How to do SEO for a Small Website in 2020
Not every website has thousands of pages of content and millions of visitors every month. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t profit from SEO. In fact, if your website is too small, investing in SEO is the first thing you should do to attract more visitors and increase your online visibility.
Why? Because it’s still one of the most cost-effective methods for generating more traffic and if done right, it can significantly improve your rankings in search engines. But what does a small website mean, precisely?
Contrary to what many people think, if your site has a couple of hundred pages it can still be described as small.
Websites with a lot of content are usually news media, popular eCommerce stores or booking sites. For these, SEO is a complex process that requires professional technical expertise, the use of a comprehensive SEO toolkit and continuous collaboration with web developers. Writing about solving sophisticated SEO problems on huge sites is a topic for another day.
In this article, I will show you how to do SEO for a small website in a few simple steps. Let’s dive right in!
The purpose of keyword research on a small website is to find the keywords that you already rank for and discover new keyword opportunities. Both of these activities will help you to better understand how people look for your site and uncover the most popular terms they use. Going deep into the psychology of your visitors by asking questions like “what problem do I solve” or “what type of people look for my solution” will take some time.
However, it’s the only way to fully understand what type of content resonates with your audience and which keywords you need to focus on (there are many, and you have to prioritise). As Google puts increasingly more emphasis on matching the intent of every search query, this step is necessary. You can’t just rely on data from the tools like Google Search Console or ubersuggest.
Instead, choose a more proactive approach and think about your audience needs from a bigger perspective.
Keyword research benefits
Keyword research will allow you to determine what content/landing pages you need to create to get more visitors and provide you with valuable insight into how you need to optimise your website for better rankings (also known as on-page optimisation, more on that later).
Additionally, it will also help you to get your site architecture right. Although site architecture is usually more important to the bigger eCommerce sites with many products, it is crucial for ensuring a good user experience to all of the visitors that land on your website.
In our case, choosing the relevant keywords will help us with categorising the content and creating seamless navigation throughout different pages on your site, resulting in lower bounce rates and increased visitor’s average session duration.
Sidenote: Difficulty of doing SEO varies across different industries. Check out my SEO for SaaS guide if you work in the software space and want to drive high-quality traffic to your website.
After you have identified your keywords, it’s time to analyse their potential for bringing new visitors. Generally, you want to consider three main metrics for each keyword:
In other words, you are looking for the average search volume, keyword difficulty and the search intent behind your keyword.
In terms of popularity, it’s important to create the right mix of high-volume and long-tail keywords with lower search volume. While it’s important to use keywords with high traffic potential, long-tail keywords can often convert better because searchers are more specific and intentional in their searches.
As for difficulty, it’s a good practice to manually analyse SERP results and see what domains and pages rank high. If you see a couple of popular, authoritative pages pop up in the first results, it may be a signal to focus on a different, less competitive keyword.
Finally, look for the search intent behind your keyword. Many times, Google will give you different results than you would expect. This provides you with information about what the visitors are really looking for. The page that you want to rank for the specific keyword should reflect this.
Some of the popular intent-based types of content (that are also great for driving conversions) include comparison posts, articles about pricing or product/service cases.
I am a big fan of productivity and using what’s already working. This is why I like competitor analysis. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. By searching for the keyword most related to your business, you’ll get a better idea of what sites are your direct competition and which keywords bring them the best results. This helps you with the following:
- Understand what works well in your industry
- Discover your competition’s strengths and uncover their weaknesses
- Learn what it would take to rank higher than them
Sidenote: One thing to remember is that if you run a blog or have an eCommerce store, your site probably ranks for many different keywords. If this is the case, then I suggest using one of the popular paid tools to see what sites are your competition on the domain level, instead of looking at individual keywords and analysing just the SERP results.
Next, analyse the competition’s organic traffic numbers, backlink profile and overall site’s authoritativeness. Again, I highly suggest using a paid tool for this. For example, if you run a local business selling clothes and a new clothes shop gets opened, you can quickly see how strong their online presence is. Additionally, you also discover new competing sites you previously didn’t know about.
