Digital marketing is the future. In the old days, small businesses could put an ad in the newspaper or give out coupons. But newspapers are disappearing and people are reading news on their computers.
Newer digital marketing strategies are SEO, PPC, social media. But which one is right for you?
What is SEO for Small Business?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of understanding consumer inquiries and using this knowledge to improve your website and its visibility in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
SEO allows businesses to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to their website through organic search engine results, which can be achieved by knowing what information people need and providing that information. The more visible your website is on relevant searches, the more leads you get for your business.
How does Google rank pages?
When you search for something on Google, it replies with a list of links to websites that may answer your question. It organizes the content of the web and ranks the pages according to their relevance to your query. How does Google do this?
Google has crawlers that go out on the internet and do two things:
- They read the information about all content on the web.
- They evaluate the information gathered.
There are many factors in the evaluation process, but the most prominent ones are the website’s backlinks, bounce rate, loading speed, and content quality. The crawlers then go back to the search engine to build an index fed through an algorithm (which updates regularly) that matches all data gathered related to the query.
Google prioritizes pages that contain high quality, trustworthy, consumable, and relevant information, and it is your challenge to establish your authority within your website and have Google recommend your solution to its users.
Types of SEO Strategies
There are two main types of SEO strategies that you can use, White Hat and Black Hat. Within these strategies are multiple methods that you can use to improve the SEO of your site.
White Hat SEO Strategies
The White Hat SEO strategy is a search engine optimization practice that focuses on the actual humans that will click and read the website’s content. This strategy also makes sure you comply with Google’s quality guidelines so they can find, index, and rank your website. Here’s an overview of what Google expects you to do:
- Create a useful, information-rich site with relevant content that is easily accessible not just to the search engine crawlers but also to your actual human audience
- Follow their recommended practices on content optimization and on the use of descriptive and keyword-rich meta descriptions
- Avoid deceptive or manipulative techniques to improve search engine rankings and trick your users
White hat SEO strategies are an effective approach to building a sustainable business online and optimizing your website for search engines.
Black Hat SEO Strategies
The Black Hat SEO strategy, on the other hand, is a strategy that directly violates the quality guidelines set by Google. It optimizes content only for the search engines and does not always have the user in mind. They exploit algorithmic loopholes that upend competing websites and are mostly considered unethical. The pages that use Black Hat SEO strategies often turn out looking like spam which makes it difficult for people to read.
Some of the risky and deceitful practices from black hat SEO strategies are:
- building backlinks from fake websites.
- spamming comment sections of forums for backlinks
- hacking into people’s websites
- ‘cloaking’ (creating a web page that delivers a different version to search engine crawlers) and ‘doorway pages’ (creating a web page that deliberately manipulates search engine indexes and redirects visitors to a different site)
This strategy allows the website to rank higher and makes money more quickly. However, when Google figures this out, you run the risk of getting your page penalized, or worse, banned from the platform which will cause you to lose your leads and hurt your business.
How long does SEO take?
SEO is a long-term strategy. It is likely to take six to nine months to start yielding positive results. Although there are some SEO processes that don’t take much time to develop like a content improvement, there are many aspects of SEO for small business take time to implement, such as building backlinks, generating reviews, applying schema markup, and more.
If your website is new, know that the market is highly competitive. It will be long before you’re able to climb your way to the top search results. This is why SEO is ideally a weekly business activity and not a one-off task.
Is Trying SEO for Small Business Worth it?
Yes! If you win the SEO fight and rank on the top of a google search you can get a steady stream of customers. And these are people who are looking for your service so they’re “hot” leads.
75 percent of website traffic comes from Google. You can leverage SEO to help get more relevant traffic, leads, sales, and revenue for your business. Your website’s visibility and readability are important in reaching and engaging more potential customers who have very specific, high-intent commercial intent.
How to Get Started with SEO?
Hiring a reputable company is the best bet in improving your SEO. Although you can do a lot of the work yourself, do you have the time? I can do plumbing but I don’t want to. The same goes for SEO.
However, you can easily perform SEO for small business if you decide to follow the steps outlined in this article. They are easy to follow and can help you to raise your website’s rankings effectively. Remember that SEO takes time and can be challenging if you are not an expert so be patient when trying out you SEO for small business tactics.
12 Tips for SEO for Small Businesses
If you’re looking to get started in trying out SEO for small business, here are some tips that can help you perform in the search engine results pages better than your competitors.
1. Educate Yourself with SEO Basics
As a business owner, picking up some SEO aspects and techniques will come in handy especially when you are involved in your marketing strategy. Although they may sound technical, most of these SEO methods do not require a lot of subject matter expertise, and their learning resources can easily be found online.
You can start your journey of performing SEO for small business by browsing the SEO Starter Guide by Google or visiting helpful forums like the ones on Reddit and Facebook.
2. Utilize Free SEO Tools
If you’re just starting out trying to perform SEO for small business and you don’t have the ideal budget for a solid digital marketing plan, you can take advantage of free SEO tools or free trials of some paid SEO software.
For WordPress-powered websites, you can download the WordPress app on your phone for mobile optimization. There’s a lot you can do using the app for mobile optimizations like adding alt text to all your images and other content-related optimizations not only does this help you SEO but it makes your website more accessible to people with disabilities.
For other tasks like website audit, keyword research, and link building, you can use the following tools from Google: Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Search Console, Mobile-Friendly Test, PageSpeed Insights, Structured Data Markup Helper, and Structured Data Testing Tool. Be sure to bookmark these in your browser.
