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A super simple SEO checklist for small business

Ranking in Google isn’t as hard as it seems; follow this super simple SEO checklist and you’ll be on your way to page one.

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You want to rank well in Google so people can find your website. But how can you achieve this?

The key to is SEO is to think like a human, and search engines will follow. They are increasingly being designed for the user rather than robot crawlers.

In order to help small business owners rank in Google, I want to share a very simple SEO checklist to get you started off.

1. Focus your web pages around a couple of keywords

When building your website you want to think carefully about how to structure your pages and what keywords to use. For example, we will use a shoe store: called ‘Mary’s Magnificent Shoes.’

"The key to is SEO is to think like a human, and search engines will follow."

So, Mary sells three types of shoes: mens, womens and children. The first step,  before we even write a webpage, is to identify some keywords. Below is data I pulled from Google’s Keyword Planner:

As you can see these keywords have high monthly search volume which is great.

Now based on this research I want to create 3 pages for Mary:

  1. www.marysmagnificantshoes.com.au/mens-shoes
  2. www.marysmagnificantshoes.com.au/mens-casual-shoes
  3. www.marysmagnificantshoes.com.au/mens-dress-shoes

It’s very important to focus the content of these pages specifically to the keyword they’re targeting. I’ll talk more about this in the next tip. But Mary will want to repeat this process for both women’s and children’s shoes.

And that is how you very simply structure your website for SEO.

2. Optimising your web pages for SEO

When people talk about “optimising” webpages, they’re referring to what is known as on-page SEO. There are six elements that we want to focus on here:

  1. Page title
  2. Meta description
  3. URL structure
  4. Heading and image tags
  5. Anchor Text
  6. Page content

I will briefly cover each of these, but I suggest you do some further research at MOZ, a great SEO tool and resource.

Page title

This is the clickable link displayed in the search engine result page (SERPs) and helps Google determine what the page is about. Best practices to follow here:

  • Make every page title unique
  • Stick to 65 characters
  • Include your focus keyword

Meta Description

Displaying below the page title, a meta description describe the page content. They are not a ranking factor on Google but help you get a higher click through rate. Best practices to follow:

  • 160 characters
  • Include your keywords
  • Have a strong call to action

URL structure

URL structure is important as it indicates relevancy to Goolge. Try to be logical with URLs if they are helpful to humans they are helpful to Google. Best Practices:

  • Contain your keywords
  • Break words up with “-”
  • Use breadcrumb structure, eg www.example.com/clothing/mens/t-shirts

Heading tags

Heading tags help your customers and google understand the content on the page. They use a top-down structure <h1> to <h6>.

Best practices:

  • Only have one <h1> per page
  • Include your keywords
  • Use <h2> and <h3> to break up content

Anchor text

Anchor text is clickable text. You would likely be more familiar with the term hyperlink. Try to follow these best practices:

  • Use keywords related to what you’re linking to
  • Never use words like “click here”
  • Keep it tight, and simple

Page content

Finally, the content on the page what everyone is on your site to see. Make sure it’s excellent content. Again write for humans, not search engines. There is no need to stuff your keyword phrase 20 times. Follow these best practices:

  • Quantity, over quality (aren’t you sick of hearing it, I am)
  • At least 400 words
  • Use your focus keywords where they make sense, but don’t stuff them in everywhere

Now your webpages are keyword focused and SEO optimised it’s time to start building some links.

3. Boost your credibility with search engines by building links

Google’s key ranking factor is how many high-quality links you have pointing to your website. I put Emphasis on high-quality.

There are many bad techniques out there where people try to get as many links as possible. But Google will penalise you for this. You want to build quality links from websites that are respected.

A great way to achieve this is by guest blogging. In your area of expertise write several blog posts and then reach out to some website to publish them.

How to find websites to reach out to? Simply, type into Google “your niche keyword” + “guest post guidelines” or “write for us”.

For example, if you’re an accountant you might try this:

“Money saving tips” + “guest post guidelines”

Here is the result:

A blog focused on money saving that accepts guest contributors! It’s that simple. When submitting your post ask for a link back to your website. And ta duh, you’ve got yourself a quality link.

And that’s it. I told you I would keep this SEO checklist simple. Check these three steps off your list and you’ll be on your way to getting better rankings in Google.

Tom Donohoe

is a Co-founder at Capstone Digital, a digital marketing agency for small businesses & start-ups. Tom Donohue is an evangelist of all things digital, coffee aficionado and frequent contributor to many blogging websites. Connect with Tom on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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