I get a lot of questions about search engine optimization for the average “small” business. What is the best SEO tactic? What should I start on first? Is it important to blog? I have come up with the top 10 search engine optimization tactics for small businesses. I am going to pick a site that I have no affiliation with what so ever. Today’s site will be Canyon Pipe & Supply, Inc. at http://www.canyonpipe.com. Here is the home page:
40% of your time should be focused on here. Targeting the wrong keywords is worthless. You need to find the right mix of keywords that bring quality traffic that will convert against the amount of searches done and the competitive websites that are in a search engine’s database. Our example shows very little (if any) research was done in this area. After doing a very quick search I am going to use a term that has good volume, meets our examples target market, and has very little competitive pages in Google. The keyword term we will use for this example is “Arizona plumbing supplies”.
On Page Optimization
So you have picked around 2-3 keyword phrases per page and now it is time to implement those keywords in the strategic areas within each web page. Your top areas should be:
- First 25 words of the first paragraph
- Bold Text
- URL/Web Pages
Our example site shows that the home page is not optimized for this term and receives a F for a grade. I would perform a high level of optimization to bring the home page up to speed.
Title Tag Optimization
In laymen terms the title tag is what your browser on the top displays and it is by far the most important tag you can optimize on your site. Think of it as the title of a book. The title sets the tone on what the entire book is about and really the web page title tag is no different. Our example ‘s title tag is ” Canyon Pipe & Supply, Inc. Plumbing Supply and Wholesale Distribution in Arizona”. This title tag does include the keywords of our selected phrase within the title but are not together as a phrase and not at the beginning of the title. This is a very common mistake made by all websites especially by small businesses. A more optimized title for SEO would be ” Arizona Plumbing Supplies – Wholesale Distributor in AZ – Canyon Pipe & Supply.
You have got to have quality links pointing into your site/page you want to rank high for. A link is a vote in the SEO world and the more quality votes from authoritative and relevant web sites the better. This is an on going battle and 40% of your time is always devoted around this SEO tactic. The truth of this that it is the grunt work and many companies have no idea on how to do this effectively or have a dedicated effort towards obtaining links. This is where any SEO service provider is worth the dollars you spend on them. If they tell you other wise you should not waste your time and money on them.
Our example site does receive links from a handful of authoritative and relevant sites. Optimization of these existing links would be the first place I would start as the anchor text, the text that points to the example’s website, is very brand heavy and it would greatly improve the web site’s rankings if these links were labeled “Arizona plumbing supplies” instead based our chosen keyword phrase.
SEO Meta Tags
Once used heavily by the search engines as a ranking factor, these tags (keywords & description) are now more important for click through once a site has received a high ranking (description) than anything else. Some will tell you they are still a factor in obtaining a high ranking and need to be optimized. My feeling is that the description tag is the most important of the two and you should optimized for SEO and click through for all pages. While you have the “hood up” you might as well add and optimize the keyword tag.
Both of these tags on our example’s site are pretty good as the do have the keywords within them, while the keyword tag actually has our desired keyword phrase included. I would rate these tags for the home page as a C+ and with some minor tweaks to the description these would be good to go.
Fresh unique content is everything in the search engine optimization world. It is also a must to set your website as an authority in your space while giving your visitor/customers reasons to come back to your site. It also is the rocket fuel for your social media marketing . 99% of all small businesses do not perform this task and they suffer a slow painful death that results in little return visits and sales. Our example site has no blogging component and gets a F. The interesting thing about our example site is that it has great possibilities as the site has existing areas like “monthly specials” & “upcoming events”. Not a blog area but these areas can be used to introduce the fresh content.
Social Media Marketing Integration
As you might be able to guess, no blog, no social media. Not much to say here. You need social media marketing and optimization and the example site does not have any social media marketing strategy, or at least I could not find any. The sites does have some good possibilities though. Their “upcoming events” section can be a great place to add fresh and relevant content that would then fuel their SMM. Final grade – F
Online Press Release Distribution
Our example site does not show any use of creating press releases or distribution of them online. I am a big fan of using press releases to help drive your link building efforts. There are plenty of “free” release services out there that can help you come but for $200 dollars per release you can use a premium service such as PR Web. Final Grade – F
XML Sitemap Creation & Webmaster Tools
The major search engines have given us some really good tools to help get some incite on our websites in terms of traffic, rankings, errors, link building, communication, and how they “see” our sites. It really is a no brainer and takes only a few hours to set up webmaster accounts in Yahoo, Bing, and Google. XML sitemap creation is also a snap to create and their are plenty of free tools out there that can create this for you. Our example site does not have these set up or an XML site map created even though they did implement Google Analytics set up. Final grade – F
I bet you can guess right? Total SEO foundation plan? Well, yes and no. Actually our example site has a top 20 ranking for our “money” term. I think there are a few reasons for this:
- Even though the site lacks the body copy it should, have it does have the keywords in the copy (but not together as a phrase).
- It does have a few authoritative web sites lining to them. I would like to see the anchor text much more optimized but a quality link is a quality link.
So to sum it all up this example site really has some tremendous opportunity to do very well from quality SEO. It also tells you that SEO is an “art” not a “science” as sometimes rankings can be some what positive without the SEO effort behind it.