3. Create a Business Listing That is Up to Date
Google My Business listings are helpful in boosting a small business’ online visibility. It gives your business an accurate representation not just to your customers but also to third-party apps and services that want your organization’s data. When trying to improve your SEO for small business it’s important to keep an updated local listing.
It also gives you control over how Google displays your business’ information so it looks consistent across different platforms. Keep in mind that consistency is crucial.
There are also other business listing websites that you can use to increase your visibility like Yelp, Bing, LinkedIn, HubSpot, Yellow Book, and others. It is important that you keep your business listings up to date like your contact information, location, business address, relevant photos, and products or services. You can add COVID-19 structured data if necessary.
4. Local SEO For ‘Near Me’ and Voice Searches
SEO for small business tends to be focused on Local SEO because they are more tied to their areas, and this makes local rankings very important. These rankings depend on your website optimization for local searches which usually include terms like ‘near me’, ‘closest’, ‘open’, and ‘nearby’ – and they comprise one-third of all searches.
More than half of them are voice-based searches, so you should optimize your website for both ‘near me’ and voice searches. They are necessary for outranking your competitors in local search results.
5. Optimize Information on Your Business’ Website
In any business big or small, the website is the most important and valuable online asset. Here are the things you can do to optimize your website for local SEO:
- Create a domain name that shows your business type and its location.
- Place your business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP) information not only on the homepage or contact page but on every page.
- Associate your business with your local area by highlighting it.
- Optimize page titles and headlines for a better click-through rate.
- Write relevant keywords on your header tags.
- Use relevant keywords and descriptions in your meta tags to make sure crawlers know what your page is about.
- Incorporate customer reviews and testimonials.
- Add your company’s citation and an interactive Google Map.
- Create a domain name that shows your business type and its location.
6. Choose Easier and More Profitable Keywords
Targeted keywords make or break an SEO campaign. Research the keywords relevant to your business and understand the intent behind them, why users are using these search terms.
For small businesses, it is ideal to aim for long-tail keywords because they are easier to rank for and are more profitable than shorter, more competitive, and popular keywords.
Long-tail keywords don’t drive a lot of traffic, but they are more specific so they usually get a higher conversion value. They help you build your website’s strength by allowing you to penetrate the rankings and gain a foothold.
7. Manage Customer Reviews
People will want to verify your business by looking it up and hearing what customers have to say about it. When it comes to SEO for small business, Google will look for signs on whether or not your business is trustworthy like your Google My Business reviews and your overall rating.
Soliciting reviews in exchange for goodies or discounts is prohibited in places like Google My Business and Yelp, so encourage your customers to review your business by providing services or products worthy of positive testimonials.
After which you can send them a follow-up email or ask them in person when appropriate. Make the time to formulate non-generic replies to all reviews, especially the bad ones. Incorporate a humane tone when handling the negative reviews, because potential customers will judge your business based on how you de-escalate or deal with these reviews.
8. Acquire Quality Local Backlinks
Your website will rank higher on searches the more backlinks and citations it lands. They help you build credibility and authority on your website, and it makes it easier for Google crawlers to find your information on the web.
Local backlinks are also considered an SEO low-hanging fruit, so acquire them by asking your business allies, local business directories, local news publications, or organizations that you’ve partnered with or sponsored to cover your business on their websites.
9. Highlight Your Unique Offerings Through Social Media Platforms
Growing your presence on social media is a great way to stay in front of your audience and increase brand awareness. You can also get more engagement with your customers and improve your search engine rankings as Google will crawl and pull search results from your social platforms.
Registering on social media websites is free, so maximize these spaces to promote your brand and highlight your unique offerings. Boost your Facebook profiles and reviews as well as your presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Quora, Medium, or YouTube. Get with the times and stay updated with news and trends on social media.
10. Publish Lots of Quality Content
Creating compelling content like articles, videos, and photos that provide excellent information to your audience is the best strategy to drive a high volume of traffic to your website and get a significant boost to your SEO for small business.
In a highly competitive market, a good content strategy is a solid marketing tool not only for establishing credibility but also for positioning you as a thought leader in your field. It serves as great input for social media as well, so make sure to update your content constantly so it stays relevant. Write about things that are worth reading about or will make people view your business in a positive way.
11. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
For local SEO for small business, mobile accessibility is crucial as 82 percent of mobile searches are local. This is why you need to focus on mobile optimization so you don’t miss out on a large volume of potential mobile clients and get penalized by Google for not having a mobile-friendly website.
One way to do this is to improve your site speed and bounce rate. 53 percent of mobile visitors will abandon sluggish sites that take more than three seconds to load. Boost your website’s mobile performance and user experience to rank better in the SERPs.
12. Measure Results Through an SEO Audit
When all SEO strategies have been put in place, the next thing to do would be to know which ones you need to keep, tweak, or discard. After all, SEO takes a chunk of your budget, so you will want to make it a worthy investment.
Conducting an SEO audit at regular intervals will help you fine-tune your SEO strategies and evaluate your website by identifying your spam score, broken links, and other pain points as well as key information about your visitors like their geographical location, demographics, references, etc.
In this modern world where most word-of-mouth marketing now happens digitally, small businesses will benefit from SEO. One of the best places to start improving your SEO is to improve your business’ website, for Orange County web development, contact Idea Maker today.