The Micro Business Guide To Search Engine Optimisation

The aim of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is to bring targeted visitors to a website by being positioned highly in the search engine’s results pages.

It is a fact that once somebody has done a search in a search engine they will rarely go beyond the first or second pages of results. Therefore the higher up the rankings you can get, the more targeted traffic you will receive to your website.

Then hopefully you can convert those visitors into a sale…

SEO can be broken down into three parts

  1. Keyword Research
  2. On-page Optimisation
  3. Link Building

1.  Keyword Research

This is the foundation work of SEO.

Keywords are phrases that people type into a search engine to find the services or products you provide.

For example, if I was a company providing different coloured and sized widgets, users would more than likely be searching for things like “blue widgets” , “red widgets”, “big blue widgets” etc.

Keyword phrases are either short tail (usually two or three phrases long) or long tail keywords which can be upto four or five keyword phrases long.

To help you decide which key phrases are right for you there are a number of FREE tools you can use such as Google’s keyword tool. Simply enter a word or words that describe your business and you will receive a list of related phrases along with a predicted number of searches you can expect to receive (tip: to get an accurate search volume make sure you click “exact search” in the tick box to the left).

2.  On-page Optimisation

Once you have a list of keywords you feel you want to be found for, the key is then to optimise the website.

You need to know which keyword phrases belong to which page. It’s normally advisable to only optimise a maximum of three keyword phrases per page of your site, with the most complex on your homepage.

One of the biggest ranking factors is the title tag of your website. Here we see the title tag for the website:

“ – your home for the latest news, sport and entertainment”.

It’s important you make sure your main keywords are included in your title tag, and depending on the platform your site is built on will depend on how you access the title tag.

Do not overstuff the title tag. It should be no more than 64 characters long (any longer and Google will truncate this) and a keyword should be repeated no more than two times in the tag. In addition try separating keywords with a separator such as “,”, “|” or “-“.

Other factors to consider include:-

  1. Body Text – Make sure your keywords appear sparingly in the text. BUT remember your content is written for human readers to buy the products or services you provide, so think about the message you want to send. I would recommend a keyword should be mentioned no more than 2-3 times every 300 words.
  2. Header Tags – Use H1, H2 tags to break up your text and try and mention your keywords here too.
  3. Image Descriptions Do not over stuff this. Remember this text could be read aloud for visually impaired readers. The text should accurately depict the images.
  4. Meta Description This is the bit that will appear under the Google listing. Be descriptive here in the form of a paragraph or two. Do not exceed 160 characters. For example is:

 “Check out the most up to date editorial, pictures and video-breaking news, sport, showbiz, movies, TV and more. Plus search the web and check your Sky email” 

3.  Link Building

This is the process of building links from other websites back to yours.

There have been many different methods to create links over the years but the safest way has to be through “guest blog posting”. This is where you write an article and post it on someone else’s site (this article is an example of a guest post).

Engaging on social media and building trust is key to finding opportunities to guest blog. To get the best link value, you need to ensure you appear on relevant sites. Then get the anchor text of any links back to your site right. Consider using a variety of keywords as well as more generic words such “click here”, “view the website” etc.

In summary, the key to a successful SEO campaign can be broken into three areas:

  1. Content
  2. Engagement
  3. Outreach

So think about relationships…

And do not try and force results. If you do you’ll face penalisation and a lot of wasted effort.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Take some time to think about your SEO strategy today. Have you done your keyword research? What about your on-page optimisation? Perhaps you need to think about your outreach and link building strategy.

Write down and commit to three actions you will take to develop and enhance the SEO of your website.

Neil Maycock

Neil Maycock is Managing Director of Optimize-Yorkshire a Search Engine Optimisation company based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He has been involved in SEO since 2006.

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  1. As a writer and content marketing consultant I’m really fascinated by SEO. Whilst you must ensure your website copy and blog posts speak to your visitors, as you say you do need to ensure Google knows what your website is about so you can rank for your keywords. Outreach is something we’re very interested in at the Hub and as you say guest blogging is a great way to attract links and also reach out to a new audience. It’s great to read some advice about SEO which makes sense and which I feel I can implement.

