Search engine optimization (SEO) continues to be an essential ingredient to online success for small and large businesses alike. A multitude of consultants and web service firms have developed services to meet this need among the general business public. I have seen extensive proposals that offer SEO related services that cover everything from soup to nuts! Some SEO firms specialize in very niche markets such as PlumberSEO.net and some offer services to all contenders. From a small business or sole proprietor perspective, the extent of the recommendations and associated costs may look truly nuts!
Similar to many priorities in life and business, your SEO efforts can benefit if you follow the 80/20 rule. The SEO 80/20 rule says that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. Here is a list of common optimization tasks with the most critical 20% at the top of the list.
Small Business SEO Best Practice
- Develop regular, quality, well written content. Make your website content original, well written, and useful to your target audience.
- Select the best keywords for your site.
- Identify 5 to 10 keywords (two to three word phrases) that you want your business to show up for in search engines.
- Evaluate the popularity of selected keywords using a keyword analysis tool such as SEMRush or Google Keyword Planner.
- Review website content for selected keywords and edit content where they would most naturally appear. However, don’t overdo it! Keyword stuffing can result in lower SEO results. One rule of thumb is to use a keyword two to three times for every 500 words of text, though this is not an exact science. First and foremost, make sure your text reads naturally, then use your keyword as well as other similar terms or phrases where relevant.
- Create internal, contextual links to important pages of your website. Create links to important content by linking the words that best describe that content. Avoid linking a page to text that says “click here.”
- Optimize website title and metatags.
- Ensure that each page has its own unique title tag that uses a keyword relevant to the content on the page.
- Include a single H1 tag on each page. Use one or more H2 tags as appropriate. Incorporate the keyword in the H1 if possible. If it is awkward to use the keyword in the H1, try to use it in the first H2 subheading.
- Create description tags that are unique to each page. Use the keyword assigned to the page in the description.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. A good mobile experience is an important positive ranking factor. Make sure your site is updated accordingly.
- Make sure your site uses HTTPS encryption. Acquire an SSL/TLS certificate for greater security. This is now the standard; Google Chrome will soon display a “NOT SECURE” warning for any site that does not have a security certificate.
- Claim or list your website in the top local directory and review sites in your industry.
- Google My Business is a must!
- Angie’s List
- Your local city/town/regional directory
- Local review site(s). Choose the best local review site for your business. If people are already reviewing your site on a directory, claim that listing!
- Key review sites for your industry. For example, Dealer Rater is a key review site for car dealerships.
- Discover and use the social media outlets that your customers use, BUT ONLY IF you have a plan to engage and maintain those channels.
Additional SEO Activities are definitely useful…
but the following optimization list doesn’t make our top 20% of the SEO 80/20 rule:
- Canonicalize your domain. ShoutMeLoud.com defines canonicalization well!
- Add your social media links to encourage visitors to share your content.
- Put deep level navigation links in the footer of all pages.
- Optimize website images with descriptive alt text.
- Add 301 redirects for pages that have changed or no longer exist.
- Register your site with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Replace dynamic URLs with URLs that contain relevant keywords.
- Install an xml sitemap for your website.
- Create an hcard on the contact page or footer of your web pages.
- Claim every relevant free local directory listing.
- Create multiple web pages that are optimized for local city search results.
- Block duplicate content with robots.txt.
- Create a blog or write articles and submit them regularly to an article directory.
- Conduct a “black list” check of the server where you website is hosted.
- Find opportunities for .edu and .mil sites to link to your website.
- List your website in popular social bookmarking sites such as digg.com, delicious.com, stumbleupon.com, etc.
- Evaluate and reduce the loading time of your web pages.
What SEO activities would you add to the list? What makes your top 5 list of SEO tasks?