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The website positioning information each small business must learn

DIY SEO guide

Feeling like you’d rather roll up your sleeves and get to grips with your own SEO? Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to success.

Step 1: Register with Google Search Console

What is it?

Formerly known as Google Webmaster, Google Search Console is a free, online service provided by Google that allows you to check your website’s indexing status, and optimise your site’s visibility.

Why is this important?

Google Search Console is especially important, as it’ll provide your website with a highly welcome health check. With Google Search Console, you’ll be able to optimise your content (via analytics tools), see which search queries bring visitors to your site in the first place, be alerted regarding any issues, and fix your site accordingly.

Google Search Console is key to the maintenance of a good SEO campaign, and will ensure the longevity of your efforts by allowing you to see your site as Google sees it.

How do I do it?

  1. Log into either your Google account or your Google Analytics account (if you don’t have either of these, then you’ll need to create at least one).
  2. Click “Add a property”, and enter your website’s URL. Click ”Continue”, and the screen should look something like this:

Google search console


  1. You’ll now be asked to verify that you own your website in one of the following ways:A) By uploading an html file to the root of your website (if you have access)B) By verifying via your hosting provider (if you manage the website yourself)C) By verifying via Google Tags (if you use Google Tag Manager)D) By using your Google Analytics tracking ID to verify ownership (this is the quickest and easiest option)

Step 2: Create a Google My Business listing

What is it?

This is essentially a Google business profile that allows your customers to easily find and contact your business.

You’re probably very familiar with My Business listings without being fully aware of what they are, as you’ve probably seen a few during your own Google searches. The profile will look something like this:

Why is it important?
In the words of Google, Google My Business “turns searches into customers”. It has loads of helpful features, and allows you to manage clicks, calls, and bookings all in one place.

And, considering that there are 5 billion monthly Google searches for restaurants alone, it’s clear that if you want to keep up with the competition, you’re going to need to get yourself right in the sightline of the customer.

How do I do it?

To create a Google My Business listing, follow these five steps:

Step 1: Log into the Google Account you want to associate your business with (or create one if you haven’t already).

Step 2: Go to: com/busines >> Start Now

Step 3: Enter your business name and address

Step 4: Select a category that accurately represents your business

Step 5: Add your business phone number and web address

Step 6: Choose a verification option and follow the verification process

Note: You can edit your business profile at any time. Simply log into your Google My Business dashboard, click on “Info”, and select the pencil next to the section you’d like to edit. Make the change, then select “Apply” to save it.

Tip: Businesses with photos see 35% more clicks to their website, so make sure your profile is as pretty as a picture.

(For maximum efficiency, photos should be 720 X 720 pixels, and saved as JPG or PNG files.)


Step 3: Site structure and internal links

What is it?

Internal linking refers to your on-site links that connect one page to another. If you have an integrated linking structure within your website, it means that your pages exist within a web of links that allow the user to easily navigate around your site.

Why is it important?

Internal links allow users to navigate easily around the site. They also imply a hierarchy of information, and distribute the ranking power of each page evenly.

As well as helping the user, internal links also help search engines trawl through your content. Without internal links, the search engine ‘bots’ find it hard to step from one page to another, meaning that your website will have a lower ranking on the SERP (search engine results page) than those sites with a logical internal linking structure.

How do I do it?

Firstly, take a look at your own internal linking structure. Tools such as the Moz Link Explorer can really help here, by allowing you to see what the search engine sees.

Your internal link structure should resemble that of a pyramid, similar to this:

The large dot at the top represents your home page, and from there-on-in, contextual links are built between pages, directing the user down a path of information that’s hierarchically ordered.

Step 4: Metadata

What is it?

Anything ‘meta’ means ‘of itself’, so metadata simply means data about data. But what does that actually mean?

Meta descriptions for web pages contain a brief synopsis of the page’s contents, as well as keywords linked to the content.

The metadata (or metatag) you provide is used by search engines to categorise your content, so a user searching for the information found on that page would be able to locate it.

metadata image

metadata image


The above example shows how appears in a SERP. You can see the search bar, the site name, the site’s URL, and the site’s meta description.

The meta description comprises the meta data, and tells both the search engine and the user what kind of information is held on the site.

Why is it important?

An appealing meta description is enticing and exciting, and the quality of your metadata can determine whether or not a user decides to visit your website. Search engines will also often evaluate a metatag to decide upon the relevance of a webpage in relation to specific search terms.

Meta descriptions are also a good opportunity for you to make the most of your keywords. Pop some keywords into your meta description so the search engine and the user know that your content is relevant to the search intent.

How do I do it?

