SEO isn’t something you do for your website once and forget, but something you need to tweak continually. Use these seven steps to help get a better handle on your SEO management in 2016.
For small businesses, no digital marketing investment has as much impact as SEO. With 70 percent of households now using the Web to shop locally for products and services, it’s imperative to make sure customers can find your small business online.
Even if your small business is B2B and not B2C, the positive potential of SEO is just as clear. Eight in 10 B2B purchases begin with a Web search. Furthermore, when 90 percent of B2B buyers decide to make a purchase, they say they’ll find you and not the other way around.
It’s important to note that SEO isn’t something that happens once and magically stays effective forever. It’s an ongoing process that you have to maintain and improve over time. These seven SEO management steps are easy enough to do yourself. They’ll go a long way toward not only improving your search rankings but also protecting your site against Google penalties.
1. Write Title Tags and Meta Descriptions for All of Your Web Pages
Title tags are the headings that appear when a search engine recommends a link. They help search engine bots understand what each Web page is about. Meta descriptions are the paragraphs that appear beneath each heading. Although they don’t affect search rankings in and of themselves, a great description attracts more clicks. Also, title tags and meta descriptions aren’t visible to customers on the Web page itself, just on the search page.
On a self-hosted, small-business WordPress site, you can use a plug-in to make title tags, such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack. After you’ve installed the plug-in, pull up your pages in the editor and navigate to the bottom of the page. You’ll see some fields to enter a title tag and meta description for your page:
If you’re not using WordPress, but you’re comfortable editing the HTML for your Web pages, adding title tags and meta descriptions is a breeze. Copy and paste this code, filling in your own title tag and meta description where indicated:
YOUR TITLE HERE
<meta name=“description” content=“Your meta description that will show in your search results.”>
If all of this seems too technical, don’t worry. Just talk to your Web developer for assistance. Additionally, as you develop title tags and meta descriptions, keep these things in mind:
- Title tags should contain a maximum of 65 characters, including spaces. Meta descriptions should include no more than 155 characters with spaces. Otherwise, the extra text will get cut off on the search page and your potential customers won’t be able to see it.
- Include at least one primary keyword in the title tag that you want your page to rank for. Within your meta description, you can include a secondary keyword if you want, but it’s best to focus on making the description so interesting that clicking your link becomes irresistible.
2. Write New Product Descriptions for Your E-Commerce Pages
If you’re like a lot of small-business owners with an online store, you’ve copied and pasted manufacturer product descriptions into your product pages. These descriptions may contain useful, detailed content, but there’s just one problem: Google often counts copied product descriptions as duplicate content.
Duplicate content sends a negative on-page search signal to Google, and it can result in your site getting penalized. This year, rewrite your product descriptions, or hire a content marketing company to do it for you. Make sure to incorporate the keywords you want each page to rank for.
3. List Your Business With Search Engines and Review Sites
Take a look at this search results page for “Hartford Italian restaurants.” Almost every result on Page One of Google is not a restaurant website.
The top seven results, as you can see, are all review sites. If your restaurant isn’t listed with review or listings sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Zomato, OpenTable, or Yellow Pages, potential customers hardly ever keep scrolling to find you.
Start by coming up with a unified name, address, and phone number (NAP) for your business listing. You’ll be surprised how typos or errors on different sites can negatively affect your search rankings. Once done, you can start listing your business with appropriate review and listing sites.
This starter guide will help you choose where to list your small-business website.
4. Develop a Blogging Habit
Blog posts deliver a mega-dose of good SEO juice for your small-business website and are a good content marketing start. Blogs allow for:
- Fresh content. Sites that regularly update with new content perform better in search rankings.
- More keywords. Blog posts built around your keywords give your site more opportunities to rank.
- Inbound links. When you write and share a great blog post, a good website might link back to it. The more inbound links your site has, the better your search rankings.
One key to successful blogging is not to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. If a monthly post is all you can realistically deliver, then set a goal of writing one blog post per month. The more consistent you are in posting, no matter how far apart, the better for your readers. The more you post, however, the more business value your blog will deliver. As a timesaver and as a way to publish more often, create quick outlines for what you want to write, and then hire a content marketing company to finish the job. You can also look into guest bloggers to boost your blog and its value even more.
5. Get Social
Social media might take a while to become a true revenue booster, but social signals are valuable as positive search engine signals. Posting regularly and building a following can boost your search rankings. Over time, as your followers share your blog posts, social media can also help you build inbound links.
So which social networks should you use? This infographic can help you decide:
6. Write Some Guest Blog Posts
If you’ve ever dreamed of contributing to one of your favorite blogs, do it this year. Develop an idea for a guest post, and pitch it to the blog’s editor:
- Visit the blog’s home page and look for links that say “Write for Us,” “Submit,” or “Contact Us.”
- Follow the directions for submitting your idea — keep it short and succinct. If the blog has submission instructions or submission guidelines, follow them to the letter.
- Link back to one of your pages, whether it’s a blog post, a landing page, or a services page. Include links to your social networks in your author bio.
- Promote your post when the blog publishes it by sharing it on your social networks or announcing it in your own blog.
Read our Guide to Guest Posts to learn more.
7. Install Google Analytics Code on Your Web Pages
Google Analytics is a free tool that lets you monitor how your Web pages perform. It’s an easy way to monitor whether your SEO management efforts are getting results. You’ll need to add some small snippets of tracking code to each page of your site. The easiest way to do this is by using Google Tag Manager.
A Quick Look at Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager lets you add many different tags to your Web pages, including both Analytics tags and AdWords tags. You can add Analytics tags to individual pages — and you may already have some in your pages — but Tag Manager provides a centralized, easy-to-manage container for all of your tags.
If you use WordPress, WPBeginner has written a fantastic tutorial for installing Google Tag Manager on your Web pages. If you’re not using WordPress, and you’re comfortable editing your HTML, this step-by-step video from Google will explain how to install Tag Manager:
Again, always talk to an SEO agency or developer if you’re not comfortable editing code on your site.
Why Google Analytics Matters
Once your tracking code is set up, you’ll be able to see which pages attract the most visitors, how visitors travel between pages, and how people are using your site. If you want to look at what visitors do when they’re on the page, try installing some heat map software.
If SEO management sounds too overwhelming, or if you need some help getting started, schedule a free one-to-one consultation with an SEO agency to get help with your website.