SEO for small business
Generate a steady stream of new clients for your small business
As a small business owner, you know how hard it can be to generate leads and clients. SEO for small businesses (search engine optimization) is one of the most important aspects of small business internet marketing. By optimizing your website and content for Google and other search engines, you will increase your website traffic, which will directly lead to more customers and sales.
In this post, we will explain what SEO optimization is, how you can start implementing it in your own business and we’ll also provide some tips to improve your Google Search ranking. So if you want to increase your online presence and get more clients, continue reading our small business SEO post!
SEO is by far the best long-term and sustainable small business strategy to generate new leads and clients
What is SEO and why is it important?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of improving your website’s position in search engines (Google, Edge, Firefox). The goal of this optimization is to place/display your site in the first place when people enter relevant keywords into Google or other search engine.
How can small business benefit from SEO strategy?
Ranking your site at the top of Google Search will bring you more website traffic and leads whom you can turn into real paying clients. Statistics show that 32% of searchers click the website on the first Google position. The last position on the first page gets a little over 2%.
Small business SEO can completely transform your business and provide you with a steady stream of clients.
Paid ads (Google ads) versus organic growth (SEO)
The goal of both strategies is to increase the visibility, get more website traffic and attract potential customers, but they do so in very different ways. With paid ads, you pay Google to appear in the search results, usually at the top and the very bottom of the page. Ads are labeled with the small word Ad right next to website URL.
Everything else you find on Google Search is free organic search results. BEWARE! For a long time, Google provided only text results, but now, Google can show images, videos, news, recipes or small snippets of text (called featured snippets or structured data) based on what is most relevant for users.
How does paid advertising work? (Google ads)
Many small businesses start with Google ads. They pay and expect to see the website in the search results. Simple and effective. Is it, though? Paid advertising as of now, has many disadvantages for small businesses compared to SEO.
The keywords themselves become more expensive as the competition increases. Statistically, people click on paid advertising much less than on organic results. You have to pay for each keyword someone cliks on. What if your competition deliberately clicks out your budget?
In my opinion, however, the worse thing about ads is their short term effect. If you stop paying for your ads, your website disappears from the search results and you’re at point zero again. In my opinion, Google ads are suitable as a complementary strategy to small business SEO during campaigns. But I wouldn’t bet on as the only strategy.
How does SEO work?
SEO, on the other hand, is a long-term and sustainable strategy. You can stay in the search results long after you stop paying attention to it, basically until your competition takes your position. The basis of SEO is the creation of relevant content. This keyword rich content will ensure that your site will appear in the search results for hundreds of keywords without paying for single one of them. The main disadvantage of SEO is that it can take a few weeks, even months to generate results. It all depends on the strenght of your competition and how far ahead of you they are.
How to do small business SEO?
In the past, SEO used to be a strictly separate discipline. Today it is increasingly connected with the website creation as well as standard marketing strategies. Therefore, your web designer and developer should understand the basic SEO and marketing concepts.
Start with a good website
The basis of SEO is a website. When building your website, you should pay attention to some aspects of web design that have a direct impact on SEO. The most important is the platform where you build your website, which affects the website speed. Website navigation (menu) has a direct impact on search engines ability to read and understand the site, as well as on how people behave on your site.
Website navigation and consequent people behavior havs a direct impact on how Google evaluates the quality and ranking of your website in search results. The appearance and information of the “contact us” page (existence of a Google maps directly on the site, or contact details) also have a direct impact on small business SEO. Some things can be fixed later, but they cost extra time and money. Some things like a slow platform can only be solved by building a new website.
Before you start looking for a web developers, make sure they understand the basic principles of a successful small business SEO strategy, but also the principles of SEO design. Your website should be user-friendly and, in addition to the information, provide a particularly pleasant experience. People don’t remember what they saw on the site but how they felt about it.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the essence of small business SEO. These are words or multi-word phrases that people type into a search engine when they want to find something. Keywrds used to be the only factor by which Google could tell what a website is about. Even though Google is much more sophisticated now, keywords are still the main factor that tells Google what your website is about. In order to know what words to use on your site, you must first find them. So start by conducting a keyword research.
Keyword research and tools
There are many keyword research tools on the market. The most famous are SEMrush, MOZ, KWfinder, Google KW planner, or Ahrefs. I personally use Ahrefs. Most of these tools are paid. However, each of them has a free demo for a few days, which will be enough for you to conduct a keyword research. Enter a few words for which you want to be found on search engines in the appropriate field. Each tool returns hundreds of other related and suggested words that you can export, save, and use.
Whet data/metrics should you follow while doing the research?
Focus on two metrics. Search volume (how many times a month is a given word entered into Google) and Keyword difficulty (how difficult it is to rank that specific keyword). The difficulty is measured on a scale from 0 to 100. 0 is the easiest. 100 is almost impossible. Focus on words with a difficulty of 0 to 20. However, be careful that they also have some search volume. Ranking for keywords that no one is searching for is pointless.
In order to be able to choose the right keywords for your site, you should be familiar with the so-called search intent. Search intent represent desired search results, that people expect to find on search engines. Do they want information? Are they after product comparison? Do they want to purchase a specific service or product? You should know your clients perfectly, their goals, problems and their buyer’s journey. This will allow you to choose the right keywords and create the right content to fit the search intent.
What do I mean by content?
Look at it this way. What does Google want for its web browser (Google Search)? Google wants Google Search (a browser) to have a dominant position in the market. How will it achieve that? By showing relevant and “right” content for each search query. What does this mean for you and your content creation? You need to create relevant content (blog posts) for each keyword you want to rank on Google. If that content is relevant and better than the competition, it will be your website that comes first in search results.
