If you’re a small business owner, you know how important it is to make your website visible to potential customers. To do that, you need to SEO, aka search engine optimise your website for search engines.
But how do you do that? In this article, we’ll take you through the basics of SEO and show you how to get started. So whether you’re just getting started or looking for ways to get more website traffic, read on for helpful advice.
What is SEO for small business?
SEO is a process that can help your small business website rank higher in online search results.
When people search for products or services that your small business offers, you want your website to be one of the first ones they see. And SEO can help make this happen.
There are so many factors that go into SEO:
- Keyword strategy
- On-page optimisation
- Off-page SEO
And it’s an everchanging landscape too, so many small business owners find it challenging to learn, let alone stay on top without seeking an SEO specialist’s help.
How to do SEO for small business
It’s no secret that small businesses have to work hard to compete against larger companies with bigger marketing budgets. But if you’ve got the time to learn SEO yourself or see SEO as a long-term plan and solution. Then SEO will be your best friend.
And you need to make a choice. Do you:
- Learn how to do SEO yourself
- Outsource your SEO
These are the foundations for everything (sorry if you’ve heard me say this a time or two already). But it’s true. Your Keyword Strategy and keyword research should be considered across your site structure, and URL’s in particular. Also, with your page copy and nearly every other aspect, I mentioned below.
Plan your URLs as a part of your SEO strategy and where possible and where it makes sense to include your keywords. If it’s going to make an obscure page name or URL, don’t utilise it.
3. Page titles
This is the text that appears in search engines and is shown in browser tabs. It’s good practice to keep the essential words, i.e. your keywords, towards the start of the page title where possible.
You also need to consider the page title character limit too well, it’s really a pixel width, but that’s a bit difficult to count! So, if you keep it around 55 characters give or take, you should be right.
You don’t get penalised if you go over. It just gets cut off in search results which is why it’s good practice to have it at the start or as close to as you can.
4. Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are short summaries of what your web page is about that appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) under your page title.
A good meta description can help you to stand out from the competition and attract more visitors to your website, mainly if you include keywords in your meta description. That way, you’ll attract the right audience to your web page.
Although meta descriptions aren’t a ranking factor, they can influence click-through rates (CTRs).
You need to convince someone to click through to your website rather than keep scrolling the SERPs. This is especially important for small businesses that don’t have as large a brand awareness as some businesses.
You also have a character limit here too, which is about 155 characters. And anything over that will get cut off.
An important element of SEO is the proper use of headings. Headings help to organise your content and make it more readable for both users and search engines, but it mainly allows Google to manage the hierarchy of your page.
H1 tags are used for your main heading (and there should only be one of this per page), H2 tags for your subheadings, and H3 tags for your more minor subheadings.
I often see headings set up and used from a design perspective only, but they play an essential role in SEO. And should be utilised for SEO first and design second.
6. Image file names
Your image file names are one aspect of your images that Google can read. And there are a few points to remember to ensure that your website is search engine optimised.
- Include keywords related to your business or product in the file name. This helps search engines understand your image and index it accordingly.
- Ensure the file name is short and concise.
- Use hyphens “-“between the words in your file name to make it easier for Google to read.
Your images are a great way to tap into your location if that’s relevant to lift your local SEO too.
7. Image alt tags
This is the other aspect of your images that Google can read, so it plays an important part, particularly for e-commerce, as you can also rank in Google image search results and not just the regular SERPs page.
Your image alt tags are also important to improve your website’s accessibility for visitors with a disability.
So, an excellent way to craft your image alt tags is to think of it as how you’d describe your image to a blind person.
If your image doesn’t load properly, too, then your alt tag is what will be displayed in its place.
Your image alt tags and file names are pretty easy to do, so it is something you could do as a small business owner once your Keyword Strategy is in place.
8. Image file size
Large image files can slow down a website, so this is an important area to get your head around.
And slow websites can negatively impact search engine ranking.
Sometimes you need to compromise a little here as you don’t want to compromise the quality of your image either. But there are some great WordPress plugins that will help you compress your images.
And good hosting will help here too.
9. Internal links
Internal links are hyperlinks that direct a user to another page on the same website.
A good internal linking strategy is essential for two reasons:
- Usability as it helps users navigate a website
- SEO as it helps spread link equity around a website and helps guide Google around your website.
When done correctly, internal links can be a powerful tool for small business owners looking to improve their website’s visibility and usability. Internal linking is also essential for building an informational hierarchy on a website – by linking to more critical pages from less important pages. Visitors can quickly and easily find the information they’re looking for.
Speed is a significant factor these days for SEO, especially as we are generally using mobile phones the most. And we also live in a world where we want instant action/gratification. We don’t want to wait for a website to load. We’ll move on to the next one when it takes too long. So, your website should ideally load in under 2-3 seconds.
A fast website will help with conversions, too. Although there is more to conversions than speed, but it’s one aspect that will help.
11. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool that provides insights into your website traffic and performance. It’s such a powerful tool that will help you understand how your website visitors interact with your website.
With the information and knowledge you gain, you can make your website changes to improve things, which has positive SEO effects on your SEO rankings.
I’m often surprised how many small businesses don’t have Google Analytics or do have it but never utilise it.
12. Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is also a free tool that helps you manage your website’s search performance.
You can use GSC to help index your site, see what’s been indexed, submit sitemaps, and get other detailed reports. It’s an essential tool (one of many) in my book for any small business that wants to improve its SEO.
13. Google My Business listing
Don’t forget to claim your Google My Business listing if you are location-based. We love using our GMB for our local SEO services.
Your Google My Business should be integral to your digital marketing strategy, especially when seeking testimonials and reviews. If you drive clients and customers to your Google My Business as a priority, that has a positive SEO response.
Remember to post to your Google My Business just like you do your social media channels, as an updated presence works well for your local SEO campaigns.
Common mistakes made in small business SEO
Here are some everyday things that I often see in SEO on small business websites or by web developers who have supposedly implemented basic SEO.
- Page titles in capitals – don’t do this as it takes up more pixel space, meaning you have fewer characters to utilise.
- Image file names with long strings of characters or random numbers and letters. Instead, make them relevant, concise and succinct.
- Don’t use underscores “_” in your image file names as Google can’t read them.
- Keep your image file names unique and avoid using the same file name for multiple images on your website.
- If you’re revisiting your image file names, don’t just change the image file names on your WordPress website. You literally need to change them on your PC and then reupload them—a tedious but necessary job. But start with your more popular pages or popular products and work through them from there.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be helping improve your SEO and search engine rankings.
SEO isn’t for me. What do I do now?
Have you decided SEO isn’t for you, and honestly, it’s not for everyone.
Or have you realised how long it can take and you don’t have the time?
Don’t despair; I can help. Just email me, and let’s schedule a time to chat about all things SEO.
Or do you want to have a crack at the SEO basics? Download my FREE SEO Checklist that lays out all your SEO basics.