Google to find the answer to the same question. It might determine your website was of little use and perhaps shouldn’t rank so highly for the keywords that found your page.
By posting regular content that’s not only relevant to your customers and also unique and well researched, your rankings will steadily improve and in the long term can help drive customers to your site.
While researching SEO tips for small businesses you may have come across the term ‘Evergreen’ this is content that is knowledge based, rarely changes and can be referred to for the next ten and twenty years. If you do not have Evergreen content, get some. It is invaluable for both obtaining backlinks for free and creating content that goes viral.
Embedding The Correct Keywords Within Content
Within any search marketing campaign, one of the most important things you can do is conduct keyword research. PPC, paid search and organic search engine results can all be improved by utilising this particular search marketing tactic. That just gives you an idea of how crucial keyword research is.
Not only will keyword research help you to find the most appropriate and relevant keywords for your small business SEO campaign, it will also allow you to discover which ones you have the best chance of ranking for. Furthermore it allows you to connect with your audience so that in the end they are more likely to choose your small business services and products over your competitor’s.
Repeating the same keyword is not the game of the current year either. It used to be. If you placed x amount of the same word or phrase repeatedly across an article, a page would rank. Today however with fast moving technologies and AI, search engines have tools such as Rankbrain. These allow for yet more simultaneous algorithms that can use word association. Think thesaurus and adapt rather than repeating the same phrase or keyword.
If its a choice between one long, well researched article and a raft of copied content, it’s original content every time – don’t rush!
5. Make Use of Backlinks
Linking to other areas of your site by using hyperlinks is a sure-fire way to help guide your customers towards a sale. For instance, you might choose to write a blog post about a product or service which you sell.
If you provide a link (or multiple links) within the text, then this will make it far easier for your customers to find out more information – this is how a sale can be completed in 3 seconds upon landing versus a user leaving your website because they simply cannot buy quick enough.
If the product is right for them they will be more likely to follow through with their purchase and won’t have to scour through multiple pages to find what they want and need now. They searched 2 seconds ago, they want the service or product ordered in the next 3 seconds and have cash in hand in to spend.
While having good navigation and links is great, if they are broken links, redirect loops or some other form of internal error these can severely damage a site’s SEO. Take the time to look through your website making sure that every link, feature and plugin is working as it should be. For instance a plugin may just need updating.
As previously mentioned in our post a short time ago ( Destroying your SEO from inside ) there are many tools which we’d recommend for broken link finding. Such as screaming frog, WordPress’s Broken Link Checker plugin, Google Webmaster tools/search console, Link Assistant’s SEO Powersuite and not forgetting Xenu’s Link Sleuth. There are a multitude of free ways via both free SEO tools and SEO tips for small businesses before you start investing in a SEO optimisation campaign.
Think of it this way – when you go into a shop for a loaf of bread, how many times do you walk out with more products and why? Because they were visible, they were placed in front of you and most importantly you didn’t need to go looking for them. Now, think internal linking…
Link Building and Content Marketing
Many people talk about content and back links as two separate entities when looking at search engine optimisation, but for all intents and purposes you need one to maximise the other. If you have no decent content, then it is unlikely you will receive natural or manufactured backlinks that are worth getting.
If you have no backlinks then your not making full use of your quality content, you are not building any authority / trust and you on the road to nowhere fast. Therefore, when looking at this particular area it is best to look at them together and incorporate both elements into your strategy. Once your link building campaigns start to show fruit and there is a buzz being created around your brand, your quality content will very quickly feel the benefit with your website traffic!
Backlinks are and will be for some time what makes the world go round when SEO is concerned, although they are only one part of the puzzle it’s a significant part. Content and backlinks go hand in hand, but don’t be fooled. Authority and Trust are King, content is something that harnesses what quality backlinks and a well-rounded marketing plan can achieve.
Write great content, promote, gain natural social interactions, acquire natural backlinks and do some outreach to influencers who might find your valuable content good to reference.
Build Up Your Social Pages
Social media is becoming more widely used as a marketing tool. The reason being is it’s insanely popular and doesn’t show any signs of fading any time soon! Social media websites may just be over optimised message boards but they are current, newsworthy with rapid reaction ability, great viral aptitude and for the most part they are free to access.
