How To Do SEO Small Business Websites
This article provides an outline of how to do SEO for a small business website. These steps are for an html website. The steps and process to do on-page SEO for WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace and similar platforms will be different. Many of the “blogging platform” sites do not allow for as much customization as a straight html website.
Most people can learn how to do basic SEO work on their website pages. MOre specifically, doing on-page optimization which refers to any work done on website pages. This could be optimizing code, text content, images, and more. On-page optimization is done to improve visibility and ranking on search engines. Improving visibility refers to having a website found for a growing number of search queries. Improving ranking refers to having higher placement on search engine results pages for targeted keywords (phrases).
A comprehensive website optimization effort will include off-page SEO such as link building, content marketing, and other best SEO practices.
A related subject is conversion optimization. Conversion optimization is not part of search engine optimization. The purpose of conversion optimization is to make changes to a website that drive user interaction. This means positively affecting the percentage of users that complete a desired action. Common desired actions are calling a business, sending a form mail inquiry, downloading information, signing up for a service, etc.
Before you start doing SEO services
To begin doing on-page SEO you need to have full access to your website. This means being able to change coding, text content, images and graphics. Before doing any work on your website you should download a complete backup of all website files. If your work does any damage to a website page or file, you can then repalce the damaged file with the previous (unedited) file.
How to Improve SEO
This section has to start with advisement that, no, do not use the worthless "keyword meta tag". BUT, yes, your other meta tags should have keywords when it is appropriate. In fact, Google published a page in 2009 that stated, "About a decade ago (approximately year 2000), search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called “off-page” factors such as the links pointing to a web page. In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag."1
There are numerous types of meta tags, however; there is a set of meta tags that you should always have on your website.
- Page Title Tag which should be unique for every page. The length of the Title Tag should be 60 characters or less. BEST PRACTICES: Put important keywords first but don’t stuff keywords. Include your brand name if possible.
- Page Description Tag which should be unique for every page. The length of the Description should be 150 characters or less. BEST PRACTICES: Create an accurate description with things that are important to a customer, while avoiding a sales pitch type of description.
- Heading Tags (h1-h6) which are the titles used in your body copy. Make them accurate entries for the paragraph(s) subject matter. BEST PRACTICES: Use only one h1 tag per page. Structure them in a logical descending order.
- Link Title Tags BEST PRACTICES: For usability, every link should have a title attribute which describes the purpose of the link.
- Image Alt Tags BEST PRACTICES: For usability, every link should have a alt attribute which describes the image. This helps search engines understand the nature of the image and helps vision impaired users.
- Canonical Link Tag Per Wikipedia, "A canonical link element is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues in search engine optimization by specifying the “canonical” or “preferred” version of a web page. "2 BEST PRACTICES: Add the canonical link to every page to assure that search engines have a clear understanding of your page’s relevant content.
- Geo Meta Tags help search engines to confirm the relative location of your business. This can help with trying to be found for geo-specific (local) search queries. BEST PRACTICES: Use the same geo meta tags on every page, unless you have specific pages targeting other areas. You can use an online service to generate geo meta tags for free
Open Graph Tags
Open Graph Tags Open Graph (OG) meta tags are elements of code that affect how URLs are displayed on social media websites including Facebook, LinkedIn. and Twitter. Do Open Graph tags matter? A recent article on the SIteGuru website has this to say, "Open graph tags may not directly affect your SEO, but they can increase your traffic, social media discoverability, and, consequently, your conversions." 3
Fine Tuning Website Coding
Here are examples of some fine tuning that need to be done to every page of your website. Skip any of these if the changes currently exist on your webiste.
The following changes can be implemented within the head section of your website.
- Add country identifier to the language tag. Instead of simply lang=”en” change the language tag to lang=”en-US”
- Schema is form of structured data markup that helps search engines to better understand the topic of the page. Schema can also help to define page heirarchy, and details for a business, person, etc. The Umbraco website defines it this way, "Schema markup, also known as structured data, is the language search engines use to read and understand the content on your pages. By language, we mean a semantic vocabulary (code) that helps search engines characterize and categorize the content of web pages."4
- Microdata Markup is form of structured data markup that helps search engines to better understand the structure of the page.
Image and Graphics Optimization
Page load speed is greatly affected by how long it takes to render images and graphics. The key to improving load times for images and graphics is to:
Compress Images The standard image file, relative to normal website file sizes, are very large. By using a website to compress images for free you can substantially reduce file sizes. The benefit is having images that are the same physical size but load much faster than before.
Leverage Next-Gen formats which means creating a "webp format" of your standard files (png, jpg, jpeg, gif). There are websites where you can create webp formats for free.
Text Content Optimization
Optimizing your text content (body copy) can be a little tricky. There is perfect way to optimize content. At a top level, the amount of words, voice, grammar, spelling, word usage, and structure all matter. To go to yet another level, "quality, optimized content" is relative to what competing websites have in play. In a highly competitive situation, your content needs to be stellar. All of this means that optimizing content is a dynamic, strategic process.
How do you know if your content is optimized? As far as the technical perspective, you can use online tools to check content quality.
Tools to Check Content Technical Quality
- Flesch Kincaid Calculator is a free online tool that can be used to assess the reading level of your text. The best Readability Ease Score often result from near childlike copy writing. Don’t be alarmed if you struggle to write content that sounds intelligent but scores a bit lower than desired.
- Word Counter Tool is a free tool to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
- Grammar Check Tool Grammarly describes their service as, "Grammarly cleans up your writing by finding grammar mistakes and typos, but it goes beyond a simple grammar check. Real-time feedback and advanced suggestions help you avoid common errors and improve your writing skills over time." SSSSS
The first challenge to manage is balancing optimized content with wording that reads naturally. In addition, your content needs to be helpful, informative, and persuasive…not keyword stuffed for SEO purposes.
More SEO tips & resources
There are many methods of search engine optimization that not be covered in this article. These methods are far more technical than basic SEO steps, and require an advanced understanding of coding. Most of these methods focus on how to improve page load speeds which is a critical factor for how to improve mobile search rankings
Google sets the bar for SEO very high. Google has a free tool to analyze your website for SEO improvements. Because most small business websites are built from templates, it is often very difficult to complete some of these tasks.
Optimizing your website for better search engine rankings is an investment in your success. Whether you do it yourself or hire an SEO company, you will benefit from a well optimized website.
CREDITS and FOOTNOTES
- 1 Google Staff, "Why doesn’t Google use the keywords meta tag?", September 14, 2009, Available from Google
- 2 Contributors, "Canonical link element", June 18, 2015, Available from Wikipedia
- 3 Rick van Haasteren, "Should You Use Open Graph Tags?", August 23, 2022, Available from SiteGuru
- 4 Staff Writer, "What is Schema Markup?", January 14, 2023, Available from Umbraco
- 5Grammarly Staff, "Free Grammar Checker", November 11, 2021, Available from Grammarly
- Photo by StockSnap, available at Pixabay