Beyond the often exorbitant costs, the complex bells and whistles offered by large SEO marketing companies can seem bewildering and financially risky to small and mid-sized business owners who just want to maintain a niche presence in their local marketplace.
Business information sites, blog sites, and promotional sites really don’t need much SEO to remain viable at Google and Bing.
Whether you hire a one-time web consultant to bring your site up to SEO par or choose to DIY, a simple investment in the following rules and tools can be highly cost-effective, and improve the chances of your site and brand being found quickly by the people looking for what you have to offer. First-rate writing skills, and some HTML5 expertise is about the extent of the skillset required.
Creating Effective SEO is as Simple as Building a City in the Sand
SEO is about structure, comprehension, and ease of connectivity, and only that. The most effective SEO occurs across the public web space (how visitors find you) and at the Meta and content level (in the HTML).
- Create Intelligent and Intelligible Web Content and Meta Tags
Search engines index sites routinely and are primarily designed to read words. The clearer and more structured you tell your story on your website and in social media, the easier and faster the story will be captured and understood by search engines and read by your audience.
Applying a few basic SEO rules on the front and back-end to web content helps the search bots identify and categorize small business sites quickly, accurately, and effectively.
- Write unique Meta title tags for each page that include a top keyword + the brand name + the purpose of the webpage.
- Write clear, concise, and original Meta descriptions for each page that contain a clear call to action (CTA).
- Tag pictures and videos with mini-stories. Though search engines have technology in place to read visual cues in images, adding written definitions gives you greater control over your brand and message. In each alt text and image title tag, include your brand or business name, along with a very short description of what the image and its story are about. Apply this rule to your site logo, each image embedded in the page, and videos. Videos, particularly, are even better served by longer written stories or transcriptions placed visibly below the presentation.
- Incorporate well structured, sensible Heading tags into the page content. Heading tags serve as an outline for search engines. Use heading tags in 1, 2, 3 size order to summarize key points. Doing so will help the bots understand the page much faster.
- Develop concise and keyword-rich page content. Avoid wasting words. Do not misspell or repeat top keywords. Include synonymous variations and as many related qualifiers as possible. Mind your grammar! Do not pack keywords, under any circumstance, in nonsensical strings (note: this principle applies to image tags, as well).
- Use links like term paper citations. Link only to material that supports your content. Avoid overuse of links. Always apply the target=_blank command to links.
- Include contact information in the header or footer of each page.
- For those who use popular CMS software apps, like Word Press, Squarespace, and Drupal, take the time to learn the simple, easy to use tools and plugins for creating the title tags, image alt text tags, meta descriptions, and headings search engines use to scan and categorize sites prior to indexing.
- Make sure your website is secure, even if you don’t collect personal information from site visitors. Switching from Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (http) to Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (https) will ensure that all interaction with your site is encrypted, and thus improve your SEO ranking at the search engines. Most web hosting companies offer the switch for free.
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly. Mobile friendly means that the site content resizes to a readable format on mobile devices, namely smartphones and tablets. Images, similarly, should be sized using percentages rather than pixels enable resizing to different screen dimensions. If you run an older site that does not meet these criteria, add a viewport Meta tag to the site header, or rebuild using a CMS.
- Register your site with the top search engines via Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Doing so tells the engines that you legitimately exist, and enables you to monitor sites easily for technical problems, like broken images or bad URLs. Once your site is registered, working with other services provided by the search engines, such as mapping, business information, and analytics becomes much easier.
- Set up Google and Bing analytics – for mining data related to searches and traffic – by creating an account, then pasting the customized code into your site header. Once data has been collected for a few weeks, use the results to refine messaging in the onsite SEO.
- Request access to your business pages at Google and Bing via Google My Business and Bing Places for Business to maintain control over key information, such as location, hours, and contact methods.
- Social media posts will be included in search results for your brand, and for keywords related to your business. Link your social pages to your website and vice versa. Nurture positive relationships on social sites. Post regularly, but do not badger. Avoid picking fights with anyone who posts complaints or negative comments about your business. If a customer service issue is involved, deal with it honorably and professionally. That said, I personally recommend deleting bigoted, hateful, or pornographic comments as needed, and blocking abusive visitors, for no other reason than to protect your brand.