By creating social media pages for your small business this has the potential to generate traffic away from the realm of search engines – even though these social pages end up in search too and in live search parameters if liked or linked to in a certain time frame. For example, if you post regular blogs onto your website it is advisable to share this content via social media either instantly and the moment it is published, on a delay or looped. Share the love!
Not only can this help to boost the readership of your blog posts it also has the potential to generate more sales too as your audience increases. Essentially, a potential customer may come across the blog post, read it, and then realise that your product or service meets their needs or refers the subject matter to someone else.
Having up to date content on your social media pages is crucial too. For instance, your contact information may have been updated recently. So you need to make sure that this information is accurate and remains consistent across the web too. Which is where Google My Business data really starts to work for your company and assets.
Additionally, it is also good to have a presence on social media so that your customers are able to leave reviews. If you consistently provide a good service to your customers then having a number of glowing reviews on your website will most definitely give customers more of a reason to choose you as opposed to your competitors.
Also, think mobile access – how many of your friends, family and work colleagues check their social media on the move? Social media is a great way to unlock the power of mobile devices.
Register with Google My Business
As a small business owner, registering with Google My Business is an important step to take when it comes to your SEO strategy. Essentially, this boosts the likelihood of you appearing on Google products such as Maps, with your company name or slogan showing an info box where you would expect to see Wikipedia.
When you claim a listing on Google My Business, this gives you the opportunity to provide up to date contact information so that your customers have multiple ways to get in touch with you. So, be sure to include your website URL, address, email and any other contact methods you have. You need to be as thorough as possible, as this can really pay off in the long run and saves time in the future.
Additionally, this gives your customers a platform to review your small business online. If you can encourage your customers to leave a review then this can help to boost your visibility substantially, and customers will be more likely to choose your small business if they can see a whole host of reviews.
What’s more, by regularly responding to reviews and acting upon any problems, this shows that you are proactive and this will reflect well on your SME business. Having an up to date My Business account has the potential to increase your local SEO. Data is essential to users, Google collates footfall via mobile phone imprints and shows busy and quiet periods if you are a high street retailer, highlights latest reviews and ratings and even tells users when your business opens and shuts.
Be sure to keep an eye on your My Business account, as it is possible for anyone to ‘suggest an edit’. This can actually be made live without your knowledge. For that reason, it is imperative that you check your account regularly to maintain accurate and up to date information. Imagine you own a flower shop and it’s Valentine’s Day and Google has you closing one hour earlier than you intend to…
Just because registering with Google My Business is simple and FREE doesn’t mean there is no value. It is an important cog in the SEO of your website….open your account today.
Optimise Images For Speed And Keywords
The use of images on a website is a great way to make the content on your site more aesthetically pleasing. It gives your site more life, and what’s more it helps to break up content too. This is particularly great for long blog posts.
With that being said, you really shouldn’t underestimate the importance of optimising images on your website. It’s a crucial part of SEO, and without paying any attention to this you might just be missing out on serious web traffic from Google and Bing image search, as well as any old or new SERPs features that may include a featured image slot on a listing.
Each image on your website should contain an appropriate alt text. Essentially this is a short, descriptive sentence which explains exactly what is on the image itself, and is read out to people who are visually impaired. Try not to be too vague with your descriptions – give as much detail as possible.
Image file names are important too as this gives you an opportunity to utilise keywords. Just remember to separate each word using a dash. However, for best SEO practices be sure to avoid keyword stuffing when optimising images. In turn, this can help you to avoid a Google penalty.
It is also a good idea to include branding where possible on your image descriptions. This is so that you will be able to entice customers to visit your website if they come across the image on Google Image search for instance and should prevent others from using your paid for stock images elsewhere.
SEO Images Must Haves
- Image file names count, make sure your file names represent what the images are about before uploading to your site. Dump ‘IMG-XFGHGTER-2011’ and replace with ‘These-Keywords-Explain-Image’
- Ensure that you have “alt attributes” tags on each picture. Alt tags serve more than just an SEO purpose but also gives an indication of what the image was about If the browser can’t load it. Use defining words, sleek, meaningful and make them count.
- Make sure your images are in your Sitemap and are crawlable. A common mistake is to block pictures or lazy load them.
- Page Load: Image size affects page load speed, view Image Physical Optimisation For Faster Page Load to ensure your images are reduced, the correct size and find out how to best optimise now and in the future for mobile search too.
You would be surprised at just how many image searches are carried out each day on Google – make sure you are not missing out!
