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Small Business SEO Tips: 6 Things You Can Check In 10 Minutes

Tom Dempster

Tom Dempster

Your time is at a premium when you own a small business – but taking care of your website is important. Set aside ten minutes this week and check these items off your list.

As a small business owner, your list of tasks never seems to reduce. It doesn’t matter which industry your business operates in – whether it’s taking care of inventory or maintaining your company accounts – the list grows longer. The time you have available is shorter.

Yet there are some tasks which meet at the intersection of mundane and valuable. Consider something as simple as reordering your business cards – sure, it’s an administrative chore (mundane) – but a business card provides potential customers with contact information and promotes your organization (valuable).

I don’t want to add unnecessary clutter to that ever-expanding task list, but I would implore you to take ten minutes and study the SEO tips for small businesses below. In fact, these are perhaps the most basic checks a business of any size should carry out on their website. Some of these only take a matter of seconds to complete. 

These are all straightforward things which require little brainpower (mundane) – but resolving any issues here can enhance your web visibility and improve your company’s online presence (valuable).

Contents

1. Can your website be crawled by Google and other search engines?

Time required to check: 15 seconds

Why website crawling is important

If your website cannot be crawled by search engines, the pages on your site will not appear in search results. There’s no point producing blog content or optimizing your website’s pages if they can’t be accessed by search engines. 

How to check if your website can be crawled by Google

  • Go to google.com.

  • In the search bar, type in ‘site:yourwebsite.com’ – for our website, we’d type in ‘site:trueboostdigital.com’.
searching for website on google
  • If you see a list of your website’s URLs appear in the search engine results, then your site is indexed and will appear in Google’s search results.
indexed site in google
  • If you see a screen similar to the one below, then your site is not indexed and will not appear in SERPs.
site not indexed in google

This is extremely important to fix; if you don’t, your website will not appear in any search engine results.

How to resolve a search engine crawl issue

The most likely cause of a significant crawlability problem lies with your robots.txt file. This file tells search engines which parts of your site to crawl – and which pages to ignore.

The first way to check your robots.txt file is to go to your domain, and then append /robots.txt to the end of the URL. To ensure search engines have visibility of your website, you’ll want the robots.txt file to look like this:

User-Agent: *
Disallow: 

(There are certain scenarios where it makes sense to exclude certain parts of your website from being crawled – but in this situation, we just want to resolve the crawling issue affecting your entire site.)

How to actually edit your robots.txt file will depend on your hosting provider or content management system. If you use WordPress, installing the Yoast plugin can be helpful – and they also have a thorough guide to the robots.txt file

Tip: If your website does not have a robots.txt file (i.e. you receive a 404 error, or the robots.txt is completely blank), you’ll need to create one. Google has instructions for creating a robots.txt file.

2. Does your website have a HTTPS URL?

Time required to check: 15 seconds

Why is HTTPS important?

An SSL certificate is vital if you sell products or services through your website – this ensures the connection between two parties is safe and secure. You’ll find websites with an enabled SSL certificate have a HTTPS URL.

In browsers like Google Chrome, there is a stark difference between websites that have an SSL certificate, and those that don’t.

website with ssl certificate

A website with an SSL certificate…

website without ssl certificate

…and a website without an SSL certifcate

Imagine visiting two websites offering the same product at the same price on the same terms. One of them has a padlock indicating a secure connection; the other has a message in the address bar – ‘Not secure’. Which website are you most likely to make a purchase from?

Additionally, Google indicated as far back as 2014 that HTTPS is a positive ranking signal for its search algorithm.

How to check if your website has a HTTPS URL

  • Open up a new browser window and type in your website’s URL.

  • In the majority of web browsers, if an SSL certificate is active and the website is HTTPS, you should see a padlock to the left of your URL – indicating that the connection is secure. In some browsers where the full URL is displayed, you will see the address begin with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’.

  • If your website is not secure, you may see a ‘Not secure’ notification in the address bar. Your website’s URL will also begin with ‘http’ as opposed to ‘https’.

If you sell goods or services via your website – and if you want to benefit from the positive ranking signal Google attributes to secure sites – you should resolve this.

