Small Business SEO

So here’s the problem.

You are a small company, swimming in the ocean of big business and you want a website to promote yourself.

You call your local web designer, or utilize your colleague’s teenage son to build you a website and you sit back and wait for the orders to pile in.

But nothing happens.

The phone never rings, the money doesn’t roll in and when you search Google, you can’t find your website at all.

Small businesses need to take marketing themselves on the Internet seriously and this book aims to show you a few tips that will help you on your way to being recognized, getting customers and establishing a brand.

I promise that I will not blind or bore you with Internet science or talk about too many technical terms – but what you will get from this book is an understanding of how to improve your website or how to get the details right before you even start asking for one to be made.

The Internet is not a magic box, it runs on rules and formulas and Google is one part of the big picture that makes the Internet work. The problem with websites like Google is that they only like certain formulas and favor websites, people and companies that know them too.

How Does Google Do It?

Just take a moment to consider how you and millions of other people use Google each day. You think of what you want to look for, type the words in the box and hit ENTER on your keyboard and Google knows which are the best websites that match what you have typed in.

How? That is the question! How does Google know that a website called is about selling certain products or that the is about news and TV?

Obviously, certain brands stand out more than others, but Google is the master of discovering content all over the Internet, some that has only been created or ‘posted’ a few minutes before.

Google operates a system called ‘Crawling’ and uses little computer programs it likes to call ‘Spiders’. The job of these Spiders is to Crawl through web pages on the Internet, following links, digesting words, looking at images and trying to work out what each page is about and how important it all is to the Internet as a whole and the customers that type their words into the little Google search box. All of the information about each page the Spiders find and consume are stored in the Google Index, which is what you see when you search.

Google uses a multitude of pieces of information to decide how important a page is and where it should appear in the index. No one knows what these pieces are in total, but certain practices for making websites seem to work better than others. Google also admits to making at least 1 change per day to the way that it ranks websites and pages that are in it’s index – so the whole process is fluid and constantly changing.

What Is SEO?

The term ‘SEO’ refers to the art of ‘Search Engine Optimization’, where websites and web pages are crafted in certain ways to make them more attractive to visitors as well as appeasing the magic formula that makes Google tick.

No one but Google knows the exact formula that makes sme websites more favorable and show the right information when you type your search into it’s little box. Some people may tell you that they know the secret but they don’t.

Many people know part of the secret formula, or the parts that Google does not change very often and have a good understanding of what makes Google like websites and that is what I will describe to you here.

Each web page is made up of different sections of information. Some a visitor can see - and some that they cannot (without looking in the right place). The art of SEO allows for the pieces of information the visitors can see to be relevant to certain terms or keywords that they use to search Google with.

Good SEO also makes sure that the sections that they cannot see are there to help Google know what the website is about and what terms and keywords are important or relevant to a potential visitor.

How SEO Can Help Your Business

Although you are most likely a non-technical person, learning a little about how SEO works will help you in several ways.

  • It will help you determine how and where your website might appear in Google.
  • It will help you determine which keywords and phrases are best to design your web pages around to bring you more customers.
  • It will help you tell your website designer how you want your website built.
  • It will help you identify any issues with your current website and direct you to areas for improvement.
  • It will keep you in control of your web presence, which some companies just assign to a web designer and do nothing else, as long as it looks pretty and contains relevant information.

You should consider SEO as part of how you market your business on the Internet. Get it wrong and you could find yourself languishing in the bottom ranks of the Google index – but get it right and use the well know parts of the formula that people know works – and you could be appearing at the top of the Google index when people type in your company name, product or service.

How To Use SEO.

SEO is a tool and one that can be used, but most often it is just “there” and does its work silently and efficiently. There is no switch to turn SEO on or off on your website, it is always there and when done right, it will bring you visitors and money.

To make sense of what you can do with SEO to increase the number of visitors to your website and develop potential sales leads, you will need to understand what goes on in the background that makes web pages work.

