SEO Best Practices for Small Businesses

Importance of SEO

There is a lot of fuss over the term Search Engine Optimization. So much, that SEO has become a buzzword in many ways. But for those of us living and breathing SEO — that is to say, business owners who want their website to appear high on a Google search, marketers, and dedicated SEO professionals — this three letter acronym is highly revered.

The question that remains is: Why is the phrase so incredibly important? In short — if SEO is done by the book, (White Hat SEO), it can be more than effective. Good SEO can result in leading additional qualified traffic to your small business website.

For this reason, SEO can largely be about building/establishing brand credibility just as larger businesses have done already. Companies like Google, Amazon, and WalMart have all accomplished impeccable SEO with the use of a few key tactics. Some of the same tactics that worked for these giants can be transferred over to your small business, and prove to be effective.

I want to talk to you about four SEO best practices that can help drive traffic to your small business website, keep users coming back, and eventually, lead them to convert. This includes, but is not limited to on-page SEO, authority/link building, customer reviews, and local search result optimization.

This quartet of best practices can assist in steering your small business further down the path to success.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is quite possibly one of the most important elements of SEO today. On-page SEO is continual optimization and adjustment of content so that it fits the current standards/best practices of SEO.

There are also countless elements included in on-page SEO, such as title tags, content, URLs, as well as editing image alt text. Optimizing these elements can lead to a good user experience, the creation of informative content, and making your small business more relevant for searchers.

Small businesses owners can accomplish their goal of moving from one page of a Google search to another, although the process will take some time. This could mean anywhere from six months or longer in many cases.

Another element of creating quality content and optimizing on-page SEO has to do with keyword research. What I mean is, simply typing ‘42” TV’ in Google would likely yield a lot of results, but nothing specific.

As this term is generic, you want to use more specific well-searched terms. For this, I recommend using long-tail search terms, which can be found using free keyword planning tools.

Let’s say, you own a small electronics business and are hoping to increase your website’s organic traffic. The use of unique, yet frequently-searched long-tail keywords can assist in increased SEO rankings, as there is overall less competition for long-tail search queries.

Establishing Authority

As stated earlier, there are a few essential elements that personify ‘good SEO.’ Relevance is one of those factors. The question is how does a small business become relevant to those who don’t know about it?

There are a few processes involved in making this a reality.

The first is link building or backlinking. This is the process of placing unique and informative content on outside websites which establish you as an authority in your field. Link building is also internal, and you should link from within your website to other websites and to your website as well.

Earning enough links on outside websites can establish a relatively unknown brand and put the business in the face of a previously unknown crowd of potential customers. Thus, backlinks are incredibly valuable.

Value also comes into play as your content is moved further up in a Google search, and receives more clicks. The more this happens, Google will understand that your content is in fact relevant. This can absolutely backfire if your content is not actually informative and you don’t implement SEO best practices.

How does one write unique content? There are several ways to write compelling content, but you must have a thorough understanding of your core audience and of the audience of the publication you’re hoping for your link to appear in.

Your ranking on Google can actually be lowered due to visitors entering and leaving the site. This can indicate to Google that your content is not relevant. If this occurs, assess your keyword usage and make sure the words are specific and relevant to what customers are searching. Google can and will lower your small business ranking based on bad SEO practices known as Black Hat SEO.

Additionally, since Google takes user experience into account as a ranking factor when deciding where your page should be placed in a search. This is known as keyword stuffing, which can work to your disadvantage — plus it creates a bad user experience.

The process of backlinking is fairly simple and can be done in three easy steps:

  1. Identify credible and authoritative publications where you wish for your content to appear. Choose a compelling topic relevant to those in your small business niche. The website should be a site that your target audience is likely to read.
  2. After this, reach out and offer your unique perspective on a creative and relevant subject.
  3. In the end, write your content all the while adhering to the publication’s guidelines and SEO best practices.

The process of establishing authority is ongoing, and cannot be achieved after a few quality posts are written. You will find that links labeled ‘follow,’ hold more weight with search engines, versus those deemed ‘no-follow.’ You want to aim for ‘follow links.’

Look for websites with a wide reach on social media and with rich/informative content. The site’s content should provide value to its readers and Google doesn’t like when links are placed on low authority websites. The final element of link building is to ensure the content you share has a link pointing to your website.

The link, just like all others, should provide value to readers.

Customer Reviews

It is easy to tell customers that your product/service is awesome.

It is another thing to hear it from the mouths of past customers before making a purchase. In some cases, it could be the difference between a potential customer making a purchase or not. This leads me to another SEO best practice — enabling honest customer testimonials on your website and social media.

Doing so may prompt new and returning customers to leave positive feedback.

If you are covered on all fronts, meaning, you have rich and informative content, established or are currently establishing third-party link placements, and provide an excellent product/service — collecting honest customer reviews will be a breeze.

Optimize for Local Searches

Finally, ensure your business is found in local searches.

The process is simple and can be done free of charge. You’ll need to create a ‘Google My Business account.’

There, add details such as address, phone number, Google customer reviews, and hours of operation. The key to success in this regard is ensuring that all of the information you enter is in fact accurate.

After this, your small business will appear in local searches.

If your business targets the right keywords, there is a greater chance that your business will appear more frequently and higher up when a local search query is performed. Local search optimization can come in handy when trying to capture and penetrate a new market. This is especially true in the case of a tourist needing to make a decision on a service they desperately need, and quickly.

Lastly, social media optimization is the final element of local search optimization. Ensure elements including address and phone number both correct, as social media details are often presented in searches.

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