As a small business owner you’re already swamped with more things to do than you have time for, and yet whenever someone says they can tell you how to sell more, be more profitable, and generally make more money, you feel obligated to pay attention. You’ve got bills to pay, and anything that can help is welcome, as long as it really works. Unfortunately, much of what gets peddled as being extremely helpful is often just time consuming and useless.
Well, here’s something you don’t have to pay for, and it will only take you five minutes to read. Once reading it, you can decide whether it’s useful to you or not and either implement some of the suggestions here or leave them for another day. But if implemented, they may just help you make more money and pay those bills.
Will no further ado, I give you my ten search engine optimization tips for small businesses.
Wait, just a little ado. There are hundreds or thousands of things you can do to optimize your website for search engines. These are ten tips that I’ve chosen because 1) they’re relatively simple, 2) they don’t take much time, and 3) they work.
One other note: Before taking any of these steps you will need to make a list of your keywords. Let’s start with 25. These are the words you think people are typing into Google when they’re looking for what you sell. Once you’ve got 25 keywords or keyword combinations, pick the 5 you think are the most valuable. Then pick the 1 keyword or keyword combo you think will bring you the most money. Need some more help? Check out this keyword research guide. Ok, let’s go.
1. Fix your title tags. What’s a title tag? It’s a little bit of HTML code. “Oh no, I don’t know HTML. I thought these tips were supposed to be easy?!” Yes, there is some HTML work involved, but it is easy, and you can do this yourself, trust me.
Every page on your website has a title tag that looks something like this:
<title>The Title of Your Page Usually Goes Here</title>
This code is hidden, and to see you it you can go to a browser and click on “View” and then “Source” or you can look at the HTML files you might have on your computer that you edit to update your website.
The text contained within the title tag shows up in the upper left corner of your browser. It also shows up as the link in search results, and is highly important to search engine results. If you put your keywords in your title tag, you’re website is more likely to come up higher when people type in those keywords.
For example, go to Google and do a search for “utah web design”. As of the writing of this posting, my firm’s website, www.mwi.com, comes up as the second listing (we’ll explain why it’s not #1 in a moment). The first line of that listing reads “Utah Website Design, Salt Lake Advertising Agency, Utah Web Design …” and if you click on this link it will take you to my firm’s website. This text comes from the title tag and therefore you can control what this link on Google says.
The title tag is on all your pages, but let’s just talk about the title tag on your homepage. Within that title tag you will want your most important keyword first, and then if you can work in your other four top keywords that’s great. If not, we can work them in somewhere else. You don’t want to put a ton of text in the title tag, just 5-10 words.
2. Here’s a real easy one. Don’t have an intro page. You know how some sites have an intro page or a splash page that has a logo or some animation on it, and then you have to either wait for it to take you to the real homepage or you have to click on an “enter” link? Not only is this out of style, old-fashioned, and annoying to visitors, but it virtually ruins your search engine results. Don’t do it.
3. Have some text on your homepage and put your keywords in it.
4. Get other sites to link to your site. These sites should preferably be sites that are 1) ranked well in search engines and 2) have content relevant to what you do.
Remember how I said we’d talk about why MWI isn’t ranked #1 in Google? It’s because the guy who is #1 has 554 sites indexed in Google linking back to him while MWI only has 152. How can I tell?
5. Get your keywords in the link. When someone links to your site, try to get them to put your most desired keywords in the link. Rather than having someone link to my web design firm by linking to my firm’s name “MWI” I would rather have them put up a link that says “utah web design” which is one of my most desired keyword phrases.
6. Choose your domain wisely. Although I’ve recently read reports that hint to the contrary, it appears that your website will come up higher in searches where the keywords searched for are present within your domain. This doesn’t work for everyone because generally you want your url to be the name of your company rather than what you do, but it does work for some, like MyBlankSkateboardDeck.com or SpeedyCeus.
7. Use the meta description tag. It’s not hard to use it and it does help, so why not put it in there? A meta description tag looks like this:
<meta name= “description” content=”Utah web design and web development from MWI, a Salt Lake City, Utah web design firm. We design websites, create advertising campaigns, build content management systems, provide search engine optimization and search engine marketing, and manage brands and graphic design projects. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, we provide services to clients in California, Nevada, Idaho, Virginia, Boston, Utah, and New York.”>
It should go near the top of your code, such as right under the title tag.
8. Register your domain for longer than one year. Spam websites and cybersquatters register their domains for one year, so register yours for five or ten. Google does rank domains that are registered for longer higher in their results.
9. Use those old domains. Google also ranks domains higher if they were registered before 2002. If you’re lucky enough to have a domain that you bought back in 1998 you’re golden.
10. Measure your results. In and of itself this won’t do a thing for your search engine rankings. But it will cause you to do things that will. It can become quite addicting, and you’ll find yourself having too much fun doing it once you get the basics.