SEO isn’t just for big businesses.
While it may seem like David vs. Goliath, small businesses can thrive in the large open sea of a search engine too.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you may have some excuse about not being able to succeed through SEO. Perhaps, you think your budget is too small, you lack the expertise, or you don’t have brand recognition.
You may have wondered, “Does SEO even work for small businesses?”
Fear not; we’ve come up with an all-inclusive mammoth of a small business SEO strategy guide to help you rise above your competitors. You won’t magically wake up with 10,000 new visitors.
But you will have a roadmap to begin building your website to drive evergreen organic traffic.
Even if you decide to hire some help, you’ll have the SEO basics for small businesses needed to bring on the right SEO agency or freelancers into your business.
What is Small Business SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on ranking your website higher on SERP.
SEO optimization for small businesses should be a critical element of your entire marketing strategy that provides long-term ROI for your company. It offers many great benefits, and if you can do it right, it can completely revolutionize your whole company.
The problem is that following any “random” advice won’t do you justice. You need SEO advice tailored for small businesses.
That’s because small businesses have different needs than other businesses, including:
- Your marketing budget is smaller.
- You have constraints as to who you’re targeting (you may have geographic limitations or a targeted demographic.)
- You want to see results quickly.
- You have to carve out your specific niche within the market.
The structure of a small business differs from larger organizations. Potential buyers won’t usually find your company name.
We’ve gone over the basics of SEO and why you can’t live without it.
But just knowing about it won’t do much. So, let’s get through some of the best ways to apply it to your business so you can reap all of its benefits right away.
So, here are ways that small businesses can use SEO techniques to get more traffic and high-quality buyers:
(just following the first step will get you a lot further than most businesses!)
#1: Keyword Research
Keywords are the essential building blocks to your business growth.
They are designed to allow search engines to index your site into all the possible search queries that your page would rank for.
Here are some of the best ways to pick the winning keywords:
Understand the user’s search intent
That’s where search intent comes in. Search intent is essentially finding out what the searcher is looking for.
Searchers typically fall under three categories – navigational, informational, and transactional.
Know the differences between B2C vs. B2B
B2C and B2B companies operate differently.
Only when you understand the differences you can leverage the search intent to guide users to make a purchase.
|Sales cycles are short. Many of them are impulse buys depending on the price of the item.`||Sales cycles are long. Depending on the price, it can take a few days to a few months. That’s because it involves high-ticket sales and decision-makers such as C-level executives.|
|Keywords are broader, and the challenge is finding unsaturated keywords.||Keywords are more specific to the industry and can be less competitive.|
|The content and copy are focused on the pain points and desired situations.||The content requires building awareness and building trust. Decision makers perform significant research into who they buy from. As a result, B2B companies should offer case studies, whitepapers, webinars, and statistics to prove their value.|
|Able to use more flashy advertising such as click-bait titles, discounts, and scarcity||Content is focused on value and providing high-quality information.|
Here are two examples of how B2C and B2B differ from one another:
Malman Law – Personal Injury Lawyers
Malman Law utilizes an SEO strategy to convert bottom-of-funnel prospects. Many people going through a legal crisis need to act fast, and therefore Malman Law creates service pages to provide answers to what they’re looking for.
Their SEO strategies hinge on the following:
- On-page optimization: optimizing keywords, headlines, and content that their prospects are searching for
- Off-page optimization: backlinks, citations, and local profiles allow their website to rank
Below, you can see how they use strategic keywords like “car accidents in Chicago”, “car accident claim in Chicago” or “Chicago Car Accident Lawyer” to rank for these queries. This page alone has over a dozen questions, which allows them to fully rank for more keywords.
To learn more about this type of seo strategy, check out our local keyword research guide.
eTech7 – IT Service company
eTech is an IT solutions provider that helps businesses keep their data secure with the power of information technology.
Rather than posting irrelevant or hard-to-read content like many other IT solution providers, eTech7 has optimized its content for SEO.
Except for a few news-worthy articles, most of their content focuses on the end-user. They guide their prospects on how to solve common problems.
eTech7 has an email subscription allowing readers to gain more actionable advice. Or they can speak directly with an IT expert for managed IT solutions.
- Organize and plan keyword targeting.
Next, you’ll want to plan where to place your keywords. Generally, long-tail keywords have the best competition/traffic ratio.
You can use our SEO strategy template to help organize and plan your small business SEO strategy.
These keywords should be used in the blog title, headings, URL, and throughout the content.
Be sure to also include it in the image alt text, image file names and meta description. Even though it may seem redundant this can give you a small edge over the competitors and rank you higher on Google.
#2: Website Audit
Crawl accessibility is essential to the success of SEO for small businesses.
