The world of search engine optimization can be fairly overwhelming for those trying to market their small business. While more advanced technical SEO is still best left to SEO experts, there are SEO basics that any marketer should know in order to do well online.

Know your keywords and keyword phrases

Whenever we start working with a small business owner, we ask them this question:  “If someone was looking for a business like yours, what search phrase would they look for?”  Seems simple doesn’t it, but it’s amazing how many people really don’t have a solid grasp on what keyword phrases people would use to find them. Let’s take our humble little marketing company. Based on keyword research, here are a few phrases we found:

If you haven’t done any kind of keyword research, this is SEO basic #1 to do right now. There are lots of free tools for keyword research including:

Create useful, helpful content leveraging these keyword phrases

Now that you’ve figured out what terms prospective clients would use to find you, create compelling content pages on your website for this content. Be sure to make it user-friendly and easy to read; avoid industry jargon and lengthy, run-on sentences. Write easy to understand content. Yoast SEO has a few great suggestions to do this:

  • Transition words: Using these words improves the flow of your article as they provide hints to the reader about what is coming next.
  • Sentence beginnings: Always mix up your sentences to keep your article readable and free of obstacles.
  • Reading ease: Try using shorter sentences and avoid using too many words of more than two syllables.
  • Paragraph length: Use shorter paragraphs and insert subheadings.
  • Sentence length: Keep the number of words in a sentence in check. Shorten your sentences. Aim for easy understanding and simplicity.

Remember, you’re trying to get people to connect with you through the content you provide.

Create an optimized web page so Google understands it

This is where a lot of marketers fall short. You need to not only make your content user-friendly, you need to make it search engine friendly (the “S” and “E” in “SEO”!).  Here are the basics:

  • Create a title tag using your keyword phrase
  • Write a compelling meta description
  • Be sure your title is your H1 tag (H1 is a header tag)
  • Make sure the URL is SEO friendly by being clear, using the keyword phrase, and not too long
  • Add an image (and be sure to include your keyword phrase in the file name and alt tag)
  • Use internal links to help people navigate to other pages of your site with relevant content
  • Use outbound links to provide additional useful resources (make sure those links open a new tab, not bounce people off your site)

Here’s a great checklist for on-page optimization.

More about image optimizationimage editing

Here’s a great list to ensure your images on your web page are SEO-friendly and optimized:

  1. Name your images descriptively and in plain language.
  2. Optimize your alt attributes carefully.
  3. Choose your image dimensions
  4. Reduce the file size of your images.
  5. Use image sitemaps.

There are several free programs to help you correctly size your images.

Check your site speed, optimization, mobile friendliness

Confident that you’ve used the right keywords, created fantastic content and correctly added it to your website?  Let’s make sure!  Use a host of free tools to check site speed, page load speed, mobile friendliness and more.  These tools are all great and free to use!:

Screaming Frog – overall tool to help you look at optimization

Page Speed Insights – great tool by Google!

Mobile Friendly Test – another sweet yet simple Google tool

When you’re creating a new page for your site, simply step through each one of these suggestions to ensure you’re hitting the SEO basics. This is a great list of core tasks that any small business marketer can follow. Following these will help your website rank better and attract more prospects to your site.

Patty Hughes
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