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If you want to be found on the web, you need to pay attention to the best SEO tips for your small business. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a changing landscape. Google frequently makes updates to their algorithm that you can either take advantage of, and rank higher. If you fail to adapt, you will get penalized (eventually).

For example, if your website is not mobile optimized, then I strongly suggest you make this your next task. Google has publicly said that they will penalize sites that are not mobile-friendly. Not sure? You can test Google offers a mobile-friendly test for your website.

When you are working on your SEO, it is always best to have a checklist so that you don’t forget to do anything and that you are getting all the link juice possible. These six points will help your website rank in Google. It is not the end-all-be-all, meaning that you may have to do more, depending on the niche you are in and the competition you are facing. Above all, you should publish great content with keywords your customers use, and you will see your website start to rank organically.

1. Pick a great keyword to focus on

From the very beginning of your site creation, it is important to do it with a search term in mind. Remember, there are different ways of searching the same service up, so you want to do research and make sure you are ranking for the most searched.

Remember, you are trying to rank for phrases that people are searching, not for words that you use in your business. A typical example is in the medical field when doctors are trying to rank for the scientific term. In reality, patients usually don’t know the scientific term, and are often searching the common use term. Consumers are more likely to search for “heart attack” than they are for “myocardial infarction.”

There are two great tools, and both are free, that can help you to find keywords – Google Keyword Planner and Toolfeast. These browser-based tools will give you the volume of searches, competition and more. All you need to do is sign-up for an account, but you don’t have to spend a dime!

2. Research the competition

You absolutely should research your competition, and also view similar companies like yours throughout the country. However, when researching the competition, you want to make sure you do so without any bias of your prior searches.

Download the Google Chrome browser, and go to “incognito” browsing. Incognito means that your browser will not save what you are searching, will not allow people to track you, and essentially, gives you an “undercover” search on the internet.

Google often factors in your last visited sites, location, and a whole bunch more factors that no one knows when showing you results. Turning the incognito on will allow a search to present you with the accurate information without any bias of what sites you like or your search history. You can then click into these websites and see what you can improve on, and how you can out keyword the competition!

3. 80/20 – Content

80/20 content is a principle that Miele Media uses. The digital marketing company has found that that 20% of SEO comes from the structure of the page; whereas, 80% comes from the content that you are pushing out.

Remember, Google’s job is to give people the best results for what they are searching. If Google fails, the consumer will not use Google to search the next time. When you share great content that answers questions, engages people, and content that is shareable (and readable), you get rewarded. Google sees you as a suitable representative to put at the top of their pages for keywords.

If you have bad content, aimed at promoting your business or trying to “keyword stuff” the article, you will not be successful.

4. Keyword Placement

Keywords should show up in your page title. Including keywords in the title of a post or page is frequently overlooked, but necessary to rank for the desired keyword or keywords. There are other places your keyword should appear also, and it is as easy as a Google search.

Another place is in the header (H1 tag) and sub-heading (H2 tag) of your page. It will get picked up by Google rather quickly as they scrape the headers.

Remember to put the keywords in your image names, and in the image alt tag. When placing keywords in image names, use hyphens between each word. For example: best-seo-tips-for-small-business.jpg Avoid spaces in filenames as they can cause confusion between browsers and devices. People may do an image search, and you want to make sure your site shows up for images also because images link back to your website.

Keywords in URLs help, but don’t buy a new domain name after you read this. However, if you have not purchased your domain yet, you should try to obtain a domain name with your keyword in it. For example, would be an ideal site for a business focused on tire repair in the city of Springfield

5. External Links

External links back to your websites are known as backlinks. You have probably heard about them if you have done any SEO research. They are incredibly powerful and act as a vote of trust in search engine algorithms.

When a website links to yours, they are saying “Hey Google, we think did a great job on this article and other people should read this great content.”

I have a great approach to getting external links, and that is through internal links.

6. Internal Links

Internal links, as you probably can guess, is when you link to other websites and give them a vote of trust. An excellent way to use internal links is in your blog posts. Often what I recommend is that you quote at least two people/organizations in your articles, depending on the length. When you finish the article, contact the individuals and organizations you have linked and share the link when it goes live. You can also tag them on Twitter or Facebook as a shout out.

Most people are delighted to learn that they are featured on your blog, assuming that you are not linking to celebrities and large organizations, and they will feel honored and appreciate it. Ask them to share the article with their audience and link it on their website if they can. We find that most of the times people will be happy to do this because they are indirectly self-promoting themselves, while you are getting that external link you want.

Keep researching

These tips by no means include a complete overview of SEO – it changes every day, but it is a simple overview of SEO for your small business. Sign up for my e-mail list to get free marketing, social media and website advice for your small business.

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