Creating your own small business website can be a scary thing to do. It requires some planning to get it right and make Google sit up and take notice of your site at first glance. Small business website search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the keys, but all too often, astute business people leave the creation of their websites up to a family member or a friend who happens to know something about it. This is strange, for they wouldn’t dream of letting the same people build their bricks and mortar store or office.
Of course, getting an expert who fully understands small business SEO to build your website is not likely to come cheap, but it may be the best solution if you are starting out from scratch. However, this article is aimed at those small businesses that already have a website, but are disappointed at how poorly it performs. If you’re frustrated because your website appears on page 42 of the Google search results, and no one is visiting your website, here are 7 things you can do to quickly improve your results.
1. Create an Effective Website Title Tag, Description Meta Tag,
and Keywords Meta Tag
The most important part of any website page (in the eyes of the search engines) is the title tag. The title is enclosed between the opening title tag: and the closing title tag: . It is located in the head section of an HTML document, or web page. You should use your page’s main keyword in your title. Try to use your main keyword near the beginning of your title, and perhaps again near the end. But always strive to make your title readable, and not obviously keyword stuffed.
Your description tag plays an important role in SEO for your local small business. This tag is used by most of the search engines in their listings, so you need to spend some time getting this right. The description tag looks like this: and it is also found in the head section of your web page.
Something brief such as, “Acme Incorporated, Makers of Blue Widgets,” gets the message across, but you could do much better. Try to list benefits rather than features, and use your main keyword in your description as well. Keep your description reasonably brief, but not too short. Something like, “Acme, Inc., Makers of the Strongest, Most Powerful and Affordable Widgets on the Planet” is better.
Like a headline for an ad or sales flyer, your description may take time to develop. Start with a list of all of the benefits your product or service offers and then try to write 20 different descriptions for your site based on those benefits. Test your descriptions by reading them to your customers, employees or others familiar with your business. You’ll find out which description resonates most strongly with your potential prospects – and that’s good for the search engines and for your sales.
The keywords tag, again found in the head section of your web pages, looks like this: . The keywords you choose for your page are important, because they tell the search engines what should be found on the page. Google and all the other search engines present search results based on relevancy – how relevant your web pages are to the keywords and phrases your prospects are searching for.
Keep your keyword phrases to less than seven and don’t repeat the same words. For example, if you have two keyword phrases, which are, “blue widgets” and “bright blue widgets,” you should only include unique words after including the first “blue widgets” keyword.
Curious to know what your Title, Description, Meta and Keyword tags currently look like? Here’s a simple tip – just go to any page of your website, then click on “View Source” or “View Page Source” from the “View” menu. There you’ll be able to see exactly what your tags are telling Google when they crawl your site.
2. Optimize Your Website Copy
Your website copy consists of the words on every page of your site. Try to make it interesting and informative. One simple way to arrange your articles, or informative pages, is to use a simple three-step format. Begin with an introductory paragraph that tells your visitor what you are going to tell them. Then in the next two or three paragraphs, tell them. Finally, wind up the article by telling them what you just told them.
This may seem overly simple, but it works. Speak to your website audience as you would to a seven-year-old child. Don’t patronize them, but lay it out clearly in simple steps using straightforward language that anyone can understand.
When writing your copy for each of your pages, make sure to focus on one or two keywords per page. If you are selling widgets in all colors and you also sell thingamajigs, then widgets should be on one page and thingamajigs on another. Keep it simple for your customers and the search engines by focusing on one idea per page and your customers will thank you for it, and Google will thank you too.
3. Establish an Acceptable Keyword Density for Your Website Copy
While optimizing your website copy you also need to establish a keyword density that is acceptable to the search engines. Opinions differ, but somewhere between 2% and 5% is probably about right. This means that for effective small business SEO, your main keyword phrase should appear around three times for every 100 words.
Where your keyword appears is important too. Try to use your main keyword or phrase twice in the first paragraph, once in the second paragraph, once around the middle of the article, and once again near the end of the article. Try to start and end the first paragraph with your main keyword if possible, but don’t force it. Always aim for copy that is readable before copy that has perfect keyword density.
4. Create Quality Back Links to Your Website
Increasingly, the search engines are giving added weight to the number of quality back links your website has. It used to be that reciprocal linking was quite acceptable, and it still is, but now Google and the other search engines give higher credibility to one-way back links as far as your search engine rankings are concerned.
And it’s not just any back links either. You need to have quality back links, or back links from sites that are similar to yours. It’s not much good getting a back link from a site about butterflies if your site focuses on racing cars. With Google, it’s all about relevance. You should also strive to get back links from so-called authority sites. These are sites that the search engines deem to be an authority on their chosen subject. They tend to be quite big and to have been around for some time.
5. Use Local Directories Effectively
If you are marketing to a local market, then make use of local directories. How do you find them? If, for example, you are located in New York, then go to Google and search for, “directory” + “new york.” This will return a list of all the local directories in that city. You could even try searching for, “blue widgets directory” + “new york,” if you are marketing blue widgets.
Once you find a suitable directory, submit your website to it. People do search on local directories, so even if your product has worldwide appeal, there’s a greater chance that you will get the sale if someone finds you in a local directory over someone else located in another continent who can deliver just as cost effectively or as quickly.
6. Create a Proper Site Map and Google Site Map
Every website should have a site map. This is merely a directory of all your site’s pages with links to every one. You should have a link from every page of your site back to your site map, and your site map must be updated whenever a new page is added.
A Google Site Map is also a site map, but one that is in a special format that Google can easily spider. It has the great advantage of allowing Google to instantly “see” your site and evaluate it. It can be a very useful tool in getting Google to index your site more quickly than otherwise. For more information on creating a Google Site Map, go to: http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/.
7. Add Fresh Original Content to Your Website at an Acceptably Measured Pace
Your website should never be considered finished. It should always be a work in progress that is constantly expanding with fresh and original content. The easiest way to do this is to add new articles on specific subjects on a regular basis. One article a week is the least you should aim for, but don’t add content too quickly either. Dumping 100 articles a day into your site will ultimately work against you, because the search engines look for organic growth – in other words, growth that seems natural. Since it’s not likely that you were able to write 100 articles in one day, Google and the other search engines will see this as unnatural and will count it against you in your page ranking.
SEO for your local small business is easier than you might think. Getting Google to fall head over heels in love with your small business website is not rocket science. You only need to implement a few simple things on a regular basis, and over time Google will notice and your page rank – and your placement with the search engines – will start climbing.