As a business owner, you no doubt have heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the huge role SEO plays in the success of a business! In this digital-first world large companies are pouring huge amounts of money into perfecting this aspect of their marketing strategies.
What is SEO?
SEO is the common acronym of Search Engine Optimisation and is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. [Moz, 2015].
To put it simply SEO is all about understanding what your prospects are searching for and ensuring your site shows up first in the search results. You must follow the “rules” set up by search engines that determine what makes a page attractive and thus high-ranking for searchers, as well as what keywords customers are typing into their browsers when they go hunting for answers.
Search engines are the primary method of navigation for most internet users, so while you may be able to generate some traffic to your site through social media, it will never compare to the amount of traffic the major commercial search engines; Google, Bing and Yahoo! can generate. What’s more is that these engines can provide targeted traffic to your page, so that the people looking for what you offer can find you. The results of well-managed small business SEO tactics include increased publicity, revenue and exposure. It can truly be the make or break of a small business just starting out.
9 Steps to Perfect Small Business SEO:
1. Make URL Extensions SEO-Friendly:
The first 3-5 words in a URL are treated with the most importance so AVOID:
- URLs which don’t have any connection to the content, such as: https://websiteaddress.com/12345
- Long-winded URLs, such as: https://websiteaddress.com/this-is-a-really-really-long-web-site-url-blah-blah
You should, instead opt for a concise URL that illustrates what that page is offering. For instance: https://websiteaddress.com/abbreviated-key-phrase
2. Use Keywords:
It is important to speak the same language as those who will be visiting your webpage. You must be aware of what keywords your customers are typing into search engines so that you can include them in your pages and thus appear in their browsers when they go hunting online. Search engines utilise technologies which act like a thesaurus, to analyse the meanings of different keywords on a page in order to determine a page’s relevancy, so don’t just pick a single keyword of phrase and consider the job done, also include related keywords throughout the page which compliment your chosen keyword. Don’t leave it until the end of your page, your keyword should appear in the first 100-150 words of an article. [Moz, 2015].
3. Optimise Your Title:
Mention keywords in your title and keep it under 55 characters in length as Google will only display the first 50-60 characters of a title tag [MarketingNinjas, 2014].
Utilise H1 tags for your headings. Headings are pieces of HTML code that give you the ability to make certain words stand out on the page. The H1 tag is the highest-level tag, therefore should be treated as the most important heading on your page. Search engines give this tag more weight over other headings so make the most of it. You should only use one H1 tag per page. This tag should use keywords and be positioned at the top of the page in order to increase SEO.
4. Use Visual Media:
Use of images or videos can reduce bounce rate and increase the amount of time users spent on your site. This helps boost user-interaction signals for Google. Increasing this signal means that search engines will see that users who have clicked on your site are not just moving on straight away, but are instead interacting with your pages content.
It is also good to note that search engines do not view webpage images like readers do, they see it as text, so ensure you have utilised ALT tags to provide alternative text when an image on a webpage cannot be displayed. This way, search engines will see images as relevant additions to you page rather than empty space.
5. Link to Authority Websites:
An authority site is a website that is respected by knowledgeable people in its industry for being very high quality. Outbound links to related pages, which are viewed as authoritative, will help search engines figure out what your page is about. By defining your topic and including relevant links, search engines will view your page as a hub of quality info.
6. Improve Loading Speed:
75% of users said they wouldn’t re-visit a site that took longer than 4 seconds to load. [Quick Sprout, 2014]. In addition to this, the top ranking search-engine; Google, has stated on record that page loading speed is an important SEO ranking signal.
Some simple steps that can improve loading speed include using premium-hosting service and compressing image file sizes. In addition use of a CDN, or content delivery network, will deliver webpages and other web content to users based on the geographic location of a user, the origin of the website and a content delivery server, thus improving loading speed.
7. Have a High Word Count for Content:
Pages that ranked on page 1 of Google have a word count above 2,000 words [MarketingNinjas, 2014]. Keep in mind that optimal word counts will vary based on industry, but a good rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 500 words per page. However, don’t fall into the trap of producing quantity over quality when it comes to content. Treat this as a guide line, not a be-all-end-all law.
8. Optimise Your Page for Social Sharing:
By adding social sharing buttons you can indirectly improve your chance of receiving inbound links. In other words this increases the number of other web pages the direct customers and search engines to your web page.
9. Ensure Mobile Optimisation
When a sites layout isn’t responsive to the type of device it is being viewed on it increases the bounce rate on non-desktop devices, resulting in low user-interaction signals to search engines. A responsive design will ensure your website adjusts in size based on the device your visitors are using.
Mobile optimisation has become very important in the last week with Google’s new mobile-focused ranking algorithm. Essentially what this means is that a new system is in play on Google which will boost mobile-friendly websites and diminish SEO ranks for website which are not optimised for mobile devices.
It is true that small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to SEO, as search engines favour the high-volume sites, seeing them as a more popular and thus more reputable sources. That’s why it’s so important to understand and utilise small business SEO tactics. Don’t let your company could go un-noticed, make your web presence known and get optimising today!