A lot of first-time small business owners tend to have trouble when it comes to understanding the concept of search engine optimization. In a nutshell, SEO is all about making your website appear higher on a search engine result. It involves identifying keywords that you want to rank for and adding content to your website that is relevant and regarded as useful information by Google’s search algorithms.
It can sound like a daunting task, but we’ve put together some SEO must do’s for your small business to help you better understand the concept and improve the SEO performance of your website.
Ensure your website has been set up correctly
One of the first things to do when preparing your website for optimization is to do some basic research. After all, SEO is heavily reliant on proper keyword usage, so the first thing you should identify is the keywords that you want to rank for.
Register a Google My Business listing
Google My Business is essentially your digital Yellowpages entry. If your business doesn’t appear on Google My Business, it’s a good idea to set it up with correct information. Alternatively, make sure you claim your business and edit the information so that it’s accurate and up-to-date. Failing to do this means your business either won’t show up on a Google search, or it will show inaccurate information that results in lost profits and disinterested leads.
When setting up your listing, make sure you put some extra effort into the information you offer. This is a digital representation of your business on Google’s searches, so it should ideally have plenty of pictures, contact details and a succinct description of your business.
Using Google Search Console
First, make sure you’re using Google Search Console. Once registered, you can use this tool to crawl your website and see how many pages are indexed. It will then make some basic recommendations on how to improve your website. These are essential administrative tasks that will fix the majority of errors and ensure that Google has an easier time indexing your website for searches.
Other search engines have similar tools, such as Bing’s webmaster tools. These are essentially the same as Google’s Search Console, but it’s worth checking out your website with different search engine tools to ensure it’s set up correctly and visible to each platform.
Researching keywords to use in SEO strategies
The foundation of successful SEO is keyword research. Understanding the keywords that your customers are using and identifying their intent goes a long way in SEO.
Identifying the keywords that are relevant to you
First, try to identify the keywords that are relevant to your brand. There are a couple of things that you should be focusing on when it comes to your services:
- What products do you offer your customers?
- What services do you provide to your customers?
- How can you narrow down searches from general terms to more specific products?
- What keyword variations should you be focusing on?
- Do you need to use location-based keywords?
While it can seem daunting to brainstorm the keywords you want to focus on, there are plenty of tools available that can help you conduct effective keyword research. We suggest tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner and Moz’s Keyword Explorer. These are both excellent tools to help you discover new keywords. They can also be used to get bid estimates for each keyword which will help you determine your advertising budget.
Organizing and grouping your keyword research
Sooner or later, you’re going to end up with a huge list of potential keywords that you want to rank for. It’s a good idea to use something like a spreadsheet to help you keep track of all of the keywords you plan to use. This will help you rank them in order of priority and also group them into logical categories. This ensures that you have a large list of keywords that are designed to be used in specific situations.
Some keywords, such as location and intent-based keywords, will be more suitable for landing pages that have a call-to-action at the end. On the other hand, keywords that focus on informing your audience will be more suitable for a knowledge base or blog. The goal here is to split the keywords into usability based on products and services, circumstances or pages.
Now we can start getting into the actual optimization of your website. Armed with a long list of keywords, you can now start to make practical changes to your website.
Organize your website for better structure and navigation
One of the first things to do is organize your website correctly. It’s important to have a clear path of navigation through your website to both improve the user experience and also help search engines understand your website better. Here’s an example of a clear website structure:
- Mens Footwear
- Mens Clothing
- Mens Accessories
- Womens Footwear
- Womens Clothing
- Womens Accessories
- Kids Footwear
- Kids Clothing
- Kids Accessories
- Sale Items
- Delivery Information
- Contact Information
The categories here are easy to browse, they’re clearly defined and there are additional sections that will explain more about the brand and its services. This is a great example of a clean website structure that makes it easy to navigate and index. It also makes it a little easier to know which keywords to use for each page.
Naming your website pages after relevant keywords
When designing the overall structure of your website, it’s a good idea to have pages named after keywords whenever possible. For instance, using the above example of a clothes store, your pages could be named:
Not only does this make it easier for you to organize your website, but it also allows you to better organize your keywords while providing for user intent searches. Fixing up page titles and URLs will also make it easier to index your site, and it will make writing meta descriptions for your pages a breeze.
Optimising image tags and performance
Images on your website can also play a role in your SEO strategy. For starters, you can optimize image names and use appropriate terms and keywords to help describe them. Alt texts are also helpful for when an image cannot load due to internet speed constraints, and these will also play a role in searches.
Next, make sure you’re optimizing your image performance. The best way to do this is to reduce the overall size of your images. This can be done by converting the images to a smaller format such as PNG. In addition, you can scale image resolution down for certain platforms especially if image quality isn’t a concern.
Creating the right content
Lastly, it’s important to create good content that is suitable for your website.
Avoid keyword stuffing
One of the biggest mistakes people make is flooding their content with keywords. This not only makes your content sound and feel robotic, but it actually negatively affects your SEO performance. Search engine algorithms make heavy use of keywords, but if your content is difficult to comprehend for human readers then it won’t attract users. While keywords can help you gather leads, it’s the quality of your content that will ultimately convert them into sales.
In short, create natural content and don’t stuff a page with keywords. Don’t try to hide links and text to add keywords either, as Google and other search engines may blacklist your website from their searches. These are often known as black hat SEO strategies and are frowned upon by Google.
Creating evergreen content
Evergreen content is an extremely effective form of content to create for your website. Evergreen content is any kind of content that will be relevant for a long time–ideally forever. This could be content such as “how to style for the winter” or “the best ways to clean your expensive shoes”.
This type of content is popular with Google’s search algorithms as they’re usually linked on other websites and can easily be shared on social media. They provide real long-lasting value to your customers, hence why they’re ideal for a long-term SEO strategy.
Mixing different types of content
Lastly, we want to ensure that your website has plenty of different types of content. Mixing things up is a great way to ensure that there’s something for everyone for your audience, and it also provides more opportunities for growth as you develop your brand.
Different types of content can include:
- Informative guides to help your audience with your products
- Testimonials from real people that purchase your products
- Reviews on Google My Business or commerce platforms
- FAQs about your products and services to provide effective customer support
- Videos to describe your products or show off your services
- Product descriptions that include pictures, technical specifications and other details
- Service details such as pricing tiers and terms and conditions
- Podcasts that cover interests relevant to your audience
The more types of content you have, the better your website will perform on search engines. You’ll also have more content to share with different social platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
SEO strategies are incredibly diverse and can include a lot of different factors. It’s extremely important that you read through these must do’s and apply them to your small business as best as possible. Whether it’s technical SEO aspects such as keyword research, or more creative tasks such as writing blog posts and guides, there are lots of ways to improve your SEO performance and everything should be taken into consideration.