Search engines send bots to crawl websites looking over the content for each URL. The easier it is to crawl, the better they can index and rank your pages.
Below are keys to ensuring you have an SEO-friendly website:
Use Content Management Systems like WordPress
We recommend using a self-hosted platform like WordPress that allows you to manage your website without code.
WordPress is highly customizable, allowing you to download extensions and plugins.
Add the Yoast Plugin
SEO for small business owners can be complicated.
Most business owners won’t check over their content to ensure it follows SEO best practices before they publish. This is mostly because they believe they don’t have enough experience or time to do so.
But that’s far from the truth…
Yoast is a plugin that helps your site perform better.
They’ll analyze the contents of your page and provide recommendations on how to improve SEO for small businesses.
For instance, it may advise reducing your keyword density or incorporating more links.
It’ll also allow you to adjust what Google displays on their search results. This is where you write your meta description and optimize your SEO title and slug.
Improve Page Speed
Loading speed is a ranking factor on Google and can have a massive impact on your rankings, especially for slow-loading pages. In addition to the ranking factors, it also affects the bounce rate of visitors.
Most users aren’t willing to wait more than three seconds for a page to load.
What’s even worse, your conversion rates suffer as well.
Here are ways to increase page loading speed:
- Compress image files or remove unnecessary images.
- Enable caching, which allows the server to generate HTML versions of your site, reducing the load time.
Get tailored recommendations as well as your page speed results.
- Set up Google Search Console
Google search console is a valuable platform that tracks your organic search performance.
It can help you prepare your site since it helps you to find UX improvements such as page speed, identify website errors, and submit sitemaps.
#3: On-page Optimization
Onsite SEO is an optimization of elements on your site that help index your page for rankings. Here are ways to improve your small business website SEO:
Write SEO-friendly Title Tags, Meta Description, and URLs
Including keywords in the title tags, meta description, and URL is a must. It’s important to take your time and match the user’s intent with the title tag and meta description.
Keep titles to 55 characters or less and meta descriptions between 155 to 160 characters.
Often, it’s good to include the brand or company name in the title tag. Notice that this blog includes the brand name in the title “The Spruce Eats.”
Nail the Word Count
Word count doesn’t relate to relevance or quality content.
But search engines want to cover the topic fully. The idea is to be the best resource on a particular topic. Generally, longer posts do perform better. Backlinko and BuzzSumo found that long-form blog posts receive more backlinks than short-form content.
You don’t want to write long posts full of fluff, hurting readability.
Search engines are good at weeding out fluffy and irrelevant content. Not to mention, the effects it has on the overall user experience.
If you want to write longer content or outrank competitors, we suggest using the skyscraper technique. The idea behind it is simple, you create more in-depth content than your competitors.
That way, Google will see that your content is more valuable and rank you higher.
Optimizing your images is crucial to ensuring that your content is accessible and attractive to users.
Follow the best optimization tips and recommendations below:
- Resize your images: Large image files take up more storage, slowing page speed
- Select the right format: We recommend PNG for simple images and JPEG for images with many colors
- Choose the optimal compression rate: minimize the file size without sacrificing quality.
- Optimize image title and alt-tag: include keywords within the image title and make sure the alt-tag describes the image.
Add Internal Links
Internal links direct users to another page on your website.
This helps search engines to comprehend your site’s structure and allow users to navigate between relevant web pages seamlessly.
When adding internal linking, it’s easiest to add them in an anchor text.
For instance, if the keyword is the best smoothie maker, you can choose some variations of it that will help Google understand what the linked page is about, such as:
- Article about the best smoothie maker
- The best smoothie maker money can buy
- Which smoothie maker is the best for you
Remember, the internal links should be purposeful and add more context to a related topic.
#4: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
How effective SEO is for small business websites can come down to conversion rate optimization. The objective of optimizing your website for search engines isn’t just to drive traffic.
You’ll also need to set up your site in a way that converts traffic into paying customers.
But ultimately, how do you convert visitors?
Create an irresistible offer.
Once you’ve built out a silo of content that helps searchers find what they’re looking for, they may want more help.
This comes in the form of a product or service.
A person who is beginning their weight loss journey can consume content. But eventually, they’ll be willing to pay for meal plans, training programs, juicers, or even coaching.
We recommend adding call-to-actions after each web page to get users down the sales funnel. Wherever the visitor enters the funnel (top, middle, or bottom of the funnel), they should ALWAYS be nurtured down the sales funnel.
Step 1: Visitor reads a blog post “how-to guide” (Awareness stage). At the end of the post, the blog has a CTA for a lead magnet.
For instance, once readers finish the blog post, Opt-in Monster displays a lead magnet: “12 proven ways to convert abandoning visitors into subscribers.”
