SEO can seem like an enigma these days, and it’s difficult to keep up with the $64,000 question: How does SEO work?
But make no mistake, you can’t expect your website to be seen without it. Too many small business owners create a website and then expect it to automatically bring in leads. It doesn’t work like that.
The good news is that small businesses absolutely can play in the SEO game.
They can even outrank large corporations if they have the right SEO strategy in place!
Let’s get one thing clear…
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of abiding by certain rules and requirements laid out by Google (and other search engines) for the purpose of generating organic website traffic.
Now, what is organic is often perceived as being easy and natural; however, organic traffic only comes in easily and naturally after you put in a ton of hard work and planning.
And there is no simple formula to follow because every business is different. A business that has more competition than another business will require more time and hard work to reach first page results than another less competitive niche.
But, enough of the doom and gloom.
Organic traffic is something every business should work to achieve, and once you start getting results from it, you can expect continued success as long as you continue the work. There are some cut and dry techniques you can build into your marketing strategy to get the rankings you desire, and that’s what we’re going to dig into here.
What Is On-Page SEO for Small Business?
A successful SEO strategy requires both on-page and off-page SEO. In this article, we are going to look at on-page SEO for small businesses. To learn more about off-page SEO, click here.
On-page SEO is all of the stuff you do on your website to improve your rankings on Google. It’s the foundation of any effective SEO strategy.
How Does SEO Work? The On-Page Elements You Need to Know
Always Write for Readability
We are placing readability before all of the other tips in this article because, essentially, it is what Google is all about. The readability of a page or post makes or breaks it for the user. When a piece of content is easy to consume, it creates a good user experience, and that’s what Google wants.
Google doesn’t want its users to have to scan through hordes of content to find the answer to a question. They want it to be right there at their fingertips.
Make no mistake about it, the way you write and lay out your content is essential. Your readers don’t want to read content that is only written for search engines and not people. And they don’t want to read long paragraphs that feel tedious to consume.
And we hate to break it to you, but no one is reading your content from start to finish.
They are scanning your content in search of the answers to their questions. That means you need to make your content scannable by doing the following:
- Write in short paragraphs
- Use subheadings, bullets, and bolded text
- Use easy-to-read text
- Make the first sentence of your paragraphs more important than the others
- Alternate long and short sentences
Write Awesome Content Consistently
The next important element of on-page SEO is content, and having a blog is a big part of that. Google wants to know that your site is freshly updated, relevant, and valuable.
By posting blogs on a regular basis, you keep your site fresh. But make sure your articles are highly valuable! In most cases, it is best to write longer content (at least 1,000 words) because it allows you to go more in depth on a topic, thereby providing more value.
Use Your Keywords Effectively
Back in the day, you could spam your content with lots of keywords and expect to get great ranking results. If you try to do that now, however, you’ll only achieve the opposite result. Keywords are still essential today, but it requires a thorough strategy.
Here are the ways you should utilize your keywords:
- URL – Place your keyword in your URL, preferably within the first 3-5 words.
- Post Name/Page Name – Place your keyword in the title of your web page. Again, keeping it close to the beginning of the title is helpful, and be sure it is set up as an H1 heading style.
- First 100 Words – Include your keyword within the first 100 words of your content.
- H2 Subheadings – Include your keyword at least once in an H2 heading.
- Meta Details – Place your keyword in the meta title (toward the beginning) and in your meta description.
- Throughout Your Content – Include your keyword naturally within your content several times. The important part here is “naturally.” If you have to make your content sound unnatural in order to include it, then you’ll be doing more harm than good.
- Graphics – Include your keyword in at least one graphic within the image file name and Alt text.
Important Tips About Keywords
Now, there are some pretty important things to note about all of this keyword stuff so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot:
- Don’t Try to Rank Multiple Pages for the Same Keyword – Doing so causes you to compete with yourself in the search results, thereby diluting your SEO power.
- You Can Rank for Multiple Keywords on Each Page – It never hurts to have people finding your content through several keywords, but it’s difficult to do that effectively and equally for a lot of keywords. So, choose one main keyword to rank your article for and include LSI keywords as explained in the next tip.
- Use LSI Keywords in Your Content – Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords are related to your main keyword, which helps Google understand what your content is about.
- Don’t Guess Your Keywords – If you choose a keyword and work hard to get one of the pages on your site to rank for it, you could be doing all that work for nothing if the keyword isn’t being searched enough or has too much competition. That’s why it is essential that you use a tool such as Moz Keyword Explorer, KWFinder, SEMRush, or Keyword Tool to perform keyword research before choosing your keywords. Ideally, you are looking for medium to low competition and relatively high search volume.
Use Internal & Outbound Links
Internal links are links within your content to other pages on your site. A strong internal linking strategy helps Google understand your website and how the pages and posts relate to each other. It allows Google to see more of your web pages so that it can rank them. It also provides a better user experience by allowing your readers to click on things they are interested in as they read your content.
Outbound links are links to other websites from your website. They help Google better understand your content, but most importantly, they improve trust in and authority of your website by association. That’s why it is essential that the outbound links you use are from quality, reputable sites.
People like to view and read content that also has a visual appeal to it; therefore, Google likes when we include graphics within our content. Break up your content to include images, videos, infographics, and other graphical elements, and Google will reward you for it.
Build the Right Structure
The architecture or structure of a website is more important than most people think. A properly structured site helps Google see all of your pages and rank them in relevant searches.
Here are some of the most important structural elements to consider for your website:
- Use SEO-friendly Permalinks – Permalinks are the way URLs of blog posts are laid out. Google likes short URLs that include your keyword in it. The best permalink structure is something like YourSite.com/Post-Name or YourSite.com/Category/Post-Name. If you have followed the tips in this article, your post name will already include your keyword.
- Hierarchy of Pages – Giving the pages on our site a proper hierarchy shows Google who’s boss, i.e., which pages are most important and how they relate to other pages. Ideally, your home page would connect to your static pages, which would connect to your category pages, and those would connect to your posts and supporting pages.
In the end, SEO of today is all about giving searchers want they want: quality info at their fingertips without having to search and search; real, useful content; solutions to their problems; and up-to-date content that is accurate and high quality.
Next Step: No SEO strategy is complete without off-page SEO, so give this link a click to learn about that.