Simple SEO Tips for Small Business Websites
While the broad term SEO or Search Engine Optimisation can be a pretty daunting prospect for many small business owners, it really doesn't need to be. Many aspects of SEO doesn't even necessarily need an expert to perform, while many others are best left to people in the know who have experience in the field.
Today I'll be looking at some simple SEO tips which many small business owners can try themselves to really boost their website in the search rankings, or at the least give them a basic understanding on why and how your site ranks and how to determine what it ranks for.
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Keyword research is perhaps the single most important aspect of any website looking to rank in the search engines, without having an idea of the basic search terms which you want to be found for, plus the competition and profitability of these terms, you are basically leaving your rankings to chance.
For instance, if you have a website which is for a roofing company in Scotland, and one of your pages is targeting 'lead roofing in example town', and you are at the top of the SERPS (search engine results pages) for that specific term, you might think that's great, however the page might not be bringing in much traffic, or in some cases any at all.
This could be because the term 'lead roofing in example town' isn't being searched for at all, so being top might seem good, but if nobody is searching for that term, then no traffic will come from it. This is where the use of Keyword tools come into play, some which we like to use include:
kwfinder.com - which has a free version which allows 5 free searches per day, and is great at finding long-tail keywords, as well as showing you the sites which are ranking for a keyword, average searches per month and the keyword difficulty, meaning how easy on a scale of 0-100 it will be to rank for that term.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner - The Google Adwords free keyword planner tool is geared more towards PPC users, but can still show some useful information for average monthly searches, and you can also search for multiple keywords, or even input your page URL to find suggestions based on your content. To use this tool you will need to sign up for a free AdWords account.
SEMRush - SEMRush is an all-in-one SEO tool which also has a keyword tool, the free version is ok for many uses but limited in the amount of reports, searches and features you can use. Much like the other tools mentioned, the SEMRush keyword tool can help you see how many average monthly searches there are for each keyword, organic search results for the term, related keywords, plus various PPC searches and advert copy.
Using these tools, you can then see what terms are likely to be profitable for your business, and which will bring traffic to your site if you can rank for them. The general rule is to focus on a single keyword per page, although you will also want to rank for any number of related and long-tail keywords too.
With that information, you can then decide which pages you would like to rank for which term, this will then drive the content for the page, such as images used, text copy, headings and so on.
Key Onpage Ranking Factors
Page Title & Meta Data
The page title and meta description are basically what potential customers will see in the search engine results of your business. The key aspects of these are to tell customers what the main topic of your page is about and entice them to click on your pages rather than a competitor.
Below is an example for one of our home page which I will break down into the key component:
Page Title (Web Design Scotland | SEO Scotland | Perth, Dundee, Fife & Angus)
This the main link, and what tells a user what you do and what they should expect to find when they click through to your site. This is one of the key ranking factors in SEO. As you can see here, we have used our 2 key services for the first two phrases, this is to tell people what we do, this is followed by the main areas which we service, although this may not apply to all business types. This is where you will want to include (ideally at the beginning) your designated keyword for this page, however, you will also want to careful of not overdoing it and adding it multiple times, this is an old SEO approach known as Keyword Stuffing.
The general rule for your page title should be that it is under 160 characters to prevent the title from being truncated, although recent studies have shown that Google will sometimes show a different page title depending on the search users intent.
For more information about your page title have a read of https://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag
The URL is the green link shown below the page title and indicates where the link is going to take you, in this example, the link will go to the homepage. Keywords inside a URL can still have some weight when it comes to ranking, although this is not as prominent as it once was, largely due to many people buying keyword rich domain names and stuffing keywords into their URLs.
The meta description is the snippet of text which has a brief description of the page, company, and services. While this supposedly doesn't have a direct impact on rankings, it has been proven that a well-written meta description can lead to a higher click-through rate (CTR), which is one of a number of factors which Google uses to determine rankings. This is basically your chance to convince a user to visit your site rather than that of your competitors.
Check out this article on writing a great meta description: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-meta-description-ht
The headings on your actual page are what gives your pages the basic structure and the hierarchy of your content. These are usually easily changed from within your website's CMS and they range from H1 (Heading 1 being the most important) to H6, and one of the rules when using your headings is to only usually have 1 x H1 per page, this will usually be an overview of the content, and topic of the page.
Your H1 should also contain your designated keyword, as long as it makes sense to have it in there to the user. Using related keywords (often known as semantic keywords) in your other headings is also usually a good way to improve your rankings.
This is one of the big ranking factors and is becoming increasingly important as Google aims to provide searchers with the most relevant content for their search terms. Your content should be the main reason why someone comes to your site, and you should use it to show your authority on your chosen keyword or subject, and show your customers why they should purchase your products or use your services.
The general rule of thumb is that you should provide as much relevant content as necessary for your customers to make an informed decision, ideally, you would be looking for 500+ words (although this is absolutely not a set in stone amount) of well informed, readable and grammatically correct content, split into sections using the aforementioned headings, and also written in an appropriate language for your client base.
Another major point with regards to your site content is to avoid duplicate content issues, your content should be unique to your page, meaning you shouldn't be using other peoples content (which you definitely shouldn't be doing anyway) or using the same content across multiple pages or sites that you own. Google has been known to penalise sites which have a lot of duplicate content and in many cases will disregard your content, or even deindex the page if you're using other peoples.
Find out more about the pitfalls of duplicate content from the Yoast website here.
Images for a lot of businesses are what differentiates them from their competitors, especially any companies who are selling actual products, as you will want to show these looking at their best, and make the user want the product just from seeing the image.
A few key SEO factors when dealing with images on your site include:
This is a huge issue on many sites you will come across on the web, especially with the capabilities of modern smartphones basically doubling up as a digital camera. When such images are added to web pages without first being optimised properly, they can often be in huge resolutions such as over 4000px wide, and can sometimes be anything between 1-10MBs in size.
While this may mean that the images look great, they also bring your page to a standstill and slow your site down, which may mean visitors abandoning your site before the page even loads. The 2 main processes you will want to do with an image before adding to your website are resizing the images to a reasonable size, for instance for a background image, you will really only need to be 1900px wide at most, while for most images on pages and in blog posts you can probably resize to around 600-1000px wide, but this depends on your use case.
I also like to use an online tool which can be found at http://compressor.io which optimises the image and in many cases can reduce the files size by up to 90%, without reducing the visible quality of the image.
An alternative to the above tool is https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/imagecompressor/ - this new tool is similar, in that it allows you to easily and quickly compress your website images, however with this tool you also get the added bonus of being able to compress multiple images all at once (up to 40). The site also has a number of other excellent SEO related tools for sitemaps, AMP among others.
This is what your image is about, and should be set for every image you add to your site. Most CMS systems have a simple interface for adding these to your images. The ALT tag is what is used for screen readers, what shows if the image cannot be loaded, and is also used for SEO purposes in Google Image Search.
The key rule for your ALT Tags is to ensure that they provide a relevant phrase for the content of your image without keyword stuffing in them.
So that just about concludes our basic SEO tips which many small business owners can do themselves in many cases. This is not a full list of on-page SEO factors, or ranking factors in general, and is actually just a very small sample of what can affect your rankings where SEO is concerned.
If you follow these tips and optimise these factors for each of your web pages, you will likely see huge improvements compared to sites who don't use any of these processes when creating a website.
However, if you've read this guide and would like to have a chat about how Wolfberry Media can help your business get found online, build a new website or help you get found locally, then feel free to get in touch with us on 07914798549, emailing us at email@example.com or by using our online contact form.
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