The beauty of a small business, is that the owner is involved in every aspect of the entrepreneurial life that’s going on inside the company. He or she is often a superhero who is in charge of marketing, sales, customer support, PR, HR and advertising activities – not one at a time, but simultaneously.
It’s true that every kind of entrepreneurship is a full-time job, but in smaller ventures, you can get a bit overwhelmed by the amount of important tasks that need to completed to make the business exist and bring profit. With online ventures there is one extra factor that determines whether a business will succeed or not – this factor is called SEO.
SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the practice of getting a website rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Each time a user types a word or phrase into a search engine, a sophisticated algorithm returns a list of web pages. They are all ranked so that the most relevant results appear at the top of a page.
Why SEO is so important?
The online ecosystem is a pretty crowded place. It is full of companies that offer awesome products and useful services at really reasonable prices; businesses that provide their customers with great user experience and outstanding customer support. Indeed, this world is a very competitive place. However, it seems to have a place for everyone.
What SEO does is making sure that the space which you’ve taken become visible. This part is crucial because visibility means greater exposure, more clients and higher profits – and that’s exactly what every type of business needs.
SEO is a complex and technical subject, but it can be learned and mastered by everyone. A small business owner with strong multi-tasking skills and knowledge in many areas of expertise, shouldn’t have many problems with optimizing the visibility of his online venture.
How SEO should be done?
In order to make a website rank higher in Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other search engine, its owner has to make sure that its elements are not only easily readable by engine robots, but are appealing to them as well. The more attractive to search engine algorithms a website is, the higher it will rank in SERPs and the more visible it will be the online ecosystem.
There are many factors that influence ranking positions in search engines. Basically, you can divide them into on-page and off-page elements. The on-page techniques is about optimizing your website content with proper keywords. The off-page optimization involves building links from other parts of the online world to your website.
Today, we will focus on the on-page factors as they are the very first steps in every optimization journey.
On-page Website Optimization
The on-page factors are about the content on your website and they include:
- site structure
- page URL
- alt-text of images
- title tag
- internal links
Structural elements of your site, such as the way the pages link to each other and affect SEO. Search engines “crawl” through a link structure to find and index pages. Your site needs to be structured so that all of the pages can be easily indexed by search engine crawlers.
A clear website structure is important, not only in terms of SEO, but most of all – it is more friendly and readable to your visitors and potential clients.
Keywords are terms that people are likely to use when searching for e-commerce stores like yours. Each page of your site should focus on one or two keywords. You can use Google Keyword Planner, a free tool from Google, to help you decide which keywords to use.
You can also use Positionly to help you define what keywords are the most relevant for your e-commerce store. When you first sign up to Positionly (special offer and affiliate link) and add your site URL, we’ll suggest what keywords you should start tracking.
If you’re already a Positionly user, you are able to add several websites and track many different keywords. Go to the upper section of your Dashboard, choose Websites and click Add a new website link.
Type your store’s website address:
Then choose in which countries and what types of search engines you would like to track the position of your website:
That’s it! You now have a list of relevant keywords that you can choose from (or just track all of them). A great thing is that you can sort and group all of them at a later time.
Once you choose your keywords, start using them right from the top of the page. Pick the main keyword in your title, then use it again naturally throughout the content. You can also include the keyword in image tags and meta descriptions to improve your on-page SEO.
One easy way to improve SEO on your website is to ensure that each URL is SEO-friendly, which means that it should include the main keyword that the page is targeting.
URL stands for uniform resource locator, it is a web address of a single web page. URLs are displayed in a web browser and on SERPs. There are two types of web addresses: static and dynamic.
A static URL looks like that:
A dynamic one can look like this:
While search engines can easily understand both of the URLs, for human beings dynamic URLs are completely illegible. A searcher cannot define what can be found on a particular website. Not to mention that you miss the chance to put one of your relevant keywords on URL, if you choose a dynamic web address.
