Guidance for small-business owners
How do you push your small company to appear near the top of a website search? It requires a better understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). For some small-business owners, however, this is like learning a foreign language. Here are seven ways to improve your “speech” in this area.
1. Keyword research: Look for keywords or phrases someone would use to find a website in your industry or profession. Then decide which ones to target. Usually, keywords with the highest potential have a high search volume but low competition. Unfortunately, if competitors do similar research, these keywords are of limited value.
2. Technical matters: Search engines use “crawlers” to read your website’s text and code. If it is difficult for a crawler to decipher content, the ranking will suffer. For better results, keep URLs under 100 characters in length, use dashes instead of underscores and avoid special characters. Every page should have a unique title tag that is 65 to 75 characters long. The meta description tag should be unique for every page, up to 160 characters long and contain one to two sentences describing the page.
3. Usability: Search engines try to give users results by taking into account the engagement metrics of a website. Thus, it is important to focus on improving usability. For instance:
- Clearly label different parts of the website so visitors can easily find their way around. Make key areas and contact information easy to spot.
- Work on navigation. Search engines may rank a multitude of a website’s pages simultaneously so users can access a site from pages other than the home page. Without good navigation, someone might be restricted to a single page.
- Develop the architecture. This is the part of your website from which other aspects are built, including form, function, navigation and interface, interaction, and visual design.
- Limit each page to 800 words, with the possible exception of blog posts. Content should contain the relevant keywords for the page. Unique, keyword-rich text on a page can help improve rankings.
4. Content is king: Concentrate on producing fresh and lively content that stands out. It may take the form of a company blog; guides and e-books; or infographics, charts or other visual content. This may attract new links to the website.
5. Social media: As a sign of changing times, social media should be part of an SEO campaign. Consider these suggestions:
- Establish goals for social media.
- Know and recognize your target audience.
- Select your social media channels.
- Connect with people who have lots of followers.
- Develop a social media posting plan.
6. Linking: Links increase the credibility of a website. The total number of links is important, but you should also feature links from a range of diverse and popular domains. But remember that the main search engines have strict rules against unnatural or paid links. Use only trustworthy sources.
7. Delegation: Finally, designate responsibility for SEO to the person in your organization who is best equipped to handle it. In some cases, it may be beneficial to use an outside consultant. Rely on your business advisers for referrals.