Starting a small business can be overwhelming. With all the effort involved in creating and providing your product or service, it’s easy to overlook search engine optimization (SEO). But without an effective small business SEO strategy, prospective customers and clients will never see your site. Why? Because a site without an effective SEO strategy is unlikely to feature in search results.
This means that no matter how amazing your product or service might be, success may always be out of your reach. After all, more than half of all web traffic to both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sites comes from organic search results. This is when people find your site organically and click on it.
If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, this probably sounds like an overwhelming task you will have to pay an expert thousands of dollars to accomplish. Luckily, however, there are many ways you can make SEO work for your business without a significant time or financial investment.
What Is SEO and Why Is It Important?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process through which you make your website and its content more easily found, indexed, and highly ranked by search engine crawlers. Search engine crawlers are bots that examine every area of the online world, identifying and ranking sites and their content. When your SEO strategy gets you more traffic, you are set up for success.
Even today, as many as 70% of small businesses lack a viable SEO strategy. Are you one of those businesses? If so, you’re almost certainly missing out on many leads and possibly substantial revenue. Learning about SEO and formulating the right strategy to build more of a reputation in your industry is one of the most valuable steps you can take.
How To Improve SEO for Your Small Business
Understanding the fundamentals of content marketing is essential for your successful SEO strategy. When you up your content marketing game and apply your new knowledge to your site, you will attract new traffic (and leads).
Improving the copy on your site will encourage people to read about your business and services. This will keep readers on your site longer, helping you rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). The longer each user is on your site, the better your time-on-site stats.
If you want your site to get into the top 10 results on Google Search, you will need to keep users interested and engaged for at least a few minutes. Boring or uninteresting copy means that visitors will bounce away quickly after finding you.
Check your meta tags. No matter which content management system you use, you will be able to enter meta tags. These tags describe your content, and search crawlers detect whether they correctly match what is on the connected page. Ensure that all your meta tags contain relevant keywords when revamping your small business SEO strategy.
Creating a strong content marketing strategy is easier than you think. Write blog posts on relevant subjects regularly. Be diligent about this. Each post should focus on a relevant keyword (we will discuss keyword research later).
Remember your content must always add value. Think about the information that your potential leads need and want to see. With many kinds of small businesses, blog post content may be among the most important parts of your SEO strategy. Your posts should be information-focused.
There are lots of ways to improve your content strategy without it taking up all your time and resources. In addition to adding value through the informational quality of your content, you can try the following:
- Set formats and templates: In most cases, you will probably use the same kind of format (or template) for certain types of content. For example, your blog posts might follow the same template every time. Keep track of these templates and use them, making posting new content quicker and easier.
- Engage with video: There are few mediums as captivating as video. Another benefit is how much easier it is to make a video than it is to create written content. You should optimize all video content for SEO, too. There are tools available for this purpose, including one called Wistia.
- Use distribution channels, such as social media: As important as organic search results are, there is no reason to rely on those alone. Get your social media presence as strong as possible, sharing your site’s content.
Establishing a Blog
As mentioned earlier, establishing a blog and adding new content to it on a frequent (and regular) basis is an excellent part of any content strategy. Google sees your blog posts as frequent updates to your site, and this helps you upgrade in search rankings.
Choose blog post topics and titles that are informative and valuable to your target customers. Planning and writing a blog can be incredibly fun, and many business owners find it’s something they actually end up enjoying. If you lack the necessary time for all that writing, however, you can hire professionals to do it for you. The rewards of a strong blog strategy and writing should quickly outweigh the cost involved.
You may not have realized it in the past, but you have probably been brought to many sites (and paid for their products and services) through finding and clicking on an engaging blog post. It’s time to use this strategy for your own business.
The Right Keyword Strategy
Keyword research is the first step in deciding on your keyword strategy. This research is how you will find out the words and phrases your target leads and customers enter into search engines. When you know the keywords these people often search for, you will know how to lead them to your site.
Once you have set your keyword strategy, you will need to keep it updated through regular research. This is because the keywords your customers search for continually change. One fantastic tactic is to research what SEO strategies your competitors use. There are tools available to do this, such as Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix.
There are several useful approaches to keyword research. One of the easiest ways is to see the suggestions offered by Google autocomplete. These are simply the suggestions that will come up when you enter terms into the search bar. These suggestions show you the most commonly searched-for phrases and are the result of keyword research that Google has already done.
Try specialized keyword research tools, too. One of these is Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool. This quickly generates a keyword breakdown that is incredibly easy to understand. Using these keywords in your strategy will improve your chances of ranking higher on Google.
Optimized Headlines and Page Titles
Optimized headlines and page titles are part of your on-page SEO. Take the time needed in crafting compelling headlines. Doing this will help improve your site’s click-through rate. This is the percentage of visitors who click your headline and get through to the page.
