SEO Basics For Small Business Owners

SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimization.” It’s a collection of tactics designed to help your web pages rank better for the keyword phrases you’re targeting.

The main difference between SEO and say, Pay-Per-Click advertising, is that the visitors you receive from your listings will not cost you anything. These free listings are also called “organic listings” and there are usually ten such listings per page.

Your listings are triggered whenever someone searches for a particular term (aka keyword phrase) using a search engine. The search engine does its best to return the most relevant web pages for the search performed.

Your goal, then, is to help the search engines understand what your web page content is most relevant for. The clearer you communicate your relevance, the more likely it is that you’ll receive good search engine rankings.

Generally speaking, there are two main SEO techniques to perform to each page of your site. They are:

On Page SEO

On page optimization includes anything that is done to your actual web page. As each page is under your control, you can ensure that it is optimized for the keyword phrases you believe are most relevant to your content.

Off Page SEO

Off page SEO is more challenging as you can only control so much. Any webmaster can link where they please and if they’ve linked to your site using an undesirable bit of text, you may suffer the consequences.

However, you can control the majority of the off-page work to be done and it’s important you do. Linkbuilding is generally considered to be the most important “off page” factor and ignoring it will hamper your ability to rank well for the terms you are targeting.

SEO also needs to take place for your Google Places listing. This is an entirely different set of criteria.  To be sure that both your website and Google Places Lising are optimized, contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.  Email

What Affects My On-Page SEO?

When optimizing your site for the search engines, you should improve what is called your “on page” SEO as well as your “off page” SEO. On page SEO includes those things that can be done to your web pages to enhance their ability to rank for a particular set of terms and off page SEO (aka offsite SEO) are the techniques, like link building, that are done elsewhere.

Here are five (of the many) website factors that may affect your on page SEO:

Website Design/Coding

You may be surprised to see “web design” included in this list but it really can affect your Search Engine Optimization efforts. Here’s how:

•    Your design should look great so as to keep your visitors on your site as long as possible . (this improves what is called, “visit duration.”)
•    Your site should be well-coded and should validate with the “W3C validation tool” whenever possible.
•    Your images and coding should be optimized to be as “light” as possible. This will improve your “page load speed” and this is good for both SEO and human visitors… no one likes to needlessly wait.

Meta Title

Your “meta title” information is added to the page source (i.e. your website coding) and is displayed to visitors in the topmost portion of the browser window.

Generally speaking, your meta title should include the two-to-three keyword phrases you are optimizing the page for and be kept relatively short (i.e. about 60-80 characters max).

Meta Page Description

How much your meta page descriptions affect your SEO is up for debate but there are other benefits to writing a good meta page description as well.

As a general rule, I suggest that your meta page description read well, contain the primary keyword phrase you are targeting and be kept to no more than 156 characters, including spaces.

Most of the time, the search engines will use your meta page description text when creating your search engine listing. The more exciting the text is, the better your chances of “getting the click.”

On Page Content

They say that “content is King” but that’s not entirely true. Poorly written content, or content that is “stuffed” with keywords will do much more harm than good.

For best results, your on page content should be well-written and unique to your site. It should also be tightly focused around the 2-3 keyword phrases you are optimizing for.

That’s not to say that you should repeat your keyword phrases over and over, but that each page’s content be more focused than broad.

Your Web Page URL

If at all possible, it’s best to see that your urls include your primary keyword phrase.

For example, if you were targeting the term, “seo expert,”  it would be best if the url were something like:
As your url now includes the phrase, “seo expert,” you help the search engines better understand the relevance of your page’s content.

If you need to have a mobile or standard website designed or optimized for SEO, contact us for a free phone consultation.  We specialize in getting your small business on Page 1 of Google search results.  For web design or website SEO, email us at

We are located in Wilmington NC but handle clients internationally.