You run a small business, and you’ve learned that you need to improve SEO for customers to find your website.
If you can get your business ranking higher in Google for the right keywords, more people will notice you before your competitors, which means they’re more likely to poke their head in your door than theirs.
So what next? How do you get this SEO ball rolling?
Firstly it’s important to know that the best SEO strategy is a long-term one – achieving a top foothold in Google can take time and the right people to help you get there.
Having said that, there are a few shortcuts you can take today to get your website SEO kick-started and accelerating down the road. We’ve listed top 5 first things you should do to your website before anything else to make sure it’s Google-friendly and open for business.
Let’s jump in.
1. Apply The Right Keywords To Your Content
If you haven’t already done so, the first step to get your website listed highly is choosing which keywords to target. This is how potential customers are searching for your service and you need to make sure your website is telling Google you’re a good choice for them.
If you’re a small business, a great place to start is targeting three types of keywords first: the industry you’re in, the services you offer, and your location.
Let’s say you’re are a hairdresser in Adelaide called ‘Funky Hair Salon’, and your website is www.funkyhairsalon.com.au. An effective set of keywords to target would be Hairdresser, Cut, Colour, Blow-dry, Adelaide and Norwood.
Once you know what your keywords are, to improve SEO you need to go through your website and make sure your content mentions these keywords frequently. Google rewards quality content so don’t go overboard, but ensure the keywords are very clearly a part of your offering.
2. Apply Keywords To Your Headings
The next step is making sure the keywords you’ve chosen appear regularly in all of your headings. This also includes page names, blog titles and menu items.
On your pages, ensure all of your headings are labelled correctly using the right tags. If your site is using WordPress this is easily done by loading each page and changing the text type in the toolbar to heading 1, 2 or 3. If you’re working with HTML code, make sure each heading is encapsulated in <h1>, <h2> or <h3> tags.
Note that Google sees the heading numbers as a sort of hierarchy, where H1 is the most important. For our hairdresser on a services page, we could use: <H1>Hairdressing</H1> <H2>Blow Dry</H2> <H3>Only 45 minutes</H3>.
3. Label Your Images With Keywords
As you’ve already cottoned on to, Google is a smart cookie. However, it still lacks the power to scan the media on your page and know what it’s about – which means to improve SEO on our images and videos, we have to label them ourselves.
The most important of these is the alt text tag, which is the text shown on browsers when the image can’t be displayed. It should describe what the image is about, and include your keywords.
It is also important to have a relevant image name, and although it’s not as necessary, you can add a relevant title tag as well.
WordPress users can click on the image editing tab and add text to these tags easily. If you’re using HTML, simply find the image and add ‘alt=”text goes here”‘ inside the initial tag to add it.
4. Speed Up Your Website Loading Time
So it can provide the best user experience for searchers, Google pays big attention to the little things that make websites great. One of those is website loading times.
As well as affecting search results, this one also affects your traffic – evidence proves that 6% of your visitors will leave your page for each extra second it takes to load. And that can really add up.
To start with, enter your website into a speed tester like Pingdom and see what score it gets:
If you website’s performance grade is anything below an ‘A’, try the following:
- Make sure your images aren’t too big. Before you add an image to your site, run it through a compressor like TinyPNG.
- Trim your HTML code – this can help your page load up to 10% faster (If you’re using WordPress, you’re already covered here).
5. Improve SEO With Backlinks
Backlinks are the links that exist between another website and yours. When a council website has a link to your business, that’s a backlink. If another blog mentions your blog and includes a clickable link, that’s a backlink too.
These may seem unimportant, but Google doesn’t think so.
To choose the best results, Google wants to know how authoritative sites are on a particular topic. Backlinks are scanned by the search engines, and this authority score is increased when a higher authority site links to yours.
What does that mean for you? It means talk to other businesses, build relationships with bloggers, get press on your business, and make sure these websites mention yours online and link to you. Your search rankings will start soaring as a result.