SEO for Small Business Owners

A lot of small business owners wonder, “Why do I need SEO for my small business?” This is perfectly understandable. When starting, sometimes the costs associated with SEO seem excessive. However, you should know that SEO for small businesses can help your business grow in many ways.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for small business marketing. Follow these best practices to improve your SEO and the effectiveness of your website marketing.

Why Should You Care?

Without an SEO strategy, your website will likely struggle to appear in search results. Even for businesses with a local customer base, online visibility is essential. No longer are people strolling down the main street hoping to stumble across a product they like or a service they need. Instead, they fire up their phone or computer — 86% of people use the internet to find local businesses.

That being the case, it’s no surprise that organic search (when people search a term and then click on a SERP link) drives 51% of all web traffic for both B2B and B2C.

If you want to make money in the modern business environment, you must have a plan for ranking higher in SERPs.

A Beginners Guide To Get You Started

Erika VaragouliJul 23, 202015 min read

Small Business SEO: A Beginners Guide To Get You Started in 10 Quick Steps

The number of small businesses is on the rise. There are currently a staggering 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S. alone, accounting for 99.9% of all businesses that are in the country.

As a small business owner, it can sometimes be difficult to get your head around why your closest competitor ranks higher than you do on Google. You know that you sell superior products (or services) at a better price, but every time you run a search you see others outranking your website.

And this is frustrating for a simple reason: it means they’re generating business that you could be picking up.

Demystifying SEO for SMBs

You may have heard that you’ll need to invest thousands of dollars in a specialist or an agency every month to see your website rank when you search for your business’s name. This is a myth, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

While SEO, especially for larger websites, can become very technically complex, small businesses are often competing on a local level against other businesses just like theirs.

In many cases, the goal of small business SEO is to increase visibility and awareness in a relatively small geographical area. This will drive website visits, sales, or inquiries, as well as a higher level of foot traffic in a store or showroom. If you’re prepared to invest a little bit of time, you can make some real gains in your business’s online visibility. 

The Importance of SEO for a Small Business

First things first, let’s look at why SEO is so important for small businesses. Traditionally, small businesses would advertise themselves in the newspaper or on regional radio or TV.

But times have changed.

Consumers find suppliers of products and services differently from how they did five or ten years ago. When consumers need something, they get out their smartphone, open up Google, and run a search. From restaurants to electricians, accountants to attorneys to many more different businesses and services. In seconds, options can be found for someone to consider buying from or enquiring with. 

And this means that, as a small business, you need to make sure that your website is visible when someone searches Google. And your options here are either SEO or PPC (paid ads).

small business google search screenshot

Quite simply, as a small business, you simply cannot ignore SEO as it’s a proven way to win new business and make money.

If it isn’t your business that’s ranking on Google, it’s your competitor’s.

And that hurts.

SEO Issues Faced by Small Businesses

It’s easy to sit there and feel frustrated that another business ranks higher than yours. There are a few reasons why many small businesses don’t rank as highly on Google.

Specialist Resources and Knowledge

The first reason small businesses struggle to show up in a search result is a lack of specialist resources and knowledge.
There’s no hiding from the fact that those who own and work for small businesses have to wear many hats and carry out multiple different tasks in their day-to-day jobs. This means many small businesses often lack dedicated marketing resources or those who have built up the skills that are needed to successfully rank a website on Google. 

Budget

Another key issue faced by small businesses is that their marketing budgets are often small, even when relative to their revenue.

If there are not the financial resources available to hire a full-time in-house marketing team, a specialist, or an agency to handle the business’s SEO, then you’ll find it more difficult to perform well on local directories and search results.

Time

The other main issue faced by small businesses and the reason why their SEO is often neglected is time. Even when a business owner knows that there are things that they could do themselves to see their website rank higher on Google, a lack of time often gets in the way.

If time can be made for a good small business SEO strategy, there are plenty of resources available to help you increase your website’s visibility. 

Small Business SEO Tips to Get Your Site Ranking

If you’re going to be working on your SEO for your business, there are numerous ways to help get your site ranking. Here are 10 small business SEO tips that focus solely on things you can do to get started.

Please note: While these tips are also relevant to other types of business, they’ve been put together primarily for small websites to promote your brick and mortar or service business.

Small Business SEO Checklist

Set Up Google Analytics and Search Console

Without the right tools, you’ll struggle to gain the insights needed to track progress and make decisions to increase your website’s visibility. The two key tools needed are both available free of charge: Google Search Console and Google Analytics. There’s a chance that both profiles are already set up for your website, but if not, you need to get familiar with these tools.

