Sometimes as a web developer I get to redo a smaller client website. The project often is only a few pages and some base content with photos, a small amount of copy, and maybe a short video.
These sites often are only used a simple presence for the business. Their primary purpose it to establish credibility to potential customers and give them enough information so they will contact the business.
This also means that they tend to have less content, which can make them not as appealing to search engines as larger, content rich sites.
Regardless, we want the site to be the best it can be within the confines of our bid. So let’s turn to our SEO playbook and see what we can do to make a brochure site as search friendly as possible.
Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP): The most important factors here are integrity and consistency. You want to make sure you use full and complete names for your business name, address, phone number and website address. Then you should make sure that these are repeated exactly across local search directories.
Page Titles, Sub-titles, Meta Descriptions Content: This one is easy but repetitive. Each page should have a pretty clear focus keyword phrase, but one that is broad enough to make sense in terms of the business entity. For instance, if you built a website for a lawnmower repair company, the “Lawnmower Repair > John Deer” page should have the obvious keyword phrase “John Deer lawnmower repair in (City, State)”. But how about the Lawnmower Repair” page. I also like to keep this simple: “Lawnmowers We Repair in (City, State)”.
Titles and Descriptions: I use the free version of the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, which helps you align keyword phases, page titles, and page content pretty easily.
Alt and Title Tags: These are easy to overlook, but important for accessibility and for reinforcing the website pages content and keyword phrases. In the lawn mower business example above, I would hope you would have an illustrative photo along with a logo. The photo can have the alt tag “John Deer Lawn Mower Repair” and the logo can be tagged “John Deer Mower Service”. I try not to make these exact, but will try to make them very similar.
Schema: If you’re wondering where Google’s knowledge graph comes from, or why recipe cards show up on your phone when you are searching for a new ceviche, then you should learn a little more about structured data and schema. It can also be important for voice search.
Page Speed: This is an important one in the mobile first world. Test your site with the Google PageSpeed tools, then head over to this post on quick ways to speed up your wordpress site. If you want a quick place to start, try the Smush plugin.
Mobile Friendliness: Hey, Google has a tool to identify issues with your website mobile rendering, too.
Local Search: This is pretty simple but critical for any local small business.
First, you will need to claim on their behalf, or your client will need to claim, the Google My Business listing if they have not already done so. Google your business name and look at the right of the screen. You should see what we call the knowledge graph, which gives the basics of your business, including name, address, phone, website, hours, photos, description, reviews, etc. If this is not up to date you could lose clicks and leads. It’s best to get it completely full, with photos, your logo, and all the other business information Google asks.
Now head over to Moz Local to see how consistent your listings are across the major directories and services. You can try to update these services yourself or you can pay Moz Local an annual fee to do it for you.
Links: Links to a business website are still an important factor in helping that business rank well in search. The effects of large numbers of links has been diluted over time. Yet this is an area where you can still make a difference for a small business. You can pour a lot of time into link building, so with every small business I start with the low-hanging fruit:
- Social websites: If the business is on social websites, make sure each has a link to the business websites. This includes LinkedIn, which can have a business page as well as profiles for the owners.
- Business websites: Does the business have more than one website? If so, they should link to one another.
- Business owner websites: Do the business owners maintain their own website projects. If yes, make sure there’s a link from that site to the business site.
- Business owner educational organizations: Links from .edu sites are coveted and carry a lot of credibility with Google. If the business owners have graduated from colleges or universities, or have other educational credentials or certifications, then there might be opportunity. Many colleges and universities have alumni association directories, as do certifying entities. These directories often have links. Here’s an example.
- Associations, clubs, government agencies, partners: Most businesses are members of professional organizations or clubs. Some are regulated by local, state, and national agencies. Often these entities provide directories. These types of links can be very fruitful.
- Non-Profit organizations: This is one that is often overlooked but can be very helpful. Small businesses often support local non-profits, from youth sports teams all the way up to large national organizations. Some donor packages come with a listing and link on the NPO’s website. These are an easy win.
Link Quality: Finally, be sure to make a quick check of the quality of inbound links to the business site. I recently rebuilt a website from a customer who’s website had been hacked about 18 months previously. The hackers created pages on their site advertising weight loss pills and viagra substitutes. The hackers then created a large number of inbound links to their website from some dubious sources to these pages. I was able to check all this using the SEMRush backlinks tool, which you can use for free. If you find malicious links, Google provides a link disavow tool to help you remove them and keep them from affecting the site.
Do you have some favorite small website SEO tactics you think will make a difference for the client? Let us know in the comments!