Marketing a small business is tough and digital marketing is even tougher. Given the confusing world of SEO and the ever-changing search engine algorithms, this can make it the most difficult form of marketing your business. Yet, when done right, there is little that can compete with solid, organic search engine visibility for promoting your small business. When your listing shows up on an organic search it builds trust with potential customers. And, the best business relationships are built on trust. In this article I’ll show you how to implement SEO for your small business website so that you will outrank your competition.
My goal is to arm you with the knowledge you need to implement SEO for your small business website in 10 easy steps. You may choose to do it all yourself or outsource it to a local SEO company. Whatever you decide to do, following these 10 simple SEO techniques will be certain to get your small business ranked above your competition.
First of all, What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the quality and quantity of traffic to a particular website through organic search engine results. Now, the actual practice of SEO is a multi-faceted, layered discipline. There are different types of SEO and many factors that will influence how a website ranks in search engine results pages (SERPs).
To better understand this, let’s break that above sentence down into its parts.
- Quality of Traffic – All the traffic in the world will not do you any good if it’s the wrong traffic. If visitors are coming to your site because Google tells them you are the Kayak Travel Site when really you sell kayaks, that is not quality traffic. You want to attract visitors who are actually interested in your product or service.
- Quantity of Traffic – Once you have the right people clicking through to your website, more traffic is better. Thus, generating more conversions.
- Organic Results – Organic results are search engine results that you do not have to pay for. When is the last time you clicked on one of the top results on the page that was a paid ad? I certainly don’t.
Search Engines, It’s Key To Understand How They Work
When you go to a search engine like Google or Bing and type in some keywords or ask a question, you are presented with this magical list of websites that match your keywords or answer your question. It appears simple from the users perspective. In reality, there are a lot of complicated ranking factors and algorithms going on that result in the list of websites you see in the search results.
Here’s how it works. Google (or any other search engine you are using) crawls every web page on the internet to gather information about all the content that is out there. The crawlers bring back all those 1’s and 0’s to the search engine and creates an index. That index is then run through an algorithm (that changes frequently) and attepmts to match all of that data with your search query.
That is the essence of the SE (search engine) in SEO. The O (optimization) in SEO is where website owners or SEO experts attempt to optimize the content using various techniques so that the search engines can find your content, understand the information and present it to people who are searching for it.
The Mission Critical Ranking Factors
So, exactly what are the ranking factors that Google (and other search engines) use and how does the algorithm work? There are a lot of factors that go into the search engine algorithm. A recent analysis conducted by OpenUmbrella.org shows the breakdown of important SEO factors. The analysis was the same as the prior year so we can assume that they will continue to be critical ranking factors moving forward.
As you can see, link building and content creation continue to dominate the ranking factors. In the next section we’ll talk about the 10 things you can do right now to improve your ranking.
Top 10 SEO Tips – Do Now To Outrank Your Competitors
If you do just these 10 things to improve your SEO, you will see a significant improvement in your search rankings. I will bet you that most of your competition is not doing them. Let’s get started.
1. Register with Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free web service provided by Google for webmasters or anyone managing a website. It allows you to check the indexing status and optimize the visibility of your site. In 2015, Google rebranded Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console.
To register you site with Google Search Console:
- Ideally, the first thing you should do is get set up on Google Analytics first and add the Tracking ID to your site. Then, adding and verifying Google Search Console is easy. If you do not have a Google Analytics ID installed on your website yet, follow the instructions on this video first.
- Go to Google Search Console
- Next, you will need to log in. You can log in using your Google Analytics login details or your regular Google account login details If you do not have a Google account you will need to create one first.
- Click the “Add A Property” button at the top right.
- Enter the URL of your website and continue.
- Next, click on the “alternate method” tab. You’ll be asked to verify the website in one of 4 ways:
- You can upload an html file to your root directory if you have acces to that.
- You can verify via your hosting provider if you manage your hosting yourself.
- You can verify via Google Tags if you use Google Tag Manager.
- Or, by far the easiest and quickest method, verify ownership using your Google Analytics ID.
