As digital marketers, our clients always ask us what’s the easiest and fastest way to rank 1st, and I always tell them there aren’t any.
It’s at that moment we give them a second to catch their breath and let them know creating an SEO strategy for your small business demands time, research, and investment. Getting consistent high page rankings doesn’t just happen overnight.
That’s why SEO companies charge you large sums of money for this task. As a business owner, you need to realize that creating an effective small business SEO strategy is an investment. Still, it’s an investment that is worth it.
When SEO is appropriately managed, your small business website’s payoff is long-term value and staying power.
Does SEO Work For Small Businesses?
It should come as no surprise that the answer to this question is yes. Google and other search engines use algorithms to deliver the ideal results people need.
This means if you provide helpful content, you can compete with both other local businesses and giant corporations.
SEO can increase your online presence long term and not through gimmicky tricks but through more meaningful interaction with your customers.
1. Create Consistent Blog Posts
One of the best ways to start those meaningful relationships is through blogging. Blogging allows you to answer the questions that your customers are asking.
Over the years, search engines have realized that people often search with a question in mind.
If you are searching for a restaurant, often you are searching with specific intent. For example, “restaurants near me” or “Italian restaurants.”
How does this help your website’s SEO? Blogging is a simple way to add keywords or search phrases to a website organically. It allows you to craft fresh content that captures new website traffic and builds rapport with your business’s audience.
Search engines are more likely to increase a site’s rankings if it builds valuable content of time. The reality is companies that blog have 55% more visitors to their websites.
2. Get Reviews From Your Current Customers
Most small businesses hate asking customers for reviews. It can feel like you’re nagging customers and invading some unwritten privacy rule.
Don’t fall into this trap; happy customers are more than willing to give reviews. You should think of reviews more like recommendations. 88 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Reviews help small businesses in several ways. First, they help build credibility and gain trust when they appear on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Customers are more likely to buy from a company that has high stars and quality reviews. It gives them the feeling that buying from you is valuable.
Encouraging customer reviews has the added benefit of providing fresh content to your website in the form of testimonials.
What About Negative Reviews?
The truth is you will more than likely get a negative review. Tons of small business owners lose sleep over this very thing. Being we are all human, or I hope we are sorry aliens, it’s hard for us to take criticism. We can either let it crush us or use it to improve.
If you respond appropriately to these reviews as a business 9 times out of 10, customers will respect you even more. We all make mistakes, business owners included, but being willing to change or admit them will build a positive image in the eyes of your customers.
How Can I Get Reviews?
The simplest way for local businesses to get reviews is by using Google My Business or a directory service such as Yelp. The benefit of these services is they offer personalized links to aid in getting reviews. This takes the burden off you as a small business owner and makes the process seamless for your business.
3. Optimize Your Website Design For Mobile
Google, along with most search engines, have made the push towards mobile-first indexing. Meaning search engines use the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking.
Historically indexing has been based on the desktop version of your website. But, as the trend continues, more people are using their mobile devices to search. This change has influenced search engines to move towards mobile-first indexing.
This change ensures the growing number of mobile searchers find what they need conveniently and efficiently, as more than half of all searches come from mobile devices.
4. Small Business SEO Web Design
Often small businesses skip the steps necessary to make their website mobile-friendly. Not on purpose in most cases, but because our website development tools and developers, to some extent, haven’t made the switch.
While phones have made technological leaps and bounds over the years, their networks are slow. That means it will take longer to load your website on a mobile device.
Have you looked at your business website on a mobile device? Surprisingly most business owners haven’t. You might be shocked by what you find, text that’s too small, images that don’t fit the page, and worse, slow load times.
Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool is an excellent start towards assessing how well your website is optimized for mobile.
Set Up Google Search Console
Another great free tool to access your website is Google Search Console. This tool helps you analyze clicks from Google Search and determine which keywords people are using to find your content.
But the real benefit, when it comes to mobile design, is its ability to analyze and notify you of any potential mobile issues impacting your site. Giving you the awareness to head off any mobile usability issues before they significantly impact your page rankings.
Bonus: Clickable Contact Information
While this isn’t a real SEO issue, it’s one of the most common mistakes I see in small business websites and one that has the potential to impact the user experience.
So what do I mean by clickable contact information? When visiting a website on your mobile device, you may have noticed phone numbers and emails that are “clickable.” Upon clicking them, your device will launch the preferred app.
This streamlines the process and makes it easy for your customers to reach you without copy and pasting your contact information.
5. Clean Up Your Website Technical SEO
The heroes no one talks about. Technical SEO is not flashing, but it gets the job done. While search engine spiders or crawlers have become extremely advanced over the years, there are a few things you can do to help them understand and find your website’s content.
Think of it this way a happy crawler means a higher page ranking for you!
Optimize Meta Tags
Meta Tags are an essential part of well grafted technical SEO. They give search engines a heads up of what each individual website page is about.
Optimizing your meta tags involves tweaking titles, descriptions, and URLs to increase visibility. Titles should ideally include your page’s top keywords while still being legible.
Don’t cram a bunch of keywords in there trying to improve your rank. Search engines are smart enough to see this trick.
Not all small business owners have the time to do keyword research; if this is your case, think about how your customers might search for your business. Ask friends and family how they might search for. These are the keywords you should focus on in your meta title.
With that in mind, if you can’t do keyword research. I recommend you find a digital marketing agency to help you. The bottom line is you will have better results.
This same strategy of using keywords should be replicated in your meta descriptions and URLs.
Create a Sitemap
Sitemaps are like digital roadmaps for your website. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl your website and find content. There are many free tools to help you build one, such as Yoast if you’re using WordPress or XML sitemap.
Depending on if you use a CMS (Content Management System) or have a custom-built website, implementing a sitemap is slightly different. So it’s good to know how your website is built before attempting to do this.
One final step is submitting your sitemap to Google through the Search Console.
Optimize Your Robot.txt File
This tiny little text file is on every website; however, most people are unaware it exists. Its primary purpose is to instruct search engines on what to crawl on your website. Similar to the sitemap, optimizing this file is a quick way to boost your search engine optimization.
Here is an excellent guide from Neil Patel on optimizing your robot.txt.
Fix your Broken Links
Broken links on your website impact your user experience and have a significant impact on SEO. Google Search Console is a great tool to find these broken links. It takes the guesswork out of checking every single link on your website.
5. Backlinking Is Not Dead
I’ve seen countless articles talking about how backlinking is dead in 2021. They promote strategies using keywords only or backlink free ranking.
While it’s possible to rank without them. Excluding backlinks all together will come back to bite you in the end. Backlinking provides long-term SEO clout that will leave you chasing keywords to improve your ranking.
It’s worth the time to track down quality websites within your industry that will provide you a backlink.
6. Take Advantage Of Inexpensive Tools
Don’t hesitate to use the free-ium version of popular SEO tools out there. They will save you time and headaches.
A great free keyword research tool is ubersuggest, which is incredibly popular. The tool is excellent at giving you the low down on keyword estimated traffic and difficulty, making finding the right keyword a breeze. It also performs an in-depth SEO audit of any site, allowing you to find technical SEO issues that might be hindering your website.
If you’re looking to improve your website’s page load speed, check out Google Page Speed Insights. This tool will analyze your website for load times and recommend changes that could improve overall performance.