SEO: Five Things to Consider for Small Business Websites

Man on google page speed test working on SEO

So, you’ve recently launched your new website! Way to go! We know first-hand the enormous investment in time, energy and money that goes into a website build. You’ve worked hard to make sure your website accurately reflects your business’ brand identity and the personality of your organization. Whether you worked with a professional web developer/designer or tackled the project inhouse, a website is a major achievement. You may be wondering, what’s next? 

What’s next is SEO.

Here at RMG, we offer SEO services to all types of organizations, large and small. Our SEO clients represent a variety of industry categories, some in the non-profit arena, others in education and technology and one of our longest duration SEO projects has been in the long-term care industry. SEO has a reputation of being complex and confusing to those on the outside but fortunately our account team does a great job making our services as transparent, as possible. All we need to get started is a working website and a collective desire to make it as visible as possible on the search engines. 

The SEO process is made up of two parts: onsite and offsite optimization. Onsite work (including optimization of a variety of elements related to the mechanics and performance of your site) comes first and typically takes about 4 – 6 weeks to complete. Offsite optimization begins after the onsite optimization is finished and can continue indefinitely. That’s because building backlinks (links between your website and other high quality websites) never ends. Connecting to other high quality sites helps to boost your website’s quality score and ultimately improve its page rankings. 

User Experience Matters

When we launch an SEO effort, we’ll want to determine if the overall user experience is positive, whether the content on your sight is easy to consume and if existing CTA’s are working smoothly and are not obtrusive to a visitor. We also check your page load speed for both mobile and desktop. Google has an easy-to-use page load speed test that uses color coding to reveal your site speed. Give it a try!

We acknowledge that (UX) is it’s own area of expertise, but for the purposes of this article, we are using the term, UX, to mean a visitor’s ease of access to information on your website, their ability to scroll around freely and get to topics of importance which is always the end goal. Ask yourself, do you present your business’ contact information on every page of your website? That’s often a major point of frustration for website visitors and one that is simple to address. 

Next we’ll cover some additional factors that make a website SEO friendly. 

There are many criteria to consider when assessing your website for SEO, but the basic premise is to determine how the search engines are engaging with it and then make any necessary improvements so that your website will rank higher up on Page One. Whether you work with our team or go it alone, you will benefit from utilizing reliable, professional tools to gauge the SEO health of your website.

In order for prospective customers to see your site on Page One via their search queries (Let’s assume for the purposes of this article that you are not running paid search ads. More on that in another article.) you need to adhere to best practices set by the search engine algorithms. As we all know, Google decides the rules and just to make it more fun, Google is constantly changing its algorithm. No wonder SEO’s are so busy!

Structured Data

Much of the onsite optimization steps discussed in this article relate to the structured data within your website. Structured data is coded content that helps “explain” to the search engine bots that crawl your site what your site is all about. Structured data is not visible to website visitors, instead, it speaks to the bots that help search engines decide what websites to serve in search results. Website content management systems (WordPress and others) may offer you built-in tools to incorporate structured data into your site. Working with a seasoned SEO is a tried and true way to be sure your site’s structured data is formatted and coded correctly.

Now let’s get into the five content-related best practices that will make your website more SEO friendly:

1. Meta descriptions – These are brief explanations of what a visitor is going to learn about on a particular page of your website. Just a sentence or two in length, a meta description appears in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Protocol) when a user keys in a search phrase related to your business. For example, a user might conduct a search for “Private Schools Near Me” and we want them to see your site above the fold on Page One of SERPS. Your URL will be served with a brief description underneath it that tells the user what to expect. You’ll benefit from writing a unique page-specific meta description for each page on your website. Duplicate meta descriptions are not favorable to SEO.

2. Alt-Tags – These are the hidden descriptors for all the images on your website. Basically, the Google bots that crawl your site are “blind” and don’t know what’s portrayed in the images on your site. You need to add alt-tags, or image descriptors to all your images so that the bots know what they are “looking” at. When people upload images to a website, the images may contain numerical descriptors which mean nothing to the bots. You’ll benefit from writing “human speak” descriptors for each of the images. For example, a picture of a group of students playing field hockey on a school website could have an alt-tag that says, “Image of the field hockey team captains at the state championship.” It may seem very literal but that’s precisely the point. Adding geographic references to your image tags is also a good idea. See the next point for more info on the power of geo-references. 

3. Geographic Modifiers – Using geographic modifiers lets the search engines know where you are physically located. Inserting geo-references into your meta descriptions, page titles, and alt-tags will ensure that your website will be featured in the Local Map Pack in Google which features three websites that fit the search query and are in close proximity to a particular location.

Here’s a visual of a Local Map Pack:

Image of google local 3 pack map

4. Google My Business Listing – Please don’t forget to create and continually update your GMB listing. This is like your search engine “hub” for all things related to your business or organization and an important reference point for Google to get what it needs. Optimizing your GMB profile involves adding appropriate industry categories, providing an accurate description of your organization and its services, including customer reviews with targeted keywords and don’t forget your address and phone number.

 

5. Adding fresh content. This may be obvious, but starting a blog is a great way to keep new relevant content flowing into your site. High resolution images and videos are also super effective types of content for the same reasons. Just remember to assign unique page titles to the new blog pages and to take the time to write meta descriptions for all your posts and assign alt-tags to all the images and videos. If you are going to use video, I like publishing on YouTube over Vimeo. Vimeo is paid and YouTube is free. And YouTube is owned by Google so you get the extra love there.

 

Finally, a privacy policy and terms and conditions must be featured on the footer of every page of your website. Even though here in the United States we aren’t (yet) obliged to adhere to the EU’s GDPR standards on website privacy, most reputable web developers have been using them for a few years now. Here are the links to the Privacy Policy and Terms + Conditions from our RMG website that you are welcome to use to get started. Adjust them to fit your business, as needed.

Years of experience and knowledge in the SEO arena has shown us that our clients will see more search traffic over time by adhering to the latest search engine requirements, some of which have been covered above. Remember, CONTENT IS KING. Without properly formatted and indexed content, no one will find your site! Working with a professional SEO team takes the guesswork out of your website’s page rankings and is one of the most cost-effective and measurable investments you can make for your business.

 

Get in touch today to learn more about our SEO services. 

Anne Richardson

​Anne Richardson is the owner and media director of Richardson Media Group, an agency specializing in media planning and buying, advertising campaign management and SEO.

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Richardson Media Group logo icon.
Anne outside the door of the Richardson Media Group office.

In addition to her role as owner and media director here at RMG, Anne authors the majority of our blog posts and hosts our BSuite podcast. Favorite topics for both platforms include the entrepreneurial journey, sustainability + social responsibility, media planning, media buying, and forming productive agency partnerships.