Step 2: The prospect has entered the middle of the funnel.
You send them emails and content that highlights the benefits of your solution, such as webinars, customer stories, and testimonials.
Step 3: You sell your product to them.
Make it so irresistible that it is hard to refuse. It can be low-cost or have lots of features. The key is to make the offer a no-brainer decision.
However, for high-ticket items, you can bundle your services or provide undeniable proof that your product or service works.
#5: Local SEO
Search engines won’t be able to verify your credibility if you haven’t claimed your business in directories, Google My Business, or other local citations.
Here are ways to optimize your business for local markets.
Create a Google Business Profile
Google My Business (GMB) is a free platform that allows businesses to manage their online presence, including Search and Map.
You’ll want to optimize your GMB profile by categorizing your business, including store hours, address, and other key information, through Google Business Profile.
When users do a local search, Google populates the top results based on the GMB profile.
Google My Business also lets you create posts and manage reviews.
Since these local searchers have a high buying intent, it’s important to have your profile clean, on point and optimized.
Add Local Business Schema To Your Site
Schema markup is an underlooked aspect of local SEO.
Basically, it goes like this – you add a code to your site to allow search engines to provide more information about your local business.
Google has a structured data markup helper allowing you to automatically generate the code to paste onto the <head> section of your website builder.
Once added to your site; you can check if you’re compliant with the Schema Markup Validator.
Submit Your Business to Local Business Directories
As a local business, you aim to get the word out about your brand.
Local citations occur when another site mentions your business name, contact info, and address. These citations are one of the most important ranking signals for local search queries because it increases your credibility.
For instance, if you search “plumbers little rock,” you won’t see any businesses on the first page other than the ones on Google My Business.
But you’ll find directory sites such as Yelp, Porch, Thumbtack, Yellowpages, and others.
So, what should you do to get higher on Google?
While these data aggregators distribute information to other well-known sites, you may find that your business information is still missing.
Listing your small business online directories allows you to be discovered by people looking for the products or services you sell.
Identifying the right online business directory and optimizing your profile to stand out from your competitors lets you drive more traffic to your website.
However, just gaining more exposure is not going to cut it…
Create Local Landing Pages
Suppose you are a cosmetic dentist in New York. You’ll need to get in the mind of your customer and think to yourself, “How would my customer look me up?”
You’d probably come up with phrases such as:
- Cosmetic dentists in New York
- New York cosmetic dentist
- Best cosmetic dentist in New York
- Teeth whitening services in New York
You’ll then need to include these keywords on your website, and you can start ranking.
All localized searches appear at the top, so it’s an easy way to get on the first page of Google.
Even if you run an online business based in a specific area, it’s helpful to rank locally. For instance, a digital agency in New York can serve clients anywhere. But they’re missing out on leads by not ranking in their local area.
Optimizing your web pages, content, and Google My Business profile locally means others can find you when they search for businesses like yours.
#6: Link Building
A key component to ranking well online is to have strong backlinks.
The process of building backlinks can be difficult, which is why it’s vital to have a system in place. Here are some link-building strategies you can implement immediately.
Create Foundational Backlinks
Foundational link building is links that form the base of your site to keep your link profile natural and diverse in the eyes of search engines.
A few ways to build foundational links include:
Competitor research: Research the link profile of your competitors using tools like Ahrefs.
This is where you can view where their backlinks are coming from.
Now you can create a SEO strategy for your small business to get backlinks from those same sites.
Press releases: Submit newsworthy content that is centred around your industry. You can include links and details about your business in these press releases.
Find and fix broken links: Many blogs in your industry may have broken links in their content, especially older pieces.
If you find broken links, you can reach out to the webmaster and recommend to they to replace their broken links with one of your blog entries.
Use a tool like “check my links” to find broken links on other people’s websites.
It doesn’t have to be a broken link either. You can simply ask blogs for a link if you’ve created a super in-depth blog post related to their topic.
Guest Post on Popular Blogs in Your Industry and or City
Guest posting means writing quality content on other people’s websites. You find relevant high-authority sites in your niche, then write a post for them. The post will have a link to your website; sometimes, they may even give you a byline.
You can search phrases on Google such as
- Niche blog + guest post
- Niche blog + write for us
- Niche blog + submit a guest post
Then you follow their instructions on how to submit a guest post.
Small business SEO is imperative to your digital presence and success. Nowadays, consumers rely on online reviews and search engines to determine whether a business is trustworthy or not.
By optimizing your company website for search engines and implementing strategies and local SEO tactics, you are setting yourself up for success.
Remember that SEO for a small business website requires patience.
Now over to you…
What was the most important thing you learned today?
Or did we forget to mention something important?
Either way, let us know by writing a comment below or reaching out to us via email.