“Just about everyone who has a website asks this question: “How can I get my website to show up in a Google Search?” It’s an important question, since people turn to Google to shop more than one billion times a day,“ stated Anastasia Kudrez during the Amazon Business Small Business Summit 2023. (Source: Working with merchants to give you more ways to shop, The Keyword, 2021)
Please note, this content is based on publicly available information that the Grow with Google team believes to be true. However, the Grow with Google team members are not members of the Google internal SEO or Search team, nor do we have a specialized connection to those teams. So, the content might become inaccurate and results are not guaranteed.
You already know that your small business website is a valuable way to connect with your customers and audience. Search Engine Optimization is a way to broaden the reach of your site and make stronger connections. What is it, exactly?
Search Engine Optimization—SEO—is simply creating or adjusting your website so that a search engine like Google can find it easily and understand its content accurately.
Google (and other search engines) compiles information about the trillions of web pages available to the public. Google “crawls” the web looking for new and updated content. All of that information is stored in an index; you can think of it as a gigantic filing cabinet, organizing and categorizing the content. When you type in a search—called a search query—Google goes to the index to find the right matches, and presents web pages full of results.
The Google search engine results page is the place where you want your site to show up. The results include information that Google can find and index. They are not ads, and you cannot pay to show up, or to show up in a prominent position. These results are determined only by their relevance to the search query.
When you created your small business website, you probably thought about the content you wanted customers to see. Content SEO is simply looking for ways to ensure that Google understands that content, so that it can deliver relevant search results. This is where keywords become important. Keywords are the words or phrases that people type in when they search. If a searcher’s query includes keywords that are prominent in your website content, you have a better chance of appearing in the search results. Let’s look at how to make content SEO improvements.
Try to think like a customer. What are they searching for, and what words would they use to describe it? Start making a list of keywords. Next, review the content on your site. What does it say? Do you see those keywords on your pages?
Next you want to find more keywords. Google Keyword Planner, a Google Ads tool, can help. You’ll need to create a free Google Ads account to access it. FYI, you will need to enter a credit card when you set up it up but there are no fees and you do not need to advertise to access Keyword Planner. If you input keyword ideas Keyword Planner will suggest related words or phrases, plus show you how often these keywords show up in Google’s search results.
Another tool, Google Trends, lets you see popular search terms on Google, and compare the relative popularity of different searches, over time. You can use it to compare different words and phrases, to find patterns or seasonality, and to see where searches happen, geographically. For example, we compared the search volume for the keyword “sweater” vs “jumper.” In the U.S., the keyword sweater is a more popular search term. But, in the United Kingdom the keyword “jumper” is the leader. If you were optimizing web pages for a U.K. audience, this information would be incredibly useful. For more insights like this, visit google.com/trends.
After making your list of keywords, think about how they apply to the site, and how to “map them” to pages. Try to identify three unique keywords for each page, and prioritize them. Which is the primary term that you believe will bring potential customers? Second? Third? If you identify an important keyword but your site doesn’t have a corresponding web page…make a new page!
Priority keywords that are crucial to your business need to be targeted on pages that are within a website's navigation to allow users and search engines to find these pages, which improves the likelihood that a page will be indexed and rank for frequently search keywords by users that are relevant to your small business.“
Next: internal links, the linked text that a user clicks on to get from one page to another on your site. Internal links help visitors—and Google—navigate your site. And, they offer another way to incorporate keywords into content. When creating internal links, use descriptive, accurate phrases (keywords when possible. And, make it clear where the link goes, avoiding generic copy like “Learn More” or “Click Here.”
Send Your Improvements Live
And the final step: Send your SEO-optimized content live! Keep repeating this process. When it comes to SEO, a website should not remain static, so regularly review and create new content.
That covers content. Now let’s look at the technical side of things. Technical SEO refers to ways you can adjust your website code and configuration to help Google find, understand, display, and improve your web pages. Even if you don’t deal with the technical side, having a deeper understanding can lead to more productive discussions with your web development team, and potentially better ranking in the search results.
If your business is global, adding hreflang that corresponds to each country your business operates in is a valuable way to allow Google to understand the countries your business operates in so that the search engine can serve the correct site to users in each respective country.“
Now let’s start placing those keywords. In addition to its main content, web pages have a number of spots where incorporating keywords can help with SEO. First: page titles. You’ll see the page title in the tab at the top of the web browser window, part of the “frame” around the page. Page titles may also show up as the words that link to the page in Google’s search results, as shown in this example on the slide: “Chelsea Kimono - Mer-sea.”. Every web page should have a unique title, short and to the point, reflecting what visitors will find when they get there.
Each web page can also include a meta description. It’s not visible on the page; it’s part of the HTML code. However, it CAN appear in Google’s search results. While adding a meta description doesn’t directly improve SEO, it’s important because the text that appears in the search results can influence a searcher’s decision whether or not to click that link. You can see how this works in the example on the slide. The top box shows the meta description; the box below shows how it could appear in the search results.
First: help Google discover your site. It needs to know about your content in order to show it. One way to do that is by creating a sitemap. A sitemap is a file that helps Google and other search engines understand the content on the site and find new content. It’s not the same as an index or a table of contents because it’s not a page that humans will see or read. Another way to help is by adding a robots.txt file. This helps Google understand what content to crawl—or not to crawl—on your site. If you don’t have a sitemap or robots.txt file and want to learn more, visit developers.google.com. Or talk to your web developer and ask for help.
Assuming Google can find your content, it’s also important that it can understand it. Here are a few tips:
You can learn more by visiting developers.google.com.
Last but not least: make your website fast. Speeding up the site’s load time improves the user experience, which can lead to more visits, and longer visits. This can have a positive effect on search results. Below are few strategies:
Finally, one more resource I’d like to share is Google’s central hub of SEO information is called Google Search Central. You can get there by visiting developers.google.com/search. It has tons of information, including a Quickstart guide for SEO beginners, plus resources designed for business owners and marketers, developers, and SEO professionals. If you’re not sure where to start, this is the place.
Learn how to Get Your Local Business on Google Search and Maps.
Anastasia is the lead educator for the Grow with Google program. She’s been speaking for Google since 2005, appearing at hundreds of events on Google’s behalf, training thousands of people across the world.
Her web development career began in the early 1990s. After working agency-side for 12 years, she applied her skills and experience to education. Anastasia has developed online marketing curriculum for prestigious education providers, including Lynda.com. She also wrote a book about Google AdWords published by O’Reilly Media.
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