Search Engine Optimization for Small Businesses
October 1, 2012 - Posted by Amanda Norris
Guest Post by Aaron Houghton, co-founder and CEO of BoostSuite.com
You want more visitors and more customers from your website. You’re heard that Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the most cost effective way to promote your business online. But you’re a small business owner, not a web marketer, how should you get started?
I have good news.
These days the term SEO refers to a large list of marketing techniques. Some are quite complex and for these you’ll benefit greatly from the assistance of a web marketing expert. Other techniques are simple and allow you to make a lot of progress on your own – even if you know absolutely nothing about web marketing.
In this article we’ll show you how you can get started doing SEO on your website using only what you already know about your business.
Here’s the trick. Stay in your comfort zone.
You know your business, that’s why you went into business in the first place. You’re probably not a technical web marketer, and that’s just fine. If you’re comfortable editing your website then go ahead and make the following changes right on your website. If not, just write down your changes in an email to your webmaster as you proceed.
Author’s Note: If you want a little help along the way, you might consider signing up for a free BoostSuite easy SEO account. BoostSuite.com will walk you through the following steps (and a few more too).
Let’s get started.
Here are two do-it-yourself SEO techniques – that will increase traffic to your website – that you can start working on right now.
Write Awesome Page Titles
Have you ever noticed that the big bold text headline above your website’s listing in the search engine results page is just an exact copy of your homepage’s title? Try it now, pull up your website in a new browser window. Look for your page’s text title at the top of the browser window.
Here is the Google results page listing for my company’s website, BoostSuite.com. The headline “Easy Search Engine Optimization for Small Businesses” is the exact same as the page title on our homepage.
Because search engines often use a page’s title as the primary headline for its listing, searchers see this text first as they consider whether or not to click through to your website.
Most websites have really bad page titles. Bad page titles confuse searchers and cause potential visitors to back out instead of clicking through to your website. Think of this like accidentally leaving your “Open” sign turned off during your peak business hours. Oops!
If your page title says something like “Homepage” or “Untitled page” consider how bad that looks when your potential customers see your website’s listing in the search engines. Would you click over to a website that says “Untitled page”?
You also don’t just want to put your business name in the page title. Although visitors who already know you may click on your business name, you are doing a huge disservice to everyone else, the millions of Internet searchers who have yet to learn about your business. Most Internet searches are for products or the problems that the products solve, not business names.
Because of this, an effective page title first describes your products or services and then mentions your business name. For instance “Dallas Texas Locksmith Services from ABC Corp, Inc.” This is an awesome page title. Page titles in this format have been proven to convince searchers to click and visit your website at a much higher rate. This means an immediate boost in traffic for your website.
Try it now. Write down your current homepage title. Then rewrite it so that it describes your products and services first and then mentions your business name last. Keep the description short so that the total page title length is no longer than 70 characters.
Repeat this process for every other page on your website. Make sure that the text you write at the front of the title describes the content on each specific page. For instance, on a contact form page, an awesome page title would be “Call or Email us to Request Locksmith Services from ABC Corp, Inc.”
As you write each new page title, copy/paste the URL of the page alongside the title in your notes. This will save you time when you put your plan into action. We’ll discuss this more later.
Write Awesome Page Descriptions
Much like page titles, page descriptions are often displayed as part of your website’s listing in the search engine results page. A page description is a technical field that isn’t showed to your visitors when they surf your website, but instead is automatically provided in the background for the search engines to use. The technical name for this field is a page meta description.
Even worse than bad page titles, many web pages don’t even have page descriptions at all. This is a huge mistake. The search engines display your meta description as part of your search engine listing so that you can try to persuade searchers to click through to your website instead of your competitors’ websites. Not providing a page description is like buying a billboard and leaving it blank. Oh no!
Looking again at BoostSuite’s Google results page listing, you’ll see how much focus is given to our page description.
A good page description is very persuasive. It explains what searchers will find on your website, why they can’t find it anywhere else, and gives a statement of urgency or exclusivity.
We have the largest fleet of locksmiths in the Dallas, TX area. Request service right now on our website. We’ll respond in less than 15 minutes.
Here’s another example for a different type of business.
Our corporate law partners have done more mergers and acquisitions than anyone. Learn more and request a free consultation on our website.
These are awesome page descriptions because they are concise and communicate exactly why a searcher should click through to the website. Page descriptions like these are proven to pull more visitors from the search engines through to your website.
Try it now. Write a description for your homepage .Be persuasive, explain why you are unique, and tell searchers why they should click right now. Keep it short so that the total description length is no longer than 150 characters.
Repeat this process for all other pages on your website. Visit a new page on your website. Become familiar with the content on the page. Then write a new persuasive page description for that page. Copy/paste the URL of the page alongside the new description in your notes.
Putting Your New Search Engine Optimization Plan Into Action
If you’re comfortable editing your website directly, you can go ahead and replace your current page titles and meta descriptions with the new text in your notes using your website’s Content Management System.
If not, you can send your list of page URLs and new page titles and meta descriptions to your webmaster for easy implementation. Just copy/paste your notes into an email and hit send. Changing page titles and adding meta descriptions are some of the easiest tasks that your webmaster can do, so expect a quick turnaround.
Congratulations. In just a few minutes (or maybe a bit longer if you have a large site) you’ve made huge improvements to your business website. You have completed the first steps in a successful web marketing plan.
Give the search engines a few weeks to notice the changes and update your listings. After that you can expect a steady flow of new, eager, and engaged visitors to your website.
If you want work on some other easy SEO improvements to your website, you can sign up for a free BoostSuite account. BoostSuite allows anyone to optimize their website for more visitors and customers.
About the Author
Aaron Houghton is co-founder and CEO of BoostSuite.com. BoostSuite is a free product that helps small business owners get more visitors and revenue from their websites. Aaron was formerly co-founder of small business email marketing leader iContact.com. He has been helping small businesses boost their web marketing results for over 15 years. You can contact Aaron directly on Twitter @aaronwhoughton or @boostsuite.