Unfortunately, there is no easy, non-technical way for this to be described. You will need to start by getting your hands dirty and learning a bit of ‘Internet speak’, a knowledge of how SEO works and what it important to use.

This article is designed to help you understand this information so you can do one of two things.

Be armed with information before you approach a web designer to make your website. Examine your current website and identify issues or areas for improvement.

Although you may not know your HTML from your PHP, you will only need to grasp the basics of how it all works to understand where your website might be going wrong or how to build an effective presence on the web.

Keyword Research

Before we get started, there is one main thing that you need to have an understanding of – and that is a technique known as Keyword Research.

Keyword Research should be the cornerstone of SEO and any attempt to create a new website or to improve an existing one. Without having an appreciation for how people are using Google and other search engines, your website will not succeed and your business will suffer as a result.

The key to good keyword research is to:

  • Know your market.
  • Determine Keyword Viability.
  • Understand the competition.

The first key step is the easiest and is definitely one that you can do with no training what so ever. You are already in the business of selling products or providing services and you will know which words and phrases people use in the industry.

A good idea at this stage would be to brainstorm as many words, terms, phrases and brands that you are associated with. We will then be able to use this information in the next step, where we work out if the words you think are most popular are the ones that people use to search Google with.

We are going to start getting a little more technical now – but luckily, we will be using a website made by Google which will help us understand which of the words you have written down are the ones we should be concentrating on.

Many people are paranoid about how much information Google knows about us, the Internet and the world in general. Google collates as much information about websites and their visitors as possible.

It is even possible to gather the details of who visited a certain website between the hours of 0800-0830 on last Sunday, where in the world they came from, their home town, the computer software they use and what settings they have on their computer. It can also tell us how long they stayed on the website, where they came from and where they went next.

This kind of information is available to the general public – so just imagine how much extra data Google collects in the background.

The service that Google uses to display adverts in the header and sidebars when you search using their site is called Google Adwords. A simple explanation is that Google allows you to enter an auction style process for certain words and phrases and show an advert for your website when people type those words into Google. The more you pay to this “blind auction” the higher up and more prominent on the page your advert will be.

Each time a web surfer clicks your advert; you pay the value of your auction to Google for the visitor. If you can turn that visitor into a sales lead, then great – otherwise Google gets rich and you lose a potential client.

To help people write good adverts and get more visitors to their websites, Google has an Adwords Tool that shows you how many searches are made each month for any given word or phrase.

This helps businesses choose the right words to target for their advertising campaigns, but can also help website owners understand which words they should be using on their pages.

The Adwords Tool is found at the following location and is free to use:

Let’s take a look at an example of how this tool can be used to find the right keywords for your business.

Imagine you own a Florist business in Minnesota. You want to get people to your shop to buy flowers.

Which words and phrases will people be typing in Google when they want to find their local store?

Let’s open the tool and type in “Minnesota Florist” in the “Word Or Phrase” box and click “Search”.

Google then goes away and returns all of the information that it has about the words “Minnesota Florist”.

What you get is a list of related words and phrases, their level of competition (how many people on Google are advertising adverts for those words or phrases), the global (around the world) and local search amounts (for the country you are currently based in) and a graph showing you the month-on-month search amounts for this word.

You will most likely see words and phrases in this list that you may not have thought of:

  • Flower delivery Minneapolis
  • Minneapolis florist delivery
  • Order flowers for delivery
  • Flower shop Minneapolis

Each of these “keywords” has an associated search amount with them.

The Global Monthly Searches shows the average overall number of times this word is searched across the world (across all of the Google websites).

The Local Monthly Searches shows the average in the country you have selected (which can be seen at the top of the screen and can be changed in the “Advanced Options” section).

It is easy to spot trends using this information. For example, “Minneapolis Florist Delivery” has a global search value of 880 and a local value of 480. This may be because the 480 people are already based in the US and are looking to send flowers to loved ones and the remaining 400 that make it up to 880, are based outside of the US, possibly trying to find a website where they can send flowers to friends or family.

