How to correctly Search Engine Optimize your Small Business website

With some forethought and some website know-how, just about anyone can gain rankings for their website using white hat methods.  In this post, I will explain some top-level SEO tactics that will help anyone gain better rankings for the keywords they desire.

Correctly using Title Tags on your small business website

Title tags are used to quickly explain in 50 to 80 characters what your page is about.  This is what is shown on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) hyper-linked in blue as seen below.

Website Title Tag

Title tags should not be thought of as a Title for your page, but more as a Headline.  This is the first thing that people will see on the SERP, if it doesn’t speak directly to your most valuable prospects, it won’t get clicked.  What good is getting to the first page if you don’t get clicks?

Do’s and Don’ts for website title tags.

  • Do keep your title tag between 50 and 80 characters.  Try and target only one or two top level keywords, I also recommend adding a city name or two if you’re trying to attain ranking for city related searches.
  • Do only use “|” or “-” to separate keyword strings in your title tag.  These symbols are the most frequently use separators, and to someone quickly scanning results on the SERP helps break up keywords on what your page is about.
  • Do be specific and to the point in your title tag.  In the above example it should be clear to see that this website is about Cadillac Transmissions, Clutch and Differential Repair.
  • Don’t use the same title tag for every page on your website.  If you do, the search engines may think its duplicate content and your chances for ranking all your pages declines dramatically.
  • Don’t use more that one or two top line keywords in your title tag.
  • Don’t repeat keywords more than twice.  Remember you’re trying to entice people to click your website, stuffing keywords in the title tag does little to help with achieving clicks.

Meta-Descriptions optimized for search engines and visitors

Meta-Descriptions are the text under the title tag on the SERP.  When writing your meta-description, it is important to use your desired keyword(s) from your title tag.  It’s important to use your desired keywords naturally, with a few secondary keywords mixed in.  The meta-description should give a brief overview of what a visitor should expect to find on your page.  Small businesses may also want to add city names they service, or special offers such as “free estimates” or “find coupons here”, you could even add confidence factors such as “30 years experience” or “BBB Rated A+” or something to that effect.  All this needs to fit into approx. 180 characters, so really thinking about your desired keywords, cities and most valuable prospect  when writing your meta-description, while maintaining readability is key.

wrong way to do meta description
The wrong way to do a meta-description

As you can see in the above example, stuffing keywords into the meta-description does little to entice a prospect of visiting the website.  In this example I did a search for “Plumbers Portland, OR”, and unfortunately for these folks they are ranked 9 pages back, so kind of shows this tactic does not work (other factors not mentioned).  The example under them also shows a waste of title tag and meta description space.  I almost never use phone numbers in title tags or meta descriptions, they are a waste of valuable SEO space and do nothing to help rankings, unless you’re trying to rank for your businesses phone number, which seems like a silly thing to do unless your businesses name is something like 1-800-Got-Junk.

Are Meta-Keywords important to small business websites?

These days the search engines rate very little (if any) relevance on meta-keywords.  In fact many newer website building programs don’t even include a meta-keyword field.  However, if your website program does, filling in a few meta-keywords can’t hurt.  Most experts agree that 7-10 keywords per page is sufficient.  Make sure to use your primary and secondary keywords, variations on these keywords and any cities you are trying to rank for in this area.

Heading Tags to reinforce your websites contentheading tags good for seo

Heading Tags, sometimes referred to as “h tags” are much like headlines in an old fashioned newspaper make it easy for your readers to understand what the content on your web page is about.  They also helps search engines understand the same.

Correctly using a h1 tag on your website

Heading tags come in 6 different sizes from h1 (being the biggest) to h6 (being the smallest).  There should only be one h1 tag per page.  This tag should include your top level keyword, worked into a brief overview of what the page is about.  For the transmission shop above, a great h1 tag for a page talking about Cadillac transmissions, clutch and differential repair would be “Expert Cadillac Transmission, Clutch and Differential Repair“.

Sub-heading tags – h2 and h3

H2, h3 and h4 tags are used for sub-headings.  It can be tempting to try and stuff keywords into sub-heading tags, try and avoid this.  Sub-heading tags should be used to highlight what each area of content on your website is about.  Trying to naturally use primary, secondary or variations of these in h2 and h3 tags is good SEO.  As you can see from this article, I have used h2 and h3 tags, and tied in my primary keywords: small business, websites, search engine optimization.  I have also included some variations on these keywords, such as: optimized and optimize.

On blogs, it is not necessary to use a h1 tag as the post title should include what you would normally include on a static page h1 tag.

h4 and h5 Heading tags for small business city rankings

Using h4, h5 and h6 tags is not necessary for small business website SEO, but can be helpful in attaining rankings such as city specific searches.

Correctly using h4 and h5 heading tags to include pertinent information such as: area’s served or short lists of services can be helpful in letting the search engines know where your small business pulls customers from.  Unless you tell the search engine what and where your small business does its thing, the chances of you ranking high for these types of searches is almost zero.

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