Last week, we talked about what search engine optimization is and why you – as a small business owner – should care. But that said, knowing what SEO is pretty different from knowing how to implement this science on your own website!
Now, what you need to keep in mind is that SEO can be complex. Companies like Google and Microsoft employ some of the smartest scientists and mathematicians to make their algorithms as effective as possible. If you dig too deeply into the recommendations made by SEO strategists, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed.
So instead of stressing yourself out, start with any of the following seven SEO techniques. All of them can be easily implemented whenever you have a spare hour, making proper website optimization an attainable goal for even the “non-techiest” of small business owners.
Technique #1 – Optimize your title tags
Every page on your website should have its own unique title tag. However, not all title tags are created equally!
From an SEO perspective, a good title tag should:
- Be no more than 70 characters (including spaces)
- Include both product- or service-related keywords and your company’s brand name
- Be both intriguing and informative enough to prompt search engine users to click through to your page (as title tags are typically used in the snipped displayed in the natural search results)
To see what this all looks like in real life, let’s look at a hypothetical example of how this and the following SEO techniques could be put into practice…
Suppose you run an auto body shop in San Francisco, CA. You’ve recently launched a new website which includes a page on your current specials. After conducting your keyword research, you’ve decided to target the phrase “auto body coupon,” along with location modifiers that put your website in front of consumers in your city.
In this case, a good title tag could be:
- “Auto Body Coupons and Discounts | Frank's Auto - San Francisco, CA”
In addition, as you’re crafting your title tags, avoid “keyword stuffing” these important fields. Title tags that are no more than a string of all your website’s target keywords (in this example, something like “Auto Body Coupons, Auto Body Discounts, Auto Body Savings”) frustrate visitors and can lead to over-optimization penalties by the search engines.
Technique #2 – Create compelling meta descriptions
Along with your title tags, the section of every page on your website should contain a customized meta description. These brief page summaries should be no more than 150-160 characters long and should include at least one mention of your page’s target keyword phrase.
Following our previous example, your meta description could read something like this:
- “Need quality auto body repair work done at a discount price? Check out the latest auto body coupon codes from Frank's Auto of San Francisco, CA.”
While meta descriptions don’t hold nearly the SEO weight that they used to, their presence in the snippets found on search engine results pages plays an important role in your site’s overall click-through rate (CTR). By writing your meta descriptions in a way that captures search users’ attention, you’ll increase the number of visitors who choose to click on your listing compared to your competitors’.
Technique #3 – Utilize keyword-rich headings
Both the title tag and meta description should be included in the section of every page on your website – but what about the rest of your page’s content?
When it comes to your pages’ body text, one of the best things you can do to improve your overall SEO value is to include <h2> and heading tags containing your target keyword phrases in your content. Not only do the search engines place added weight on the words found in these particular tags, the visual relief they provide to your website’s readers will help them to move more efficiently through your site’s content.
Technique #4 – Add ALT tags to your images
If you choose to add images to your web pages, make sure to add ALT tags to them as well.
ALT tags originally came about to provide visually impaired website visitors using text-to-speech devises with additional information about the content on their screens. And though this initial purpose is still valid, the content found in these fields is also important when it comes to SEO.
Again, you shouldn’t “stuff” your ALT tag full of target keywords and keyword variations. Instead, use your ALT tags to clearly and accurately describe your website’s images, working in keyword phrases as they occur naturally.
Technique #5 – Create a sitemap
In the world of SEO, the search engines’ indexing programs – commonly referred to as “spiders” – play the important role of analyzing new websites (or new content added to existing websites) and adding their content to the lists of pages that can be displayed in response to user queries.
As a result, facilitating the easy movement of these spider programs throughout your own site is an important part of optimizing your content for natural search traffic.
One of the best things you can do to help the spiders index your website is to create a sitemap – a page listing links to all the other pages on your site. There are plenty of different automated tools that can generate these important pages for you, though you can always create a sitemap by hand if your site is small.
Technique #6 – Build internal links between pages
Another way to help the search engine spiders to catalogue all of your site’s pages is to create internal links that connect your different pieces of content.
As an example, instead of simply linking to your “Contact” or “About Us” page from your navigation bar, consider adding text links to these pages from within the body content found on your home page. Doing so is a great way to help your visitors find the information they’re looking for, in addition to providing a major SEO boost to your site’s content.
Technique #7 – Update your site regularly
One final SEO technique you’ll want to implement is to update your site periodically. Because the search engines’ top priority is serving up the results that will best meet their users’ needs, they prefer to share websites that contain the latest, most up-to-date information. In addition, the more content you post to your site, the more keywords your website will include – increasing your odds of generating search engine traffic.
The easiest way to make regular updating a part of your SEO strategy is to create a company blog or news section. Either one of these tools will help you to connect with your readers, while also appeasing the search engines’ desire for fresh content.
Unfortunately, implementing these seven basic SEO techniques on your website alone isn’t enough to guarantee that your site will reach the coveted top spot in the search engine results pages for your chosen keyword phrases overnight. Realistically, SEO is a process that takes time to deliver results – though many new webmasters find this frustrating.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by the number of different SEO techniques out there, start with these seven basics. Over time and with continued commitment to pleasing both your readers and the search engines, you will start to see results!