Every good building starts with a strong foundation — and that foundation impacts all experiences had in that physical space. In the digital area, your website is that foundation and influences all experiences potential, and current customers have with you online — down to their very ability to find you.
The goal of SEO is to guarantee that your potential customers will find your products and services when searching for them. And foundational SEO is the first step.
Read on, and we discuss what a foundation for success includes and how it impacts your business.
8 Foundational SEO Tips for Your Small Business
1. Optimize your page titles.
Your page title is perhaps the single most important on-page ranking factor – you can think of them as a headline since they frequently show in search results.
Ensure you have the right pages on your site (dedicated pages for each essential product and service, and each location).
And when you optimize your page titles, consider rankings (search volume associated with keywords and locations) as well as clicks (what will your target audience be most likely to click).
Strategic page title optimization makes your website pages more attractive to search engines and users alike.
2. Optimize your header tags.
Header tags make your site content more enjoyable for visitors to read and provide keyword-rich context about your content for search engines. This two-pronged approach creates a powerful 2-punch impact on your indirect rankings.
Headers provide structure and context for visitors and are akin to a table of contents for a book. H1 introduces the topic the page content covers. H2’s are the chapters that describe the topics you’ll cover in the section. And subsequent headers serve as additional subheadings within each section.
Breaking up text in this way makes it easier for today’s scanning consumer behavior. Users will spend more time on your site and be more likely to share it if you make it easier to consume. And both time on site and backlinks improve your ranking.
When you create your header tags, keep the above-described table of contents structure in mind, include some keywords, but write for consumers more than search engines and make them attractive.
3. Create and optimize meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions will show up below the title and URL of your page in search engine results. Meta descriptions, like header tags, don’t directly influence rankings but are crucial to helping you generate more clicks. These descriptions summarize each page’s content and reinforce the message of each page title. You can think of them as your web pages’ advertising copy for search engines.
Keep your meta descriptions 1-2 sentences long and between 140-160 characters to remain visible within their space in Google. And remember, your ultimate goal is to provide value to searchers and drive clicks.
4. Activate and optimize business listings.
While they’re off your website, business listings are still very much a part of foundational SEO. To improve your business’s local ranking and visibility in search results, activate and optimize your business’s listings.
Google My Business is a solid place to start. Think of Google My business as Google’s business directory. Here, you can provide information about your business, such as name, business category, address, website address, hours of operation, contact information, photos, and more.
For those with multiple locations, activate a business listing for each of your locations. And ensure NAP Consistency (consistency among the name and addresses you use on your website’s locations pages and that of the business listings).
Use your Google business Listing to solicit and receive reviews from consumers for products and services rendered. Consumers and search engines alike consider your online reputation (the number, average rating, and content of reviews) to rank your business.
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5. Create and implement an internal linking strategy.
Internal links are those links that point from one page on your site to another. Interlinking can take the form of navigational or contextual. We outline the differences in both below:
Contextual Interlinking: You find contextual interlinking in the main body of a page. For example, “Our Content Marketing Team regularly implements interlinking on our clients’ sites.”
Navigational Interlinking: Navigational interlinking is usually made up of your website’s main navigational structure and can be seen site-wide. For Example, the links provided in Bell Media’s header section above, and those found in the footer below, are navigational linking.
Interlinks serve two purposes:
- They help search engines understand your site structure. “Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page,” writes Google.
- They help users to navigate between relevant pages on your website more effortlessly. A better user experience results in a longer time on site, which, in turn, improves your overall search performance.
6. Create and optimize alt image text.
Alt Image Text, aka “alt tags” or “alt descriptions,” is the text that takes the place of an image on your webpage when your image fails to load.
This written copy serves two purposes:
- It helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers. Alt image text optimization is an imperative practice for ADA-compliance.
- It allows search engines to crawl better and rank your site.
“Ultimately, image alt text needs to be specific but also representative of the topic of the webpage it’s supporting,” writes Hubspot. They outline the following best practices:
- Describe the image and be specific.
- Keep your alt text fewer than 125 characters.
- Don’t start alt text with “picture of…” or “Image of…”
- Use your keywords, but sparingly.
- Don’t cram your keyword into every single image’s alt text.
7. Optimize for site responsiveness across devices.
We’ve talked a lot about providing a great user experience (UX). And in today’s world, where users live on their mobile devices, that user experience must extend beyond the desktop to mobile devices and beyond! Mobile SEO involves ensuring your website looks and functions properly on mobile devices of all screen sizes.
8. Establish GTM, GA, Google Search Console.
When you’re investing time and money in SEO, you want to know if it’s paying off, right?! GTM, Google Analytics 4, and Google Search Console help you understand your traffic and metrics.
Who’s visiting your site? How many are taking action? How did they find you?
This data will help you:
- Ensure the time and money you’re investing is paying off.
- Make ongoing optimizations from insights gained from your analytics data and improve your show in search and conversions.
Need help with your foundational SEO?
The Foundational SEO Plan, managed by Bell Media’s SEO experts, will ensure that your website is set-up using Bell Media’s exclusive SEO best practices and activate your business listings to support your local business ranking.