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A small business guide to SEO

Heard of SEO? These days it’s vital, and this guide provides helpful tips on getting it right for yo

For small businesses, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about getting your business seen in a search engine (normally Google). So, it’s absolutely vital, because these days Google is your Yellow Pages, and the fastest link between you and your customer. It’s a complex subject, but here we’ve provided a few simple tips to help get you started.

Target your keywords

When you create a website, you need to decide on a list of search phrases you want to focus your efforts on. You know your market better than anyone, so try and think of common terms used in the industry and, more importantly, variations of them. Aim for around 30 keywords; the idea is to think about what your customers typically search for.

Tip: If you’re struggling to think of more, try entering ones you’ve thought of into Google’s keyword tool to find alternatives.

Once you’ve got enough keywords, you’ll need to narrow it down. The best way to do this is run them through Google’s keyword tool to get an idea of how many people search for them and how much competition is vying for them. Remove keywords that have a low volume of searches or high competition, as these are less likely to gain results in the short term. Aim for around 10-20 keywords, any more becomes difficult to achieve and to manage.

Take control of your website

Use your target keyword list to create or modify content on your website. Individual pages shouldn’t target more than a few keywords, and most websites now use Content Management Systems with built-in tools that make SEO-friendly content much easier to produce.

Start off with your title tags – these are the most important part of your web page in the eyes of search engines – but keep them to fewer than 70 characters. Just summarise the page briefly and try to include the keywords you’ve assigned to that page.

Tip: Add your brand name to the end of each title tag (e.g. Test Title Tag | Brand Name), which will help for brand searches.

Your Meta description can be lengthier than the title, but should still be kept under 160 characters. The aim is to elaborate on your title, but also to try and sell and persuade the user, as these are often used in the search results to show your website. Remember to include your target keywords for the page too.

Try and include your keywords up to 4 times in the main body of text on the page, but don’t compromise on the flow of the content. The most important thing is keeping the text natural and readable, but if you can fit a few keywords in, it’s a bonus.

Building visibility

Now that you’ve shown search engines what your website is about, you need to provide it with some fuel to rank for your target keywords – or links. After all, why create a website if no one will find it?

Inbound links to your website are the most important element in SEO, provided they’re obtained correctly. Don’t go looking for any old website to link to; try to look for relevant websites in your sector and ones that are seen as authoritative or reputable.

The key to gaining these links is content, so try and use your expertise or niche to provide these websites with something that will benefit them. Starting a blog is a good way of getting your unique views or advice out on the web building some credibility.

Tip: Get involved in industry discussions on social platforms like Twitter to gain attention for your blog and content.

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