Another example is “Flower Shop Minneapolis” which has the same value (590) for the global and the local. This will be because people will be searching for a flower shop in Minneapolis if they live there and perhaps want to get flowers on the way home from work.

You can also see that Minneapolis Flower Delivery gets 1900 searches per month, whereas Minneapolis Floral Delivery gets 2400! Quite a few extra potential customers there!

How does this help you, the small business owner?

Put simply, by examining these “keywords” on this page, you can see how many people are searching for words and phrases you might associate with your business. You can also see that some terms are more popular or have more competition than others. This information may lead you to re-examine the way you have built your website. If you are trying to bring in visitors with a website titled “buy green cheese” and you find that there are only 10 people in the world each month searching for “buy green cheese” then you should see where you have gone wrong.

“Things You Can See”

This section of the book will deal with the physical things a visitor will see with his eyes when he visits your page. It begins with determining the best keywords and terms to use before even writing a single word and follows on to the best use of images, text and links.

All of these things are the formula used to make up a website but attention needs to be given to how they are used and what is the best practice when it comes to implementing them.


First, before we get into anything, you need to think about what words, terms or “keywords” you would like your website to appear for when people type them into Google.

If you are a florist based in London, you might want your website to appear when people type in:

  • Florist London
  • London Florist
  • Cheap Flowers London
  • Wedding Florist London

Or if you are a freelance BMW Motor Mechanic, you might want people to find you when using keywords or terms like:

  • Self-Employed BMW Mechanic
  • Cheap BMW Mechanic
  • BMW Mechanic UK

You would obviously not want people to type in “pink banana song” and get your website in the first listings in Google if you have nothing to do with selling (or singing) pink banana songs.

This is usually the most common pitfall of any Small Business website. The need for a presence on the Internet often overlooks the fact that a website should also be a sales area that promotes your business rather than just a placeholder for information about who and where you are and what services or products you offer.

Your aim for having a website about your business is to sell and each and every web page on your website should be designed to target certain words that people use every day to search Google with when they want services you offer.

On Page Text

This can all be controlled by using relevant keywords or phrases within the text you put on your website or web pages. For example, consider the following text, which might appear on the BMW mechanics web page:

“Hello. I am Bill and I am great at fixing cars, especially BMW ones. I have been working in the industry for several years and have fixed most models of BMW cars. If you want a quote then call me on the number listed below.”

Although that information is good and tells the visitor who Bill is and what he does, it does not contain many “keywords” or phrases to help Google know what the web page is about. Using the terms we listed earlier, a better version of that text might be:

“If you are looking for a cheap BMW mechanic, then Bill is your man. He has worked as a self-employed BMW mechanic for many years and is one of the top mechanics in the UK. Call him for more details on how to hire the best BMW mechanic around.”

Now, this is a little contrived and is only an example, but you can see how the text contains certain keywords that people might search for in Google.


The page headings are also important to what Google thinks about a page. They will read the headings and use them to give more weight to the meaning of the page. When writing web pages, headings can be set to different sizes, but are classified as H1, H2, H3 and so on, with H1 being the most important.

If you want your website or web page to target a certain keyword or phrase, put it in the headings, especially in the H1 heading. This, combined with using the same term in the words on the page is a powerful weapon to tell Google exactly what your web page is about.

So, our friendly mechanics web page might look like this now if he wanted to target the phrase “Cheap BMW Mechanic”:

“Cheap BMW Mechanic If you are looking for a cheap BMW mechanic, then Bill is your man. He has worked as a self-employed BMW mechanic for many years and is one of the top mechanics in the UK. Call him for more details on how to hire the best BMW mechanic around.”


Pictures tell a thousand words and can make or break a website. Even though, at the moment, Google cannot read what images are or tell what is in the picture, they can tell lots about a website from the images they use.

Each picture has to be stored on the Internet, the same as if you store it on your computer. When you save your September accounts spreadsheet, you might call it “September accounts.xls” so that you know exactly what it is when you look at the title.

