SEO for small businesses

SEO tips and tutorial

Search engine optimisation (or SEO) is a process of checking the design and layout of your website to ensure it is optimised for appearing high up in the search results of Google, Bing and other search engines. The information contained below is what we would class as white hat techniques - i.e. good things to do which are perfectly legitimate as you're doing what the search engines want to see.

What do search engines want?

When someone types some keywords into a search engine and presses GO, the search engine looks at the words you have entered and tries to return the best results for these search terms. Each search engine has its own methodology (search algorithm) of how it goes about doing this but they all work from one basic principle - they want to return the best results they can for a given search term. So, what makes a good result for a search engine? The search engine itself has a piece of software called a spider which is constantly reviewing websites and trying to understand what subjects they relate to. The spiders create a database for the results to come from but the information that the spiders read is the information you add to your website. So - if your're website doesn't say much or doesn't include the search terms that you wish to be found for then don't be surprised if you can't even find your own website in the search results. The key here is in building your website to appear as the authoritative site on your chosen subject. e.g. if you sell pressure washers then the search engines are looking to promote sites with lots of content relating to pressure washers.

What does this mean practically

Make sure your website offers real value to your customers in terms of being an expert in your chosen field. Write many and detailed web pages about your chosen subject, products and services. Ensure that your webpages are created accurately and include all of the standard tags (see below).

Think of each web page like a book where you would have a title, text and maybe some headings to help the reader. It is these headings and text that will help the search engines and push your website higher up the search results.

Page Title

All webpages should include the title tag. Between these ensure that you put a well worded title for your web page and that each of your webpages has its own unique title. The page title shuold include keywords relevant for this webpage.

Meta What?

At the start of your webpage you should have some 'meta tags'. These help the search engines by telling them what your web page is about. You can include a description and list of keywords for your web page.

Heading tags

Each web page you create should have a number of heading tags (H1, H2, H3 etc). There should only be one H1 tag but you can have many H2 and H3 tags which are the headings for various sections within your content. e.g. if you have a page called 'pressure washers' then your H2 tags may be 'Pressure washers for cars', 'Pressure washers for boats' etc.

Alt tags

If you have images on your website then make sure that you include the ALT tag with each image and set some of these to include your chosen search term. The ALT tags were invented for cases where the browser cannot display your image and instead shows the text contained in the ALT tag. The tag generally is used to describe the image but keep it short - no more than 10 words.

Link tags

No doubt your website will include links from the main menu to other pages in your website. You may also like to include links within the main content of your pages to other parts of your site. When adding a link also use the 'title' tag which can be included as this is read by search engines. The text you enter into the link title should relate to the content of the page you are linking. e.g.

Content is king

As mentioned earlier, the search engines are looking for the best possible website content to present to a user. Therefore ensure that each of your pages has well written content which relates to your subject. Do not overload the page with repetitions of your keywords though as this is considered to be 'black hat' and will get you nowhere. Each web page you add should include at least 300 words of content for it to be considered of any worth to the search engines. When adding content think about the "Who, What, Why, Where, How" words for describing your products and services. Don't forget to include subject headings (the H1, H2, H3 tags) so your users can understand your content.

Use of Javascript

Search engines will not read and certainy not understand the meaning of any Javascript or other code that you add to your website so use this sparingly. If you have to use Javascript for images or menus then make sure to also include some hard coded links within the footer or other area of your site - give the spiders a chance to find your content.

Use of Flash

Search engines cannot read any content from a flash file as this is just images. Even if you have text within your flash presentations, the search engines cannot see this text so Flash based websites will get you nowhere when it comes to SEO.