Guest Blog: How small businesses can increase web traffic via Google


An increasing number of small business owners today see the web as an essential part of their sales funnel. Over the past 3-5 years the use of the internet in people's decision making process has shifted from being a nicety to more of a necessity. This makes it critical to have your online strategy absolutely nailed to stay competitive.

Google is the main driving source of most websites' traffic; but ironically it is usually the area business owners/managers have the least understanding of. This creates an environment where a business' biggest online asset can be a complete mystery to everyone involved.

This article will look in simple terms at how you can optimise your website to receive the maximum amount of traffic from search engines.

What does Google actually do?

Most people don't give a second thought as to how Google puts together its search results for any given query. But knowing the process they go through to deliver results allows you to give yourself the best chance of being seen.

Very broadly speaking Google determines its search results based on the following two factors:

  • On-site factors- Consisting of the content on individual pages, the site's overall theme and the way pages are coded/structured.
  • Off-site factors- Consisting of external links to your site, brand strength and social data.

By combining various data sources in relation to the query the user enters, Google determines the results they think are most relevant. When doing SEO (search engine optimisation) it is your job to have the right data aligned with your website to increase your chances of getting impressions/clicks.

How to improve your site's visibility in Google?

There are several different strategies you can employ to help make your website visible in Google. But keep in mind that to achieve success in the search engines you need to keep work going over a sustained period of time. SEO is a long term investment; but one that delivers fantastic results when it comes to fruition.

On-site optimisation

This is a subject that can get very technical; but do not fear! As a normal business owner, simply editing some basic visible elements on your website can have huge changes on rankings and traffic. You can find an expanded beginners guide I wrote here on on-page optimisation, but in this post I'll try cover the basics and keep it simple.

  • Pay attention to page titles (that is the title that appears in the tab in your browser). Titles are one of the strongest on-page factors that Google looks at when analysing websites. Try and align your page titles with what people might search for. One of the most common errors I see people making is to have something generic like "Home Page" as the title of their homepage.
  • Make sure your content can be read by computers and not just humans. Search engines read websites by using software called crawlers. Basically they look at the code behind websites to figure out what they are about. A good rule of thumb about how you design your website is that if you can't highlight text with your mouse then a search engine won't be able to see it.
  • Don't spam your pages with keywords. It might be tempting to try and make yourself seem more relevant for certain phrases by repeating them a lot in your content. But doing so will only get your site penalised and negatively affect your rankings in the search engines.
  • Try and break up your content with paragraphs and headers (html ones). This again helps to better theme your content in the eyes of search engines. If you use a CMS (content management system) to input changes to your website this should all be taken care of for you.
  • If you use images make sure they have alt tags coded with them. These are "invisible" tags which describe the images (which helps search engines theme your page). Most website management systems will allow you to specify your alt tags.

Off-site optimisation

Off-site optimisation is mostly to do with links pointing to your site from various places around the web. The way links affect your visibility in search engines has changed hugely over the years. Don't worry if you don't know much about SEO; as Google is making it much easier for "normal" business owners to rank well. Manipulative tactics once used by SEOs are dying out, and natural links rule the rankings in 2013.

Again link building is a topic that is expansive and can be talked about all day ( here's a good guide of different ways to build healthy links). But the basics to remember are as follows:

  • Get links to multiple pages across your site and do not concentrate all external links on one area/page.
  • Keep the anchor text (that is the text that the link is clickable by) natural and do not stuff with keywords.
  • Never pay for links, most paid links can be spotted a mile away and are against Google's webmaster guidelines (rules). Paid links can get your site penalised by Google and destroy an otherwise healthy site's search rankings.
  • Go out and gain links yourself; don't just wait for them to come to you. There are lots of things you can do to earn links in a natural way. Some include submission to high quality directories (such as, leveraging business connections to link to you with an endorsement, providing some sort of value for other websites/communities under your business name etc.


Hopefully this article has helped to clear things up in terms of how Google delivers search results, and what you can do to be seen there. Search engine optimisation is a highly technical subject; but the simple changes are often the ones that have the most impact.

Go now and have a quick audit of your website, check if the page titles are optimised to attract as much traffic as possible. Make sure your content is laid out well and you don't have text hidden in images. And finally start thinking about how you can leverage your existing connections and contacts to get some healthy natural links pointing to your site.

Pete McAllister