Pictures on the Internet work in a similar way. If you save them with the right file names, you can give Google a massive hint that your website is about that subject.

Going back to Bill, it would be beneficial if he was to save a picture of his smiling mugshot with a filename of “cheap-bmw-mechanic.jpg” before displaying it on his website.

If you plan to have more than 1 page on your website, you will want to link between them or have links in a header area so that people can browse the site easily. The words that you use to write the links are also an important way to tell Google what the page is about.

If you Google the term “click here”, the first result is the installation page for the Adobe Acrobat Reader software. This works because many thousands of websites are linking to that page with some text that says “If you need to install the Acrobat Reader, click here” and are linking the 2 words “click here”.

So when you are linking to other pages on your website, make sure you use relevant keywords or phrases as the text. Try not to use ambiguous terms or “click here” type links if you can.

“Things You Can’t See – but Google can!”

The things a visitor can’t see are as important as those you can. Whilst a web page might sing the praises of the latest and greatest product your business is selling, if the information in the background is not created correctly, you might as well stop selling.

However, Google is a clever beast and is getting more and more clever all the time, so not having these hidden messages are not as important as they used to be. They certainly help your website though and Google will love you for using them correctly.

Each page on the Internet should have these hidden bits of information and it is key that they are ALL different. If every page on your website contains the same hidden information, Google will be very confused and most likely not show some of the pages as they might think they are duplicates.


Each web page can have it’s own title. When you use your Internet browser, the web page title is the one you see in the title bar at the top of the window. Using this title correctly can help boost your website in Google and help it climb to the top.

The title is controlled by a hidden “HTML tag” called… Title! It is hidden in the programming code that makes the web page work and looks a little like this:

<title>This is the title</title>

The text between the <title> and the </title> tags, is what you see at the top of the browser window and is also what Google shows you when you search for anything. You see a list of larger titles and a short description of each website underneath. The title that they use is taken directly from your <title></title> tag section of your web pages.

To make best use of this title tag, put your keyword or phrase in there or make it part of the title. Putting your target keywords in the front of your title works best but remember to make your title readable and ensure that it makes sense too.


I touched on it briefly in the previous section, but Google can also be helped to understand what your website or web page is about by using a special HTML tag called the “META description”.

When people search in Google, they are shown the results in the same format each time. A title in bold, followed by a short description underneath. By controlling the description, you can force Google to display this to your potential visitors who see your listing when the search.

The code that makes this piece of the puzzle tick looks like this:

<META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Your descriptive sentence or two goes here.">

In the part that reads “Your descriptive sentence or two goes here.”, you should enter around 160 characters of text that promotes what that web page is about and perhaps why someone should visit your website. Google only shows around 160 characters in the descriptions it shows people.

It is important to have a different description tag for each page too. It will help Google know the difference between your home page and your order pages.

Sometimes, Google will also “think outside the magic box” and take other text from your web pages and put this as the description instead if it thinks it is more relevant to what people are searching for. This is rare though and what you set in your description tag will be what Google shows people when they search and find your web page.


Also hidden from view to the normal user are a set of keywords that are relevant to the page you are looking at. It has been confirmed that Google no longer does anything with these keywords, although they used to be the main way that it worked out what web pages were about. Due to people taking advantage of this old formula, Google no longer reads these keywords – or so they say.

Google is not the only search engine that lives in the Internet Magic Box and some of them DO read the keywords and use them to help work out what a web page is about.

As with the TITLE and DESCRIPTION tags we talked about earlier, the KEYWORDS tag should also be unique on EVEY page if possible.

The keywords tag looks like this:

<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="your keywords,go here,separated by a comma,but not a space">

As the example shows above, the keywords tag uses a comma separated list of keywords that help determine what a page is about.

For Bill, the BMW mechanic from our examples earlier, we might use other keywords that relate to his pages:

<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="BMW,car repair,mechanic,vehicle repairer,BMW repair,cheap car repair">

Although Google says that they ignore them, using unique keyword tags on each of your pages will help your website gain exposure.

