SEO, the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, is an increasingly popular marketing strategy for small businesses. With the help of a good SEO strategy, small businesses can attract potential customers via organic search on Google and other major search engines.
Small businesses often have a disadvantage when it comes to Google rankings because they don’t have a big budget like larger companies who can afford more expensive advertising campaigns. This article goes over how small businesses can utilize SEO to achieve high rankings and generate new sales.
What SEO Can Do for Your Business
Although this might not be obvious, the true benefit of SEO to a small business is that it can bring in new customers and help bring existing customers come back to your business.
SEO can help you get more leads. Theoretically, organic search can bring in far more people to your business than a Google Adwords campaign. In addition to maps, Yelp and other local directories are important for visibility and increasing traffic to your website. But aside from the internet, flyers, posters and other conventional advertisement methods are still effective for local businesses. You just have to find a proper balance of digital marketing and offline advertising that works for your business.
Where to start with SEO for your small business
Often the biggest hurdle for a business owner when it comes to SEO is where to start. There are a lot of elements that go into a good campaign and if you don’t have experience, it can be a bit daunting. Take a deep breath and follow the steps below to set a solid foundation for your SEO campaign.
It’s important to research your competitors in order to find out what they’re doing on the internet, how they’re ranking in relation to your business, and what keywords they rank for.
A good content strategy is paramount to a successful SEO campaign. The way people search is changing, and the SEO strategies that were effective in the past are not as effective today. Google is constantly changing their algorithm, and one of the best ways to keep up with the changes for your small business is to provide quality content. High-quality content provides information that Google looks for because it gives people a reason to visit your site and share it with others in order to help you generate new sales.
Make Use of Social Media
Social media can help you connect with more people who might be interested in your products or services, but you need to do more than just post links on Facebook and Twitter about what you have for sale. Posting links doesn’t do anything to help you rank. What you need to do is build an audience of people who follow you and will share your content with their friends, family, and colleagues. Google takes social signals into account when it ranks your site because the company wants to help users find websites that others are talking about, so make sure you have a presence on social media channels.
Use High-quality Images
Go through your website and make sure that you’re not using pixelated images because users will be more likely to leave your website if they can clearly see that your site has poor-quality images. Instead, use images that are high-resolution and visually appealing. They will help you rank better on Google because pictures are considered to be a high-quality signal.
Smartphones are getting more and more popular, especially in emerging markets. This means that you need your website to be responsive since people will want to visit your website from their phone when they’re not at home or at the office. In fact, Google is now giving preference to responsive websites over sites that aren’t mobile optimized.
Tips for Your Small Business SEO Strategy
One of the main points to remember is that SEO is not a one-time thing. You need to maintain an up-to-date content marketing strategy, and you’ll need to do this consistently because changing all of your keyword strategies can be time consuming. Another thing you need to remember is that Google’s algorithm changes often and continuously.
Do keyword research
Search engines have gotten smarter with algorithms that can actually tell if keywords are relevant to your business (though this is not always the case). Because a lot of small businesses do not have the time or money to invest in SEO, they take a cheaper, quicker approach by using irrelevant keywords. This can cause penalties which can ultimately harm your business. Instead of using broad terms or simply common phrases like “New York City lawyer”, look at what people actually search for on Google and use those keywords as part of your website’s content and meta information.
Do not overuse keywords in your website’s content
If a page contains too many keywords or mentions certain keywords too often, it can draw unnecessary traffic to it which can hurt your ranking.
Keep your backlink profile clean
Backlink profiles are analogous to the name of an email’s contact list or the contact information on a phone number sheet—it’s not really important but without it, searches on Google might not turn up what you want them to. When you have a Google account, you can see your backlink profile by going to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/backlink-insights and then selecting the “Add Site” option from the bottom of the page.
Use correct meta descriptions
Meta descriptions can be seen when someone is searching on Google and they are useful for attracting new customers and keeping current ones. This is why it’s important to research keywords in your meta description and use them properly. The best way to do this is to limit yourself to one or two key words that come up most often when someone searches for similar keywords, but use descriptive phrases instead of just a single word like “Lawyer”.
Use your website’s title tag
Although it is not as important as meta descriptions, the title tag is an essential part of your website. This is where you display the name of your business on Google and other search engines. Put whatever title you want here, but keep it short and concise so that visitors can read it easily without clicking elsewhere and lost track of what you want them to do.
Use Google Analytics or another analytics tool
Google Analytics is free and it can give you a lot of information about your website. Google Analytics is especially useful when used in conjunction with Google Search Console.
Make sure you have a blog
Blogs provide a way to keep visitors on your website for a longer amount of time and drive traffic to it as well. For example, websites such as Help Scout have used blogging to increase their revenue, even without paid ads (though paid ads should be used at some point).
Build a sitemap
A sitemap can make it easier for Google and other search engines to index your website and this will make it easier for people to find you when they are searching on Google (and other search engines). Google will tell you how to create one, so if you do not know how, visit https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/sitemaps/build-sitemap.
What About Local SEO?
Local SEO is especially important for small businesses. It’s really not separate from your overall SEO strategy, but it is important to focus a large amount of your SEO efforts on local. This will help to ensure that you are attracting customers in your area. One million visitors to your website won’t do you much good if they aren’t in an area where your business operates.
The first thing you should do is set up your Google My Business listing. Make sure you fill out all of the information that is asked for as a complete listing will help to make sure your business is listed higher than your competitors. This will work to your advantage in two ways:
- It will help to improve your SEO ranking as Google can see that you are a local business and are earning more customers by having higher visibility.
- It will establish trust with the customers looking for you locally as Google sees that you are a local business.
Thanks to this, the search engine is more likely to put trust in your website which in turn will make it easier for potential customers to find you. They might be interested in working with you based on this trust and might even become clients.
The other half of a local SEO strategy would be local keywords. For example, if you own a laundromat in Chicago, make sure your keywords include the word Chicago. A separate page for each location and a link to that page from other pages on your site can amplify the effectiveness of these keywords.
Being an entrepreneur is a challenging and rewarding experience. However, there are risks and failures that come with the territory. Success does not happen overnight, and it takes a lot of planning and hard work to make it happen. The best way to make sure that you will be successful is to have a good marketing strategy which includes SEO. Accessing the right kind of information is important for local businesses that want to maintain their competitive edge no matter where they are in the world.