There are a few different types of metatags, but the two most relevant to SEO are the keywords metatag, a list of words/phrases that best describe the page’s content, and the description metatag, a short one/two sentence description of the page.

Both metatags are used by the search engine to index the site, and the description shows the searcher a summary of the page’s contents on the SERP.

If you’re using WordPress or another popular website builder, you should have complete control of your meta description in your CMS (Content Management System). The information you write in the ‘meta description’ section is the information that will appear on Google when your website content matches a search query.

The below image details what inputting your meta description should look like on WordPress:



Step 5: Image optimisation

What is it?

Optimising an image will reduce its file size, but maintain its quality.  A big file will take a long time to load, and longer load times increase the likelihood of a user impatiently bouncing off your page.

Why is it important?

Image optimisation is important to keep your site’s load times down. Optimised imagery also takes up less ‘digital’ space – saving room for more killer content on your website.

Images are responsible for 21% of a website’s weight, meaning that it’s really important to optimise your images – otherwise, they’ll drag your website down the SERP because of their high load times.

Big files are responsible for slowing down your site speeds – the smaller the files, the speedier the site (which Google likes). Also, if your files are smaller, Google will be able to quickly index your images for Google image searches.

How do I do it?

Make sure your images are in the right format (either JPEG or PNG, or GIF for Gifs).

Use JPEG format for images with lots of colour, and PNG for simpler images.

Use a file compressor tool such as Tiny PNG or ImageResizer to compress your images to a file size that won’t slow down your load speeds.

For a full-page web image, aim for a file size of 80KB-100KB. This should give you the quality you need at a desirable speed.

If the image is simply a small element of the page (i.e. half the width), then 20KB-30KB is big enough.

Step 6: Content is king

What is it?

Content is what populates your website. It’s your images, videos and copy… the stuff your audience can engage with. Your content will also be judged by Google (and other search engines) to determine the place it will fall in the SERP.

High quality, relevant content will mean your website is more likely to get a better ranking. But remember – the relevance of your content is just as important as its quality. If your content doesn’t match the user intent, then your customers aren’t going to find it in a Google search.

Why is it important?

Content is important because it allows your brand to develop as an authority within your industry. Good content is engaging and informative, helping to build trust in your brand and showing that you have more to offer than just your product or service.

Content is also searchable. If you match your content to your keyword research, then you’ll be filling your website with engaging material that directly matches the user intent.

This is great, because if a customer pops a search term into Google, your keyword-rich and relevant content will rank in the SERP, increasing the chances of the customer clicking on your business’ website. Even if the original search term wasn’t your business’ name, your site can still rank for relevant terms.

How do I do it?

The simplest way to create content is to write a blog for your website. Make sure your blog is relevant to both your business and your customers, and populate it with news about your brand, industry insight, and anything you think might be of interest to your customers.

For example, if you run a hardware business, you might like to create a blog post dedicated to the 10 best power tools on the market today.

Other ways to create content involve social media. For example, creating and regularly updating a Twitter account is a great way to get your business name out there, and a brilliant way to engage with other small businesses.

Step 7: Keyword research

What is it?

Keyword research dives into the search terms your customers are popping into Google. It analyses what’s being searched for, and tells you how to adapt your website content (and even your product or service) to the specific wants and needs of your customers.

Why is it important?

Keyword research is important, as it keeps you up-to-date with what the customer wants. For example, if there are 10,000 monthly Google searches for “red paint for sale”, but your online art shop only stocks purple paint,  then your keyword research has shown that stocking and selling red paint would be a lucrative idea, because people are clearly searching for (and looking to buy) red paint.


Similarly, if you’re thinking of writing a blog post for your online shop, then knowing that “red paint to buy” is such a popular search term is really useful.


Because this information will now inform the type of content that you create. You could write a blog post on “Painting in red – the forgotten red paintings of the twentieth century”.  This would be relevant content (as you run an online art shop), and it would match the keywords by talking about red paint, but in an interesting and relevant way.

Within your keyword-informed blog post, you could provide a nifty link to the ecommerce page on your website (that now sells red paint), saying something along the lines of: “Keen to try it yourself? Buy some red paint today!”.

How do I do it?

Carrying out your own keyword research is quite easy. Simply download one of the many free plugins/tools available – such as Keywords Everywhere, SEO Minion, or Google Analytics – and let the search engine tell you the rest.

For example, Keywords Everywhere will show you the volume of searches, as well as the related keywords:

keyword research

keyword research

If the search volume is high, then the keyword is worth incorporating into your copy. Similarly, look at the related keywords to see what else your customers might be looking for.


