The Small Business Guide to SEO

Your business intentions have been set and goals mapped out. Your website is in place and ready for visitors but you aren’t quite ready yet.

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There are some questions that will arise, such as:

Where is all of that website traffic? Do you know how many people are visiting your website? Do you know where are they visiting from? How did they find you? How do you know if your web content and design work are attracting the right demographic for your business?

In order to get the most out of your marketing efforts, these are questions you need to know the answer to. Don’t let your head spin out just yet. I have useful resources and tips to help you see who is following along with you so that you can better serve your demographic and stop shooting content into the dark hours of the abyss.

First things first, are you monitoring your site traffic? None of the good work we are going to do here is going to show results if you don’t have a base line.

Start tracking your website!

How, you might ask, am I supposed to do that?

You have a few choices. Head over to Google Analytics and create an account. You can find out how to do that by going to Google’s help center. NOTE: If you have a Squarespace based website, traffic monitoring is built in.

If you are just adding the tracking ID to the header sections of your site now, you will not see any tracking data for a little while. It takes time to generate that kind of data and it is not retroactive.

Now we can start pushing your website out into the world.

If you build it they will not come, not on their own.

You need to put out a road map, billboards, inflatable flailing armed tube men and personal invitations to bring the masses to your website. How to keep them there is another blog post (check back soon)!

NOW LETS GET DOWN TO THE GOOD STUFF!

Search Engine Optimization (n.) - the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

Search Engines change their algorithm annually to weed out those who have taken shortcuts to try to get to the top of the list. And those that are caught are black listed and sent to the sand box. I do not want all of your hard work to be lost in purgatory. Below you will find simple manageable tasks that you can accomplish today. And if you feel overwhelmed, know that I am here on the other side of the computer. Send me a message.

TITLES + HEADINGS

If you have built your own web pages in the past, you have probably seen a slew of heading options available called Heading 1 or H1, Heading 2 or H2 and so on. It is very tempting to choose one at random or based on styling alone. If you have done this, you have inadvertently made a major SEO faux pas. These heading options have specific functions and are meant to quickly direct the search engine through the page based on the hierarchy of text. There should only ever be one H1 tag and it should be wrapped around the title of the page. No exceptions.

All other headings would fall into an H2, H3 and so on. If you are writing an article you page should be structured as so:

Heading 1

PARAGRAPH

HEADING 2

PARAGRAPH

HEADING 3

HEADING 3

HEADING 2

PARAGRAPH

This structure makes reading easier in the search engine and the reader alike and also helps you to fall in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are not optional.

WEB CONTENT ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES (WCAG)

WCAG are guidelines that allow visitors with disabilities to access your website.

The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.

Whether those disabilities are physical to the person or the computer or the internet connection, all visitors require access to web and WCAG oversees compliance to the guidelines. I have linked the organizations website above and HERE, to be sure that you can review the guidelines. If you have a website that is not compliant you are putting yourself at risk. It is viewed in the court of law in the same light as not having wheel chair accessibility and is subject to extensive fines.

Fortunately, the items that enable accessibility to your website also significantly improve the SEO of your website!

IMAGES

Be absolutely sure beyond a doubt that each image in your website has an alt tag. Search engines do not give a damn about your images because they can not read them but the visitors to your site really like pretty images to keep their attention. This is where alt tags and descriptions come in. Use those keywords and tell the search engines what your pictures are displaying and use the alt tag to name them.

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KEYWORDS

Yes you really do need them. Think of keywords as a filing system. When used honestly and intentionally they work to your benefit to help the search engines call up all things related to a visitors search. For example, if Sally is Googling “Best haircuts near me” or “I need a stylist”. You better hope that your salon has stylist and haircuts in the wording of your site, the image descriptions and in the appropriate alt tags (only for relevant images).

CONTENT

The quality of your content is so important to how your site ranks, who visits and how long they stay. A website is not fixed in space, it is a dynamic and should be your friend and ally. Give your site the love you would give to your store’s front window. Curate it, and mold it to suit your growing business’ personality.

CONSISTENTCY

Pick a platform and stick to it. Results do not happen over night so set realistic expectations. Managing all of the social media platforms straight out of the gate will be overwhelming and self defeating. Choose the one that makes the most sense to you and set a schedule that you can keep so that your followers know when they can expect to see you.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Everyone’s time is valuable and there is so much information out there that your visitors are processing. Instead of recycling content, aim to connect with your visitor through quality content that relates to what they really need. Do not aim to simply attract tons of traffic to your site because while its nice to see those numbers in the Analytics Dashboard, it is better to serve the visitor through content that speaks to their needs.

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RESOURCES // Want to dive deeper into the world that is SEO?

SEO for Newbies: How to Get Ranked with Meg Clarke of Clapping Dog Media // Podcast by Think Creative Collective

3 Super Simple Ways to Determine the SEO Health of your site // Blog Post by Clapping Dog Media **This company has amazing resources on all things SEO in an easy to digest conversational way. I highly suggest you spend some time in their blog!

SEO and Content Marketing: How They Work Together {part 1} // Another Blog post by my favorite SEO gal Clapping Dog Media

SEO Fundamentals: Your Guide to SEO Success Factors // Blog Post by the Search Engine Journal