How to get an SSL certificate

If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, you’ll need to obtain one and install it on your site. 

Your first port of call should be your web host, who may include an SSL certificate as part of your hosting package. Even if they don’t offer one for free, the majority of major hosting providers will be able to guide you through the process. 

In some cases, you may have purchased a certificate but not enabled it on your site. How to add your SSL certificate to your site will depend on your content management system and website infrastructure; your web host or CMS should have instructions for how to do this. If not – and if you’re unsure of how to do it yourself – consult an expert.

Tip: You can verify your website’s SSL certificate is working correctly by using a tool such as SSL Checker.

3. Does your website load quickly?

Time required to check: 1 minute

Why is it important to have a fast website?

Having a website which loads quickly and provides a great user experience is increasingly important. 

A study by Kissmetrics showed that almost half of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% said they would leave a website if loading took longer than three seconds.

A fast website has SEO benefits, too. Google has stated that a website which loads quickly is a positive ranking factor on both desktop and mobile devices.

How to check your website speed

  • Go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool (there are other tools available, too – such as GTmetrix and Pingdom).

  • Copy and paste any URL from your website and click ‘Analyze’.

  • When the tool is complete, you’ll receive a report which shows you the speed score out of 100 on both mobile and desktop devices:
google pagespeed insights

Further down the page, you’ll see diagnostic information and opportunities for improvement.

How to resolve speed issues with your website

The PageSpeed Insights tool will often give you several tips to improve your website’s page speed, including:

  • Reducing server response times
  • Eliminating render-blocking resources, such as Javascript or CSS
  • Serving images in next-generation formats
  • Ensuring your images are properly sized

Converting your images to next-gen formats and properly sizing them are likely to be the quickest wins you’ll be able to make.

Tip: I don’t recommend sacrificing everything at the altar of speed. Speed is important, but it’s actually more important to make sure users enjoy interacting with your website. You could achieve a speed score of 100 by removing all the images from your site and having paragraphs of plain text, but your visitors would hate it. 

So there is a balance here – make improvements where you can, but don’t throw your website under the bus in the process.

4. Is Google Analytics set up on your website?

Time required to check: 3 minutes

Why should your website have Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool and one of the best ways to understand how visitors are using your website. It can tell you how many users viewed a certain page, from which sources (organic, social, etc.), and from which locations – offering you vital insights into the success of your digital campaigns.

Armed with this data, you can understand which parts of your site are driving conversions – and which may need some work.

How to check if your website has Google Analytics set up

  • Firstly, check you have a Google Analytics account by going to analytics.google.com. You’ll either be directed to your Analytics Dashboard or prompted to set up a new account.

  • If you don’t have an Analytics account, then you’ll need to create one and add the tracking code to your website.

  • If you already have an Analytics account, there are a few ways to check your website is recording Analytics data.

    • Check your website’s source code. In Analytics, go to the name of your website and then navigate to Admin > Tracking Code. Copy the tracking code, which will start with ‘UA-’. Then, on a page on your website, right-click an empty space and select ‘View Page Source’. Perform the Find function (Ctrl+F), and then paste your Analytics tracking code. If it shows up in your source code, Analytics is recording data from your website.

    • Use a free third-party tool. Sites such as gachecker.com scan your website’s source code and inform you of the presence of various Google tracking codes.

    • Install Google’s Tag Assistant plug-in. For Chrome users, this will tell you which tracking codes are present on a given web page. Simply install the plug-in, enable it, and then refresh your website to see which Google tags are present.
google tag assistant

Adding Google Analytics to your website gives you fresh insights into your website traffic and helps you to track conversions. Although it has no impact on your website’s Google ranking, it is a fundamental building block for assessing your website’s performance.

How to add Google Analytics to your website

These instructions from Google are a foolproof way to add the tracking code to your website. To enable tracking, you’ll add a few lines of programming code after the <head> section of your website.

Most content management systems have plug-ins or other functionality to allow you to automatically add the tracking code to your site, which means you won’t have to delve into the code yourself.

Tip: Once Analytics is installed and recording data, make sure you create a filter to exclude internal traffic from your Analytics data. You can exclude specific IP addresses which will prevent you – or your employees – affecting the accuracy of your data.

