Search engine optimization (SEO) is a growing area of focus for small and large businesses alike. A multitude of consultants and web service firms have developed services to meet this growing awareness of 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 on a 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, SEO efforts can also 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.
- The best advice is to 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 in Google’s Keyword Tool.
- Review website content for selected keywords and edit content where they would most naturally appear.
- But, don’t over do it! Keyword stuffing can result in lower SEO results. A rule of thumb is to use a keyword three to five times for every 100 words of text on a page, i.e. a keyword density of 3% to 5%.
- Create internal, contextual links to important pages of your website as often as possible
- For example, 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 each page has it’s own unique title tag with keywords relevant to the content on the page.
- Include H1 and H2 tags on each page. Use only one H1 tag per page.
- Include keyword and description tags unique to each page.
- Claim or list your website in the top 5 local directory and review sites in your industry.
- Google Places is a must!
- Yahoo Local
- Your local city/town/regional directory
- Angie’s List is key for many businesses
- Local review site(s)
- Discover and use the social media channels 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
- Matt Cutts, Google’s Search Quality Team Leader defines canonicalization well!
- Add sharing tools to your website
- This will allow people to share your content on their social media sites
- Put deep level navigation links in the footer of all pages
- Optimize website images with descriptive alternate ‘alt’ text
- Add 301 redirects for pages that have changed or no longer exist
- Register your site with Google 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 a 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 web pages
- What SEO activities would you add to the list?
- What makes your top 5 list of SEO tasks?