As a small business owner, you want to make sure that many people see your website. Websites are a cornerstone of your digital marketing efforts and are usually one of the first ways someone will interact with you and your small business.
People who are potential customers need to be able to find your site. This is where SEO comes in. SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a process that can help improve the visibility of your website online by creating a website that search engines understand. In this blog post, we will explain how SEO works and provide tips on how you can improve your website’s SEO.
If you want to read what SEO is, take a look at our beginner’s guide.
So why is business SEO important?
Website SEO helps you generate traffic to your website by appearing in organic search results.
As more people visit your site, you will also generate more leads. Search engine optimisation is the process of making it easier to find your website online.
It’s important to understand that SEO is not a one-time task—it’s an ongoing process that should be incorporated into your overall marketing strategy. Several factors contribute to good SEO helping your search engine ranking, including:
– The quality of your website content
– The structure of your website
– The way people interact with your website
– The authority of your website.
Types of SEO actions
There are three types of SEO actions you can take to improve your business website and help you achieve better search engine rankings. We’ll cover each one in-depth later, but to summarise:-
This is the process of optimising individual pages on your website to rank higher in search results.
This is the process of building links to your website from other sites, social media and directories.
This type of SEO focuses on improving the technical aspects of your website to make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site.
Sitting down and brainstorming how you want to appear in search results and what words or phrases people use to search for your business or services is a great place to start.
These words and phrases will become the target keywords you will need on website pages and other relevant content like a blog post.
If you’re struggling to work out your keywords, head over to Google and start typing in the search bar something related to your business.
You’ll notice as you type Google provides suggestions. These suggestions are what other people are typing to find products or services. You can use these as the basis of your keyword research.
As part of your SEO strategy, you’ll need to decide where to focus your efforts. If you are a local business supplying products or services to a small area, you should focus on a local SEO campaign. If you provide products or services nationally, you’ll need to focus on a national SEO campaign.
It’s important that you spend time on this step to ensure that you cover all that you want to achieve. Once you’ve got a few ideas it’s best to create a business SEO strategy document planning out what you’ll aim to accomplish each month.
On page SEO is the content you have on your web pages. This is one of the most important ranking factors for search engines.
The text on your website needs to be well written and keyword-rich. This means including your target keywords in the title, headings, and throughout the body of your content.
Your website should also be easy to navigate with a clear hierarchy linking all pages together. All links should work, and pages should load quickly.
It would be best to focus on creating high quality content relevant to your business. Then, focus on improving the structure of your site and making sure you don’t have any broken links.
Keywords and phrases help people find your website in search engines.
You need to research which keywords and phrases are relevant to your business, products or services. You can use an SEO tool like Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer to help with this.
Once you’ve got a list of keywords or a keyword phrase, you’ll need to include:
– them in the page titles (also known as title tags) and headings (header tags) of your web pages
– throughout the body of your content
– in your meta description (meta tags)
– in your image alt tags.
You’ll also need to create keyword-rich anchor text for any links on your website.
Anchor text is the clickable part of a hyperlink. It should include your keywords and tell the reader what the link is about.
For example, if you have a business website selling shoes and want to rank for the keyword “women’s black leather shoes,” your anchor text might be “women’s black leather shoes.”
You’ll also need to look at the keyword’s search volume when looking at keywords. Search volume is a metric that shows how many people are searching for a keyword each month.
You can use Google’s Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer to determine how many people search for your keywords each month.
Page titles referred to as title tags, are essential on-page SEO elements.
Your page title should include your keyword and give searchers an idea of what they will find on your page. It would be best if you did some keyword research for each of your pages so that each page focus on a specific keyword.
Most websites attach page titles to the url, for example, https://example.com/whatisseo.
As part of any website, you’ll need to write content. This could be on a web page or supplementary high quality content such as a blog post. When you write content, you should ensure that text is separated by headers (header tags) and subheaders (subheader tags).
You can use header tags to create a hierarchy on your page, making it easier for both users and search engines to understand.
Your main heading should be an H tag, and you can then use H tags for subheadings down to H six. You don’t need to worry about using all the header tags.
Just use them where it makes sense for your content. For example, if you have a blog post with five sections, you might use H two tags for each section’s heading.
You should also include your keyword in at least one of your headings. This will help search engines understand what your page is about.
A meta description is a brief description of your page that appears on google’s search results page.
While it’s not a ranking factor, it’s still important to write meta descriptions for all pages that include your keyword and accurately describe your page’s content.
This will help entice searchers to click through to your website.
Meta descriptions are limited to a number of characters. You should aim for 155- 160 characters.
Image Alt Tags
An image alt tag is a brief description of an image that appears in the place of an image if it can’t be displayed for some reason.
It also helps search engines understand what an image is about. You should include your keyword in your image alt tags.
When writing image tags, you should also think about the user.
You want to make sure your image alt tags are descriptive enough that someone would understand what the image is without seeing it.
Your website will probably have more than one page. As well as a menu, you should ensure you have links within pages to other pages so your site is easy to navigate.
As time goes on, your website will change. You’ll need regularly review your internal links to ensure that no broken links appear.
Off-page SEO is anything you can do to improve your website’s ranking that isn’t on your website. The most common off-page SEO tactic is link building, but there are other things you can do too.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to yours. We wrote a more in-depth article explaining what backlinks are, check it out.
