On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Primer

Once your small business has an established website, you’ll find that the top three search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) will provide the bulk of your traffic – with Google probably sending you more visitors than all other sources combined. Sure, you can submit to directories and exchange links with other websites, but they will not directly provide much traffic. Now, it’s probably fair to say that you should focus almost all of your online marketing efforts to ranking well in the most popular search engines. Below, I’ll list some tips to help you do just that.

Target Specific Key Phrases

Try to think what keywords a potential customer or client is going to use to search for a business in your industry. Now, take those keywords and make them more into more specific key phrases. For example, if you are a website designer, then you would want to use a key phrase to give your term a geographical focus like: “Windsor Ontario website design”. Or, if you specialize in small business website design, use: “small business website design”. You want to stay away from keywords that are too general because they are very competitive terms. If you choose to target “website design”, you’re going to be competing against every other web designer around the world – good luck!

On-Page Optimization

Now that you have chosen just a few specific keywords, we need to include them in your website so the search engines will know that your business relates to those terms. Try to only target one or two keywords or key phrases per page. Be sure to include these keywords or phrases in you Title tag, Meta Description tag, and Meta Keywords tag. Don’t worry about the Meta Keywords tag too much – the search engines (Google Especially) give this tag little or no weight when determining search engine relevancy. Here are some more ways to include your keywords or phrases in your pages:

H1 or H2 Tags: why not include an H1 tag right at the top of the page with your key phrase. Follow that up with an H2 tag including another key phrase or word. But, make sure that you use both tags, in use them in the proper order – H2 following H1.

Body of Page: make sure you include your key phrases in the text in the body of the web page. Make sure that it sounds natural, though. Don’t include it too many times or you may be penalized for “key word stuffing”.

Bold, Italics & Underline: in the body of your web page, try to use these tags to emphasize your keywords.

Bulleted Lists: try to include your key phrases in a bulleted list. Remember, it should look natural.

Alternate Text Tags: include alternate text to describe the various images on your website. This tag allows blind Internet users to understand what images you have on your site. Search engines index this information and you can use it to your advantage by including a couple key phrases.

Include Relevant Content

Content is now king when it comes to search engine optimization today. Why should your website be important if it doesn’t include any information that could interest a visitor? Including information and articles regarding your product, services, or industry is the best way to let the search engines know that your website really matters. There are hundreds of article directories that allow you to freely use their articles on your website. All you are asked to do is provide a link to the author’s website at the end of the article. If possible, try to write a few articles yourself so you can have some original content. Google and the other search engines will know if you are using someone else’s article. There’s nothing wrong with this, although they will give you a lot more credit if the work is original. My last suggestion: update your website on a regular basis. At least every month you should be adding some new content to your website. The search engines want to give the high rankings to websites that have fresh content added on a regular basis.


Search engine optimization is not an exact science. Nobody really knows how the search engines determine where a site will rank in the search results. The preceding article will give you the basic knowledge to obtain a decent position. You will have to continually fine-tune your website and analyze a competitor’s website to improve your positioning. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t end there. There are a number of off-page factors that determine how well your website will rank. I will discuss these factors in a later article, but this is a good place to start for now.

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