5 Small Business SEO Tips for Higher Search Engine Ranking

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a long process of organizing content, building links, and researching. Because most people have no idea what SEO really is, companies have found ways to charge for it with out really providing much end result. The best option is for you to do it yourself or work with someone local who can do it for you. I would like to give you 5 tips that will help you build better content for your website to help it rank better in the search engines.

Though SEO can get very technical, the point of this article is to keep it simple to empower those of you who can handle some of the work yourself. Some of the tips may be harder than others. I suggest that you start off with what you believe you can handle and get help for the rest. For most small business, these tips should drastically improve your rankings if you are currently buried under your competition.

1. Optimize the Page Titles

The page title is the text that you see at the top of your browser when you a viewing a page. This is also the text that is automatically entered as the title of your bookmark when you bookmark a webpage. Search engines work in a linear fashion. The read down the page through the code as if it was a sheet of paper with text on it. Search engines rely less on Meta-Tag keywords these days and more on the content of your website. For some of you, this may require actually getting into the code of your website. If you are using a content management system (CMS), this will be easier for you to accomplish as many CMS platforms allow you to create your own page titles.

Your goal for creating optimized page titles is to use keywords that people would use to search for your content. Use the title of this blog for example: “5 Small Business SEO Tips for Higher Search Engine Ranking” My goal is to reach searching for keywords such as “small business seo” or “small business seo tips.” As a matter of fact, why don’t you do me a favor and let me know how you found this blog post in the comments section below. Your title should be 60 characters or less. You want as much of that title to show up in the search engines. As you can see in the image below, when a title is to long, the search engines will truncate it. Looks like I need to revise my own page titles. Remember to make sure that your page titles are inviting. It is easy to cram to many keywords into a page title. Your page title will end up sounding confusing and non-inviting.

You may even want to go back and rethink the titles of the current pages your website consists of. What is the main reason people would be landing on that page. You would be surprised how many websites have a page title of “Home” for their homepage. Your homepage title is your most important title and you should spend the most time working on that one.

2. Optimize the META-tags

The META-tags are hard of the HTML header that is unseen when you are viewing a website. These tags hand feed the search engines content to display about your website when people search for it. The importance of META-tags has changed over the years as search engines have became much smarter.

Your META-Description is the most important of these META-tags. This instructs the search engines what to display when someone comes across your website in a search as you can see in the image above. Your description should be no more than 160 characters and should contain keywords as well. Your description should have some of the same keywords as your page title. This sounds counterintuitive, but its the way the search engines like it.

Your description should be inviting, just as your page title. This is your chance in the search engines to draw the viewer into your website. It is a challenge to do this while using keywords, but it’s important.

META-keywords are helpful but not as important nowadays. In the past, you could list any keyword and the search engines would pick it up. This made it easy to spoof the search engines and draw traffic to your website even if the content did not match up. It is good to list some keywords in the META-tags of your website, but make sure they match the content of that page.

Link: Learn more about META elements in HTML.

3. Create More Internal Links

A website’s menu is a great way to direct traffic to specific locations of your website but it’s even better when you link to other pages in your content as well. When you reference something that is located elsewhere on your website, link to it. For example: Last week I wrote a blog to help Brides make better decisions when booking their wedding photographer. The best way to link to other content is to link to it directly in your content. Many websites will post a link URL, but that does not instruct the search engines as to why that URL link is relevant to the rest of the text.

If I was to say, “Check out the article I wrote to help Brides make better decisions when booking their wedding photographer:,” I would miss out on the chance to match the text mentioned in this article with the page title of the article I want to link to. I don’t use exactly the same words as the title of the other article, but I use as many of the same keywords as possible. In this article’s title, my main keyword phrase is: “booking a wedding photographer.” When I link to that page, I want to use some variation of that keyword phrase.

Example: Last week I wrote an article to help Brides with booking a wedding photographer. Notice which part of that sentence is the link, “help Brides with booking a wedding photographer.” That covers all of my keyword phrase.