Don’t Just Focus on SEO, Focus on the Actual Content Itself
When it comes to search engine optimisation there are plenty of things you can do to help improve your rankings. But when a customer actually finds their way onto your site their journey shouldn’t end right there.
If a person has used a particular search term and discovered a page on your website then their expectation will be to find exactly what they were looking for. Otherwise they will simply leave your site and choose your competitor’s offering instead.
This is where the content on your site comes in to play. As well as making use of best SEO practices the content on your website should also be easy to read, engaging and be laid out efficiently. In the modern age the last thing people want is to stumble upon large paragraphs. This essentially puts people off, and it is harder for the prospective customer to find exactly what they are looking for.
Instead, you should lay out your content in short paragraphs and avoid using long sentences too. Not only will this improve the readability of your site it also makes it friendlier for mobile visitors. This is something we will look into further later in the article.
Content optimisation – Headlines, Page Titles, and Meta Descriptions
Optimising on-page factors is easy and efficient. Adding meta tags, meta descriptions and headings to content, making articles well structured, including your optimised images can help to tell the search engines exactly what your page is targeting.
Try and make your pages enticing, Brian Dean from Backlinko completed a study of 1 million search results back in September. Part of that study indicated that content with at least one image on a page is much more beneficial than not having one at all, from presentation, visual appearance and search engine point of view.
Do not underestimate what h1, h2 ( headings ) and page titles can provide, structured articles or sales copy and well thought out descriptive titles and headings can push your efforts up ten fold.
Don’t be afraid to outbound link to informative references in your blog posts to back up your facts and opinions, linking to other sites information on the topic that your writing about can be the difference between a good piece of content and the greatest. In some instances linking to an authoritative source can add weight to your entire subject matter.
Wait, What Is Schema Markup?
It has been said that Schema Markups aid in ranking your webpages four positions higher than they would be without the implementation of Schema. That’s the difference between page two and 12th and a noticeable spot in 9th on page one of SERPs.
Scheme is a standard markup protocol used within in HTML or invisible code that enables a search engine to read specifics and highlight them in results. They are rich snippets that enable Google or Bing to place an image in search, add additional links to an individually returned result or offer ratings stars, marks out of ten, reviews or any number of additional branding boxes.
Schema or Microdata is not well known but it has its own glossary, index and even a bible. Google follows it religiously. It has been reported that less than 10% (Much lower) use Schema markup protocols which gives a website owner a lot more scope to make use of this not so known wonder and lift pages higher up in search engines. Find out more about Schema markup or visit Google Structured Data Marker Helper.
Once a person lands on your site after searching on a particular keyword, make sure the content on the page actually RELATES to the keyword….otherwise they will be gone as quickly as they arrived.
Start a Blog
A great way to increase the amount of content on your website is to start a blog. One of the most popular blog platforms is WordPress which is an “Open Source” product which means it is free to install and supported by thousands of developers and designers. Having more content means that when customers visit your site, there will be much more for them to read and they will be encouraged to stay on your site for longer.
By doing this you can post regular content and keep your customers informed about your product(s) or service(s), or provide latest news. In addition to this it gives you more of an opportunity to showcase your brand’s story, what makes you different from your competition and why your product or service suits the needs of your customers.
With each post you write ensure that it is not only engaging but incorporates relevant keywords, hyperlinks and other best SEO practices. However, you’ll also need to make sure that you avoid ‘fluff’ within your content. It really isn’t necessary and adds no real value to the content on your website. Remember, the quality of your content is far more important than quantity!
Think of each blog article as a door to your website – make sure what the visitor sees is welcoming and makes them want to stay.
Keep Your Content Fresh
This is a hugely beneficial method of boosting the online visibility of your small business. When content is regularly updated and reflects exactly what you have to offer, then this ensures that everything is kept up to date and remains relevant.
For instance, the content on your evergreen pages might not have been updated for quite a while. An example of this would be an About Us page or a FAQ section. Since these pages were written the chances are they might not be as accurate or as relevant in the present day. Essentially, some or even all of the information may be outdated, inaccurate or possibly contain broken links or images. For that reason it’s a great idea to review content on your website on a regular basis.
Try not to forget to show some love to your old content, your material like many things can go out of date and stale, information which was correct five years ago may have changed slightly. Going back to past blog posts, rewriting or updating them to maintain accurate information can be hugely beneficial and gives you plenty of scope to promote them all over again, keeping your site and your information on point and reference-able.