The click-through rate is a key element when SERPs calculate ratings. To get more people to click, write headlines that are around 60 characters in length. Headlines that are too long are a problem, as the whole title won’t fit in what users initially see.
Remember the Local Element
More and more, positioning yourself in a local context helps with SEO. Do this by mentioning your locality on your site, writing about your relevance in the local community and linking to local publications and Yelp reviews of your business.
With many types of small businesses, potential customers specifically look for establishments near them. Examples include restaurants and retail stores. Even when users don’t specify their location, Google’s algorithm will show them local businesses first. To improve your local SEO strategy, you must create a Google My Business (GMB) profile.
With the current economic turmoil, many people are actively trying to support local businesses to help their towns, cities and regions thrive. Make sure they know you are in the area, so you can get some of this revenue.
The process of setting up a Google My Business profile begins with claiming your listing. Ensure you include your full business address and local phone number. You will find that this information accompanies the appearance of your site in Google Search results. When you have a Google My Business profile, customers can leave reviews. You will be notified when this happens.
Look into local directories, as well. Examples of these are the Yellow Pages and Yelp. You can list your business on these. Even if you offer a service that people around the world may be interested in and you don’t see the need for local marketing, creating a local context for your business will help visitors see it as more trustworthy.
For example, if someone is worried that a business might not be honest or on the level, seeing that it is located in a specific place will help put minds at ease. Many businesses have started including their city location in their site titles and tags.
Use Link Building
Link building is one of the most impactful strategies you can use. It has recently been shown that including external links to high-authority sites can also help your Google ranking.
The more internal links you have in your content and the more backlinks you have (links to your site that are posted on other sites, preferably high-authority ones), the more likely SERP robots are to see your site as a high-quality one that should rank high in results.
There are several strategies for getting backlinks from reputable sites. Create an outreach strategy for this purpose. When you get positive mentions in the media, you can get those sites to backlink to your site.
Guest blogging is another strategy. Make inquiries with authoritative sites that may let you post a guest blog with them. Ensure that they link back to your site. Not only will this build more backlinks for you, but it will also improve your reputation in the field.
Start creating an outreach contact list spreadsheet. Include bloggers, local newspapers and events pages. You can also include businesses, but ensure they are non-competitive (in other words, that they aren’t your competitors). Try to target more authoritative websites, as linking to (and from) them will make Google see you as more authoritative, too. This will improve your rankings.
Page Design and Usability
For obvious reasons, Google doesn’t want to direct traffic to sites that will provide a poor or frustrating user experience. If your site is difficult to navigate or loads too slowly, SERPs will lower your ranking. Of course, having a user-friendly and attractive site will increase how long your visitors stay on the site. This, in turn, will help improve your rankings.
Don’t Forget the Technical Fixes
Even if you don’t have any technical or advanced web design knowledge, there are several steps you can take to improve the more technical aspects of your site.
- Delete all pages that aren’t performing: Check the traffic stats for each page of your site on a regular basis. If you notice some aren’t getting as much traffic as the others, get rid of it. If you leave it up, this may downgrade your rankings.
- Use better images: Make sure all the images on your site are relevant and that you add fitting captions.
- Generate a sitemap for Google: You may be able to use plugins for creation of a sitemap. Whether you can do this will depend on the specific tools you used when building your site. Did you use WordPress to create your small business’s website? If so, know that the Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to create a sitemap. It will even automatically update it whenever you add new content. Also, make sure to submit your sitemap to Google through Google Search Console.
- Fix old and broken links: Having broken or outdated links on your site and users clicking on them will end with SERP robots downgrading your site.
Know Your Ideal Customers
You need to know what kinds of people want and need your products or services for an effective SEO strategy. You should research what keywords these people are typing into search engines and the information they seek.
Your content should give your potential customers valuable information. More importantly, it should be information that potential leads and customers think is valuable. When you add value, busy people are much more likely to spend more time on your site and remember what you offer.
As well as other kinds of research, imagine yourself in your ideal customers’ shoes. Think about what you would want to know and provide that information. Those kinds of common-sense tactics can be surprisingly useful.
SEO Specialists Will Take Your SEO to the Next Level
Clearly, there is a lot you can do right now to create a better SEO strategy for your small business. Yet, there are many more advanced contributions that SEO professionals offer that can make your business skyrocket in success. Prioritize spending on these services in your business budget. A free SEO audit conducted by a local agency is the ideal first step that you can request in a matter of moments.
While getting noticed online and SEO can seem a bit overwhelming, business owners today are in a much better position than in the past. You have free tools available that can bring results only the most expensive advertising methods could once garner.