In a previous post I highlighted the options for both paid and free small business websites. Once you have your website up and running, the next thing you’ll need to know is how to SEO a website.
I’m not going to waste your time because I know you’re busy so let’s just get to it. Following are the 5 basics steps on how to optimize your website for better rankings and more traffic (and sales)!
SEO Step 1: Include your business contact information at the bottom of every page of your website.
The information should include your business name, address, and phone number. In the local SEO circles, we call this your NAP. You want your NAP on the bottom of every page of your website. The easiest way to do this is to put it in the footer of your website.
What this does: This tells Google that you are a legitimate business that actually exists. It also tells Google that you are probably not an unscrupulous company trying to “game the system” by trying to get visible in local results for cities you don’t belong in.
- Use simple, straightforward formatting and avoid including multiple phone numbers or fax numbers in your NAP. Here are examples of how you can include the NAP in your footer:
Smith and Smith Dental
1234 W. Sample Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Smith and Smith Dental | 1234 W. Sample Rd. | Milwaukee, WI | 53201 | (414) 222-5555
- Use Schema microformat for your NAP. All three of the major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!) recognize this format.
- Don’t use images for your NAP information. Search engines can’t read images!
SEO Step 2: Optimize your title meta tags.
Title tags are extremely important because what you put there is what your potential customers see when they look at the search results when they search for your products or services.
What this does: This gives you control of how your search engine results appear.
If you are using WordPress you can easily control your title tags by using a SEO plugin such as the free All in One SEO plugin. And if you use a premium WordPress theme, many of them have built in SEO title and descriptions meta data fields so you don’t even need to use a plugin.
The title must be relevant to the keywords you are attempting to rank your webpage for. You should also include the primary city where you do business in the title tag.
Every page on your site should get its own keyword-optimized title tag. Your home page title tag, however, is the most important of all.
Good title tags are:
- Relevant to the service or product being talked about on the page
- Relevant to the location (i.e. the primary city)
- Only include your business name if you are trying to build a brand for your business or if it contains a keyword. For example, if you are a locksmith and your company name is Locksmith Larry, then use it in your title tag. Otherwise, only include it if there is room.
- Choose no more than 2 keywords and make sure they read naturally. Too many keywords don’t read naturally and makes you look silly.
We Provide 24hr Locksmith Services in Minneapolis – this reads naturally
We Provide Locksmithing, Lock Repair, Locksmith Services in Minneapolis – this looks silly
- Your title should be no more than 65 characters as Google will shorten anything longer than that. A character is one letter, number, punctuation mark, or space.
- Your title needs to make sense to a busy, distracted customer. Imagine you’re designing a billboard for a customer zooming by at 75 miles per hour. You have that much time to make an impression.
- Include only one city in each title tag your business serves.
A locksmith serving Minneapolis, Bloomington, and Richfield – too many cities listed
A locksmith serving Minneapolis and surrounding cities – much better!
SEO Step 3: Optimize your description meta tags.
Your description tags are one to two sentences that are found below your title tags in the search engine results pages as shown in this image:
What this does: Provides another opportunity to grab the reader’s attention and to get them to click through to your website.
Like the title tags, if you have a WordPress website and you use the All in One SEO plugin, you can easily control your description tags.
Use this tag to describe your services, products, and business. Essentially, you now have a chance to entice customers to click through to your website!
- You have up to 155 characters to get your point across – that includes spaces and punctuation marks.
- Only include 1-2 keywords.
- Do not simply repeat your title tag. Take advantage of this prime real estate and write one or two sentences that entice visitors to click through to your website.
- Make sure it appeals to a human reader so don’t just keyword stuff it or put a bunch of city names in the tag.
SEO Step 4: Make sure there are at least 300 words of content for each page you are trying to rank.
Content of course is the main body of text on a webpage. Ideally, you want to have a minimum of 300 words but the reality is, it’s not always necessary. You’ll find plenty of webpages that rank very well that have very few words on the page. Still, though, it’s a good practice to strive to have at least 300 words per page.
What this does: By having at least a paragraph of text, you’ll have an opportunity to include the primary keyword you’re trying to rank for and other related keywords, which will help your ranking efforts.
- Use keywords, but use them naturally. Don’t worry about trying to make the keywords an exact match for the keywords you found in your research if it doesn’t make sense to do so. “Dentist Milwaukee” and “Dentist in Milwaukee” are the same in Google’s algorithm so use what reads naturally to a human.
- Keyword density techniques are outdated and can cause Google to think you are keyword stuffing. It matters if the content is useful and unique, not if you have 3% keyword density.
- Your copy should include information your customers actually care about. Don’t add paragraph after paragraph of text just to create more excuses to add keywords.
SEO Step 5: Optimize your images.
There is keyword information you can add to each image to help Google understand what the image is about, even though Google can’t read the image itself.
What this does: This gives you a legitimate way to add more keywords to your web page. It also allows your images to be found in Google Image search results.
This is actually a pretty easy step. You’ll insert the keywords into the alt and title tags of the image.
In WordPress you will have the opportunity to do this every time you upload an image to your site as shown in this screenshot:
There are many other things you can (and should) do to optimize your website but these are the 5 basic things you should start with. If you do at least these 5 things, you’ll be several steps ahead of your competition. In future posts I’ll provide more advanced tactics you can do to SEO a website fully!