One of our office space tenants who has been following this series of small business tips asked us if we were going to do one on Do-it-yourself SEO for Small Business Websites. We had planned on writing a page of tips on SEO for small business, but since we were asked, we did some research and put together some tips that not only our office space Toronto clients could use, but ones that any small business can use.
Small businesses are always trying to find advantages over the big guys in terms of being found on the Internet. It used to be the companies with the most inbound links were the ones who ranked the best on the search engines. Times have changed and the algorithms have changed too. Instead of periodic changes, the changes are now happening on a monthly basis.
Even with monthly or bi-monthly changes to how the big search engines look at your site, there are still some basic and ‘old-school’ best practices your business needs to follow in order to rank well on the search engines.
Basic SEO best practices
The meta “keyword” tag is long-gone as an SEO ranking factor, but the meta description tags from an SEO point-of-view still hold some relevance and should not be ignored. Text still remains the most important part of any website, even today. While search engines like Google ranks some videos and media higher than others for certain keywords, they have also began looking at well-formatted and content-rich websites.
Keep your load times down. Google has long noted the size and the average load times of pages. This goes into the ranking algorithm and affects your position in the SERPs (search engine results pages). This means you can have pretty good content on your website, but if the pages do not load fast, search engines are going to be wary of ranking you higher than other websites that load faster.
Be mobile and responsive. One of the most hotly discussed topics in online marketing today is about being mobile friendly. From mobile ads and local search to market trend in desktop/tablet consumption, it’s very clear that moving toward a mobile-optimized site is the wave of the future. But rather than dedicated mobile sites, more companies are looking at responsive sites that draw upon the same contents and deliver it based on the device the customer is viewing it from.
Here are some Tips that will help you to get your small business website to rank well on the search engines:
Small Business SEO Tip No.1 – Learn the basics of SEO best practices. Be sure to research several websites on this topic and find the common themes of Do’s and Don’ts. Be aware of the publishing date of any articles because SEO best practices do change, as does the way the search engines looks at your website. The algorithms that search engines use are constantly changing and what used to work last year may not work now. But common best practices still remain useful in having your content viewable.
Small Business SEO Tip No. 2 – When looking to others for SEO advice or finding information from other websites, make sure the provider of the information is credible and does not try to show you “tricks” for ranking faster or higher. Trying tricks can often cause you more problems than before you started. Credible SEO experts will tell you to avoid ‘Black Hat Tricks’ (attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception) and other similar methods of ranking faster and higher. Google Penguin’s goal was introduced in 2012 with the intention of penalizing websites that used manipulative techniques or “tricks” to improve their rankings on the search engine.
Small Business SEO Tip No. 3 – Keep your NAP consistent wherever you company is listed online. Your NAP is your Name, Address and Phone number. This is important if your business is trying to show up in the local search results. If you are a start-up or a freelancer who works from home, you will want an address that is not your home address. With a virtual office at an office business centre, you can have a prestigious business address. When you finally decide you need a physical office, you can rent office space in the same location and not have to change your address or your NAP.
Small Business SEO Tip No. 4 – Build your site using basic SEO best practices and provide good original content that will help your site over the long haul. Do not try to take short cuts – they will just become a problem for you. As you build your content, search engines will begin to give more authority to your site. Become known as the expert by generating a blog with your advice on your product, service and your industry. The more followers of your content, the more authority the search engines will give it.
Small Business SEO Tip No. 5 – Avoid duplicated content and do not use content from other websites. When Google released the “Panda” update to its algorithms, the update included features that penalize websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Besides the penalty to your website from the search engines, you want your followers to know that your created the content for them and did not just find it on another website.
Small Business SEO Tip No. 6 – Forget about just cramming as many keywords into your content as possible. This is an old practice that no longer works. Using keywords back-to-back is not going to do anything to help your rankings. You want to incorporate your keywords into your content as naturally as possible. Google now uses an update called Hummingbird to improve its language processing to better process the way it looks at natural language and the semantic content of pages. This is why you will not see us writing content like “Our office space Toronto offers office space for rent Toronto to small businesses looking for Toronto office space.” That type of sentence is not natural language and is merely a series of keywords strung together for old style SEO. That sentence would be better received by Hummingbird if it read “Our goal is to offer quality office space in Toronto to small businesses who are looking for an alternative to traditional raw offices.”
Small Business SEO Tip No. 7 – Follow and read some expert blogs on the topic of Search Engine Optimization. Find the experts who are current and up to date on what is going on in the world of SEO. This way you can keep up with the changes to the algorithms that search engines use, and learn about new things you should be doing to your website without having to do all the homework yourself. Some of the experts we follow are John E. Lincoln whose blog is http://ignitevisibility.com/blog/, Evan Carmichael http://www.evancarmichael.com/blog/ and Searchengineland http://searchengineland.com/ as well as following the SEO Training Dojo Radio podcast SEO Dojo Radio
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Contest Closes December 19, 2013. The winners will be selected later that day.
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