Struggling with SEO for small businesses? You’re not alone. Launching a small business is an exciting but challenging journey. Even when you’ve come up with an excellent idea, built a wonderful website, and raised some capital to get your venture going – you’re still not done. Your business isn’t going to be successful until you’re attracting customers, and that’s something you need to do constantly.
Fortunately, in the digital world, there are plenty of ways to ensure a great user experience and keep clients coming back to your website. However, a big part of your ability to thrive and be seen online is making sure that your site speaks not only to your clients but to the search engines too. Welcome to your beginner’s guide to SEO.
SEO for Small Businesses: An Introduction
Search Engine Optimization is a multi-layered discipline. It involves everything from technical optimization on your site’s back-end to keyword research, link building, and content marketing. A helpful way to think of it is that the search engines are digital referral engines. For your company to succeed online, you need to convince Google to refer your target audience to you before your competitors.
However, that’s easier said than done, as SEO can be tricky for any company. Google is constantly changing the way it ranks brands with new rules and algorithms. Plus, you’re fighting for attention among millions of other companies.
However, SEO can be particularly complicated for small business owners, as your time, resources, and money are often limited. That’s why we prepared several small business SEO tips to help you boost your search engine visibility.
SEO for Small Businesses Needs to be Smart
While all SEO strategies need to be carefully tailored, small businesses have to work particularly hard on their campaigns. After all, you won’t have the money to spend on the latest tools for tracking ranks and building authority. Additionally, you’re not going to have the legacy of standing online that established brands have spent years building.
The good news? Just because building your presence online as a small business is challenging, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Here are some things you can do to master SEO for small businesses, boost your online visibility, and rank higher in organic search results.
1. Find a Niche
As a small business, you can’t afford to try being everything to everyone. The broader you go with your SEO strategy, the more competition you’ll have.
For instance, consider the difference between trying to rank for a search term like “digital marketing”, and ranking for something like “digital marketing tips for educational brands”.
Determining the niche audiences that you want to reach with your small business will help you find your place online. It will also mean you have a higher chance of attracting potential customers to your business. That’s because you won’t just be reaching people who are pointlessly browsing online, you’ll be connecting to individuals who want exactly what you offer.
Start looking for your niche by creating user personas. Think about who your ideal customers are. What kind of things are they interested in? What pain points do they need to address? SEO tools like Ahrefs can give you an insight into what kind of questions customers are asking about your industry too, and you can use those to target a more specific audience.\
2. Research your Competitors
While you’re learning about your customers and what they need from you, don’t forget to consider your competitors. But be careful when evaluating your competition online. Some companies will have slightly different goals and budgets than yours, meaning you can’t just copy-paste their strategies. However, you can track down the websites that are performing well in your niche and find out:
- What those sites are ranking for
- How many pages they have indexed
- The quality of their link structure
You’ll also have an excellent opportunity to track down things those companies are missing that you can do better. For example, they might be missing keywords you can target. Alternatively, you might find that there’s a section of the market that isn’t being served by the competitors in your niche. This gives you an easy way to differentiate yourself in the search results.
3. Fix Your Technical Issues
Though it might be tempting to start creating content and targeting relevant keywords immediately, you first must ensure that your website is working properly. Your site might look good from the outside, but if issues are happening “under the hood”, this could negatively affect your organic traffic and search rankings. Go into your website back-end and look for:
- Broken links that are damaging your link authority
- Duplicate content
- Lack of meta descriptions and title
- Problems with canonical link elements
One of the most vital SEO basics to focus on is speed. In the age of mobile browsing, Google says that 53% of visitors will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. However, everything from bloated plugins to large images can slow your website. Check your performance on Google PageSpeed Insights to ensure you have what it takes to keep visitors on your site.
4. Produce Valuable Content
The next step in managing small business SEO is ensuring you have the right content to attract prospective customers. Too many small companies still think placing their product information and contact details on their website is enough. However, you need to focus on defining yourself as an authority in your niche.
Look at the type of content that’s trending in your industry using a tool like BuzzSumo and see if you can put your own unique spin on it. Make sure you’re targeting the right keywords in your content too. Building your blog posts around the things your audience is searching for will tell the search engines that you have what your customers need. Once your content strategy is ready, ensure each page is optimized. That means:
- Use target keywords in your titles and make sure they’re clickable.
- Write short and clear meta descriptions with keyword mentions.
- Make the content clear, easy to read, and scannable.
- Use internal links to help Google understand your website.
- Use keywords in your alt tags and compress your images.
5. Be Prepared for Local Search
Since small businesses don’t have as much budget or clout as larger companies, they’ll often have an easier time ranking in the local searches and Google Maps. That’s great news when you consider how valuable local search is for attracting customers further down the buying funnel. Additionally, with local search, you can appeal to customers in the new voice search space, looking for things “near me”.
The first step in optimizing for local search is simply claiming your Google My Business Listing and filling out as much of your Google My Business profile as possible. Once you have your Google My Business strategy sorted, you can work on ensuring that your name, address, and phone number or “NAP” information is consistent elsewhere on the web.
Check that any reference to your business online is factual and accurate, then start working on your keyword strategy to include local terms such as:
- Digital marketing in [Town]
- [City] digital marketing company
- Marketing agency near me
6. Strengthen Your Reputation
Finally, one of the most vital steps any company can take in SEO for small businesses is working on its reputation. Nowadays, virtually everyone will look at whether a company has positive reviews before even considering buying something. Reviews became one of the leading local search factors in 2017, and they’ve remained essential ever since.
Ask your customers to leave reviews and ratings on your website that will put the minds of other customers at rest when they’re considering buying from you. You might even offer freebies, like a discount code or shipping when a client leaves a review.
Additionally, ensure those ratings are backed up with citations from local directories like Yelp, SuperPages, etc. Earning a listing on those websites will help to enhance your reputation and build more links for your website. Together, those two factors will significantly strengthen your SEO.
Ready to Nail SEO for Small Businesses?
Mastering SEO for small businesses isn’t easy. However, even if you don’t have the biggest budget or the widest selection of resources to work with, you can still establish a powerful online presence. With a few tweaks to your website back-end, the right content, and a strategy for enhancing your online authority, you’ll begin building new ranking opportunities in no time.
Remember, it’s also critical as a small business to keep your finger on the pulse of any changes that might be happening in the search engines. Your company is likely to be particularly susceptible to any algorithm changes that Google implements, so it’s essential to always be one step ahead of the curve. Set a date in your calendar to regularly audit, update, and improve your website.