If you want to have a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan that is successful at driving targeted traffic to your site through search engine placement, there are two different kinds of optimization that you are going to need to focus on–on-page and off-page SEO.
They both are very important in determining your ranking and determining what kind of and how much traffic you will receive. If you are a local business owner, you already know exactly what kind of target audience you are looking for, but you may not know how to implement organic SEO for small businesses in order to attract the local audience you have in mind.
As in any good SEO plan, your optimization must start on-page. On-page SEO is the process of optimizing the titles, headers, tags, links, pictures, and text that is found on your website’s pages for keywords you will benefit from. With this checklist, perfecting and understanding on-page SEO is made easy for the local business owner or new blog or website owner. By the end of reading this simple checklist and completing all the steps needed, you will be much, much closer to ranking in the search engines for terms that are truly useful for you business.
Any kind of natural search engine placement or organic SEO for small businesses can be made very easy and attainable if you fully utilize the power of keyword optimization. You may have the most beautifully designed website and great expertise and information found on your blog, but if you are not keyword optimizing you are just sending paper airplanes across a room–and everybody knows that you never know where those will land. For example, a local business owner who wants to attract a specific local audience – if that’s you – you want to pilot your jet on a very definite route.
First, keyword research is how you begin building that route, and making a map is really easy (and free as long as you have an Adwords account) with Google’s External Keyword Tool. With this amazing tool you are able to research what keywords people are already searching for online and the statistics that come with them, including the average number of searches that happen every month for that keyword.
If you are a local pizza restaurant you are able to enter keywords like, say, ‘pizza in (your city)’ or ‘restaurant (your city, your state)’ and the Keyword Tool with show the results for those keywords. Plus it provides for you extra keywords that may also be relevant. Find out which keywords apply to your business and save them from the Keyword Tool into an Excel document.
Second, once you have keywords you will need to check the competitiveness for them.
For local markets, this truly varies. Many times, though, this is why organic SEO for small businesses through simple on-page optimization can be incredibly powerful. A lot of small businesses will pay for SEO services like link building, but neglect their on-page optimization because, well, they simply don’t know how to do it. And unfortunately, it is oftentimes the case that SEO firms would rather sell you link building rather than taking the time to set up your on-page optimization–which is completely needed to rank in any market that has competition.
When it comes to market research for me, I take it very seriously–from keywords to competition–and I love consulting with both international and local business to use my SEO expertise to do both free and paid market research to help them with their needs. If you need keyword research help, contact me here. If you would like to do your market’s competition research on your own, then I suggest using software like SEMRush. Now, on to the implementation of your research.
1. Keyword Optimization
How do you see keywords? How does Google?
There are certain things that Google looks for when “crawling” your site. When taking a peek at what’s going on at your site, Google looks at how and where you keywords are placed on your website’s pages. From your home page to your ‘About’ to your blog – you will want to moderate the density of your keywords within your text and content.
How much should I use keywords within the text of pages?
For each page on your website, you should only have one main keyword, although you can and should use others (about 1-3 more close variations) as secondary keywords. Good keyword density obviously depends on how much text/content is actually on your page, so keep that in mind, but your main keyword should have a density of about 1-2%. If you use WordPress, you can install plugins to monitor your keyword density such as Easy WP SEO or Yoast SEO Plugin.
Any specific places you should place keywords?
Good placement for keywords is near the beginning of sentences and near the beginning of paragraphs, and to draw extra attention to words you should use bold and italics. All of these measures will ensure that your keyword optimization will gain you the traffic you are aiming at attaining. Google only has so many way of determining the relevance of a website, so it’s important that you make sure your using relevant keywords.
2. Title Optimization
The next place to optimize is your page’s titles.
Titles are what show up when your website’s pages are found in the search engines, so not only will you want to make sure that they contain your main keyword in order to appeal to Google’s algorithm for determining relevance (titles are very important to Google), but you also want to appeal to the searchers. You want your title to look attractive and stand apart from the others. It’s not just about the keywords alone.
3. Header Optimization
Your Title isn’t your Header. Note:
Another place Google looks at to determine relevance is headers. Just like your title, both Google and your visitors will be looking at this. It’s very wise to include your keywords here for perfect optimization of your page, but take advantage of using your headers to break apart content easier to guide your visitors through a better reading experience. You should optimize your first three headers in your page or article. This is also known as h1, h2, h3, h4 etc. The first three are the most important.
4. Meta Optimization
What’s meta matter?
Meta optimization used to cover both meta tags and meta description, however, meta tags are now much less important. On the contrary, meta description is a very valuable asset to your page. In it, you should include your keyword(s), but just like your title, you need to appeal, entice, and attract.
How should I use that space best for SEO?
You get a little more space than just a simple title, but your description still isn’t very long so choose your words carefully. You may have a first-page or even number one ranking but will a poorly-written meta description, a searcher may ignore your link.
Do not use this space to “keyword stuff”! You should not ever “stuff” in any instance, but don’t be tempted to here! Google sees this as very spammy and you could get de-indexed. An example is: “cheap bicycle tires, affordable bike supplies, new bicycles, best tires for bikes, great new bikes, best bicycle shop in Detroit..”
5. Image & Link Optimization
How do you SEO your images?
The images and links that are on your site are also very important content for good organic SEO for small businesses.
Like said before, there are only so many things for Google to look at while crawling your website, so it takes what it can actually see very seriously. Google can’t actually SEE your pictures, but it can READ your pictures. What does that mean?
It means Google does not see a picture of you with a dog you’ve trained, but it does see that your picture is named “new-york-city-dog-trainer.jpg” and it also sees another thing we call ALT tags, or alternate text, which you set to identify your pictures. In both cases of your images’ file names and their ALT tags, you should be putting your keywords to good use here!
Linking for optimization.
As for links, when you are linking out to another page, do the same, but with your anchor text. Instead of “click here” use a phrase that is actually relevant to the link and will also help your SEO efforts, like “New York City Dog Trainer Certification.”