- If you already have your Google Analytics ID set up on your website then setting up and verifying Google Search Console is easy. If not, go back to Step 1 and follow the instructions. Then, simply click the Verify button and submit. That’s it!
2. Register with Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools is a free service as part of Microsoft’s Bing search engine which allows you to add your website to the Bing index crawler. It does the same thing as Google Search Console does only on the Bing search engine platform. Watch the quick video tutorial below to get set up on Bing Webmaster Tools.
3. Create and Claim Your Google My Business Listing
A Google My Business listing is a MUST if you are a local business. Have you ever searched for something on Google and a large box appears on the right side of the search results showing a whole lot of information about a local business, including business hours, directions etc.? That’s a Google My Business listing. It’s probably the best SEO technique you can employ to make sure you show up in search results. Below is an example of a Google My Business Listing.
4. Conduct Keyword Research
When someone is looking for something on the internet they type words or phrases into Google or another search engine. These words or phrases are Keywords. The search engine then ranks the results by relevance and authority and displays them on the search engine results page. Therefore, when writing content for your website you want to make sure you are using keywords that are relevant to your business and that are also being searched for by prospective customers.
When you do keyword research you are looking for three things.
1. Traffic – is anyone searching for a particular keyword or keyword phrase? Focus on keywords that have some results becasue there’s no use using keywords that nobody is searching for. But, the keyword does not have to have a lot of traffic either since higher traffic keywords also have higher competition.
2. Relevancy – Make sure the keywords you use are relevant to your business, product or service. Using irrelevant keywords will confuse Google and you’ll end up not ranking for anything.
3. Be Specific – For example, if you research the keyword phrase “web design” there are over 150,000 average searches a month for that term. And, there are literally hundreds of websites that you’ll be competing with for that term. But, if you research the keyword phrase “web design palm springs” there are a lot fewer searches but they are more relevant to what my business does (and where I’m located) and there is also a lot less competition for that keyword. So, your chances of ranking on page one for that keyword phrase is exponentially higher.
There are several ways you can conduct keyword research.
1. One is by using the free Keyword Planner on Google AdWords. People use Google AdWords to buy ads but you can use their Keyword Planner tool for free. The tool will show you how many searches a particular keyword is getting each month and whether it has high, medium or low competition. Of cours, you want to shoot for the low competition keywords. Just head over to Google AdWords and play around.
2. Another great keyword research tool is Jaaxy. Jaaxy is lot more robust and provides you with a lot more specific information on keywords.
As you can see above, for each keyword you research, Jaaxy will show you the average number of searches per month, average traffic you can expect on your site, the QSR which is the number of websites competing for that keyword, and the SEO score. The higher the SEO score the better your chance of ranking on page one for that keyword.
You can try Jaaxy for free (I believe you get 30 free searches). Then, if you wish to continue you can sign up for one of their paid plans.
5. Organize Keywords By Page
Once you have your list of relevant keywords for your business you can organize your keywords by page. You want to make sure that you are not just sprinkling keywords all over every page in hopes that you rank. There should be a strategy such as a page for every one of your high-priority keywords. On that page you want to make sure that the keyword is in the URL, the page title and the meta description. You will also want to place the keyword on the page in several locations. But, keep in mind that you are writing for a person who will be reading your content. So, make sure that your page makes sense. Google will know if you are just placing keywords willy-nilly and will penalize you for it.
In some cases, you may be able to optimize existing pages or posts with your relevant keywords. It’s always a good idea to re-look at your website content from time-to-time anyway to make sure it is readable, easy to navigate, and is designed to convert visitors to customers.
6. Target Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are typically keywords that are 4 or more words in length. Examples of long-tail keywords are:
- SEO For A Home Care Agency
- Best Web Design in Palm Springs
- How To Do Keyword Research Using Jaaxy
Long-tail keywords will typically have fewer monthly searches but will also have extremely low competition. We call them the low hanging fruit. You will get more traffic to your website by targeting a bunch of long-tail keywords versus one or two main keywords.
When doing your keyword research, start out with your main keyword topic (i.e., web design). Most keyword tools (like Jaaxy) will recommend other long-tail keywords that are being searched for that are relevant to your main keyword topic. Then, you can start looking at the traffic and competition and start writing content using those longer keywords. It is a proven strategy for driving traffic so don’t overlook this one.
