15 SEO Tips for Small Businesses
SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization”, is the bread and butter of any online marketing strategy. At its core, search engine optimization is the process of incorporating certain commonly searched for keywords, into the written copy of your website. That way, when those keywords are searched for on a site like Google, the Google algorithms see your site as relevant, and will be more likely to put it at the top of the list of search results.
Since SEO is such a commonly utilized marketing tactic, though, there are thousands of businesses vying for that top spot on a Google results page. This means that you have to be competitive in order to get your small businesses noticed over some of the multinational corporations who offer similar products or services to yours.
The good news is that you don’t need a multinational corporation’s marketing budget – to be able to overtake them in a Google results page. All you need is a little knowhow and the determination to see your SEO campaign through, and you’ll get recognition from Google in no time. The following is a list of 15 tips that will help your SEO campaign be a success.
The Initial Phases
1. Do Your Keyword Research
Before you can start implementing keywords into your copy, you have to know what keywords people are searching for in relation to your product or service. One of the easiest ways to do this is through Google AdWords. The application has a function that will tell you how often a specific keyword is searched for, where it is being searched from (regionally or nationally), and related keywords or phrases. The tool is invaluable, and should be used at the beginning of every new SEO campaign. However, it’s important to keep something in mind:
2. The Right Keywords Aren’t Necessarily the Most Popular
When you do your research and see a highly searched for keyword or phrase, it’s important to understand that this isn’t always the best keyword to use. Why? – Because every other business will be using it too. Since a high volume of searchers are looking for that keyword, every business related to it is going to be vying for the top spot on search engines. If you’re a small business with a growing website, it may be better to focus on niche keywords and bring a smaller, yet more specific, group of potential customers in. You can find out what your competition is by using tools such as the one provided on SEOMoz.
For instance, if you sell custom skateboards in Dallas, you could use the keyword phrase Buy skateboards online, but a much better phrase would be custom skateboards Dallas. This narrows your range of potential customers, but gets you better results on Google because you don’t have as much competition.
Playing Google Algorithm’s Game
3. Pick the Right Keyword Density
Now, when writing your website’s copy, it’s important that not every other word is a keyword or keyword phrase. Google algorithms are looking for content that’s relevant to the keyword, not just the presence of the keyword itself. One of the ways they do this is by judging keyword density. A good minimum density is 1%, but it’s usually wise to not go over 3%. This means 1-4 keywords or keyword phrases per 500 words of copy.
4. Know Where to Place Your Keywords in an Article
You now have a bank of non-competitive, natural sounding keywords, and the goal of putting 1-4 of them per 100 words into your written copy. Choosing where to put them in that copy is important. Generally, you want a keyword in the title of your article or blogpost, at least one in a subtitle or bulleted list within the article, and the rest spread throughout the article naturally. This will show the search engine algorithms that your content is highly relevant to the keyword because it’s not only the subject of your copy, but it’s referenced throughout.
5. Spread Keywords Throughout the Rest of Your Site
In addition to placing keywords and phrases into your written copy, it’s important to have them strategically placed in other parts of your website, too. This means navigation bars, URLs, etc. When the algorithms see that your chosen keyword is ingrained into the very fabric of your website in addition to your written content, they will definitely deem you a more relevant source of information.
6. Make Use of Hyperlinks
Another way that search engines determine relevance is by seeing that your specific keywords or phrases are used to expand upon the information desired by a searcher. The best way to do this is by turning your keyword into a hyperlink. You have a few options on where this link leads – it can direct clickers to another part of your website, (click to see our range of motorcycles) or it can lead to a different website where a specific concept is explained or expanded upon (We have been a major player in the history of the motorcycle).
A good strategy to use is to team up with other sites and have them link to your website as well – this will skyrocket your relevance in the Google’s eyes.
Keep Writing Fresh Content
In addition to relevance, you should be keeping your articles current, as well. Google wants to know that your information is up to date, so they’ll pick a newer article to share with a searcher over a dated one. Stay ahead of the curve by consistently writing new content for your keywords – that doesn’t mean reposting the same article over and over again, though. Find new subjects with a relevance to your product or service and write new articles based on them.
Since it doesn’t really make sense to keep rewriting the core content of your website, you can choose to start a blog (like this one) on your website to keep fresh content flowing.
