3. Add a sitemap to Google Search Console.
Google Search Console is a Google tool that helps you improve the search performance of your website. One easy way to do that is to ensure that the search engine can crawl your site. That means you need to submit a sitemap, which lists all your pages.
If your site runs on WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to create a sitemap automatically. Alternatively, you can find a free XML sitemap generator online. Once you add your sitemap to Google Search Console, you'll get search performance reports and can see what you need to optimize.
4. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
Almost half of all web browsing5 takes place on mobile devices, so it's essential to have a mobile-friendly website. Luckily, Google Search Console has a built-in mobile usability report that identifies mobile-friendly pages and flags issues that create a poor user experience. There's also a link to Google's Page Speed Insights tool, which identifies other issues slowing your site down.
5. Take care of local SEO.
Local SEO (which is SEO that focuses on helping your web pages rank higher in particular locations) can also be crucial for small businesses. Mobile device users often try to find businesses near their current location. A good way to get started with local SEO is to claim your Google My Business listing.6 You need to include your business name, address, contact details, and opening hours. This lets happy customers leave positive reviews.
Questionable SEO tactics to avoid
If you're doing your own SEO, there are a few tactics you definitely need to leave out. These include:
- Keyword stuffing: This is the practice of trying to shoehorn in a bunch of keywords into your web pages and content to artificially inflate search rankings. It no longer works, and can result in reduced visibility in search results.
- Thin content: When writing SEO content, don't phone it in. Make it rich and valuable. Thin content with little substance will hurt, rather than help, your search ranking.
- Link schemes: Google frowns upon buying and selling links, cross-linking schemes, and any attempt to artificially inflate search engine rankings. Ideally, you'll earn links to your site through great content that other people will want to cite.
How to measure SEO success
When you optimize your site, you can check how your SEO strategies are working by:
Paying attention to organic traffic and conversions.
- Checking Google Search Console to see how your site is performing in search.
- Checking Google Analytics to see if people are engaging with your site (for example, when they follow a search result back to your site, do they stick around for a while or bounce away?).
- Tracking links to your site. There's a helpful links report in Google Search Console which shows the top sites linking to your website and the pages they link to.
As you've seen, as a small business owner you can handle the basic elements of getting your SEO practices set up. But SEO is a time-consuming and ongoing task, so as your business grows it may make sense to outsource SEO to a specialist who can keep on top of changing search terms and requirements.