Old content pages that require a complete overhaul or with parts thatare out of date could be merged with other page, but don’t forget to delete that previous web page and redirect the URL to where the old content has been moved to. This way a search engine knows it has been deleted or modified and they will consider ranking the new or update page faster and in a more defined manner.
Fresh content is something which search engines like too. They favour websites which are of most value to searchers. That’s not the only reason you should keep your content fresh. You’ll also have the opportunity to boost the rankings of a particular page by adding new keywords which might be more relevant or more popular than the ones that were used previously.
In addition to this you might even be able to create a lengthier article which is more content rich. Make sure that this additional content remains relevant and doesn’t contain any ‘fluff’. Fluff is considered as over personalising an article, you, I, we… the idea is to deliver your opinion and personality succinctly while presenting the facts, not the other way around.
Remember, it is just as important to update old popular content as it is to create new content – the more relevant content is, the more chance that visitors will stay
Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free to use tool, and can be used to boost your website’s SEO considerably when used correctly. Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools it allows you to monitor your SEO metrics in the Google Search Index and helps you to improve your organic search rankings.
In order to make use of this particular SEO tool you’ll need to link it to your website. This can be done by accessing the Google Search Console page. Here, you will need to enter your website’s URL – being sure to include WWW or HTTPS, depending on which your site uses. This will then generate a Google verification code. This then needs to be copied into the relevant section on your website.
Google Search Console is an easy to use tool. So, there’s no need to worry if you have no technical knowledge – you’ll quickly get to grips with it after a while. By following this link, you will be able to find out more information on how to use Google Search Console effectively and discover how your website ranks for certain search terms.
Why do so many people ignore this valuable service? Simple, because it’s free – maybe if it cost $20 a month you might be more interested?
Install Google Analytics
If you’re hoping to keep a track of the performance of your website, then installing Google Analytics within your site will allow you to do exactly that. First of all you’ll be able to view the demographics of your visitors. This can be hugely beneficial for your small business, as this can help you to target your content more to suit that particular audience.
You can also measure the performance of your website. This is a crucial aspect of websites in the modern day. If your website runs slow this will drive your customers away. By regularly checking the loading times of your website you’ll be able to look into ways of improving the speed should any issues arise. We’ll delve deeper into site optimisation later in the article.
If you don’t know your starting stats how can you measure gains and success?
Build an Effective Site Hierarchy
URLs are a hugely important component when it comes to the SEO of your website. This is because it helps to give your site structure, as well as improving the usability of your website.
The sooner you organise the URLs on your website – otherwise known as permalinks, this will make things far easier in the future when you’re likely to have far more content on your website. Your URL structure / site hierarchy should be logical and flow from the domain name of your site – following on to categories and then subcategories.
As you structure your website URLs this is a good place to use your keywords. This is one of the first things search engines and your customers will see. Don’t see this as an opportunity to repeat words. This can lead to URLs which are unnecessarily long. Instead focus on keeping things to a minimum whilst allowing customers and search engines to get an idea of what is on the page before they actually visit.
How To Do Keyword Research
In this section we’ll look into how you can get started with your keyword research – giving you the best chance of finding the keywords most appropriate for your small business. Keyword research is a big part of SEO but by no means the defining aspect.
It’s a starting point that brings all SEO campaign efforts together, with one keyword set a person derives a group data set, an industry of operation, related websites, uncovers competitors and their activity, provides content ideas and leads to a social media effect that creates traffic and conversions.
When it comes to keyword research one of the worst things that you can do is wing it. As with many things in life effective planning is the key to success. As the old saying goes – if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail!
Compile a list of the keywords which are relevant to your small business – keeping track of them on a spreadsheet so that you know which ones are the most relevant and ones to avoid. This is a great starting point for your keyword research plan, and it can help you to filter out keywords which contain little to no relevance.
A good tip would be to think how your customers would think when they search for a product or service similar or identical to your own. By doing this you’ll be putting yourself in their shoes and be far more likely to get the most relevant keywords.
The next step is to use an online keyword research tool. This can help you to establish how much competition your chosen keywords have. In turn, this will allow you to focus more on the keywords which have less competition but still have a decent amount of search volume.