    And it’s brilliant to see you on the Hub Neil. Thanks for your well explained, detailed article 🙂
    Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..How To Write A Killer Home PageMy Profile

  2. HI Neil, I have a question. I see a lot of talk about ethical SEO. What does that actually mean, why is it important and what checks can you carry out to ensure your SEO consultant / company is operating ethically?
    Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..About the Micro Business HubMy Profile

    • Hi Georgina,

      Great Question!. Ethical SEO basically means clued up enough to as not break Google’s guidelines on what is acceptable and what isn’t. Google changed the playing field this year with the birth of the Penguin update! which basically penalised over optimised sites. A lot of old link building methods that may have got a site ranked were deemed no longer effective or tolerated in Google’s eyes.

      To check whether a company is ethical the first thing you want to do is look at what they are offering. If it looks overly affordable or too good to true your can probably guarantee they are not taking the time to no.1)research and optimise your site effectively 2)they are involved in automated or low level link building strategies.

      Ask them EXACTLY! what they plan to do for the money and never agree any changes to your website without agreeing them first or find your content replaced by unreadable spammy text. If they mention “blog commenting”, “directory submissions” , “article submissions” in bulk submissions these are the type of links that are being penalised by Google. Make sure they are willing to send you a list of any links they have done.

      These days the safest (up for debate) links are guest blogs and gaining links naturally. A good blog is a great way to get links depending upon your niche. If you make it attractive enough and informative enough people are bound to mention you and link back naturally to your site. If you a B2C customer think about competitions or product reviews to related bloggers in your niche. People always love a freebie and it’s a great way to gain a natural link.

      Hope this helps!

      Kind Regards

      • For me “ethical” SEO is way beyond doing what Google wants. Running an “ethical” business you are not just focused 100% on profit but also on improving your community whether that’s charitable donations, pro bono work or working in a green way.

        Therefore ethical SEO is about improving the web, improving your user’s experience & helping people find the answers
        to their questions easily.

        If you want your online business to be an authority in your niche & not some get rich quick scheme then ask yourself the question, “Is this what an authority website do?”

  3. I can’t stress enough the importance of the first part, keyword research! Although it’s very often quite a dull part of the process it’s is in my view the most important. People very often skip this stage jumping straight to on page factors and link building. Only to find 12 months down the line that much of that time has been wasted chasing keywords with little traffic or that don’t convert well.

    Don’t be tempted to skimp on the research!
    Gaz Copeland recently posted..Pinterest Competitor Analysis BookmarkletMy Profile

    • 100% Gaz, know your market. once you know what they want then you can start providing them with the solution.

      At the end of the day SEO is just part of your marketing strategy we just talk differently that’s all.

  4. I’m a newbie at SEO and not afraid to admit it! I do a lot of it naturally and I am gradually getting a bit more systematic so I know I have the main requirements covered.

    I’d appreciate a specific blog post on how Google treats blog commenting. There are so many different commenting systems and many of us reading Micro Biz Hub comment a lot.
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..Cake for clientsMy Profile

    • Hi Rosie,

      Are you talking commenting on other people’s blogs? or receiving comments on your own?.

      Commenting on other blogs has become quite a spammy practice and one that Google featured on penalising in the recent Penguin update. However, as long as the blog you are commenting on is within the niche you are interested in and your goal is to build up a discussion regarding the content or engage with the blog owner or community, this is fine. Although it may offer little SEO value (most blogs are no follow), it can be used as a way to build up that you are authority of the subject matter and is a great way to build relationships.

      If you are talking blog systems where people comment on your content there are some very good systems out there. I think you need to be careful of spam as often as soon as you do a blog post, you will have a wide range of spam comments to filter through. Having a captcha code or moderation approval process is a good idea. I read a great article about it just yesterday

      Hope this helps!

      Kind Regards

      • Just seen this, Neil as there isn’t a way to subscribe for replies. Apologies.

        I meant high quality content commenting on other blogs. I do find one of the biggest challenges with SEO is the level of jargon. For example, no follow links. I had a conversation this morning with Mandy Cochrane of Webscene Marketing about them as no amount of googling and looking for web posts had explained what they were and whether they are helpful for a new(ish) blog without a big audience. I do commenting for traffic and as marketing rather than SEO.

        Personally, I don’t like captcha as most of them are hard to decipher. That’s why I like Comment luv (used by Micro Business Hub) as it’s easy to prove you aren’t a bot and it catches most spam.

        The tip about where to find keywords is great, I think I missed that on first reading.
        Rosie Slosek recently posted..Save 2%: don’t be in the workhouse when you retireMy Profile

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