There are plenty of granular tasks that may seem daunting to small business owners including social media, web analytics, and content marketing — but nothing can be scarier than the big bad world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you’ve got a website or an online presence at all, making sure you or your business shows up on the first page of search results can be do or die, and many small business owners don’t even know where to start.
In addition, once you take the time to understand the basics you’ll feel more confident in making your site more visible online. The most important thing to consider is that Google is the primary search engine nowadays (there are 2.3 million Google searches every second!). Yes, you’ll get some traffic from Bing and Yahoo, but at the end of the day Google makes the rules, and that means you need to avoid frowned-upon tactics like keyword stuffing or poor quality link backs to your site.
The key is to naturally build your search engine rankings over time, and the best part is that most content management systems like WordPress have some fairly automated, easy to understand SEO management tools built right in. However, it’s essential to go over some of the top beginner’s tips for small business SEO, so keep reading to get your taste of what you need to know.
Optimize Your Website For SEO
Since your website will be the place that search engines like Google are pointing to, it’s wise to start there. We recommend making a list of all the keywords that people might use to search for your business. For example, a hair stylist might make a list of keywords like hairdresser, hair salons, hair stylists and include area codes and towns in the vicinity. A carefully established set of keywords is critical to an ongoing SEO campaign.
A domain name is a good place to start implementing some of your keywords, since it should reflect the name of your business and, in a perfect world, the location of your business as well. For example, the hair stylist might choose something like www.JohnsHairSalonNYC.com. If your website or website theme has any areas to input meta information, you’re also going to want to include your keywords there.
It’s also important to add some of your keywords to your page titles so that they flow properly and let search engines know what services or products you offer. Next, go through all of the pages and fill in the content as naturally as possible: contact information, hours, services, product listings and all the information that relates to your business that is considered by search engines.
Optimize Information on Business Listing Sites
Yelp, Facebook, Yahoo Local, Google, Yellow Pages and many other directory websites have the opportunity for you to claim your business and adjust the settings. The first step is navigating to these directory sites and verifying that you own the business.
One of the main reasons businesses struggle with SEO is because they have outdated, or flat out wrong, information listed on directories. Make sure you go on the directories to ensure the contact information, hours, photos, locations and all over information is correct. This is generally a one-step process that you can leave alone after the first time (unless you change your information).
Develop a Link Strategy That’s Accepted and Effective
Link building is the idea that the more websites on the internet that link back to your website, the higher your search engine rankings are going to be. This is only true if the links back to your site are of the highest quality. Therefore, going out and paying a marketing company to scatter links all over the internet is only going to get you punished by Google.
Here are some suggestions for link building:
- Write guest posts on relevant websites, blogs or industry publications.
- Share links to valuable content on your website and/or blog on your social media profiles.
- Hold events with discounts or promotions. Ask local business partners, the Chamber of Commerce, charities and other publications to post information and your website link on their own sites.
- Include links to your website in your email newsletters.
Get Going with Online Reviews
We’ve written before about how Focusing On Customer Reviews Can Boost Your Bottom Line. In fact, a recent Demac Media’s report found that 96% of purchased products had an average rating of 4 stars or higher. We recommend encouraging customers to write reviews online, while also replying to the good and bad ones. This way, users see that you have tons of good reviews, and they are assured by the fact that you address the bad ones with quality customer service.
Consider Talking to Your Local Media and Partner Businesses
Whether you’re running an event or establishing a guest posting schedule, partnerships can get you some quality press which will allow you to gain critical exposure for your business without having to incur the cost of paid display advertising on digital newspapers and online publications.
By doing so, you’ll have the chance to announce events, promotions, new products and other items that will then get linked back to you and shared with thousands of people who read the publications.
Start Working with Social Media/Blogs
Getting people to engage with your business on social media is done through promotions, contests, fun media, raffles and last but not least, publishing consistently high quality content. This is where a content marketing plan comes into play, which, if implemented correctly, can be one of the single greatest contributions to a powerful SEO strategy.
We’ve gone in depth about how you can use content marketing to help gain exposure for your business, but in the very least, you’ll want to establish a blog where you can publish news about your business, staff, products and also tips and tricks that may be valuable to your target audience.
On the social end, making sure you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account and an Instagram profile for your business is, to some, a bare minimum requirement. For more information on the scary world of social media, check out why your small business better be on Snapchat.
The world of SEO is not as complicated once you break it down into simple, more manageable steps, so take these beginner’s tips for small business SEO and get your online presence started in the right direction. Also, if you have any questions about small business SEO, let us know in the comments section below.