A few good URL practices that are worth keeping in mind:
- use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_). When you use underscores to separate words in an URL name, Google will read it as one single word. For instance: hosting-packages will be treated as hostingpackages
- keep an URL address brief, descriptive and relevant – a visitor at a glance should be able to tell what the website is all about. Let’s take this URL as an example: www.clickhost.com/web-hosting/hosting-packages. It’s not hard to guess for a searcher that this particular webpage contains different hosting packages.
- pick the most important keyword and use it in the URL address to optimize your web page. Let’s stay with ClickHOST to showcase what it’s all about. In order to optimize the website for hosting services, guys have put the hosting keyword into one of the URLs. Simple as that!
Alt-text of images
Search engines don’t read images, they read alt-text instead. You should use alt-text to help engines better understand the meaning of an image and what it represents. While describing an image, don’t forget to use some of your focus keywords.
Title-tag and meta-description
Title-tag should define a site’s content in a concise and clear way. You should keep it short, max 50-60 characters. Be sure to include at least two of your most important keywords along with your brand’s name.
A title tag plays a significant part in SEO as it appears in the search engine result pages (SERPs), on external websites and directly in browsers.
Let’s take ClickHOST website as an example. This is how the title and the meta-tag presents on a result page:
A meta-description is a short paragraph which is displayed under a title tag on SERP.
Sometimes a short title is not enough to fully communicate what your e-commerce business is all about. Meta-description gives you the opportunity to introduce your brand before searchers pay you a visit and actually see the products you offer.
The optimal length of a meta-description is between 150-160 characters. While creating a copy is good, you be as much creative as you can. A boring description can decrease the click rate and bring you less visitors.
Internal links — links that point to other pages of your site — are an important part of on-page SEO. They help search engine algorithms to crawl through your site, indexing each page as they go. I’ve mentioned this already when talking about a website structure.
Content on your store website, if optimized well, can make a huge difference when it comes to making your business more visible in search engines. The keywords are one of the most important factors when it comes to your content optimization. You should pick only the most relevant ones and use them throughout the whole website.
Know what’s working & what’s not
How can you tell whether your website is well-optimized for search engines? You should, of course, examine all of the on-page factors for all web pages within your domain and make sure that they are optimized for the right keywords. Sounds like a pretty time-consuming task, right?
There are quick and accurate ways to review all on-page SEO elements of a website. The best and the fastest way is to use Website Optimization Grader. This On-page Optimization checker tool is a pretty easy one to use. Actually, it does all the work for you. It scans your website and shows you a list of all on-page elements that have impact on your site’s visibility.
Log into your Positionly account and choose “Research” from the main menu to create a new optimization check.
You will receive an extensive list of results. At the very top you will see a quick summary of your website’s optimization status. It could look like this:
At a glance you are able to see if your website is attractive for search engines or not. The list below starts always with the elements that need to be fixed immediately. Their status is marked on red, they are also listed in the order of importance.
Not only do you know what problems should be solved, but also in what order they should be handled. Website Optimization Grader has just helped you with planning and prioritizing optimization activities. The rest is down to you.
For maximizing all your optimization results, you should keep in mind that improving on-page elements on the main page is not enough. If your website has several pages, especially with a lot of content, you should also optimize on-page elements on the other web pages.
Website Optimization Grader scans all of the pages separately. In order to receive the most comprehensive insights about your website’s optimization status, you should scan of all the web pages within your website.
Last but not least
As it was said at the very beginning – SEO is a complex and analytical subject. It may seem too complicated at first. However, website optimization can be done even by beginners (at least at a basic level). All that you need is a profound source of knowledge and easy-to-use, accurate tool that provides useful insights and gives hints.
The tool is already here and the knowledge – well, this article is just the first one of the series of SEO posts. Hope you found it comprehensive and useful. However, if you happen to have any questions about SEO, Positionly or its tools, don’t hesitate to leave your comments below or drop me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See what else Positionly can do to help your business here.