30 Google marketing tips for small businesses

By | 2012-09-24

Every small business owner with web presence knows the importance of getting good rankings on Google.Once your site starts to perform well on the world’s most popular search engine, you should start to receive a growing number of site visitors. These visitors are all potential customers for your products and services.

Using our experience of promoting small business sites over the past decade, we’ve compiled a series of tips to help business owners succeed with their web marketing efforts on Google.

Top Google Marketing Tips: 1-15

1. Google pays particular attention to ‘TITLE’ tags – these are the words which appear at the top left hand corner of your browser. Take particular care when writing your title tags, and include any important words or phrases which are associated with the subject of each page.

2. In the ‘old days’, all web marketing types talked about was the ‘KEYWORDS’ tag on web pages. Site owners used to cram their pages with ‘keywords’ in an attempt to charm Google into ranking their pages higher. Now, Google is so advanced that it is thought to ignore keywords and decide for itself what a page is really about, and will rank pages accordingly.

3. Google’s ‘Pagerank’ technology lies at the heart of its ranking algorithms. Google assigns ‘importance’ to pages based on a huge number of factors. You won’t suddenly rank well for a particular phrase by tweaking a single factor on your web pages, you need to be doing a lot of things well in order to rank well for most phrases.

4. Particular importance is paid to the number (and quality) of links you have pointing to your website. A link to your site is seen as a kind of ‘vote’ of its relevance. The more links you have, the better – but one good quality link is more important than hundreds of poor quality ones.

5. If you can get other sites related to yours to link back to you, this is the best way to show Google that your site is relevant and ‘important’. It may seem contradictory to trade links with your competitors, but this is exactly what you should do. Sites which make it a mission to never trade links are destined to fail. Read our link popularity guide for more information.

6. If you are linking to other websites, from your own, it is best not to include ‘site wide links’ – i.e. don’t include the link on every single page of your site if at all possible. Sometimes this may be unavoidable, but you can always include a rel=”nofollow” segment within your link tags to prevent Google from following them.7. When building links back to your website, it is wise to do this on a gradual and ongoing basis rather than getting 100 new links at once.

8. A good way to build up links is to contribute to bulletin boards of social media discussions about topics which are relevant to your website. Include a discreet ‘signature’ with your posts with a link back to your site.

9. When you include images on your webpages, provide ‘alt’ tags which are provided to display text if your image won’t load. Not only is this good for search engine optimisation, it’s also good from an ‘accessibility’ perspective.

10. If you have a ‘links’ page, don’t call it ‘links’ – try something like ‘resources’. Also, keep the number of links on any one page of your site to under 50. Include a description alongside the links rather than simply listing dozens of links.

11. Use the Yahoo! Site Explorer tool to find out which sites are linking to your competitors’ pages. You can then use this information to approach relevant site owners and set up your own link exchange.

12. Although you are far more likely to attract links to your website if you reciprocate the favour, the best type of links are one-way ones. If you can get other site owners to link to you with nothing in return, this is the perfect situation.

13. Perhaps consider writing an article, or a product review and getting it published on another site in your industry. You will almost always be provide with a link back to your site in return. The number, relevance and quality of links between websites lies at the core of Google’s search ranking algorithm.

14. If you are looking for good keyword phrases to target on your website, and to avoid ones which are too competitive, the best place to go is Google’s Adwords tool.

15. Don’t assume you know what words potential clients might type into Google in order to find your site. You’d be suprised at what people search for in reality.

Here are 15 more web marketing tips to help small business people promote their sites on the world’s most used search engine.

Top Google Marketing Tips: 16-30

16. Google is known to dislike too much duplicate content on websites. Try to use original content wherever possible on your site, otherwise your pages may be penalised (or simply may not rank well in Google’s search results). A good way to find out if other sites are using the same content as you, try Copyscape.

17. If you have a UK-focused website, it’s best to may sure you use a UK-based web host. Although you can get very good value hosting in the US, if you have a .com domain hosted in the US, your pages may not appear in Google’s UK index. If you have a .co.uk domain name, most evidence suggests that your site will appear in the UK regional results regardless of where it is hosted.

18.Get an XML site map created and upload it to your web server. The sitemap will let the search engines know about all the pages present within your website, including some which may not have been indexed yet. A good free service can be found here.

19. Domain age is an important factor in Google’s ranking methodology, probably in an attempt to prevent new sites from rapidly gaining good rankings on the index. You might benefit from buying an older business domain name, or otherwise you must be patient for your new site to yield good results on Google.

20. Use HEADER tags within your web pages.

,

, etc. tags are used to create ‘headers’ within web pages. Headers imply the text contained within them are ‘important’, so include your keyword phrases within them. As with all the tips on our site, use them all in moderation!

21. Don’t include unnecessary code within your web pages. Examples include chunks of Javascript code which you can simply ‘include’ in your pages from an external file. You should also use stylesheets to define the layout of your pages, rather than using row upon row of HTML code.

22. Although they’re hardly used these days, try to avoid using FRAMES on your website. Search engines find them hard to index.

23. Make sure your site code is accurately put together. You can use a handy HTML checker for this purpose, like this one.

24. As well as getting other sites to link to yours, spend time on your internal navigation. Make sure all pages within your site are easily accessible from the others, and create links to other pages within your article pages.

25. For the benefit of your users, as well as Google, try not to cram your pages full of slow-loading images. A slow loading site will make visitors leave instantly, and page load speed is one of many factors which search engines are believed to use to determine site rankings.

26. Blogs (such as WordPress and Typepad) tend to be smiled upon via search engines who are always after regularly updated websites. You might consider setting up a blog hosted by either company, or you can download the software and host the blog on your own web server.

27. If you have ‘printer friendly’ pages, or folders on your website containing content you don’t want Google to index, you should create a robots.txt file which tells search engines which parts of your site they should ignore.

28. If you’re creating a new site today, it will take some time before you hit Google’s Top 10 rankings for any phrases in a meaningful way. You really need to be patient, as it could take many months before you see any benefit from your hard work.

29. Whatever you do, don’t get penalised by Google. There are no short cuts to getting good rankings on the world’s leading search engines. Don’t cram your pages full of repetitive keywords, or submit loads of similar pages (or ‘doorway’ pages crammed full of keywords which redirect to your ‘real’ site). Google will penalise your rankings if you use dubious web marketing techniques, and may even ban you if you’ve been really bad!

30. Probably the most helpful tip for managing your site is to get a Google account, and you will have access to its ‘Webmaster Tools‘, This critical service will show you all types of diagnostics about your site – how often Google indexes it, if you have broken links, if you have duplicate page titles, and a lot more. You can also manage your sitemaps from here, see how many people are subscribing to your newsfeeds, and tell Google to remove pages you don’t want it to index.