The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Micro Business Owners

You might want to ask yourself another question instead…

Do I want more targeted traffic from people looking for the products and services that my business offers?

I’m sure you answered yes! SEO is the practise used to improve your website so that people searching in Google or the other search engines can find your business.

Did you know that over 68% of searchers never go past the first page of the search results; this means that if you are not on page 1 the likelihood that a person searching for the products your business offers will not find your website.

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It’s important to remember that the search industry is a multi-billion dollar business.

The customer (searcher) experience is very important to their business model and in order to satisfy their customers’ needs they must return high quality and relevant answers for the questions that searchers are asking of them.

It’s important to remember this when you plan your next SEO project and clearly understand what you are offering that is better or different to the 10 pages that are currently already showing on page 1 of the search results.

It’s not necessary to have to submit your website to the major search engines. Search engine spiders continuously crawl the web looking for new web pages for the latest information so that they can add this to their huge database and decide whether or not to include it within their search results.

Indexing: When a search engine visits your site, it effectively makes a copy of your web page. The search engine reads and stores all of the HTML it finds.

Retrieval: The search engine retrieves what it has indexed about your website and will compare it with the search query of the user. The search engine does not read through the entire HTML it has stored so there are important elements in your code that you want to make sure you optimise for SEO.

Ranking:  once the search engine has decided which web pages are potential answers to your query it sorts them based on a number of metrics which they have determined to measure quality.

Without carrying out any kind of keyword research it is almost impossible to actually begin to optimise your website for visitors or search engines. It’s important to understand that it’s not just about getting more visitors to your website but the right type of visitor.

What Types of Keywords should you aim for?

There are generally considered to be 3 main types of keyword. They are:

1)     Navigational – those people who type “Facebook” into Google

2)     Transactional – people looking for a particular product or service to buy

3)     Informational – people who are trying to find facts or data

When you attach these 3 particular labels to your keywords you have a good grasp of what people are searching for online. If you are an ecommerce website then you want to target your products or categories to “transactional” keywords e.g. Nike Running Shoes or Buy LCD TV

It is also important to understand the differences between “Short tail” and more specific “Long tail Keywords”. Short tail keywords are often very high competition keywords with high volumes of traffic. Long tail keywords are much more specific and often have higher conversion rates as the searcher has already worked out which brand or model they want to purchase and are comparing features or prices.

If you are just starting out online it is probably more advisable to aim to optimise your site for lower competition long tail keywords that will bring you highly targeted customers.

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Keyword Research Tools

The most commonly used keyword research tool is the Google Keyword Suggestion Tool. It is free to use and is a great place to start with your keyword research. Be aware the data within the Google Keyword Research Tool is limited and they don’t always reveal all the long tail keywords related to your short tail keywords.

Soovle – Simply type a keyword into the search box and instantly it will check Amazon, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Google, Bing and Answers.com for related search terms.

Ubersuggest – is a free tool that suggests long tail keywords based on Google instant

Google Insights – This free tool from Google also lets you look at what keywords are popular in a specific geographical area as well as the popularity of any related terms or their seasonal variations.

Google Analytics – by studying your search traffic you will be able to find long tail keywords that are currently bringing people to your website.

Once you have defined the keywords that you want to optimise your website for you want to make sure that you use your keywords in the correct way on your website. It is not advisable to create lots of pages targeting just one specific keyword  as this can create lots of poorly written and thin content which is not very good for searchers.

Titles

The page title tag <title> is highly regarded as the most important on page SEO factor. Keywords in page titles can HELP your pages rank higher in Google results pages (SERPS). The page title is also often used by Google as the title of a search snippet link in search engine results pages. It is very important that every page on your website has a unique title.

Title tags are part of the meta tags that appear at the top of your HTML inside the <head> area. Search engines generally only display the first 60-70 characters of a title tag in their search results.

This is how it looks in your HTML code:

<title> This is the Title of a web page </title>

This is how it looks in your browser:

This is how the title looks in your browser

This is how it looks in the search results:

this is how the title looks in your search results

The best title tags contain the keywords your page is aiming for but also have elements which mean that users feel happy to click through to your site and help to increase the chances that your article will be shared on Social Media. As a general rule the best copy writers will spend more time crafting the perfect title for their content than they do actually writing it.

Meta Description

The tag looks like this when you view the HTML code of your site:

<META NAME=”Description” CONTENT=”Write your meta description in here”>

Every page of your website has the ability to have its own Meta Description, if you don’t bother writing your own meta descriptions Google will try to make one up for you by pulling key elements from your content.

The Meta description tag won’t help your site’s rankings, but it can appear within the text snippet below your search results listing. It is therefore important to write a Meta description that will encourage searchers to click on your result. Many of the major social networks use your Meta Description when sharing your content.