ALT Text

The Internet is supposed to be available to people from all walks of life, whether they are English, able bodied, sighted or not. It should also allow people with older and less capable equipment to enjoy reading information in different ways.

Another hidden part of web pages that help Google know what it is all about is called ALT text. Each item on a page that is an image can have ALT text assigned to it. If someone who was visually disabled wanted to read your website, they might have their computer not set to show images or pages in the same way that you or I might. They may only see words on the screen and the ALT text is shown in their place to help them understand what each picture is about.

The ALT Text looks like this when you look at the code that makes up a web page:

<img src=”/images/red-skirt.jpg” alt=”a cheap knee length red skirt”>

The first part tells your Internet browser where to find the image to put it on your screen and the alt=”a cheap knee length red skirt” section tells Google what the image is about.

For example, an image of an orange drink could have ALT text saying “an orange drink” or “buy cheap orange drinks” which would both give Google an idea of what the images were about. If this is combined with the image filename tip I gave you earlier, then Google has double the chance to work out what keywords and phrases are important to your page.

Image Titles

Another tip to help your website achieve relevance in Google is to add title tags to each image you have. This is similar to the ALT text tip above and in essence, the title can be the same as the alt text if needs be.

Imagine that the title appears under each image and is visible for each visitor to see. The title tag is used to tell Google what the image is about.

An example of the title tag in action on a web page would be:

<img src=”/images/orange-drink.jpg” title=”buy the new Zinggo Orange Drink here”>

Using the title tag is another way to tell websites like Google what your page is about.

What To Do Next…

Now that you have been given a basic grounding in simple website SEO techniques, you need to put them into practice. This can take the form of checking an existing website or planning for one to be created.

Each option will require different skills but should be given the correct amount of attention. Knowing what you want before you make contact with a website designer is important as it will help them avoid “fluffy” requests for web sites. It will also help keep costs to a minimum, as your designer is less likely to go off on a tangent and create something that you have not asked for.

Planning for a new website is just as important and will require some pre-planning on your part. Presenting a web designer with a plan for each page will help cut down the length of the project and hopefully, save you money.

Examining an existing website will enforce what you are going to learn in this book and confirm that you have got what you have paid for. I frequently see websites that have cost 4 figures that are not only badly designed, but are not set up for SEO correctly either.

For those who already have a website:

If you already have a website, you will want to think about examining it to ensure that what you currently have is up to scratch.

To do this, you will need to get a look at the code that makes up your website. This will require some brain power and perhaps a printer and a highlighter pen, but will be worth the effort.

To start, you will need to get access to the code so you can spot any issues. To do this, you will need to choose the “View Source” option in your Internet browser software.


Select View from the menu bar and a menu will appear. Choose View Page Source to display a new window with the corresponding source code.

Internet Explorer:

Open the View menu from the menu bar at the top of the Internet Explorer screen. Choose Source from the menu and a program such as Notepad will open with the source code in.

Google Chrome:

Either right click anywhere on the page and choose View Source from the menu, or press Ctrl+U on your keyboard.

Once you have your code open, it will look a little like this:

<title>Title of the page</title>
	<meta name="description" content="Page description" />
	<meta name="keywords" content="keywords,for,your,page" />

<h1>The main title</h1>
<img src=”/images/logo.jpg” alt=” whizzbang ltd company logo” title=”whizzbang ltd company logo”>
Here is some text about our company.
Please look at our <a href=”/cheap-products.html”>cheap products</a>!

This is a very simplified view of a web page and yours will most likely have lots more information in, but the basic building blocks of a good web page are there and ready for Google to read.

Let’s go through the page step by step.


This tells your Internet browser software that the following information is in html format. Html is the language that is used to write pages on the Internet.

This tells your browser that the next section is the head part of the document. Not what you see at the top of the page as such, more like what the document is about.

