As an SEO professional, I frequently am asked to look at small business websites and provide quick tips for search engine ranking improvement. In many cases I find that the owner or webmaster has made some effort to put some SEO in place. They may have a meta description tag and some meta keywords, or a title tag (generally with way too many words), but more often than not I find a few of the same omissions or areas where the sites lack a few very simple attributes that can make a huge difference in how high and what a site will rank for. The following are a few very basic pointers that can make a big difference for a small business website.
1. Understand your customers and know what they are looking for:
First and foremost, it is essential to know what you are trying to make your site rank for. If you do not know your customers and your target keywords then you will likely fail at this. Fortunately, this is something that most small business owners have a pretty solid grasp on. The problem is that they don’t often transfer this to their website content. This leads us to tip number two.
2. Include your target keywords in the body of your site:
A good strategy to make sure that you do this is to make a list of all the keywords that you think are most important for search, then when you create the content for you home page and the other important pages on your website check off each keyword once it is included. It is not bad in some cases to have two or more occurrences of important keywords, but you also want to avoid going overboard. Google will actually decrease your ranking in some cases if they see too many occurrences of a word.
3. Create custom, focused title tags for every page on your site:
The title tag is the single most important piece of SEO related code on your website. It is the first thing that search engine look at, and it has the most impact on your ranking of all on page components. Yet, you usually see one extreme or the other when it comes to title tags. Either there is little or no information, such as the company name only, or there is way too much information and it ends up diluting the keywords you are actually going after with that page. You also find more often than not that every page of the site has the same title tag. The following are a few general rules for writing effective title tags: a. Try to keep the title tag in the range of 6-8 words maximum. b. Make sure that every page has unique, focused title tags based on the content of that page. c. Mix up the words on the pages so that different pages focus on different important keywords.
4. Get a few quality links to your site:
Another big aspect missing from a lot of small business websites is the appearance of popularity. Big businesses generally have it naturally. In many cases small businesses have to work to create it. One was to do this is to buy a few inexpensive ads on other important websites that fall within your industry. If you are a bed and breakfast in a small town or community for example, then buy a few ads (or ask for a link) on either local community websites or on bed and breakfast or accommodation websites. You can also take advantage of social websites like Facebook and Twitter to help with t this, or local websites like Yelp, Merchant Circle or Insider Pages. The more of these you get the better. A few good links go a long way. Be careful not to try to take risky shortcuts however, as certain black hat or grey hat techniques can set your site backwards or get it into Google’s penalty box and once there it is often difficult to recover.