7. Create Fresh Content Regularly
I probably should have placed this as #1. The bottom line is content is King when it comes to SEO. Think about it, the internet is nothing but a lot of content. The more relevant (that’s the key word here) content you are generating the more your website will rank, both in terms of relevancy AND authority.
The best way to do this is to create a Blog. Put one blog post out there per week and you’ll be amazed at what it will do to your ranking. Here’s the easiest way to get started. For every long-tail keyword you come up with during your keyword research write an article (or a post) about that keyword. Become an authority in your niche or industry. Build trust with your potential customers. Don’t worry that you’re not an accomplished writer. You don’t need to be. Simply write an article as if you were speaking to someone about your business, product or service. You know way more about your business than most people coming to your website. So, just talk with them.
8. Optimize Your Page Titles
Moz explains “title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO next to content”. With a little bit of effort this one tactic can have a huge impact.
The page title is simply the headline you see on the search enging results page (SERP). In the example below the page title (Kitchen Cabinets at The Home Depot) is what you see when I searched Google for “kitchen cabinets”. Whatever you put in your page title on your page or post will appear in the search results like this.
There are two things to keep in mind about page titles. First, your page title is what search engines see. Secondly, your page title is what people see. And, you have to optimize it for both. Your page title has to be both clear and relevant to your page in order for the search engines to understand it and rank you for it. It also has to be clear and relevant for people to want to click on it and read it.
Writing Your Title Tag
1. Your title tag should be short. They are easier for search engines to crawl and for people to read. Also, search engines tend to cut off long title tags so keep that in mind when writing it.
2. It should contain your main focus keyword.
3. It should describe a benefit. Remember, a real human being is going to be reading it so you want to give them a reason to click on it. The example below highlights a benefit.
For more information on optimizing your page title check out this article on How To Create Search Engine Friendly Tags.
9. Optimize Your Meta Descriptions
The meta description is a snippet of up to 320 characters (a tag in HTML) that summarized your page’s content. Search engines show the meta description in search results and is a very important aspect of on-page SEO as well. If you are using an SEO plugin like All In One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO plugin, you can easily add your meta description under your page title while you are creating your post.
The meta description serves as advertising copy. It draws readers to your website so make sure it’s compelling and entices people to want to click on your page. And, make sure it includes your main focus keywords. The search engines will crawl your meta description as well.
10. Request Links From Business Partners
As you saw above, having links pointing back to your website is one of the top SEO ranking factors. It should be a part of your local SEO strategy. There are SEO companies who will help you obtain quality links to your site and, at some point, you may want to consider that. However, there is some low-hanging fruit that you can go after right now in order to get links to your site.
Use the current relationships you have with vendors and business partners and ask them for a link. This is pretty easy to do since you’re already giving them money. Here are some easy ways to get links.
Most companies have a page on their website for testimonials. You could write a testimonial on a vendor or business partner and give it to them to post on their website. And, include a link for them to link it back to your website. They’ll love it and it’s a win-win.
Some companies post case studies on their website highlighting different successes. You could propose working jointly on a case study with one of your vendors or business partners that they could post on their site. It would benefit them as it would highlight their capabilities and it would benefit you by getting a link back to your website.
Guest Blog Post
If one of your vendors or business partners has a blog on their website you could write a guest blog and have them post it on their site. Just write a high-quality blog post on a topic of relevance and importance to them and include a link (or several) in the article back to your website.
Client / Partners / Resource Page
Many companies have a page on their site dedicated to clients, partners or other community resources. It would be great if you could get on their list as a resource and include a link back to your site. I’ve done this with many business partners and it works great.
Congratulations! You’re The Beast
SEO is not something that happens over night. It takes time for your website to become viewed as an authority. But, if you implement the above 10 steps to Local SEO you will be much farther ahead than most of your competitors. Consistent, relevant content is King. Now you are armed with the tools you need to Beast your competition.
Please leave a comment below if you have a question or if I can help you in any way. Good Luck!