8. Using Your Keywords in Advertisements
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is another one of the tried and true internet marketing strategies used by businesses both big and small. A PPC ad is placed on other websites (including Google) to draw a customer’s attention to your business, and you only have to pay the host of that ad if the ad itself is clicked on (which therefore brings a visitor to your page and allows you to start the conversion process). It’s a cost effective way to advertise, and it is made all the more successful by putting your relevant keywords into the ad itself.
Google AdWords was mentioned before, and it is the best tool for creating PPC ads that will appear on a Google results page. When a searcher types your keyword into Google, your ad will show up right at the top or on the side of the page, which makes your ad highly visible and all the more likely to draw a customer in.
Tailor Your Content to Your Reader
9. Write Engaging content
We’ve mentioned before that your copy must be well-written in addition to being filled with keywords. This is an important concept and one that’s easier to understand when you think of it like this – SEO is the bait in the water that attracts the fish, but when they get to your website (or take the bait), they need to be hooked in order for you to catch that fish. If you write engaging content that’s designed to inform your reader and get them excited about your product or service, they’ll be hooked, and you can start to reel them in.
This means don’t simply write a boring article that lists a bunch of information about your stylish boutique, that makes visiting it sound no more thrilling than a trip to the dentist.
10. Natural Sounding Keywords are Essential
In addition to picking commonly searched for yet non-competitive keywords, you want to ensure that your chosen keywords will sound natural when placed into your copy. Too often, websites will choose complicated keyword strings that are totally ugly in their placement.
This makes the copy hard to read and will turn off any visitors to your website. It’s common to see a small business try to stuff an awkwardly phrased keyword into an article, making it come out looking something like:
Use our company for all of your Brisbane tax accounting cheap needs.
Instead, they could have picked a more natural sounding keyword and the sentence would sound something more like this:
If you need the help of a cheap tax accountant in Brisbane, look no further.
The second sentence sounds so much better, is easier to read and understand, and will instill confidence in the reader. After all, if you can’t write a good sentence, why should you be trusted to do someone’s tax accounting?
11. Use a Landing Page as Your Hook
One online marketing strategy that many businesses are taking advantage of is use of a landing page. A landing page is the first thing your visitors see when clicking on your link from a Google results page, and it is used to provide a concise overview of your product or service before encouraging visitors to learn more. A good landing page will include SEO keywords and be highly relevant to those keywords, and it will serve the purpose of creating a first impression about your company, product, or service so that a visitor’s curiosity is piqued and they’re eager to learn more.
12. Take Advantage of Social Media
A great way to keep content fresh is to use social media to get your keywords out there. A short, daily Tweet or Facebook post related to your company will work wonders. Not only will search engine algorithms take note, but you’ll be attracting the millions of social media users who may stumble across your businesses account at any time and see that you’re offering just what they’ve been looking for. Use the keyword in your post as a link to your website in order to get Google’s attention, and see that your site is being linked to and from other corners of the Internet.
Reddit is another great website on which to use SEO, as the internal search function on Reddit is used by many as a way to discover new products or companies, and using keywords in your post title or initial post will get the search engine’s attention.
13. Keep Article length in Mind
When it comes to engaging a potential customer, you must remember that modern attention spans are short, especially when it comes to the internet. Keeping this in mind, you want to strike a balance between the amount of keywords in your article, the relevant information in that article, and the length of the article itself.
You want to try to capture attention with as much as a few words as possible, so that your customer isn’t faced with an unattractive wall of text, and turned off at the prospect of sifting through it to find the information they’re looking for. Formatting is also essential here. Try to break your article up into shorter paragraphs with detailed headlines, use bullet points to condense information, etc. Another way to do this is to:
14. Use Pictures
One of the best ways to keep a customer’s attention and break up the walls of text that plague so many websites is to use pictures. The pictures need to be relevant to the subject, of course, and the image URL and caption are a great place to slip another keyword in. Why? Simple – if a customer instead does an image search for a keyword, you have additional bait with which to lure them in.
15. People Love Top “X” Lists
The proof is right here in this article. Sites like Cracked and Buzzfeed have recognized that “Top 10” lists are a great way to draw customers in and keep their attention. With a list, a lot of information can be broken down into smaller, bite-sized pieces of information that can quickly be scanned and only expanded upon if the reader finds a particular point interesting enough to read more. This essentially turns one long article into a series of shorter articles, and allows you to draw in a wide range of potential customers, who can choose what is most relevant to them.