I understand that it is much easier to do this on a blog or informational style website. If your website is for your business and does not contain any blogs or articles you can still do this. On the front page of your website where you list your main services and/or products you can link to the pages that contain more information on those topics.

4. Use Keywords in Everything!

I have already instructed you on the importance of using keywords in your page titles and META-tags, now I would like to talk about your website’s content. Search engines spend more time matching then they used to. If a keyword is in your page title it will check your META-tags and the content of that page. This means that the product page, blog entry, about page and even your contact page needs to be carefully thought out when adding content to them. There are several ways to make sure that the search engines are paying attention to the keywords in your content.

Notice that each of the five tips are bold and larger in size. There are a few ways to accomplish this but the best way is to use Header Tags. If you simply use a larger font size just as you would in a Word Document then you are cheating yourself. Search engines will look for Header Tags to see if they contain keywords. In most cases you would not put something in header tags that was not important. Header Tags can also be links to other web pages.

Link: Learn more about using header tags in your website.

When you are getting ready to write content to put into a web page there are a few things you should do first.

  • Figure out what the main keywords are for your page. These are the keywords you want people to use to find your website.
  • Research those keywords to make sure that they are not to difficult to achieve front page ranking.
  • If they are difficult to achieve front page ranking, use longer keywords (sometimes called: Keyword Phrases).

Once you have decided on these keywords you can start writing the content for your page. You should use the keywords in your page’s content often, but not so often that it starts to sound weird. There is a lot of speculation as to how often you should use your keywords. This is called “keyword density.” I would suggest using a tool to help you with this. If your website is powered by a CMS then I suggest using Scribe to help with this. Scribe makes it easy to analyze your page to make sure you are accomplishing what I have listed above. It also gives you suggestions on how to incorporate more keywords into your content. Check out Scribe. If your website is not working on a CMS, Google Webmaster Tools is a good start.

5. Making it all Work, and Follow Up.

Good SEO practice takes time just as anything else in life that has worth. If your website is rather small then it will be easy for you to get your SEO in order and it will require much less follow up. If your website has a lot of content and is continuously evolving, this will be a more difficult job.

Before coming across tools to help me with the process I used to visit the higher ranked websites and read their content. I would analyze it myself to see what terms they were using and how they were writing their content. Today there are tools that do this for you but you can still look at what your competition is doing to find out what works. If you are only managing one website, you should be able to do this with out any fancy tools.

It is important to follow up on what you have done. Check back and see how things have changed. Did you move up in ranking or down? Continue to make changes until you have reached the best ranking possible. There will be a point when your website will reach it’s best possible ranking on it’s own and this is why I decided to toss in a bonus tip.

Bonus Tip: Inbound Linking

So what happens when you are 50 others all have your page titles, meta and content optimized? There has to be another way to gauge relevance of a website? That way is inbound linking. When another website links to your website that is called an inbound link. There are ways to find out who is linking to you using Google Webmaster Tools. Here are a few ideas on how you can increase inbound links:

  • Blog: Write content that others would want to link to.
  • Business: Have your suppliers link to your website.
  • Find a website that writes/blogs about your industry and ask them if they would be interested in interviewing you and/or including your business in a blog article. (Ask for a link to your website.)
  • Get mentioned in online trade publications and newspapers.
  • Write and submit press releases when you launch new products or services.

These are just a few ideas, there are many more. In the future I will write a blog entry about creating inbound links. At the time of writing this blog entry, JeradHill.Com has over 65,000 inbound links. Google Webmaster Tools can help you figure out who is linking to you. As you continue to gain more inbound links you can see which pages are getting those links as in the image below from my Google Webmaster Tools account.

If you have a tip you would like to share we would love to hear it. Post it in my comments section or contact me directly.

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  • Parallel Project Training
    August 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Hi Jerad

    Really simple and practical advice for any small business website. I dndn’t know about internal links.

  • Debby Manthei
    August 23, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Great tips. I found the article by following you on Twitter.

    December 31, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks Jared, I’m building a new website now and your seo tips have been really helpful. Internal linking was new to me also. All the best, Shaun Guest.

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