5. Is your website mobile-friendly?

Time required to check: 1 minute

Why does your website need to be mobile-friendly?

Recent data shows that over half of the world’s Internet traffic is now from mobile devices. Recognizing this trend, Google recently rolled out mobile-first indexing – meaning it uses the mobile version of a webpage for indexing and ranking. 

A responsive website will adjust its layout and images based on the resolution, platform and orientation of the user’s device. Whether on desktop, tablet or mobile, a responsive site means that users should not suffer from inconveniences such as incorrectly sized images or text when they resize a browser window or move to a different device.

Having a polished, professional website across all devices is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a necessity.

How to check if your website is mobile-friendly

  • Google’s mobile-friendly test allows you to input a URL and see if the page is accessible for those on mobile devices.
google mobile friendly test
  • In addition to running Google’s test, another way to test the user-friendliness of your website is to simply access your website on a tablet or mobile device. Ask employees, friends or family members to do the same.

Does your website provide you – and them – with a good user experience? Are the images correctly sized? Does the site behave in the way a user would anticipate? If the answer to any of these is “No”, then you may need to take a look at your website’s design.

How to make your website mobile-friendly

The majority of websites built on platforms like WordPress, SquareSpace or Wix are likely to be responsive and mobile-friendly out of the box. 

There are online tutorials to help you fix the issue yourself (see the Tip below), or you might consider fundamentally changing the design of your website to make it mobile-friendly. 

Depending on your experience with web development (and the time you have available), you might want to consult with a professional who can make the changes for you.

Tip: If your website isn’t responsive, and you want to fix it yourself, then this guide from CatsWhoCode is recommended. It turns a potentially daunting subject into a straightforward series of steps. 

6. Is your website’s content accurate, and is the spelling/grammar correct?

Time required to check: Varies

Why is it important that your website content is accurate?

Proofreading is not an exercise you could complete in its entirety in a few minutes – but I would still recommend setting some time aside to review your website’s content for accuracy.

From an SEO perspective, search engines are looking for well-written, relevant content. I think there is something just as important to consider, though. You should also think about the implications for your brand if your site is littered with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Is that going to paint a positive picture of your business?

It’s also worth checking things like pricing and special offers on your website are still relevant. Showing a ‘Christmas special’ promotion in April is a telltale sign that your website is not being kept up-to-date.

Even if you are pushed for time, it’s definitely worth setting a few moments aside to browse through your site.

How to check if your website’s content is accurate

In reality, there is no quick way to ascertain if all of the information on your website is correct. It takes a lot of work to go through every single page of a website and check it for total accuracy.

Here’s a priority list I would encourage you to work through to ensure the most important items are covered first:

  1. Review your Homepage and a handful of your highest-performing pages for any special offers, promotions or banners which are out-of-date. This makes sure your website doesn’t have a ‘dated’ feel, and also protects you in the event that you cannot (or do not want to) fulfill the terms of the offer or promotion.

     

  2. Take a look at the products or services you’re promoting on your site. Make sure these are still correct and any pricing information is up-to-date.

     

  3. Break your website into chunks and review the spelling and grammar on each page. Start with the pages which receive the highest traffic and work your way down. Take this one page at a time and make the amendments.

     

  4. It’s also useful to spend time checking that your links – both internal and external – still work. Broken links penalize the authority of your website and are frustrating for users.

How to improve the accuracy of your website's content

You have two choices here – you can do the legwork yourself, or you can delegate or outsource the work.

Doing the checks yourself is great if you have a) the time, and b) an eye for detail. If you only have one of those two traits, it may be worth having someone else look at it for you.

You can always ask an employee to check that your product information and promotions are correct.

For spelling and grammar, if you know anyone with a penchant for spotting errors, enlist their help. You can also find copy editors or proofreaders on websites like Fiverr (although the quality of the work can vary).

Tip: For spelling and grammar checks, you can use a tool like Grammarly to correct mistakes and review grammar suggestions.

Of course, these aren’t the only things you can do to enhance your SEO efforts. But if you’re a business owner struggling for time, completing these six points means you’ve got the fundamentals in place!

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