However, it’s also a good idea to test out your chosen keywords to ensure they are relevant to your business field – a short PPC campaign is a good way to do this. In the process, you’ll get the opportunity to establish if your competitors are ranking for the keywords you are hoping to rank for.
If your competitors rank well for your chosen keywords then it is a good idea to conduct as much research as possible to attempt to find out how they were able to achieve optimal ranking.
It’s best to avoid using keywords with a high search volume. They will be much harder to rank and you’ll be competing against some of the big players in the market. It’s safe to say that the keywords that you think are the best might not always be the easiest to convert or have a high conversion percentage.
Try narrowing down your search terms to make them niche. While this effectively reduces your target audience you’ll be more likely to rank higher for less competitive search terms. Essentially they will be more relevant to your business too.
Pay Attention to Keyword Density
Keyword density is essentially how many times a keyword or phrase is used compared to the number of words on the page. This is measured using a percentage. While there is no optimal keyword density it’s appropriate to ensure that where your keywords are placed that they flow into the text naturally and don’t look out of place.
It is important to avoid ‘stuffing’ keywords into your content. This is because the search engines prefer to prioritise web pages which contain content which is relevant to the keyword itself. This is something which Google is known to do, and therefore you should pay attention to it if you’re looking to boost the online visibility of your small business with these SME Seo tips.
To ensure that your keyword is used an appropriate number of times and not excessively repeated, it’s good to use a variation on the same keyword so that you can avoid using the same one too many times. As suggested, think thesaurus and keyword association.
Where to Place Keywords?
After you have conducted your keyword research and decided which keywords are the most relevant to your small business, you’ll then need to consider where to place them on your website. In this section, you’ll find out everything you need to know about effective keyword placement.
- Within Blog Posts
A good starting point would be to get the keyword in at least one variation in the first couple of sentences or the first paragraph of a particular web page, and then use it within a subheading such as an H1 with a blog post.
If you create blog posts on a regular basis then this has the potential to boost your SEO substantially. Placing keywords within each blog post allows the article to not only rank quickly but makes for fantastic evergreen content too. Essentially this content is timeless, and almost always remains relevant.
- Use in A PPC Campaign
It’s best to test your keywords within a short PPC campaign to ensure they are effective. Once you’ve found out the most appropriate keywords for the campaign it’s a good idea to incorporate them within each ad you place.
This allows you to stand out from the crowd and your ad will be placed in an area on the page which is hugely noticeable. By using the correct keywords, this can most definitely give you a competitive advantage.
It will guide visitors to your website and best of all you’ll only pay if the customer actually clicks on the ad! A PPC campaign certainly has the potential to be hugely beneficial in the long run but needs to be budgeted. Start out with few kewords inthis type of SEO campaign, monitor CTR and CPC and ensure your budget is successful at a low scale before widening PPC activity across more keywords.
- Within Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are a great way to boost the rankings of pages on your website. This is a short description of 160 characters or less which is displayed under the result when a web search is performed. Google and other do not always uses this text, they can choose to select any text on your page for this placement however descriptions offer a first port of call for a spider.
Potential customers are likely to have a quick skim over this content. By using appropriate keywords within your meta descriptions this effectively guides the customer towards your website. In turn, the customer will be able to determine what is on the page before actually clicking on the search result.
Is that good? Yes and no. If a customer thinks you have what they need and clicks, doesn’t find the information or product and clicks back to Google. Then you have failed, the search engine parameters update and you could lose a % of rank.
If a person is deterred because they realise you don’t have what they are seeking, yes they don’t visit but in the Google console you can view these hit and misses and adjust your content accordingly. Why rank for that keyword if it’s not quite garnering any traction with sales and visitors? Drop the keyword and focus on other group sets.
Search engines will also highlight the meta description if the exact keyword has been used, so ensure that the keywords are consistent with the page itself. Be sure to avoid keyword stuffing in the process.
There are meta keywords too which many auto fill from the page on the content or leave out entirely. One never knows howa search engine algorithm is going to update in the future. Best practice would be to continue auto completing or add one or two keywords to this meta field each tme you write an article.
- On A Landing Page
Optimising your landing page is crucial if you are hoping to get your small business noticed online. This gives you a great opportunity to show search engines that the content on your site is relevant to the search that has been performed.
When a customer finds their way onto your landing page the information that is presented to them needs to be as relevant as possible. That way your conversion rate has the potential to be increased considerably. This is why it pays to use the right keywords on your landing page.