Robots Meta Tag

The Robots meta tag can be used to tell search engine bots not to index or follow links on a particular web page. This element is placed within your <head> element and uses the following commands:

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, FOLLOW”>

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”INDEX, NOFOLLOW”>

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>

Many web developers will add the NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW tag to your site while it is undergoing a redesign in a development area to prevent duplicate content errors or the search engines accidentally indexing your new site before it goes live.

If you’ve had a site redesign recently and your content is no longer showing in the search engines it’s advisable to check that your web developer/designer hasn’t accidentally left this tag in place.

Robots.txt

Web site owners use the /robots.txt file to give instructions about their site to search engine bots.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

The “User-agent: *” means this section applies to all robots. The “Disallow: /” tells the robot that it should not visit any pages on the site.

If you wanted to stop search engine bots from visiting certain pages of your website then you can use the following:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /archive/test.html
Disallow: /archive/test1.html
Disallow: /archive/test2.html

If you wanted to exclde a particular folder/directory then you could use:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /archive/

You should add your robots.txt file to the top level directory i.e. www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt

Meta Keywords

The meta keywords tag was an important SEO element a long time ago but due to general abuse by many webmasters it is no longer important for search engine optimisation. This can also be found within your <head> element.

<meta name=”keywords” content=”keyword 1, keyword 2, keyword 3” />

Keyword Density

There is no magical keyword density that will help your content rank higher. In the past the number of times a keyword was mentioned within the content on a web page had some baring upon where you ranked. The most important thing to bear in mind when writing your content is to include your keywords in the <title> element and at least once or twice in your content but ultimately you want to write content that is compelling to your target audience.

H1-H6

Header tags are used to emphasise different elements of your web page. The H1 tag is the most important tag as it is used as the title of the web page and therefore indicates the relevance of the document.  You should only have 1 <H1> per page, but you can use as many other Header elements on your page as you see fit. Ultimately use your H1-H6 tags to break up your content so that it’s easier for your site visitors.

301 Redirects

If you decide to change your website’s domain, or change your URL structure following a site redesign you run the chances of upsetting visitors as they visit a link on a website or in their bookmarks and find a 404 page and search engines will no longer be able to direct people to your site. This can lead to reduced traffic, unhappy customers and ultimately fewer sales and enquiries.

Thankfully we have the opportunity to use 301 redirects to help us mitigate this issue.

It is very advisable to setup a 301 redirect for www and non-www urls to prevent duplicate content from being indexed. This can be achieved by adding the following into your .htaccess file:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

301 redirects are an advanced web feature so it is advisable to hire a competent web developer or technical SEO professional to carry out this type of work on your behalf.

Internal Linking

The way in which you link the internal pages of your website together can have a significant impact on your site’s rankings.  It is important to work with your web designer to have a clear site architecture that ensures the pages on your site are linked together effectively.

If you are regularly creating new content on your site e.g. adding new products or blogging then it’s important to set aside some time every now and again to review the way in which your pages are linking together and wherever relevant you can add links to your older pages from your newer pages and vice versa.

It is also important that when you link your internal pages to one another that you try to use the keywords you are trying to optimise that page for as the anchor text, but don’t use the exact same anchor text every single time:

<a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/" title="Keyword Text">Keyword Text</a> 

URL Structure

A good URL structure makes it easier for your site visitors to understand and remember what page they are visiting. For example if you’re designing a web page for football memorabilia and you had two options for URL’s which do you think you would choose?

  • www.yourdomain.com/products/1452.html
  • www.yourdomain.com/football-memorabilia/

I hope you chose the second one! Try to keep your URL’s short and use hyphens between words.

If you need further incentive to use a friendly URI structure if you use your keywords within your URL’s then they will be highlighted in the search results.

It’s important to understand whether or not the work you are doing to your website for SEO purposes is improving your traffic or bringing the right types of people to your site.

Google Analytics provides vital data about your website.  Whether you are running a basic blog or a huge e-commerce business you need to know who your visitors are, where they came from, how long they stayed on your site and what they are looking at.

It is a free resource provided to webmasters by Google and is very easy to install and get started with.

 

If you want to know how to setup Google Analytics then this configuration tool is very useful.

Google Webmaster Tools is another free tool provided by Google to help webmasters know what is happening with their website it shows you which pages are broken, which websites are linking to you, if there are any viruses or malware on your web pages and also which keywords are sending you traffic and what positions your site was ranking for.

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Chris Dyson

Chris Dyson is a Freelance SEO Consultant and currently blogs about Social Media and SEO at Triple SEO.