8 SEO Tips for Your Small Business
In December 2017, Google let us into a few more secrets about how to tackle search engine optimisation (SEO) with its updated SEO Starter Guide. Here we take a quick look at how your small business can optimise its website and content to be ranked in 2018.
1. Keep it interesting and useful
If you take nothing else away from this blog post, remember this: Google is far more interested in what USERS want than it has ever been. The best thing you can do for your website in 2018 is create content that people WANT to read. Users share and talk about useful content. People are busy. They don’t want to waste time on light-weight content that doesn’t add value to their world. Reading or watching content that helps to solve a problem or gain a better understanding of a subject is time well spent. In 2018, users demand high quality content that you have taken time to research and create. Get it right and your valuable insights will be shared around the globe through blog posts, social networks, email, forums, or other means.
2. Give your audience what they want
Your audience is made up of individuals with varying degrees of awareness of their problem and the solution that you can offer them. You need to create content that appeals to each level of awareness separately. Use the keywords that the prospect would use when searching online.
For example, someone that knows a lot about search engine optimisation might use the search query, ‘SEO’. Someone who doesn’t know what SEO stands for might type ‘How can I get on the front page of Google?” Consider the search terms that your target audience would use at every stage of awareness and structure your content around those terms.
3. Be unique
Consider how you can set your products and services apart from your competitors. What expertise do you have that your competitors lack? You could write news articles from a new perspective, conduct some original research, or appeal to a niche audience. Research keywords that are popular but with low competition. Create content that uses those keywords.
Some helpful tools:
Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) has a free Keyword Planner tool that can help you to choose keywords. It allows you to discover keyword variations and their approximate search volume.
The search analytics report within Google Search Console gives insight into the top search queries that your website appears for, and the queries that led to the most users visiting your website.
4. Keep it simple
Because people like to read content that is well-written and easy to understand, Google does too. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re writing content:
Check for mistakes and flow
Always proofread your work (or ask someone else to). Check that sentences read well and flow. Reading your draft out loud can help with this. It’s always a good idea to sit on a draft for 24 hours and check it again before publishing. Don't forget that you can edit online content at any time. Revisit your blog posts regularly and refine your copy.
Don’t embed text into images and videos
Doing this frustrates users who want to copy and paste the text. Search engines also can’t read embedded text for indexing purposes, so it wastes valuable SEO opportunities.
Organise content clearly
People don’t like to trawl through text to find the information they want. Use headers and subheads to break text up into readable sections and separate topics. Use bullet points to list information. Think carefully about the order of your content. Make it logical and easy for the user to find what they want quickly.
5. Keep it fresh
Users don’t like recycled content. Unique, relevant content will keep your user base stimulated and attract new visitors. Avoid the following mistakes to keep on the right side of users and Google:
Rehashing or copying sections of text will lose you Brownie points. Users know that you’re not bringing them value and Google knows that you’re duplicating content.
Duplicating content across different pages of your site
There’s a golden rule – content on one page shouldn't appear on another page. If Google crawls your web pages and finds duplicate or near-duplicate pages, down the ranks you’ll go. If you keep to one subject (keyword) per page, you'll avoid this mistake and it makes navigation much clearer for your user.
Pay attention to content that you syndicate on other sites, for example, sharing a blog post as an article on LinkedIn. Google will show the version that it thinks is most appropriate. Sometimes that will be the most authoritative of the two sites (probably LinkedIn), other times it will be the site where the content was indexed first.
You can help Google index the right page by:
Ensuring that the syndicate site includes a link back to the original article.
Where possible, asking the syndicate site owner to use the ‘noindex’ meta tag to stop search engines from indexing that page.
Sharing content on a syndicate site at least two weeks after publishing on the original site. This helps Google to index and identify the right website.
6. Optimise content for people, not search engines
Until recently, it was common for writers to stuff content with as many keywords as possible to feed search engines. It resulted in clunky, unnatural content that people didn’t want to read, but Google seemed to like it. Times have changed, and Google’s algorithms now penalise web pages that are stuffed with unnecessary keywords. The practice of deceptively hiding text from users, but displaying it to search engines, is also greatly disliked by Googlebots.
7. Think about your text links
A text link should tell Google about the page you’re linking to. When anchor text accurately describes the page that it links to, it’s easier for both the user and Google to navigate your website.
Google has a few top tips for creating text links:
Use short, descriptive text – no more than a few words or a short phrase.
Format links so that they are easy to spot — you don’t want your user to miss the link.
Use generic words, e.g. ‘Click on this article/page’ or ‘Click here’.
Use the web page URL as the text link unless you need to reference the page address.
Create unnecessary links that aren’t helpful to the user.
8. Use links carefully
When you link to another website, you share some of your reputation with it. That’s great if you want to show support to another website, and not so great if you don’t. If, for example, you were blogging about scamming, you might want to share the link of a scam site to highlight its dangers. You wouldn’t, however, want Google to share your reputation ‘points’ with that site. Instead, you would want to share the link but make sure you attach the ‘nofollow’ attribute.