<title>Title of the page</title>

This tells the browser that the title of the page is “Title of the page” and it will show it at the top of the screen. It is also a good indicator to Google that the page is about the same phrase. People searching for “title of the page” in Google might come across your site easier because of this.

<meta name="description" content="Page description" />

This tells Google that the whole page is about “Page description”. They will use that information to display a link to your website when people find it searching on Google.

<meta name="keywords" content="keywords,for,your,page" />

This section tells Google that the main keywords or phrases that are relevant to this page are “keywords” “for” “your” “page”. Although I have already explained that Google has said that they no longer read this information, other search engines do, so it is worthwhile including it.


This is to tell the browser that the top header section has been completed and the rest of the document will start from here on.


This is the follow on from the head section and will contain the main information, words and pictures on your web page.

<h1>The main title</h1>

This is the main page heading title, which can be the same as the <title> tag in the <head> section. Google loves these headings and it will help if you can put some of your keywords or phrases into titles on your page. The titles also come in different levels, H1, H2, H3 etc. You could put your main keywords in H1 and some related keywords in H2 and H3.

The IMG tag tells the browser to load an image called logo.jpg that is located in the images folder on your website server. The ALT text tells people that are not looking at images that the picture is of the “whizzbang ltd company logo”. The TITLE tag is also telling Google that the image is related to the “whizzbang ltd company logo”.

Here is some text about our company.

Please look at our <a href=”/cheap-products.html”>cheap products</a>! This is where some text will appear that tells people what ever message you want to tell or which ever product or service you wish to promote. The <a href=”/cheap-products.html”>cheap products</a> section creates a link to your cheap products page, using the words “cheap products” as the bit that people click on to go there. This helps Google know that the page the link goes to, is about cheap products.


This tag tells Google and your browser that the main body of the page has ended.


This is code to signify the end of the web page. More code could exist after this point, but it is best practice to end your web page with this tag.

So, what do you do with this information now you know it?

I suggest that you print off the code from each page of your current website and take to it with a highlighter pen. You will also need to decide, for each page, what are your keywords and phrases that you want people to use to find you on Google.

Not that each page should be different, but if I had a main page about the history of my company, the keywords would be different to a page where people can buy my latest products.

  1. Write down 2 or 3 keywords or phrases that you would like to target on this page.
  2. Highlight the <title> tag and review the content to see if it matches any of your keywords.
  3. Highlight the META description tag and review the content to see if any of your keywords are present.
  4. Highlight the META keywords tag and review the content. Are your keywords in the tags along with other relevant words and phrases?
  5. Highlight any <h1>, <h2> or <h3> tags and review the words used. H tags work best when they contain your keywords.
  6. Highlight any <img> tags and ensure that the filenames used for the images are relevant. An image called my-keyword.jpg is a million times better for SEO than 4345a.jpg (unless your image shows a product whose model number is 4345a).
  7. Check that a title tag exists for each image and is relevant. It should contain your keywords or variations of it, but make it readable. Don’t just put in your keyword.
  8. Check that an ALT text tag exists for each image and is relevant to the content. Again, this can be written in plain English and does not just have to be made from your target keywords – but should contain them.
  9. Highlight the main text on your page. Does it contain your keywords and phrases that you want people to use to find your website? Some Internet guru types take about Keyword Density being a key component of good SEO. They are right to an extent, although no-one apart from the engineers who work at Google know what percentage is best. Try to aim for having your keyword or phrase no more than 1 or 2 times per hundred words. Of course, you can use related words and phrases, but if you over-do your main keyword, Google will know and penalize you for it.
  10. Highlight and check any <a href> links that go to your other pages on your website. Are they linking using keywords that belong to the target page? For example, a link that uses a term you think is important to a target page is best, such as “buy radiators” or “cheap radiators”, rather than “click here” or “go to sales page”.

Make a list of the items you think need to be addressed and ask your web designer to review the points and fix the problems.

I would hope that it would not cost you any additional money to get this done, as the web designer should have done all of this in the first place – but be prepared to stump up some cash for the alterations.


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