A beginner’s guide to small business SEO

A quick rundown – SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’, which means building and maintaining your website in a way that gives you the best chance of not only being found in search engines, but ranking highly when potential customers are searching.

The first thing to know is that SEO is by no means an exact art or science. The big search engines are continuously updating their algorithms to determine where a site is ranked compared to similar businesses.

So what does this mean for small-business owners? Basically, SEO is never finished!

Unlike advertising, which typically runs for a limited time and causes a short-term spike in new business, SEO is a long-term investment. With the right techniques and some dedication, you will reap the rewards of increasing your search engine traffic, and continue to do so for arguably much longer than a traditional advertising campaign.

There are a few simple steps you can take for a DIY approach to SEO when you’re just starting out:

  1. Make sure your website is responsive

In 2015 Google made a big update to its ranking criteria – any website which was not optimised for mobile would be ranked lower. Think about how many times a week you do a quick Google search for something on your iPhone or other device – can your business afford not to tap into the increasing search traffic through smartphones?

  1. Think about key phrases more than keywords

In the old days keywords peppered through your content were an integral part of telling Google exactly what your business was about. These days there is much more of a focus on key phrases, or ‘long-tail keywords’.

As a small business, content with long-tail keywords means that you have a better chance of a higher ranking in your niche. For example, trying to rank for the search term ‘Sydney accountant’ is extremely competitive and you will be going up against businesses with larger marketing budgets. Focusing on long-tail keywords, such as ‘Northern Beaches small business tax accountant’, means you have the potential to rank higher for your target market.

  1. Create a sitemap with search-friendly URLs

Google’s ‘spiders’ crawl the web searching for sites to index. A sitemap is a page listing of your site’s pages and how they relate to each other in your content hierarchy, making it easier for these critters to find all your pages.

Another thing to consider is how ‘search-friendly’ your page URLs are. Including relevant keywords in your links will make it easier for search engines to categorise your pages. Instead of a generic URL like ‘http://nbaccountants.com.au/p=9836’, something like ‘http://nbaccountants.com.au/small-business-tax-accounting’ is much more effective at telling Google what your page is about.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’re well on your way toward a more search-optimised website. This is just the tip of the iceberg and search engine standards are constantly evolving – SEO is an ongoing process, but the ROI for your efforts is well worth it.

Scott Donald, Chief Strategist, Creativ Digital

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