Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at April 9th, 2018
Are you looking for SEO for your small business, AKA small business search engine optimization? It’s not a contradiction in terms. Here are some basics to help your business and they don’t cost a penny.
Once you have been in business and/or online for a while, you inevitably hear the term, ‘Search Engine Optimization’. SEO can feel daunting and it certainly can be expensive if you farm it out. However – here’s a secret – you might not have to.
Have you ever searched for something on Google, Bing, Internet Explorer, or any other search engine, and gotten thousands if not millions of results? Have you ever wondered why some results are at the top of the listings? I don’t mean the paid advertisements. These are sites which are not paying Google, etc. anything to be listed. They do it with SEO.
SEO is the art and science of helping online searchers find your company’s website. Google and other search engines reward pages which deliver what they promise. If you say your webpage is about zebras, it could be the best webpage ever about dolphins but Google will still let it sink like a boulder in search results.
You have several legitimate opportunities to tout your website. Best practices in SEO are to use all of them. But let’s talk theory first.
Google’s search algorithms are a closely-guarded trade secret but developers know the following or conjecture as much:
To choose the best keyword or keyword phrase, conduct some searches. Too many results mean your keyword is too popular and it is harder to compete. Too few, and that means no one is searching for your phrase. Determine this with sample searches.
Let’s try zebra first. There are millions of results (way too many), plus the first hit is for a company. But the second is Wikipedia, which ranks well because a lot of people link to it.
Maybe we’ll do better to search on something more specific like feeding a pet zebra. Uh oh, now our top two hits are for feeding a pet zebra finch. Still, the search brings back some relevant results, but there are hundreds of thousands of them. It’s still a competitive keyword phrase, but it’s better than just zebra. Our real problem is that we want to get rid of the finch results. Most users don’t realize they can eliminate words from a Google search with the minus sign. That is, they should instead search under feeding a pet zebra –finch. However, we can’t suddenly make millions of people search better on Google. We will have to change to accommodate them.
What if we change direction and instead try selling something? Let’s try a zebra print barrette. Now we still have hundreds of thousands results. Plus, did you notice the search automatically pulls up shopping? This one’s got promise.
Google needs to know that your keyword phrase is important. Therefore, it makes sense to put it in the page title, etc., and to mention it early in your content. You can even put it into your webpage’s permalink. Add it and separate the words using hyphens. Never use underscores or spaces! You should also put it in the Meta description, which consists of the two or three sentences you see with the webpage listing when you search. For a webpage about feeding a zebra, it might have a title of How to Feed a Zebra and then a Meta description of something like ‘Do you feed your zebra our patented zebra chow? They love it! Feed a zebra our chow and get brighter stripes and faster galloping today.’ Meta descriptions should be between 120 and 156 characters (including punctuation and spaces). Too much, and they’re cut off; too little, and you’re not taking advantage of all that prime real estate.
Now let’s add a picture. The title of the image, the URL, the caption, the alt text, and the description all matter. Why? Because if your image comes up in an image search, you want people to get a hint that they should come to your site.
Have fun with it! Once you start doing this, it will become second nature. And you’ll get more readers, too.