Be sure to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Using a keyword such as ‘building services’ will be hard to rank for, whereas a more niche term such as ‘building services in Leicester’ helps you to stand out far better towards your target audience. What’s more it will be less difficult to rank for too.
- Ensure Your Website Runs Fast
From Supermarket deliveries to television on tap, convenience is the state of play in all areas of life. Even a demand for free SEO tips for small businesses and inaugurating an SEO service that does it all by itself without any input is preferable.
Visiting websites is certainly no different. When people go on the web and search for a product or service, then they expect the content on each website they visit to load promptly. If your website hasn’t been optimised properly, then this can make it difficult for a prospective customer to buy what they want. Ultimately this could lose you sales as the customer will simply go elsewhere.
Site speed can be quite a punishing and frustrating experience especially for those stuck on hosting plans with no real scalability on a tight small business budget. We like to break it down a little:
Physical Server and page load times
The webpage your visitors view and their download time can be skewed by a variety of factors, from their own mobilephone connection and data suppy to multiple host server issues along the way. These can be measured by such tools as GTMetrix, Pingdom, Webpagespeedtest.
It’s important to understand how to optimise various aspects of your hosting/server depending on what your host allows. Measurements gauge on how a browser renders your page, how many requests is needed to create your web page and how many connections a browser takes to retrieve your content.
The tests can measure your page “weight” in physical page size, if you’re making users load 3mb of data each page load with no caching then you are drowning before you have started.
Being able to improve as much of the above tests as possible is highly recommended, whether that be through caching, optimising / minifying / removing scripts or optimising image usage, using image sprites. The higher the score you get on the likes of GTMetrix, the better.
Image Physical Optimisation For Faster Page Load
Make sure you spend the time to reduce the size of your images before uploading to your website, there are various ways you can optimise efficiently from resizing, saving in different formats and removing meta / EXIF data.
Reduced image file sizes help towards faster-loading pages. Remember with a 100MB fibre or cable broadband it may not be obvious a page is 3MB or above in size, but there are still massive amounts of people around the globe loading sites with less than 500k internet speeds, let alone mobile users using 3G/4G ( imagine the data you’re making people use ).
Images are resource hungry for both loading and web space, on average an image could be reduced between 40 – 90% and it’s still something that most websites fail to do. There are many services which offer out of the box image optimisation, services such as Tinypng, Kraken.io, EWWW.io, JpegOptim, Optimus.IO and Gifsicle.
A popular website is Kraken.io for their vast range of supported scripts and plugins devised for and by developers for an inclusion of their API in so many different platforms like WordPress, Xenforo, Joomla, etc. We’ve helped some sites tidy up, shrink, repopulate and rename 30k – 50k images saving over 10GB of disk space using their API alone.
Anyone that knows their own website’s servers will understand if you can save disk space of that kind with no visible reduction of quality to the human eye. It’s worth doing let alone the SEO benefits of hugely reduced load times. As it is notjust about page load, but entire server load and reducing wherever possible while maximing connections.
Be mindful of your websites max responsive image size requirement and x2 for retina devices to prevent reduced quality. Submit your sitemaps to Google containing the image xml and data. A webmaster shouldnot rely on a spider to find content or images, advising Google where an image is wise, include images in any sitemap. Further ensure a sitemap is spread across categories so it loads quicker.
Use a CDN service ( content delivery network ) and/or DNS provider.
There are plenty of CDN’s out there to choose from, a popular website which our company uses is CDN77. Easy to use and great value pricing is one thing but the support and general customer relations seem to follow our own philosophy so that goes a long way in our book. When using external services for vitals delivery of your website, research them well for uptime.
Consider the location of your DNS servers, if your target audience is primarily in the UK then it would be good to have a point of reference for your website in the UK. Having multiple DNS servers is good practice for reliability and response times for your visitors but could also endure more costs depending on your abilities.
It can be difficult when you are on a shared host, low-cost VPS or dedicated server which has self-hosted DNS if you are reliant on a 3rd party to help. If you are one of these then I’d highly recommend taking a look at services such as DNS made easy and CloudFlare who have DNS servers all over the world, ensuring your users, regardless of their location will access your site as fast as they can.
Next up, Perceived Page Load Times
In respect of server load and management, there is the page load timing. Separate from the above, it’s not measured directly on how fast the server responds but instead on user experience and how fast a page load is perceived, according to the user.