After creating a list of competitors, you can move to the next step. Here are some ideas on what to do:
- Analyse the competition’s on-page optimisation and site structure
- Look for the top competitor’s organic keywords
- Identify content gaps to get ideas on creating new content
- Find your competition’s top-performing content (ranks for many keywords and drives a lot of traffic)
- Perform link gap analysis to discover relevant link opportunities
Good site optimisation is important for both users and search engines as it creates a better user experience and improves crawlability. Utilise your keyword research and competitor analysis data to proceed most effectively and use what already works.
These are the things you should keep in mind when you are doing on-page SEO for a small website.
- Content readability and the use of whitespace, text size and colour
- User-friendly URLs
- Optimised titles, meta descriptions and subheadings
- Target keyword in the first 100 words
- Internal linking and the use of quality outbound links
- Optimised images with correct alt tags
- Unique visual content
- Site speed and responsiveness
After you have identified the main areas of improvement, it’s time to review the current state of your website. Note that many of the on-page improvements will also be discovered during the site audit. For the purpose of this article, I will focus mainly on the technical part of the audit.
The main reason for doing a technical site audit is to get rid of the errors and issues that slow down your website and hurt its ranking. The three most frequent problems, according to this SEMRush study, are the occurrence of 4XX errors (80% of the sites have them), low text-to-HTML ratio and duplicate content.
Page speed is also a common problem for many websites. While the recent Wolfgang Digital report suggests that the global average for page speed in the eCommerce sector is now around 5 seconds, this is still far from the ultimate Google’s goal to reach 2 seconds.
With a professionally executed site audit, you should be able to prevent all of these issues and many more. Additionally, you can also hire an expert to review your website. A technical site audit is covered as part of our SEO services.
Here’s a simplified approach you can follow when auditing your website.
- Look out for any crawling and indexation issues (pages that don’t show up in the results)
- Check your site’s preferred domain
- Check HTTPS status codes
- Discover main on-page issues (missing/duplicate tags, orphan pages, incorrect URLs, thin and duplicate content)
- Get your site speed report here
- Audit your link profile and find broken links (both internal and external)
- Check if your site is mobile-friendly
Measuring SEO Success
Another important part of doing SEO is monitoring and tracking the results. Whether you are analysing the impact of new content that was created based on effective keyword research or assessing the changes in your site’s performance, these are the two main tools that you need.
Google Analytics is the most popular website analytics software on the market. It provides you with information on user engagement – how online users find your website and interact with it.
This includes demographic and behaviour data, traffic sources, bounce rates, conversion rates, popular landing pages, and much more. All of these metrics are useful for both your content and paid advertising campaigns.
Pro tip: Need more information on Google Analytics? Here is a useful 30-minute guide that describes the user interface and takes you through the basics of setting up your account.
Google Search Console
This tool is useful mainly for uncovering technical problems on your site and analysing the performance of your content.
The index coverage report provides you with information on the number of pages indexed in Google and any potential errors/pages excluded from Google’s index. The performance report shows your site’s overall search performance on Google. This means a total number of clicks, impressions, average CTR and average position.
Here are two quick tips for content optimisation based on GSC data:
- Look for pages ranking relatively high with low CTR and then optimise their content or experiment with changing titles and meta descriptions.
- Search for keywords that already rank between the first 10 and 20 positions and then optimise the pages related to that keyword. Many times, creating more relevant content or adding internal linking will do the job.
Bonus Tips for Local Business SEO
This bonus section is dedicated to small business owners that want to be visible in the local search and target customers in a specific area.
Here are 5 essential steps to generate results from local SEO.
- Set up your account with Google My Business and focus on getting all of your business’ local information right.
- Create your NAP (name, address, phone number) with the local schema mark up.
- Get reviews from local customers by offering small incentives and actively ask for the feedback on your services.
- Get featured in local business listings (e.g. Trip Advisor). These will help to identify your website as a local solution and ensure its categorised in the relevant service section.
- Optimise your titles, meta descriptions and URLs on the landing pages relevant for the local search. If they don’t exist, then go ahead and create them.
BIAS is a digital agency providing solutions to businesses that need to increase their online visibility and boost sales. No matter the type or popularity of your website, our team of experienced SEO consultants can help. Book yourself a free first consultation here.