Getting Your SEO Basics Right
Ian is the founder of Arias & Thompson Digital, an Estonian eResident, and a frontend developer.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO, an evil necessity that has been born out of our obsession with searching online through a monopoly of search engines. For the past decade people of all industries have laboured endlessly to identify the best way to optimize a site for Google to crawl your site and generate traffic. This has lead to a shift of focus that has only started to recede. Rather than focusing on creating great content or a great service, competitive industries placed equal emphasis on generating content that was specific to keyword searches within targeted, geographical boundaries.
Small Business SEO – Get Your Basics Right
For small businesses, the jargon that surrounds SEO and the seemingly infinite web of complexity can be frustrating and create unnecessary hurdles to your success. We throw terms like on-site SEO, off-site SEO, technical SEO and others around expecting others to understand what we’re talking about. But let’s face it, those of us who work in this industry use this jargon every day. Other business owners or industry workers pretend like they understand us, but realistically, it’s just jargon.
To start with, I always recommend the following to my clients during our website builds to help them get a good foundation.
1. Write great content that works for your brand or company’s purpose
This is simple. Focus on your content and write proper about pages, detailed service descriptions, and in common use vocabulary that others will understand. If you are writing your content with your users in mind instead of yourself, you already understand one of the most basic tenants of SEO – write content that correlates to how people would search.
2. Abandon any measure of branded search in the conversation about SEO
Branded search belongs in a different category of marketing KPI’s. This is a brand awareness problem, not an SEO problem. Even terribly coded websites will still show up in branded search, particularly when geographic location plays a role. You want users to find you in unbranded search to attract new customers who didn’t even know they were looking for you. If they already know who you are, they’ll find you without the help of SEO.
3. Fill out all of the extra fields and meta data
The more information that search engines have to offer, the better. That means fill out your meta data and your image alt tags. Give search engines something to read and fully understand your page. Extra traffic from image searching is a good thing, not to mention it helps make your page more accessible.
4. Use semantic markup for your content
If you code you already know what I mean. But for the basics, make sure your site has a good old fashioned title in h1 tags that relates to your page, and then give your subtitles proper h2, h3, h4 ranking. This gives search engines a tidy hierarchy to follow.
5. Focus on page speed and mobile usability
This means get yourself onto Google’s Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix and see how fast your site is loading. If you use Wix or SquareSpace, you might find that it is pretty slow due to the amount of extra code. Other culprits are too many fonts or not optimizing your images for the web. This is an easy win.
6. Fix your website’s health problems
Get rid of your websites basic problems like broken links or images. You should be doing this anyway, but in case you are not, do it now.
7. Fill in your other profiles like Google Business
Alongside your site’s SEO, look at other profiles you can fill in. The first and foremost is Google Business which allows you to list your business on Google Maps and in the Google Business directory. If you are in hospitality, are you on Trip Advisor? These linked profiles help guide users to your webspace and ultimately will gain you traffic.
8. Save your hyper keyword focus for your blog
This is where your truly keyword dense content can shine. Your blog gives you the opportunity to focus on very specific, niche topics related to your service or product. This type of post lends itself to proper keyword focus writing much more than your regular content pages.
Bonus Hint – What not to do for SEO for your small business
Don’t get carried away with keywords! Keywords are great and do write with them in mind, but do so in a natural way. Focus on how you think customers would find your product or service, then have a look to Adwords Planner or other tools to see if there is quantifiable evidence to confirm that or, if you need to adjust.
If you can’t find relevant keywords associated with your product, you might be looking at issues with market fit as much as you are at SEO.