Beginner SEO Strategies for Small Businesses
These days, if your business doesn’t have an online presence, you’re leaving money on the table. Even if you only have a physical store and don’t sell anything through the internet, customers use online search engines every day to trawl through shops and services near them in order to find the best place to take their money.
Once you’ve set up a basic website, those customer searches are what you want to pay attention to. When constructing your online presence, you need to pay attention to good search engine optimization (SEO) practices in order to ensure that potential customers see your site near the top of the search results page. Some of the things that you can do to influence those search rankings are technical behind-the-scenes manipulation of your website, but the most important elements are simple, basic strategies that anyone can do.
Have relevant content
This is the number one thing that search engines look for, and is also the most obvious. If you don’t have pages on your website talking about the things that potential customers are looking for, then they’re not going to be able to find you.
The trick here is to make sure that you’re being thorough when you build your website. Search engines pay attention to everything from headers to page content to the URL, so tune all of those to make sure that the page you’re building sends a consistent and clear message. Also, you should create separate pages for each area of your business that customers might be searching for specifically. For example, if you do car repairs, have one page discussing how to make an appointment, one page talking about replacement parts, one page outlining your services, and additional pages for anything else you might think someone could be interested in. You should also have ways of getting in contact with you, including your address if you can, and register with Google My Business in order to have your business show up on Google Maps.
Having quality content is also very important, so take care when writing the copy on each page. Write for whoever you think is going to be reading the page, not for the search engine, and the search engine will reward you for your efforts by putting you higher up in the rankings.
Build easy navigation
How easy is it to get around your website? There are two things you can do to make sure your visitors have an easy time of finding what they want. The first is the most obvious one: have a menu bar at the top of the page with links to the different sections of your website. The second is less obvious: link to other pages on your site from within the content copy of each of your pages, whenever that would be appropriate. To continue the car repair example from earlier, if on one page you have the line “Replacing spare tires is one of the many services we offer,” then you could have the words “Replacing spare tires” link to a page that lists all the different kinds of tires you have. This provides your visitors with a prompt to further explore your content, helps search engines crawl and index your site, and improves your rankings on the keywords used in the link.
Pay attention to your keywords
“Keywords” are exactly what they sound like: the key words that summarize your content. These are the terms that people put into the search engine box, and these are the things that you want to include in your website content.
You can’t abuse keywords — stuffing the page with them to the point that it hinders readability will only serve to reduce your rankings, as search engines are wise to that tactic — but it never hurts to keep them in mind and make sure you include them in your headlines, content, and URLs.
Follow good web practices
There are a couple of small things you can do easily that don’t quite fit into any other category here:
- Ensure that the headlines for your pages are under 55 characters so that they don’t get cut off in the search results.
- If you are using multiple keywords in the permalink (URL) of a page, put the most important one first.
- Have a good domain name that is relevant to your business. Avoid hyphens in the domain name, if possible, as they break up the URL and make it harder to type quickly.
- When creating additional pages, use sub-directory root domains (i.e. example.com/subdirectory) rather than subdomains (i.e. subdomain.example.com).
If you have some technical skills or know someone who does, you may also want to look into customized meta descriptions of your pages and schema markup of your content. These don’t make your content rise higher in the rankings, but they do help encourage searchers to click on the link to your page by providing better information right on the search page.
Good SEO is simple and doesn’t really require much time to set up. Fill your website with quality, relevant content matched to the keywords that people are searching for, and you should quickly see results for your business.