If your business is just getting started with SEO, working out where to begin can be a very difficult step. With so much advice out there – often conflicting or bad advice from people with a commercial interest – it can seem impossible to know where to begin your journey to SEO success.
Thankfully, basic SEO marketing for your small business doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated. By implementing 10 simple SEO tips and tactics, you can push your business ahead of the crowd and achieve SEO results that many of your competitors simply won’t be able to match.
Before you invest in a long-term SEO campaign to climb to the top of the rankings, try these 10 simple tactics to give your company website a solid SEO foundation:
Use a good permalink structure
If your company website uses WordPress, you’ll want to change your permalinks from the default structure (date and post number) to a structure that includes the title of your posts and pages.
This is vital for successful SEO, because it means that your titles are now part of your links, adding to the ‘theme’ of each page in the eyes of Google. This means a much higher relevancy rate and a greater level of keyword inclusion for each page.
Use the ‘Permalinks’ control in WordPress to change your permalinks to include your page or post title. Dates are optional – if your company blogs, you’ll want to include them; if not, there’s no need to include them.
Use your target keyword 3-5 times per page
On an average 500-word page, there’s no need to include your target keyword any more than 3-5 times. The reason for this is that Google’s algorithm is no longer as responsive to keyword density (the number of times a keyword is used on a page) as it once was.
In fact, ‘stuffing’ keywords on a page by including them too frequently has the exact opposite effect to what’s intended – rather than helping your website climb up the rankings for competitive keywords, it pushes it down due to the suspicion that you are using unethical ‘black hat’ SEO tactics.
Focus each page around a set of keywords
There’s no need to focus on just one keyword per page. A far better strategy is to use two or three different but similar keywords on each page to create a ‘theme’ that can be identified by Google and other search engines.
For example, if your business sells sports cars, you’ll want to set “sports cars” as the primary keyword, with “muscle cars” and “supercars” as secondary keywords. While these words have slightly different meanings, they belong to the same keyword set and are still relevant to your business.
Create links between pages
Many beginner SEOs make the mistake of only building links from websites other than their own. Internal linking – links between your pages – are just as important for successful SEO as links from external websites pointing towards your pages.
Link from one page to another using relevant, keyword-targeted keywords to give your pages ‘themes’ that Google can identify. This can have a major positive effect for your search rankings if done correctly.
Use your keyword in your page title
This is one of the most basic but effective SEO tactics. Every page on your website should have a target keyword, and every target keyword should be used in the title of its relevant page.
Just like interlinking between pages and keyword inclusion in your website copy, a keyword in your title helps Google sort your page in terms of relevancy. Failing to include your target keyword in your title can have a very strong negative effect on your search rankings, particularly if your target keyword is very competitive.
Give each page a reasonable amount of copy
Pages with very little text do not generally rank for competitive terms. The search algorithm used by Google places relevancy and usefulness near the top of its list of priorities, making useful and actionable content of major interest for SEOs.
When you’re preparing content, try to take a comprehensive, actionable approach to solving the problems of your visitors. This often means preparing upwards of 1,000 or more words for each page of your website, particularly for competitive keywords that have attracted similar amounts of text content from your competitors.
Choose keywords based on commercial intent
As nice as it may feel to be in first place, there’s no reason to invest heavily in SEO for a keyword that doesn’t bring in any revenue. Your target keywords should be selected based on commercial intent and traffic, rather than just the number of visitors that each target keyword can attract.
Foot traffic is useful in retail settings, but in the competitive and conversion-driven world of online marketing, its sales that win out. Think about which keywords will be most effective in driving paying customers to your website, and invest heavily in SEO for these terms.
Local business? Target your city
If you operate a local business, you’ll find that it’s far more profitable to target local search keywords (Los Angeles Bakery, for example, instead of Bakery) than to target their generic counterparts.
The competition for local keywords is significantly lower than for nationwide search terms or generic keywords, making them a profitable investment for your company and its search marketing efforts. If you target a local audience, make sure that local search keywords are a marketing priority.
Create an XML sitemap for Google
An XML sitemap is like a roadmap of your website – a list of all its pages, as well as the routes from one page to another. While HTML sitemaps are ideal for visitors, an XML sitemap allows Google to easily travel from one page to another, indexing your entire website in the process.
This is highly valuable from an SEO perspective, as it ensures that all of your pages are rapidly and categorically indexed. The more of your content that Google finds, the greater your exposure to new customers and prospects becomes.
Don’t obsess over SEO
It’s easy to see when a website has been over-optimized for Google, and rarely is it pretty. From keyword stuffing to endless interlinking, the signs of over-optimization are annoying for visitors and potentially damaging for your website’s rankings.
While it’s important to focus on SEO as a marketing medium, overdoing it will result in your visitors feeling alienated and your website failing to achieve any rankings of note. Use a light but focused hand and create an Los Angeles SEO campaign that satisfies not just Google, but your visitors and customers, too.