Most small to medium businesses can’t and shouldn’t spend a fortune on SEO. Instead, take the advice of Google and create content which users value.

But don’t stop there. There’s no point in having great content if no one knows about it.  You also need to promote your content.  That means two main things.

On-page SEO

Make sure both people and search engines can easily tell what each page on your website is about.  And that they can access it easily.

You have control over most elements of good on-page SEO.  Some basic rules include:

  • Stick to one topic per webpage. If you don’t know what the page is about, what are the chances a search engine does?
  • Make sure your site loads fast. If people have to wait for a page, they click the back button. Good hosting is worth the extra dollars. So is the time spent resizing images so they load quickly.
  • Use simple, user-friendly urls. It’s easier for humans when they’re setting up links as well.
  • Structure your page properly. Use headings (H2, H3, H4) to organise your content and include topic-related words in those headings. Make sure alt tags in images relate to your page topic. Use additional fields you have like the SEO title and the meta description.
  • Keep your writing simple.  We’re all time-poor and we don’t want to work to understand stuff. is a great free resource to assess your writing. We aim for a Flesch-Kincaid score of 60 or above for everything on our website.
  • Link related content on different pages of your website.
  • Keep updating and refreshing content. Old content may be stale. Updates prove to search engines that someone is still looking after this website! A blog is good for this.
  • Don’t duplicate content or copy from other places.  Original is best.
  • Don’t stuff your page with keywords or try to beat the system.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is more difficult, and more time-consuming.

In essence, Google looks for evidence that users other than you like your content. Links to your site. Pages shared or liked on social media networks. Inclusion in (relevant) online directories.

But Google also assesses the quality and relevance of those linking to you.  So a link from a generally trusted site (Wikipedia, Microsoft, the ABC) is worth more than a link from a photography studio.  And a link from the photography studio to a wedding planner is worth more than a link from the same photographer to a car mechanic – because the businesses are relevant to each other!

The trick to off-page SEO is effort over time.

  • List in relevant directories.
  • Comment on relevant forums, blogs, association pages and so on.
  • Get some PR and when it’s online, get it linked back to your site.
  • Build a network and promote your content to others in that network so that they will, over time, create links.
  • Don’t just publish on your blog. Post on sites like LinkedIn and SavvySME.
  • Consider guest blogging.  You can write for other relevant blogs. Or you can ask other people to write posts for your blog and hope they then promote their post and your site. Be careful, as this is an area Google is looking at, so make sure there’s genuine value and relevance. (And quite apart from SEO considerations, this is a great way to get real people to your site too – whcih is what it’s all about after all!)

More SEO resources

It’s always good to start with the official guide from Google on SEO.

Anything from Moz or SearchEngineLand is also well worth reading, although you may want to stick to their beginner level articles.