Effective search engine optimization for small businesses is not necessarily rocket science.
Let’s take a yoga practice located in Basel as an example. If the search terms ‘Yoga’ and ‘Basel’ are added in a search engine, then your would want your website to rank at least on the first page.
The search engine Google determines the order of the ranking by applying an algorithm that is based on over 200 factors, and not 100% transparent.
There are however enough parameters that are known to have an effect on findability and ranking such as the following.
- freshness and relevance of your content (google notices if your content has not been changed for a long while)
- number of hyperlinks (the links you place on your website)
- number of incoming links (and the relevance/popularity of the sites that are linking to you)
- architecture of a website (properly coded pages and blog posts, adherence to standards)
- name of url (it helps if your domain contains your main key words, like www.myname-coaching.com)
- age of your url (don’t change your URL if you don’t really need to)
Basically we can say that Google tries to display the most relevant, popular and trusted websites, and the ones that contain the most valuable content to the users, in the top search results.
The exact search term “Yoga Basel” is entered in google on an average of about 1’300 times per month which means people really do search for related information online.
In the city of Basel there are roughly 100 yoga studios. However, studios are not always immediate competitors because they do not all serve the same target audience, and most people who are looking for a yoga class have a certain area of the city in mind. You will most likely be competing against 3-5 studios, but that’s enough to get left in the corner if you don’t even show up in google.
Freshness and relevance of your content
Keep your content up to date and meaningful. Think about what information visitors most likely want to find and what might be exceedingly helpful, entertaining or engaging.
Number of hyperlinks
It makes sense to insert links within your site and to external sites, as google will consider this for ranking. Linking is good, but only if you really serving your visitors at the same time. Anchor text is important, so it is better when a link says “Direction to the Yoga studio” than “Click here” for directions.
Number of incoming links
Google considers your site more important if others are linking to it. To achieve this, ask if your partners and clients would be willing to recommend you with a link. For a yoga practise, this could also be a local registry, an event portal such as ronorp.ch, a neighborhood networking website or social media platforms such as facebook and twitter.
Architecture of a website and content optimization
Let your page names and titles speak
Your page names should reflect the content of that page, and it is good to include it in the url.
www.yogabasel.ch/about_us instead of www.yogabasel.ch/page-22.html
Most content management systems will add the name of your page automatically, but if you renamed the page later or for your settings take a different approach, you need to have this fixed.
WordPress allows you to change the page name in the page editor.
The title on your individual pages should be related to the content and coded as a an h1 tag, this is a must. This is equivalent with marking the title and then choosing the Heading 1 label from in the text editor. This is the correct way of marking a header, and should be used instead of using bold typeface. If your header does not look like it should after you apply the Heading label, than you should have it styled with css rather than changing the individual style of that title. Ask me in the comments below if this is unclear.
Every page of your website should have at least one title tagged with an h1.
<h1>Yoga classes</h1> (Heading 1)
Make use of h2 and h3 tags for subheadings
<h2>Classes for teenagers</h2> (Heading 2)
<h2>Classes for children</h2> (Heading 2)
Google does not use meta keywords for ranking, as this was taken advantage of by too many spammers, so adding meta keywords will not work for ranking but they are good for organization.
However, adding a ‘meta description’ to your site, might be beneficial. If google thinks it is useful, it will be displaying in the snippet that shows up in the search results. Keep in mind that your meta description should sound inviting for people to click on the link, and that it is ideally 70- 150 characters long. Include a call to action (shop, find, buy, discover etc.)
Search engines do not know what is in your media files, unless you tell them.
Whatever you are talking about in videos and audio files will not be automatically indexed, so it is advisable to have a transcript or at least have a description of the contents on the same page.
If you are using flash or java on your site, then keep in mind that this content is not readable to the web crawlers and that many browsers and devices will not be able to display the content. That’s why websites using flash are not generally recommended.
ALT tags for media
This was originally thought as alternative text for images, when the image can not be rendered, thus it should describe what the image is about, especially to users with a visual impairment. It’s an additional opportunity to add a keyword, and robots can include alt text in their databases.
In WordPress the Alt Text can be entered in the media library.
Possibly the best plugin out there to improve SEO on WordPress sites is WordPress SEO by yoast. It helps you write better content with the built-in content analysis and easily optimize your sites titles and descriptions with the snippet preview. It also generates a XML map, which let’s the indexing robots understand your website structure.
When does it pay off to get extra help from an SEO expert?
If your business gets leads from word-of-mouth marketing, then it is very different from than one that gets leads from the search engines and depends more on online sales than on offline long-term services.
Yes, but you also know that shoes are not the only thing people look for on the internet, they re-search basically anything!
For the local yoga business optimization for search is clearly a must, however any business owner needs to decide how the available resources will be divided amongst all marketing activities. What works best for your business? How can your target audience be reached? Is it through social media, offline networking events, recommendation by health coaches or customer word of mouth?
Spending that extra effort to make your site rank the highest will most likely pay off, but so will other measures such as adding your business to google places, presence in local registries, networking and social engagement.
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