I’ve already written a few articles that have offered help and advice for a variety of websites when it comes to search engine optimization, but I thought it was about time to write one more. Perhaps this time, I’ll use a slightly different angle.
If you have a small business and have a website that used to rank for your primary keywords and have noticed those keywords slipping over the past year, you’re not alone. Google (and we’ll focus on Google here) has really shaken things up. They’ve primarily targeted many of the old and easy methods we practiced for our websites to rank. You know, on page factors, such as proper keywords in the right places, site navigation and structure, keyword density and so on. What they’ve done is take credit away from those who didn’t actually deserve a well ranked website and give it those who did. That’s the theory anyway. Whether or not it’s working out as planned is a different story. And I’m sure you don’t particularly care what the story is – you just want to know how to get your ranking back.
Well, today is today and I guess we better get used to the way things currently are, as opposed to wondering how to tweak what we once had. It’s all new, so we need to work around that.
I’m going to lay out a few simple tips that will hopefully cover what we need to do to give ourselves and our websites a boost. I think these tips are tried and true and will endure any future updates the search engines throw at us. So let’s get to it.
SEO Tips For Small Business
1. Onsite SEO is important, but only one piece of the puzzle. I find myself getting caught up in this way too much. Probably because of nostalgia. I spend too much time rearranging my sites to look like they did when they were as strong as ever. While that’s important, I need to remind myself that while onsite and on page factors (site structure, load time, keywords) are critically important, they shouldn’t consume all of my time. I need to make them they way they should be and move on. If I need to, I should hire a professional to look at the site and perhaps tweak it. And then I should start working on other things.
The days of constantly tweaking an existing website, in hopes of a better ranking, are over.
2. Onsite content and user experience are more important than you think. There’s something out there called, “Thin Content.” It’s an old term that has taken on new meaning since April 2012. Webmasters used to have a field day when it came time to load their sites up with nice content. The problem was, it was usually someone else’s. These days, if you put too much of someone else’s original content on your website, your site will be viewed as one that offers thin content. Thin content websites simple don’t rank anymore. Also, if you’re used to writing short blog posts that offer little in the way on compelling content, you may be in trouble. Think of it this way – each page and every post you create needs to be worthy of forwarding on to someone else. If someone reads it and goes, “Hmmph,” that’s not good enough. Posts and pages need to be at least 300 words in length and they need to offer something that someone didn’t know before or could possibly pass on to someone else. Google has machine learning algorithms that detect this type of thing, so use what I just mentioned as a guide.
The days of short, Twitter style, blog posts and pages are over.
3. Once you begin writing content people adore, use that content to earn you links. These areas go hand in hand. You would be doing yourself a favor by writing long and interesting content, and once you do, those around you will want to share that content with others. That type of activity creates a virtuous circle and helps your site climb in rankings ever faster than creating great content alone. Unfortunately for many, it takes work. It takes time and it takes elbow grease.
Trust me when I say this, you can get a page on your website to rank very well by just gaining a few backlinks to that page. I’ve seen it in my own statistics. Things can go wild by the smallest and most unexpected things. A word of warning though – DO NOT buy backlinks. There is no faster way to fall from the good graces of Google than by buying backlinks. They’ve been working on this for some time and rest assured that you will not outsmart them.
The days of using your great content as a marketing tool are upon us.
4. Understand your backlink profile and the anchor text in those links. If you are selling smurf slippers, the last thing you want are one thousand links that use the anchor text, “Smurf Slippers For Sale” pointing to your website. This is one of the areas Google adjusted earlier in 2012. Back in the day, the more links the better, but now, you should be aware of how those links are written. You need to have a natural looking backlink profile – one that doesn’t look like you manipulated it specifically for SEO.
The days of attracting natural links to great content are upon us.
5. Start building your community. I think I’m starting to make people’s ears bleed here, but I just have to repeat myself once more. In order for your website to get out there and to get popular, you need to build a community, or at least use the community that already exists.
Let me give you an example. Go to Google.com right now and do a search for “River Tavern Chester CT.” Without the quotes. Do that search and browse through the first two pages of the results. It looks like this restaurant (one of my favorites) is using the existing community very effectively, doesn’t it? There are tons of sites out there that are specifically in the business of helping you get activity. Use them. Want to know the funny thing about the River Tavern? Their homepage title is “Welcome.”
The days of staying isolated in hopes of digging yourself out of a hole are over.
6. Quality over quantity matters. Quality is important in two ways. You should be posting quality articles to your website pages, but you should also be attracting quality backlinks. Websites used to rank well by gaining as many links as possible. They would do this by using massive amounts of article marketing and directory submissions. Now, those links are pretty much discredited. If the sites that held all those links are still around, they aren’t doing anything for anyone’s link profile.
The days of submitting your website to as many directories as possible are over.
7. Gauge your SEO success by reviewing the data. This may be over the head of the average small business owner, but website analytics need to be reviewed regularly. The measure of success with a website isn’t how many people walk though your ground based door, it’s how well the changes to your website and marketing efforts are affecting your web traffic. Use your statistics as a tool. If you need a consultant, get one.
Those are my SEO tips for today. I hope you read through them and got some good information. As always, please ask questions by using the comment form below. I’ll promptly post a reply.