Search Engine Optimisation is one of the fundamentals of any digital strategy but SEO specialists can be expensive so, as a web consultancy, we’re regularly asked what small business owners can do for themselves. We put together the following short list of SEO essentials; some the basics that professional SEO specialists look for in a site audit. They don’t require any special skill or knowledge to do and enable small business owners to by tick many of the boxes that search engines like to see.
It may help to understand that search engines use increasingly complex sets of rules called algorithms to decide how any particular website should be ranked in their search engine results pages (SERPs). Amongst the hundreds of factors taken into account in search algorithms are the quality & quantity of other websites that link to your site, the freshness of the content, the speed at which your pages load and even how many times people click your link when it finally appears in the search results. The list below is far from comprehensive but it should help you to take care of some of the factors that affect your small business website’s search engine ranking:
First, choose a set of keywords that are relevant to your business and stick with them. “Long tail keywords” (e.g. not “shoes” but “red leather shoes in bedford”) are less likely to be hotly competed and more likely to work for you.
Pick one or two of your keywords to use on each page of your site. Use your chosen keyword at least 3 times on that page: in the page title, in a heading and at least once in the copy. Use bold & italics, use it in link titles, use it in the alt tags for your images if relevant. Don’t overuse your keywords by plastering them everywhere, but integrate them into articles and information.
Use keywords in the filenames of your images (e.g. not “D1023.jpg” but “red-leather-shoes.jpg”).
If you’re using a CMS (content management system) that allows you to have custom URLs, try and make sure the URL contains the keywords
( i.e. mysite.com/keyword-in-the-url/ )
Use text, not images, whenever possible.
Avoid using “click here” or “read more” in favour of your keywords as the link anchor text.
(i.e. our new red leather shoes – not – Red leather Shoes: Click Here )
Get back links from relevant, authoritative sources by posting content, links & answering questions. Try and get them to use your keywords as anchor text (as above).
Add new content regularly, freshness is part of the algorithm used to rate pages.
Write about your audience’s interests, or those you share with your audience, not just your own. That way they are more likely to spread them for you.
Share your posts on social platforms to get inbound links.
Get a Google Analytics account and add the code to your site. Get a Google Webmaster Account and, if you can, add your site’s XML sitemap to it (there are plugins for WordPress and most common CMS)
If you have a bricks & mortar retail space, get a Google Places page for your store(s).