How quickly the site starts to load and how soon after it is interactive enough for a user to use, the go to tool to measure this is Google’s very own; Google Page speed insights.
Tips to improve this include browser caching, cache assets for returning users, loading as few scripts and CSS files as possible and ‘minifying’ them, loading files asynchronously, prioritise requests for above the fold content. Compressed images play a big part in user experience because of the added weight they put on a page.
Code, Theme And Plugin Bloat
These page speed aspects will be highly dependant on your website, its structure and its code base. If you are working with a small budget and have chosen a pre-made $40 WordPress theme from somewhere like ThemeForest. Then it’s highly likely it has a lot more bells and whistles than you realistically need.
All those extras soon add up, and you end uploading loads of CSS and JS files making your mission to optimise more difficult. It’s the same for plugins, ask yourself if you need a plugin before installing it if the answer is that it’s not mission critical then don’t install it. To understand what weight you add to a website’s page load you need to first figure out what the call elements will be. Every time you website loads, most if not all plugins are loaded and referenced too.
A plugin is lines of pre programmed text that interact with the rest of the site, like a module docking with the ISS. Across many plugins, it may be wiser to afford a developer for an hour to simply place and reference HTML across our website with server side files if necessary, rather than a plugin that comes with more than what is required to implement the script.
Make Navigating Your Website Easy
When it comes to website navigation it’s important that you make this as simple as possible for visitors to your website. Failing to do so will mean that customers could find it difficult to find out more information about your company or what you have to offer. Ultimately the customer will become frustrated and your bounce rate will increase. A bounce rate is the process of a user clicking back to Google, elling the search engine you should be ranked lower for the search term they found you via.
To simplify navigation on your website, ensure that your content pages are categorised using a menu. This ensures that all of the content on your site is in the right place, and the customers will know exactly where to find it or at least have more of an idea.
This can most definitely result in increased leads, better search engine rankings, and improved conversions. This can also help to grow your small business substantially. While it can take a lengthy amount of time to organise your content, it will certainly be worth it in the long run – particularly if you’re planning on posting regular content or already have a substantial amount already.
Ensure that you don’t have too many page levels when you categorise your content. This ensures that your customers won’t have to load too many pages in order to find the page they are seeking.
Improved website organisation means that search engines won’t categorise certain pages on your site as less important. This is something which happens when you have more than ten levels of pages on your site. Be sure to keep things to a minimum and where possible, consider merging multiple pages into one if they’re on the same or similar topic for instance.
Sitemaps For Users And Robots
Making sure your sitemaps are up to date is hugely important, if you’re using WordPress you can use various plugins which will automate this procedure but let’s not assume it’s a set and forget it function. I will mention various plugins to enhance WordPress SEO further down.
XML sitemaps give Search Engines like Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go and various others a road map of your website, telling them exactly where to go and how to find it. You could look at it as being your websites GPS navigation.
A personal preference is to include an HTML sitemap, a sitemap or additional “navigation” which showcases your most relevant pages as a quick reference. Since user experience is a key factor in helping your users understand what your offering and how to get there, your navigation can always be improved.
Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
An absolute essential requirement for any website is that it is optimised for mobile viewing. Mobile page visits are most definitely on the rise with more and more people choosing to view content while on the move.
Back in 2016 mobile actually became the primary source for accessing websites – overtaking desktop page visits for the very first time. With 70% of UK searches coming from mobile devices ( this includes tablets ). It goes without saying, if your website isn’t mobile friendly then you are already missing the boat.
Although responsive designs pass Google’s Mobility and user experience tests why not go that one step further? See if people find your website easy to use on their mobile devices, ask what they find difficult to reach, what their aims and objectives would be.
It is possible to potentially and unconsciously overlook a usability problem that your audience isn’t necessarily comfortable with. If 90% of your visitors are over 50 years old, it’s important to understand your audience and accommodate for that audience.
For that reason it’s important that the content on your site is optimised for high readability like we mentioned earlier. To do this, you’ll need to keep your paragraphs short – no more than 3-4 lines (50 to 75 words) ideally. This ensures that mobile visitors will be able to read your content easily and digest the information they need to know. Especially helpful if the text is being translated to audio or braille.
