Small Business Website Wisdoms: SEO Strategies You Should Be Using Now
Search engine optimisation (SEO) may seem daunting to small businesses who are just starting to establish or tune up their web presence. The basic (and most vital) components of it are actually pretty simple, however. You identify the keywords and phrases that people are using to search for your business, and then you make sure that Google recognises you as a high-quality resource that’s directly related to those keywords.
For most small businesses, you also need to make sure Google knows where you are. For example, let’s say your business is a diner. When someone just types “diner” into Google, no matter how good your diner or your web presence is, your site is going to be buried under thousands of other results. When someone types in “diner in (your location)”, however, that’s a key phrase for which there’s a whole lot less competition. If your SEO strategy is better than your local competitors and you have a better web presence, it’s very realistic to be in the top few results or even be the top dog.
So what SEO strategies should your business be employing to make sure you’re leaping over your competition? The following are all techniques that every small business should be using to ensure they are competing at the highest level possible.
Identifying Your Keywords
The most basic keyphrase you want to include is obvious — what your business does, plus where you are located.
It’s important not to hammer this into your content in a clumsy way, though, or to use the phrase too many times. Google does not take kindly to attempts to game the system and will punish your page for “keyword stuffing” by pushing it farther down the rankings. They do want people to be able to find you through keywords, but they don’t want the top slots of their search results going to pages that have useless content on them.
You do want to include your main keyphrase at least a couple of times, though, as it’s important to let Google know what you do and where you are. No more than two to five times per page is a good rule of thumb, and the longer the content is the more direct key phrases you can get away with.
There are other key phrases you should consider besides just your business category and location, however. What other unique ways might a customer be looking for you? For example, are you one of the only businesses in your category that is open 24 hours, or open on weekends?
Fortunately, there are tools available so you don’t have to rack your brains thinking of every possible phrase someone might use to find you. The most basic and straightforward tool is from Google themselves, and it’s called Keyword Planner. Plug in terms to describe what your business does, and Google will suggest alternate permutations and longer phrase strings that people might use. There are better tools of this nature that you can pay for, but Google Keyword Planner is a good place to start out.
Placing Relevant Links
Links also help your site’s search ranking. “Outbound” links, or those that go to other sites, help Google to identify what your site is about. “Inbound” links, or links that go to another page on your own site, help Google’s automated “spider” software to properly find all of your web pages and index them for search. Google updates this information on a daily basis so it won’t take long for them to find new pages as long as you include a link to them.
Putting Your Content Strategy In Place
As was briefly mentioned earlier, Google wants top search results to go to pages that are very useful to their users. While your opening hours and address certainly are useful to people looking for you, if that’s all that is on your site, it’s way too thin.
There are a few different things you can do in terms of content strategy. One very popular choice for businesses is to have a blog. In this blog, you post about topics related to your business — for example, if you have a pizzeria, you might post some fun facts about the history of the pizza or about unusual toppings in other countries. Blog posts help as they signal to Google that the site is being continually updated, and they also give visitors a reason to stick around. The length of time a visitor is at your site is called the “bounce rate“, and basically the quicker they leave the worse it is for your search rankings.
Placing Your Keywords
Once you’ve got some content for your site, you have to place keywords properly in it. Generally, you don’t want them to appear too close to either the beginning or end of your content; a buffer of at least 100 words at each end is good. Also, if keywords exceed 20% of your total content, try to think of alternate phrases for them that mean the same thing.
This is only the base of your SEO efforts, but it’s a foundation that every small business site should have in place. If you don’t have these things implemented, you’ll be beaten out in the search rankings by competitors that do!