The more high-quality links you have, the higher your website will rank in search results pages.
However, if you want to improve your website’s SEO, it’s essential to start building links.
You can do this by creating great high quality content that other people will want to link to or by reaching out to other websites and asking them to link to your site, helping direct website traffic.
If you write blogs, you can reach out to industry-specific relevant sites to see if you could feature a guest post on their website.
Local Business Listings
If your small business serves the local area, local business listings are a great way to advertise your business and an excellent place to start link building.
Usually, these sites are free and will allow you to put a link back to your website.
Google Business Profile
Google business profile is a great way for small business owners to start with local SEO. It’s a free tool that lets you create a viewable listing when someone does a local search either on the Google website or Google maps for something ‘like plumbers near me.’
These local search results are an excellent way to maximise site visitors to your own site.
Google Business Profile allows you to create a business page complete with information like opening times, contact numbers, locations, reviews, photos, and videos. People can view these straight from google search results and a map listing for your business if you have a physical location.
We’ve created a full in-depth guide to creating and making the most of a Google business profile that you can get for free here. A profile is a valuable resource for any small business, and it’s completely free and certainly worth the time to appear in local search results.
Paid Search (PPC)
Both Google and social media platforms have their own platforms where you spend money advertising your business. The way you are charged varies between platforms, but it’s when someone clicks through to your website for Google ads.
Paid search is one way to appear at the top of google search results. However, the area is enormous, so I’ll not go into detail here as it’s worth a separate post!
One thing to mention here, though, is you are looking to use a paid search to make sure you keep reviewing the campaigns you set up and set yourself a maximum budget.
As a small business, money can be tight, and if you don’t keep an eye on those campaigns, you could spend a fortune for little return.
Technical SEO is a subsidiary of on-page SEO that deals with the technical aspects of your website.
Technical SEO issues can be daunting for small business owners as it’s not always easy to understand, and you might want to employ a specialist to look at your website.
Essentially It’s everything from making sure your website loads quickly to using the correct keyword density in your titles and meta descriptions. We’ve already covered these above, so we’ll now look at some of the more advanced elements.
When we talk about loading speed, we mean how long it takes for a website to load on the screen. We need to think about two types of users: desktops or laptops and mobile users, the location of where your website is stored, and server speed.
Google has two different SEO rankings for those on mobile devices and desktops.
There are tools that you can test website speeds on the internet. Tools like GT Metrix will allow you to do tests and grade your website, giving suggestions on where you can improve.
Ways to increase page speed include
- Images should be resized. On-screen photos do not need the same level of quality as those in print. You’ll need to resize pictures reducing quality and lowing the file size. You can learn more about image optimisation in our dedicated article.
- Use a Content Delivery Network. A CDN is a set of web servers in different locations containing the same content. When users visit your website, they will be served content from the server closest to them, so it’s much quicker.
- Use caching. Caching is a way to store data so that pages load faster for returning visitors, as some of the data will already be stored on their computers.
- Quality hosting. Having a good web hosting provider with high-quality servers will also make a difference, allowing servers to serve your website quicker.
For mobile devices, make sure that all your content fits on-screen and that people don’t need to scroll horizontally to see things on your website’s far left or right.
Several SEO tools allow small businesses to improve SEO rankings. Some are paid (we offer our own platform in our Web Design packages, for example), and some are free (these can come with a steep learning curve).
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t need to sign up for Google Search Console to be included in Google Search results, but doing so can help you understand how your site appears to Google and will help you make improvements to improve SEO rankings.
Google Analytics is a free service that provides website owners with detailed information about their site visitors. This information can help small businesses owners understand where their traffic is coming from, what type of content is viewed, and how users interact with their site.
SEMRush is a paid tool that offers business owners information about their website’s SEO, including keyword rankings, backlink data, traffic data, and more. SEMRush has a steep learning curve, and it takes time to learn everything to start increasing your SEO ranking, but it will ultimately help.
Our platform works similarly to SEMRush, but we break things down into manageable chunks for you to do each month. We throw in an academy too, so you can learn all about SEO. We’ll even help with keyword research and search terms linking into google analytics and Google’s Search Console.
Whether your small business website is aimed at other local businesses or customers nationwide, you need an SEO strategy to help your business SEO to improve SEO rankings and bring in more customers. We’ve focused on Google as it’s the most popular search engine throughout this post. It is worth remembering that there are other search engines, each with its own tools.
Your SEO strategy is one of the essential documents you’ll create. To form part of your business SEO actions, it should determine what keywords and search terms you want to rank for. In it, you’ll define whether local SEO is more important than national SEO.
Once your SEO strategy is complete, you’ll need to implement your keyword research by adding them to specific pages and create high quality content to support your small business. The more content you have, the easier it is for a search engine to find your site and you should also create a content marketing strategy to help you maximise the content on your website.
You should make use of search engine tools such as google analytics and search console to improve SEO ranking.
Paid tools such as our platform and SEMRush will help suggest other actions to improve SEO ranking, which may include more technical aspects, but if you’re not too sure about the technical side of things, it’s worth getting an expert in.
Your website is one essential part of your digital marketing campaign. Still, to be found online, you need to work on optimising your website, reviewing, and constantly tweaking to climb those rankings. I hope that everything in this deep dive makes sense, if not, drop us a line, and we’d be happy to help and advise.