Website loading times also come into play here, so ensure that your website is optimised efficiently so that content loads as quickly as possible and is responsively designed too. Otherwise this can increase your bounce rate and you’ll miss out on sales. Remember a slow loading website is a sure-fire way to drive away your customers.
Ultimately if you make sure that your website is as mobile-friendly as possible then this can often give you a huge advantage over your competitors – if they have failed to optimise their website for mobile and other markers that have been found to be useful.
It is surprising to find a number of people that still prefer to browse the full viewport ( a desktop view ) of a website and pinch and stretch screens rather than a responsive native view. Could a real user experience be providing your users with a choice of view? This has been found to be the case in the past and once configured has provided great results and feedback.
Is it your internet offering or their internet experience? SEO can be so much more than keywords alone.
Small Business SEO Tips: Things to Avoid
Once you’ve established the keywords you are going to use, the next step is to be strategic when using them. There are some important aspects of using keywords that you need to consider. We’ll look into these briefly in this section.
Overuse of keywords is called ‘keyword stuffing’. Back in the early days of search engines, this is something that was widely used by those looking to manipulate their pages so that they could rank higher. At first it was an effective way of boosting a site’s SEO. For instance one might have placed ‘small business SEO tips’ 153 times in this article but that is no longer required.
Search engines such as Google soon became wise to this. To help combat the issue, they regularly released updates so that keyword stuffing was no longer a worthwhile SEO tactic. Sites which tried the method in recent years were likely to be penalised by Google, and the sites in question fell way down to the bottom of the pile or even deindexed.
This is true of today, with search engines preferring for only the most relevant and high quality content to end up on the first page of search results. Avoid Google penalties at all costs! In several cases you may find especially with mobile search that Google only wishes to proffer one result for voice inputted keywords, this is a concern too.
As much as you might think otherwise, over optimisation is definitely something to avoid in any SEO campaign. It can be tempting to do this but more often than not, it can actually have a negative impact. The concept of “Natural Language” is going to become more and more important in the future.
All that you need to do is keep your keyword density at a sensible level and use different variations where possible to boost your chances of ranking. Just stick to using the keywords a small handful of times where it makes sense to use them (once in meta, once in H1, etc.)
To ensure that you don’t go overboard with your SEO strategy it’s best to avoid the following:
- Stuffing of keywords
- Placing keywords unnaturally
- Having poor quality content to boost the level of keywords
- Using duplicate contents
- Too many keywords in internal and external links
Focusing on One Source of Traffic to Boost Your SEO
You might have done everything you can to suit Google’s requirements. But in the process you might just be neglecting the requirements of other search engines. A good way to avoid placing too much focus on one particular search engine is to view the guidelines set out by each individual entity. More importantly Google and Bing, as these are the biggest search engines out there, outside of Facebook internal search.
By taking a look at the SEO guides for each individual search engine you’ll be able to find a common ground which allows you to rank effectively for more than one search engine. Essentially, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to optimise your site’s visibility in multiple areas of the web.
Overall it’s safe to say that SEO for your small business is something that takes time. It’s most definitely not something that happens overnight, and it will take effort, budgting and consistency to get things right. It is a gradual process and over the course of a campaign you’ll begin to see improvements.
Each of the SEO tips listed in this article are helpful pointers that when used as a symbiant element will allow you to boost your online profile, and in turn will be likely to result in increased traffic. Traffic which can then be assessed and turned into conversions.
Effective SEO is all about staying on top of an agenda, keeping information and content as relevant and up to date as possible and following other best practices that have been outlined in this article. If you do exactly that then solid results will soon start to follow, and your hard work will most definitely begin to pay off.
DO NOT implement everything at the same time, write down what changes you make and when so that if something goes wrong you are able to backtrack, removeand regain position.
This maybe a DIY SEO article with SEO tips for small businesses but let’s not forget that SEO is only one part of marketing as a whole, don’t treat it like it’s the only thing that matters. Mix your campaigns up, spread your marketing budgets around and create a buzz around your brand both online with social media and offline at the same time and it will undoubtedly produce results which you can then assess based upon ROI.
Mixing small PPC and social campaigns with SEO as a combination for small and large businesses, is probably the best of all worlds. A combination of offline marketing, social media page promotions, Google Adwords (PPC ) not forgetting Remarketing, Google merchant implementation for products, SEO, content marketing and email marketing… can all really make a significant upturn to not only your business outlook but profitability too.
Note, this content is apart of an experiment.