Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is necessary to get your website seen in search results. Many people want a website to start their online business presence and believe having that site is what will get them to number one on Google. Yet with the competition of other businesses in the area along with the insanely complex algorithm Google uses to rank pages based on quality scores, just having a website is not going to cut it anymore. We like to think of a website as the first step to improving your online presence – step number two is SEO. To help you understand what you need to do to start ranking, here are the small business SEO basics.
Step #1: Understand How Google Looks At Your Website
The first step to getting your website to rank is to have a basic understanding of how Google looks at your website. Google bots will “crawl” your website content and design to make sure it matches their requirements. The bots will analyze your content and assign it a quality score as well as look at elements of your design to make sure it is current and responsive. This is the beginning of building your quality score and is the determining factor to how well your website ranks. Reasons why your website may not be ranking include:
- Your content is low quality, uses black hat SEO tactics with keyword stuffing, or there are not enough words on your page for Google to crawl and rank it.
- Your website is not optimized with page titles, meta descriptions, and headers.
- Your design is out of date and not mobile friendly. Website designs that are not as responsive will be lowered in rank. Not having a mobile responsive site can risk black listing your site on Google after the 2015 Mobilegeddon update.
- Your website is brand new and has not built page rank. Older websites will have years of page rank built on them that contributes to their quality score. Competitors and big brand sites may have had websites longer than you that helps them rank higher than you. With complete SEO management, over time your website will outrank them even with their history.
Step #2: Perform Basic On-Page Optimization
Most new websites are launched without anyone ever touching the on-page optimization which is the beginning of getting Google to recognize your website in search results. These optimization tasks include:
- Page Titles
- Meta Descriptions
- Headers Including H1 and H2 Tags
Not only is it important to optimize your website with these, but to see better results you need some research behind it. Extensive keyword research will provide insight into how your customers are searching for your products or services. You can use this keyword research to complete your on-page optimization and write your website content.
Step #3: Keep Adding Content and Links
The first step on creating content for your website is performing keyword research and writing your page content based on that keyword research. After the initial content, you need an SEO plan to continue to adding content to the website in the form of blogging and new pages for different services.
Having a few high quality links across the internet is another way to make your business appear higher in search results. The old way to do this was to submit your website to as many other sites across the internet, regardless of quality. In recent years, Google has changed this to require only the highest quality backlinks will help you rank. In fact, having multiple low quality, also known as toxic, backlinks will hurt your rank.
Step #4: Continually Monitor Website Progress and Competitor Activity
Small business SEO is not something you do at the beginning of a website design and then you abandon it and hope it works. It requires constant monitoring and adjusting to fine tune your online presence and start to rank higher than competitors.
Step #5: Consider Other Digital Marketing Avenues to Build Small Business SEO
Remember that quality score we mentioned that Google assigns? A great way to improve that score is to start other digital marketing strategies that will improve your quality score, such as:
- Online Listings – adding your website to high quality online listings sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, YP.com, Yellowbook, etc.
- Social Media – showing Google you are adding high quality, helpful, and relevant content for your target audience is one of the best ways to improve your quality score and social media marketing is the perfect avenue to do this.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – also known as paid search or PPC, paying to have quality ads displayed for your business will help contribute to your website’s quality score.
Even though this work is not directly related to your website, your brand name is associated with these activities and it will contribute to your overall score. When you are listed on more high quality sites across the internet and you show Google you are trying to provide quality content to your audience, your quality score will improve.