What is relevant and good SEO content?
It is a content that is original, high quality and highly valuable to the reader. It is a content that provides a broader context, not just a simple answer. It is a content that will bring new information. Google wants your site to be a quasi-encyclopedia of your business segment. This means that your website should contain multiple pages and posts that will link to each other and create a broader context.
So that the website visitors can go to another page within your domain when they need more information. However, good content is not just text. Google wants you to use images, graphics, or video to give your site visitor comprehensive information and an overall good experience. So how do you find out what good content is. The easiest way is to look at your competition that is already successfuly ranking on Google.
- In order to be better than other small business owners, you need to know what and how your competition is doing. Enter your keyword into a search engine like Google. Open the first three organic results.
- What is the format of the article? How long is it? What is it about? Are there videos, pictures, graphics?
- Your content should mirror the top ranking websites and their content.
- If the top 10 list comes first, make it a top 15 and add more details to each item. If the image collection comes first, don’t create text based content. Always look at what already dominates the search results and do it better. Do not copy. Get inspired and add your own twist.
- WARNING! Google likes originality. So if you think that another form of content is better than what is there so far, do it. If you know how to do things differently and better, don’t be afraid to experiment. The most important thing for Google is relevance. Ask how my new content can be better than what Google currently ranks and create it.
Menu navigation is one of the items that should follow standard marketing practices. Simplicity and clarity is the name of the game. The more items you give people to choose from, the longer it will take them to choose. Create navigation in a way that people always knows where they are and where they go if they click a menu item.
Clean and clear navigation is also good for search engines. It allows them to quickly and easily read, understand and index (make it available for search engines) your web pages.
On page SEO
On page SEO is the process of placing keywords in relevant locations on your website. In addition to the standard text on your site, Google reads other locations. URL, Title tags, H tags, meta descriptions, image titles, image alt-text, or video titles. By placing keywords in these places, you emphasize to Google what your website is about. This will allow Google to rank it higher in the search results.
Read my blog about on page SEO and learn how to choose keywords for individual on page places like title tags or H tags, but also for the website content itself.
Note on meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are not a direct SEO factor. It is still important to use keywords in metas so people see them right away. This increases click through rate by persuading people to click on your website.
Technical SEO is a process of securing and managing the health and technical status of your website to meet modern Google and user experience standards. Failure to comply with these specifications may result in Google not indexing your website in its search results (at worst) or downgrading its ranking (at best). Poor technical SEO may result in poor user experience. If people regularly leave your site too fast, Google will evaluate it as a bad signal and will downrank it.
Technical SEO includes site structure and navigation, site speed, mobile site optimization, internal links, duplicate and thin content, broken links, structured data and any technical problems (crawling and indexing) revelaed by Google Search Console or other technical SEO management tools. Technical SEO is a huge topic, so I wrote a separate blog on Technical SEO. Learn how you can improve the technical performance of your website so that it appears as high as possible in search results.
Use social media and business listings
Social media and business listings are websites where you can create an account for yourself or your company, add a name, contact information, photos, articles and various other information. Standard social media are, for example, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Business listings, for example, are Google Business Profile, Yelp, or Yellow Pages. In the world of SEO, this process is also referred to as citations.
3 reasons why citations are important for small business owners.
If you create accounts on these social media and listings, one of the information that you’ll include is your website URL. Social media and listings websites have a strong domain authority, so if you link from them to your website, some of that authority will be transferred to it. If Google compares two sites based on this factor, website that has backlinks will rank higher than the one without.
Try to create citations on as many social media and databases as possible. However, omit those that are not relevant to your business, or those that do not meet modern standards and appear not to be alive or taken care of. Also, do not create multiple citations on the same media under a different name.
N.A.P. means Name, Address and Phone number. These are the three basic things that Google looks for and reads when it comes across your business name on the Internet. If this information is different on your site, social networks and listings, Google will evaluate this as a conflict. This lack of trust in your online presence and your business and will reduce your site’s ranking in search results.
So be extra careful to have this data exactly the same across the internet. The data on the Google Business Profile is crucial in this case. Copy the exact syntaxt from Google Business Profile on to other networks, listings and on your website. Don’t abreviate and don’t misspell. Be extra careful with N.A.P. Data consistency is a super important for Google and your SEO ranking.
Credibility of your business.
This reason is not directly related to SEO, but rather to user signals. If someone Googles your business name, they will see your website, but also your Facebook, Instagram and other accounts that you have created in various listings. The N.A.P. is important to Google. But what is important to people?
Consistency. Consistency builds trust and people only buy from you if they trust you. Use the same colors, profile photos, and identical information across these citations. Consisten branding is super important. Seeing the same data and visuals will increase peoples confidence in your business. Also, try to fill these profiles and listings with at least a few posts, photos and articles that indicate that this profile is alive, healthy, functional and active, same as your business.
Measure the results
SEO is marketing and marketing is also about numbers. In everything you do, you should have clear goals, know what actions lead to these goals, and what metrics need to be observed and measured to see how you perform. Do you know S.M.A.R.T goals? SMART goals are an ideal format for setting and measuring goals. I will publish a blog about this topic soon.
Small business SEO is a long-term game. It’s definitely going to take at least a month to start appearing at the top spots on Google or other search engines, even if you’ve done everything correctly. Create good content, optimize it, make sure you have your technical SEO in order and try to get backlinks. The results will appear.
Should you hire an SEO agency?
Yes. I’m sure you’d be able to execute a SEO strategy. Why would you though? SEO agency has experience, tools, know how and many tricks and SEO tips to really work miracles on your website.