Staying competitive as a small business online can be a daunting task as larger firms have such huge budgets that they rarely need to ask “how much?” or “can I afford it?” when considering search engine optimisation (SEO). The refreshing reality is that you do not need a lot of money to undertake a good quality of work on and around your website to keep it ranking highly in the search engines. All you need is a little patience, time and the ability to follow instructions and learn as you go. You also need thick skin as you cannot expect anything in SEO to happen overnight, even though it sometimes does. We’ve compiled what we feel are the top 10 tips for small business SEO to get you started making a difference to website’s online popularity.
1. Keep Content Fresh and Always Unique
The master of all search engines (Google) appreciates high quality, relevant and regularly updated content as Google must act as the librarian of the internet. Google will promote your position in the SERPs (search engine results pages) if it has sufficient evidence that your website is of a good standard and is likely to provide for visitors what they are searching for. Google remembers all search terms entered into the search box and constantly scans pages on the internet looking for content that will provide the best answers to search queries. Regularly updated content that is full of relevant keywords and information gives the impression of a well-run and busy website that keeps visitors updated.
2. Never Cut and Paste Content
Cutting and pasting content at every opportunity just to fill your site with content is not a good idea at all. Search engines already know where the original content lives and unless you are using the appropriate method of quoting another website you add no value to your own site. If you want to refer your readers to high quality relevant content that you really believe will help them then place a link to the content and give the author the credits. That is good SEO etiquette.
3. Always Build Dynamic Websites
Try to avoid building a rigid static website using a free website design software. The chances are that no professional web designer will ever want to touch it in future if you want it to be professionally updated and often they could not even if they wanted to. They would normally suggest that it should be pulled down and built from scratch using a content management system or CMS.
Static websites have pages that are built offline and uploaded as a complete page or website where as a dynamic site is updated dynamically or on-the-fly. You can literally replace single words and press save. All changes are saved immediately and are time and date stamped. Popular CMS web design platforms include Joomla, Drupal and WordPress (blogging software). All of these design platforms are open source and are totally free so consider on embarking on a small learning curve to start small business website properly. Google loves dynamic websites.
4. Chose Domain Names Carefully
Domain names should also be relevant to your sector and the actual products and services that you want to promote. Find a search term that a lot of people use to find your specific products or services but one for which there is not too much competition. Take some time to look at the Google keyword tool for help.
As a rough rule of thumb, if there are more than 1500 exact searches for a search term every month and less than 3 million search results in Google, then it is worth considering as a domain name. Now you need to go and see if it is available. You will find that lots of other SEO savvy business people have got most of the best names but you just need to find a term that has been over looked, and they are there.
5. Title Tags and Meta-Descriptions
These two elements are important and if the way you are building you site does not allow you to create them then you are already losing in terms of SEO. Each page should have a unique title and meta-description which is the short excerpt that you see in the search engines, just below the title. When writing the content make sure you have the ability to add titles for each paragraph of information and use a <h2>Your Paragraph Title</h2> title tag which is picked up by the search engine robots that are used as slaves that scan all pages on the internet.
6. High Quality and Relevant Backlinks
Spend some time searching the internet for other related websites, blogs, message boards and forums that allow you to post links and start creating posts or comments with links back to your own website. Links should be in the form of “anchor text” where the keywords are clickable links to your site. Please, do not write rubbish just to get the link. You will probably not get the comment approved and if it is approved you are probably on a website that will do more harm to your online reputation than good.
Get in the habit of becoming a valuable part of the online community in your field and help others understand your business or anything that you can help them with. Many forums will allow you to add your signature once you have contributed quality posts. You will be allowed to place you anchor text there for added link juice.
7. SEO is a Constant Effort
SEO for your small business should be seen as a long term and consistent effort for you to achieve the best results. Look at SEO as online housekeeping.
8. Get your Own Backlinks
Don’t pay lots of money for other people to give you hundreds of backlinks that are possibly useless. You are new in the game and may not be able to tell the difference between a good link and a car battery. Take the time to get your own links and learn as you go.
9. Link Farms are Bad News
Never use link farms (often referred to as FFA or Free for All sites) they will not help you. Do not be tempted.
10. Article Spinning Software
Stay clear of article spinning software or services for content, you’re not ready for that yet and so many article spinning software just generate humanly eligible garbage.