SEO starter advice for small businesses
This post is intended for new to medium businesses that have just created a website and are looking to improve their visibility in local search. If you’ve already got a good idea about SEO, then this post isn’t for you.
I’m going to keep this fairly brief and easy, the following are actionable steps you can take.
- Sign up for Google My Business – https://www.google.com/business/ – This should take you all of 10 minutes, fill everything out correctly, ensure your profile is up to date and has some high quality pictures. Google will send you a letter in the mail of your business address, to verify you own that business, the letter will contain a 5 digit key you will need to complete registration.
- Sign up for Google Search Console – https://www.google.com/webmasters/ – This is fairly easy, you’ll need to verify your site by pasting a script in your header file, or by uploading a tiny file to your site (this proves to Google you own the site). Search Console is essentially a system for you to adjust your Google search presence and view your traffic. Connecting to Search Console will speed up Google’s process understanding your site. Submit you’re sitemap.xml, which is a small file that is essentially a digital map of your website and its content within, if this sounds confusing to you, just search for “How to submit a Wix/WordPress/Squarespace (whatever you built with) sitemap” in Google.
- Ensure all your pages are content rich and extremely well written. You should aim for 300-600 words per page (or longer if the information you are writing is salient). It’s fine if some pages (like your contact page) have less than 300 words. If you’re a new e-commerce website, ensure you’ve got SUPERB descriptions on ALL of your products. This written copy is to assist search engine robots understand your website, and you will be judged you on the quality of your wording. Use heading tags correctly too, to represent hierarchy, with H1 being the “Master”, for example;
<H2>Flower Delivery Newcastle</H2>
<H3>How It Works</H3>
<H3>Our Delivery Area</H3>
You get the idea right?
- Ensure your website is fast. Make sure your images are all compressed. Meaning, the file size should be as small as possible, without sacrificing quality (there’s a free tool online for this – https://kraken.io/ )- however you can also compress images using Preview if you’re on a mac, or Paint if you’re on Windows. Images should never really exceed 400kb, but under 200kb is the sweet spot. Next, if you’re on a mac, open the application “Terminal”, if you’re on Windows, open “Command Prompt” or “cmd” for short.
Type in ping rhyshughes.com.au – this is the same if you’re on Mac or Windows.
You’ll get a result like this:
What you’re looking at is the time= field, this is how many milliseconds it takes your site to respond. My site (pictured above) takes on average 23 thousandths of a second to respond. So this is very fast, and creates a snappy experience for your site users. Let’s ping a slower site, say www.wildelegance.com.au and view the results:Notice how it’s around 182ms, or almost 0.2 of a second to respond? That means it’s already around 8 times slower than my site, so the user experience is somewhat compromised.
If you’re in Australia, you should aim for under 100ms response time, the lower the better, 5 to 40 ms is brilliant. If your website is over 200ms latency, then you’ve got issues. More than likely, you need to speak with your web host. If you’ve bought hosting with companies like Wix, BlueHost, GoDaddy etc, then your actual host (the physical location of the server that stores your website) is overseas, and your customers connection will be slow.
- Ensure your websites meta descriptions are elegant. If you don’t know what “Meta Descriptions” are, they are essentially a description of your web page, and these Meta Descriptions are displayed in search engines, for example;
If you’ve built your site with WordPress, install Yoast SEO to edit these, if you’ve made your site in Wix or some other builder, you should be able to find the settings to change these per individual page. There’s no real right or wrong way to do these, just make sure your meta descriptions are accurate, compelling and informative. Just like in the example above.
- Sign up for a Facebook business page, link this to your website and add your phone number. Also sign up to localsearch and yellow pages, they’ve both got a free signup.
And that’s it, six actionable items you can do now to improve your search engine optimisation from day 1.
Soon I’ll update this post and give you some more tips, let me know if you have any questions.
PS Step 3 is the most important.