While SEO strategies can range in depth and scope (depending on the kind of results you want to achieve, and in what timeframe), there are a few basic SEO steps every small business owner should cover – at a minimum.
Small businesses come with their own set of unique requirements, so we’ve listed our most important SEO tips for small business owners. These basics shouldn’t be missed if you want your website to get seen by the right clients.
SEO, or search engine optimisation is the process of optimising your website and content so that your site appears for the right kind of Internet searches – ones that your customers are actually using.
With a planned out SEO strategy that covers your bases well, you’ll be able to create higher rankings in search engines. This means customers will be able to find your website easier, and you’ll be pulling in exactly the kind of customers your small business needs.
As well as our best basic SEO tips, we’ve also included a few ways to help you stand out from your small business competitors.
Keyword research is one of the most important SEO tools you should be utilising. Consider the products and services you sell, and put yourself inside the mind of your clients. What terms and phrases might they be using in order to find whatever you sell online?
Make a list of 20 to 50 keywords related to your business. These are the words that, at your best guess, clients would use to find businesses like yours online. Now it’s time to validate them – check if clients are actually using these terms.
This is where Google AdWords and Google Keyword Planner come in.
You’ll first need to create an account on Google AdWords (it’s free, and will only take you a few minutes to set up). This will allow you to see how the keywords you have chosen are actually used in online searches.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that will enable you to see the frequency of your chosen keywords – i.e., an estimate of how many searches they receive.
From there, you can begin crafting your SEO strategy.
You should be utilising keywords in the following places:
· Page title
· First 100 words of content
· Meta title and meta description
· Page title and alt tags
· 1 – 2% density throughout your content
See more details on how to find your SEO keywords here.
In the online world, your Google My Business listing is like proof of your existence as a business. This is an absolutely crucial step in setting up / strengthening your online presence, and should be one of the first things you action.
Don’t neglect this useful tool that’s available to you – it’s also free.
You can use your listing to improve how Google shows your business to browsers. Essentially, you can present your business how you would like it to be presented.
Your GMB listing will show potential customers details about your business, so it’s better to control how this is shown, and make your listing as appealing as possible.
You should show all your relevant contact info, business details, address and location. It’s also an opportunity to show some photos of your business, as well as a description that sums up what you do, and how you do it well.
Your Google My Business Listing will also be a helpful tool in optimising your business for ‘near me’ searches – which are super important for small businesses.
As a small business, it can be easy to get lost in the crowd. When you’re approaching your digital strategy, it’s hugely beneficial to try and identify a niche you could answer.
What do you provide that makes your business unique? What sets you apart from your competitors?
Digitally, this is going to be one of your biggest strengths. Once you identify your niche(s), use these to draw a specific stream of customers to you.
Your keyword strategy should maximise any niche offerings you have. When you’re up against bigger businesses, you may struggle to get ranked for higher frequency search phrases.
Instead of focusing on the most popular keywords, look for lower frequency phrases that are more specific. You’ll have a much better chance ranking higher for less searched phrases, as there will be less competition around these.
SEO can be a lot of trial and error, especially at the beginning. If you already have a website, it’s a good idea to perform an SEO audit to see where and how you can best improve.
Smaller businesses can easily miss finer details that could be causing lower rankings for their site. An SEO audit will show you site elements that could be causing lower rankings, such as broken links, as well as where your site traffic is coming from.
You may be surprised to see where your site traffic comes from. These can also be outside sources that are linking to your site (also known as ‘backlinks’ – more on this later).
In this case, try to build a relationship with these outside sites in order to keep a good flow of traffic coming in.
An SEO audit will also be a crucial process in implementing your SEO strategy – showing what is already working well for you, and where you can improve.
It will also show you your most popular pages, and these should be where you place your strongest keywords. For pages that are not being viewed so often, you’ll have to optimise these with relevant keywords and track their progress to watch improvement.
When it comes to SEO, content still reigns king. It’s going to be how you implement your keyword strategy, bringing the right kind of customers to your small business. You’re going to want to make sure you publish well written, high quality content, and a lot of it.
Pretty much every online business, small and big, knows the power of content; and it’s not enough anymore to simply write a blog here and there.
Play around with your content and be creative – try to create content your competitors aren’t, that answers your consumers needs and makes you stand out online.
You should also use regular content updates to show search engines that your website is fresh, relevant, and regularly updated. This will be rewarded with higher rankings, and is a super efficient way to show search engines your site is not stagnating.
Of course, always use your keyword strategy throughout your content, no matter what kind of content it is – this is what helps your site get picked up by search engines.
Video content is the medium that we know most consumers prefer – and this is only going to continue to grow in the future.
You’ll be able to convey much more info to your customers (and potential, ‘just browsing’ customers), in a much shorter amount of time.
Written content is still going to be super important, as it’s going to be how you utilise your keyword strategy. But don’t overlook the power of video, especially when it comes to engaging customers via social and other platforms.
Google now shows video previews as search responses as well; so creating video content is a fantastic way to make your business stand out, SEO wise.
To do this effectively, you need to ensure search engines like Google can understand the content of your video. SEO-wise, it’s best to use a text reference crawlers can pick up on.
You can use the information covered in the video in your text reference, which will accurately demonstrate to search engine crawlers what your video is about.
Don’t forget to utilise your keyword strategy here as well – make sure to use keywords in your video metadata (titles and description).
The digital space is definitely oversaturated – no matter your small business type. This means high levels of competition, but also more opportunities.
As well as being creative with the type of content you produce, think outside the box when it comes to posting that content.
You should cover your obvious bases – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – but consider other avenues as well.
Quora, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Medium are spaces where you could reach outside audiences. Posting on platforms like these will aid with brand awareness and visibility, as well as upping your site traffic and customer engagement rates.
The importance of links should not be ignored. There are three types of links: internal, external and backlinks.
Internal links are links within your website that should be used to send browsing customers to other pages within your site.
This will decrease your bounce rate, and encourage customers to engage with your site further. Each content page should have at least two internal links.
External links are your links to outside sources. These show search engines that your content is intelligently written, well researched and informative.
Essentially, this shows search engine crawlers that your article, blog or content page is going to be of value to readers – and therefore worth being ranked highly.
You should post at least two external links with every page of content.
Backlinks are outside sites linking to your site. These are like gold, SEO wise. Your SEO audit will show you any backlinks you already have – strengthen these however you can.
You can also build backlinks by strengthening partnerships with people within your industry, such as other (non-competing) businesses you might have relationships with, and/or content creators within your industry (bloggers, influencers, etc).
The idea with links is to show search engine crawlers that you are a reputable, valuable and contributing site within the huge digital information network that is the Internet.
By building your own interactive networks (internal and external), you show search engines that your site is worth being ranked highly.
Once you’ve implemented all the above steps, you need to keep a close eye on your SEO and make sure it’s continuing to work.
Following these basic tips will provide you with a solid SEO base for your small business. However, work will still need to be done to make sure your SEO stays effective. Your search engine optimization should, ideally, grow in results over time.
By using the SEO tips above, you’ll be able to draw more site traffic for your small business. As this grows so will your rankings, which will then continue to increase your site traffic – and with some maintenance, continue to grow your rankings.
SEO is a process which should build upon itself, but this takes time and patience. Comprising many different components, there’s no ‘one fits all’ SEO solution that can guarantee you top rankings straight away.
That’s why it’s so important to keep track of your SEO. Watch closely over time to see what works, and what doesn’t. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, SEO wise, and continue tweaking these for further small business growth.