Step 8: Content gap analysis


What is it?

The content ‘gap’ is what’s stopping your current online content from performing to its absolute best, and stopping you from achieving the desired results from your content strategies.
Content gap analysis means analysing what people are searching for, and comparing it to what they actually find online.

Why is it important?

It prevents your customers from going to your competitors by ensuring that you cater to their every need.

Content gap analysis keeps the customer journey as sleek as possible, making their experience with your business website as good as it can be.

How do I do it?

Identify your goals

Do you want your content to bring in more leads? Maybe you need your content to rank a little better, or perhaps you need to bring in more targeted traffic.

Understand your target audience

Use the audience section of Google Analytics to segment your customers. From your audience data, you can build your customer personas that’ll help you better understand the specific wants and needs of your customers.

Make a customer journey map

Consider all of the touch points a user has with your brand and arrange them in chronological order, from first site visit, right through to revenue conversion.

Now, armed with all of this information, you should be in a good position to create some content that really fits the user intent, gaining you more traffic to your site and generating some high-quality leads.

Step 9: Competitor analysis

What is it?

Competitor analysis looks at the strengths and weaknesses of both current and potential competitors. This information will help you identify both opportunities and threats, weighing up your competitor’s strategy to identify how you can compete with what they offer.

Why is it important?

It’s always important to have your eye on the ball as far as your competitors are concerned. You need to know what they’re doing, and how you can do it differently to maintain your USP. Competitor analysis is also important for keeping your product/service as fresh as possible, so that you can retain your customers and not lose them to your competitors.

How do I do it?

Ask yourself the following questions, and you’ll be well on your way:


Who are my competitors?

What products or services do they sell?

What are their identifiable strategies?

What type of media is used to market their products or services?

What are my competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?

What potential threats do my competitors pose?

What potential opportunities do my competitors make available to me and my business?


The answers to the above questions will really help you to up your game when it comes to standing out from the crowd.

Step 10: Answer boxes

What are answer boxes?

An answer box is a SERP result that directly answers the search query. Typically found at the top of the search engine results page, it’s a boxed-out answer that fits the user intent well, and which stands out against the other results on the page (on account of it being bigger, in a box, and containing more copy).

To illustrate:

how to get an answer box

how to get an answer box

Why are they important?

Basically, they get you to the top of the SERP and generate more clicks. An answer box really stands out against the other results, and will get your website noticed by the people that matter.

How do I do it?

1. Do you keyword research to identify common queries.

2. Look at who already owns the answer box – if you can identify ways in which you could answer the query more efficiently, the box could be yours for the taking.

3. Make sure you’re on the first page of the SERP (at least)

4. Answer the query terms logically and accurately (Google favours clarity)

5. Use the search engine’s maximum snippet length to your full advantage (160 – 230 characters)

Step 11: Backlinks

What are backlinks?

When a website links to any other webpage, it’s called a backlink. A page that has a lot of backlinks is traditionally looked upon favourably by search engines, as it’s a sign that the content is trustworthy.

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks improve your search engine ranking, generate useful referral traffic, and help search engines index your site efficiently.

How do I get backlinks?

The key to backlink success is to keep in mind the quality, rather than the quantity of backlinks generated. Also, if you use a paid service to generate backlinks, your website will be penalised by the search engines.

So, to organically generate some juicy backlinks, write some awesome articles that other websites will be proud to link to. Guest blogging is another good way to generate backlinks, as is signing up to web directories and creating unique content that’s both interesting and useful.

Step 12: Measure your success

What is measuring SEO success?

SEO is an ongoing project that needs to be measured to ensure that your website is consistently performing as it should be. An SEO dashboard, such as the Google Analytics dashboard, is a useful tool that many SEO experts use to track the success of their campaigns.

Your measurements must be industry specific and easily shareable. Sharing results with your team will help keep everyone on track, and encourage you to collect your data in one place on a regular basis.

Why is measuring success important?

Measuring the success of your campaign is primarily important for your own morale. Being able to track the progress of your work is a really good motivator, so make sure you keep a record that documents the fruits of your SEO labour.

Measuring success is also key to making future improvements. Being able to look back on what worked, what didn’t, and any anomalies that have occurred will help inform any future SEO decisions.

How do I measure SEO success?

Keep a close eye on the following metrics:

Conversion rate
Time spent on page
Pages per visit
Bounce rate
Scroll depth
Search traffic

You can find the above metrics on Google Analytics. Track your stats on a weekly basis, and generate monthly reviews that encapsulate the SEO tasks for that month. This way, you’ll be able to highlight wins to your team, and see which areas of your approach you might need to work on.

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