Leveraging the internet for increasing website visibility is the name of the game for most small business owners. Your website is a marketing tool that needs to show up in front of the right customers at the right time. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective ways to increase the number of incoming business leads for your small business.
The problem is that SEO is a crazy maker. Your busy enough running the day-to-day operations of your business. There’s not enough time in the day to learn the intricacies of SEO… plus everything changes in a couple of months anyway!
In this article we’ll discuss the basics of small business SEO so that you have a path toward increasing your online visibility and engaging more of the right customers.
What is Small Business Search Engine Optimization?
How do Search Engines find my small business website?
Keyword Research – Strategy and User Experience
Technical SEO – Make Google happy
On-Page SEO – Send the right signals to Google
Content SEO – Increase your authority, expertise, trustworthiness
Off-Site SEO – Expand the breadth of your brand
SEO best practices for Small Business Owners
What is Small Business SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the process of growing the organic visibility of your website so that it is displayed to the people most likely to do business with your company. SEO involves optimizing a website so that it will climb the search engine rankings and be displayed for strategic targeted keywords that are most relevant to you and your customers.
The bottomline is that SEO is the engine that can drive you more of your ideal customers and ultimately generate more business revenue.
How do Search Engines find my Small Business Website?
Google and other search engines are work really hard to show the right websites to people in their search engines. This is the process of understanding the search intent of the searcher and matching it to the most appropriate website.
In order to provide the best search results Google crawls (i.e. scans) your entire site with its robots. Google then takes all the information it gleans from your site and indexes it into a database of information. When a person searches the internet for something, Google can quickly scan the database and provide the best search results for the whatever was typed into the search bar.
Bottomline: Google scans your site so it knows what is available and then matches your site to the right search inquiries
Keyword Research – Small Business SEO Strategy
Keyword research is finding the right words or phrases that your ideal audience will be typing into that search bar. This allows you to build or adjust your website around those strategic keywords and begin the process of ranking highly for them.
There are a lot of factors to consider when developing the buckets of keywords that match search interest of your ideal audience.
- Overall search volume (how many people are actually searching)
- Relevancy to your business offerings
- Competitiveness (can you compete with national brands, etc.)
- Geographic search terms for local businesses
- Informational vs. Transactional terms
- Industry terms
Bottomline: The goal here is that you have a clear understanding of the most important terms to organize your site content around. Ideally each page of your website will have a clear keyword or phrase that you are focused on. These terms signal to Google what your site is all about and help them understand who to display your site to.
There are some foundational technical issues that you’ll want to take care of so that you website is able to be crawled and indexed by Google. There are also underlying user experience indicators that Google takes into account when ranking websites. We recommend reviewing the following areas and making necessary adjustments.
- XML sitemap is being generated and submitted to Google
- Robots.txt is correct
- Solid page load speed (at minimum less than 3 seconds)
- Core Web Vitals are healthy
- Passes the Mobile friendly test
- Secure (SSL provides lock in the URL bar)
- No Google Search Console errors (indexing warnings, 404, etc.)
These are usually areas within your website’s content management system (WordPress, Wix, etc) that work to display pieces of content. By optimizing these areas you’re allowing search engines to derive more meaning from the page and its content. It’s how we add context to your content so that Google knows as much as possible about your small business.
- Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
- Headers H1-H6
- Alternative Text
- Keyword usage and density
Having the right content on your site is SUPER important to succeeding with SEO. Google has even said Content is one of the top 3 ranking factors. Content is how search engines know you have expertise and authority around a given topic. Search engines love websites that demonstrate their expertise for specific, focused topics and provide the browser the information that matches their search intent.
- Quality content – well written content with a solid volume of text
- Keyword strategy – each website page is focused on specific search intent
- Well organized – strategically organized content in menu, services, blogs, etc.
- Relevancy – Content that is relevant to the issues that your small business offering solves.
- Recency – Avoid out of date and stale content
This is everything that happens beyond your website on the internet, but references your small business. Search engine take into account external signals that are a vote of confidence for how valuable your website it. These are a gauge of your online authority and trustworthiness.
- Local Search Tools (Google My Business)
- Directory listings – Is all your small business information up to date across the internet?
- Backlinks – Other sites that are linking to your small business website
- Social Media – Have you claimed your relevant profiles and updated information
SEO best practices for busy small business owners
The SEO world is constantly evolving and your small business is growing and changing too! Each season provides a new set of challenges that are tough for small business owners to keep up with. Depending on the season of business you’re in we recommend a combination of the following SEO options for most small business owners.
- Understand the base SEO framework written about above
- Keep an eye on SEO trends
- Confirm the foundational SEO tasks are implemented on your website
- Run an intentional SEO campaign for 6-12 months to increase organic visibility
- Track key metrics over time in order to make strategic decisions
- Run an annual SEO audit
By understanding the basics and taking action on the SEO tasks that can make the most difference for your small business you can change the trajectory of your small business. It’s one of the most cost-effective marketing tools available to small businesses out there.
Matt McComas is the SEO lead at Center Street Digital. He’s worked with hundreds of small businesses helping to establish their website presence and grow organic visibility. If you’re interested in discussing what SEO would look like for you business please check this out.