Online MarketingSEO

SEO Guide and Checklist for Small Businesses: Part 1

Free Website SEO Checklist

As a small business you need to stand out from the crowd (particularly your competitors). This is possible even with large companies that spend thousands of rand on search engine optimisation, you can still beat them to the finish line. Here is how:

Effective Keywords

Users looking for information use keywords and keyword phrases to get results they are looking for. In order for your site to rank higher you need to do thorough research on what you think someone might search for when looking for your business, and make sure your website provides answers; through your chosen keywords; to the searchers search query. You can use Google Adwords to do this or see what your competitors are doing.

On-page Optimisation and HTML code

You need to use HTML code and meta tags for on-page optimisation using HTML code and meta tags. The coding may need to be done by your web designer, if they are worth their salt in SEO. Otherwise invest in an SEO specialist to achieve the best results. Meta tags, however, are fairly simple to add. You need to ensure you have provided information about who created the page, how often it is updated (and you must update it regularly), what the page is about and the authorship. Authorship is very important as it gives the website authority.


Page Titles/Title Tag/Title Element

These are included in the coding of the page, close to the top of the page. Users cannot see it, but it is seen on the search result pages and on social websites. Ensure you have a title tag that is relevant to the page so that users will get the exact answers from your page that they are looking for. When writing the title tag, best to include your site name and a two to three words summary of what that page is about in 60 characters or less.

meta tags explained


Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are what the user sees on the landing page below the search result. They are often overlooked when a website is being built, but are of huge significance. Think of a shopper passing by a window and seeing a beautiful pair of shoes. They are in a rush and don’t have time to find out the price or whether the shoe is leather or plastic. The consumer will most probably make a note of this in the back of their mind, but carry on walking. The sale is lost. It is the same with a meta description. The landing page has generated several results for the keywords they used, but now they need more information to see if it is relevant to their needs. If you have a description that details exactly what you can offer them, they are going to click on the link and you have a potential client.

Quality Content

2014 fact: Content is more important than keywords. Once you have done all of the above, make sure your content matches. Quality, unique content is key. Employ a good knowledgeable writer and proofreader – there is nothing worse than reading a paragraph or two and coming across spelling or grammatical errors etc. If they have skills in SEO, even better.

After selecting your keywords you should create one page of content for each of them. The content must answer the questions of the user and meet their intent. Add the keyword for each page to the page’s URL, page title, meta description and header tag.


These are links from other websites that point to your page and increase traffic to your site. Needless to say, the number of backlinks that you have is an indication of the popularity of the page/website. For Google, it is an important factor to help determine the page ranking. However, don’t think that having as many backlinks as possible from any website is going to increase your traffic. Ensure the websites are trustworthy, active (i.e. regularly updated) and relevant to your business. A simple yet effective rule here, when thinking of backlinks is: “would you want to link to that website?” if no is your answer then better not!

Back Links



Here is a quick checklist of what has been discussed above, as well as a few extra tips:

  • Make a list of keywords that are relevant to your business that you want to rank for (use Google’s Keyword Tool)
  • Use HTML code and meta tags for on-page optimisation
  • Use relevant Page Titles/Title Tag/Title Element
  • Write an impactful meta description
  • Write unique, worthy and effective content
  • Get backlinks from relevant, trustworthy websites
  • Create accounts on Google Analytics and Google+
  • Write unique, descriptive titles and meta descriptions for every page
  • Regularly update your website
  • Regularly update your social media
  • Make sure your page loads on different browsers, screen resolutions and smart phones
  • Promote your site on business directories
  • Create relationships with business contacts and bloggers and ask them to add links to your site/pages.

Look out for our next article on ‘The necessity of G+ for your business – What is it? Why use it? How to use it’.