Google Analytics helps you track and report on your website’s traffic and conversions, see growth and understand how your audience is using your site.

Google Analytics Data Screenshot

Google Search Console shows you how your site is presented on Google Search results. You’re also able to fix errors, submit your site for indexing, and view other data.

Google Search Console Data Screenshot

Go ahead and get these set up for your business before doing anything else, as the insights you can get from these tools will be invaluable as you work through other tasks. You can learn how to get started with Google Analytics here and how to add Google Search Console to your site here.

Get to Grips with Keyword Research

It’s important to know how potential customers are searching for businesses like yours so that you can optimize your website properly. Finding the search terms that people are using is known as keyword research. The first thing to do here is to open a notepad and write down a list of terms that you would expect people to be searching for when they’re trying to find a business that sells or offers what you do.

There are no right or wrong terms to list here. Keep going until you’re struggling. You can then use the Keyword Overview tool to help you to find the right keyword to optimize your site for. Start by entering the words and phrases that you jotted down just now into the tool and hit analyze:

SEMrush Keyword Overview Tool Screenshot

After you enter the keyword you came up with, you’ll be served statistics including the number of monthly searches (volume) and the keyword difficulty (KD%). 

keyword overview results

You can add keywords to a list to begin building out a keyword plan. While this is a great way to see how many people are searching for (and how competitive) the terms that you noted down, you won’t have thought up everything.

And that’s where the Keyword Magic Tool can help. Enter any of the main keywords that you’ve identified and hit ‘search.’

Find the right keywords

Think about the words your clients are likely to use when looking for your products or services on the web. If you’re selling appliances, for example, are your customers more likely to use a formal word like a refrigerator or a slang word like a fridge?

Make a list of 20 to 50 keywords, then go on Google AdWords. Once you have created an account if you haven’t already done so, you can validate that the keywords you chose are frequently used in online searches.

You can also use a Google AdWords product called Keyword Tool to find more keywords to build your list.

Use your keywords on each of your website pages to help them rank higher when prospective customers search using those keywords.

Start by using keywords in the URL—the address appearing in the Internet browser for each of your website pages. Also, include them in your titles as well as in your metadata descriptions (the brief text that tells search engines what your content is about).

Focus on your unique offerings

Remember you’re competing against other companies for attention online from prospective customers. To rise above the pack in web searches for your industry, look for words that correspond to your market differentiators such as your unique offerings or geographic location.

Competition is also stiff for keywords you buy as part of a pay-per-click campaign, where an ad for your company appears above or beside the free search results. You pay the search engine company each time your link is clicked. Again, you will have to focus on niche keywords if you don’t have a big budget.

Don’t overstuff your site with keywords

As Google’s webmaster guidelines state: “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

If you are just sprinkling keywords all over your content, you risk distorting the meaning and irritating readers, so don’t overdo it.

Your priority should be to make the text clear and easy to read.

Build links to your site

The more sites that carry links to your site, the higher you will rank on searches. Ask the owners of related sites to carry a link to your site. Offer to carry a link to theirs in exchange for a link to yours.

Focus on the quality of the links. One link directing to your website from a chamber of commerce or a university website will help you more than a dozen links from obscure blogs.

Publish high-quality content and lots of it

The main mission of search engines is to help people find answers to their questions. So your best strategy to get lots of traffic is to create compelling content—articles, videos, and photos—that provides quality information to your readers. Make sure to update your content frequently so it stays relevant.

A good content strategy will also position you as a thought leader in your field.

Get social

Social media is a great ally in your SEO strategy because people also use social media platforms as search engines. They’ll often search for companies or products using Facebook’s search function, for example. Your company’s social media profile will also rank in the search results when people search for your company or related terms.

Make sure your website is user-friendly

Have a clean, easy-to-navigate website. Make sure it’s immediately clear to visitors who you are and what you’re offering.

Use a lot of headings to improve readability, and put your keywords in the headings. Headings stand out for search engines and will help you rank higher.

Site speed is also important for SEO. The last thing you want to do is annoy your visitors with a sluggish site.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure your website is optimized for mobile platforms. Search engines now penalize websites that are not easily displayed on a smartphone.

Measure results

Free and low-cost tools such as MozSpyFu.comSEMRush.com, and Google Analytics will provide you with more information on the SEO performance of your site and tell you more about your visitors—how they found your site (search engine, referring website, etc.), their geographical location and how long they stayed on each page.

This blog post has more information on analyzing your data to optimize your SEO performance.

Be patient

Monitor results from day one, but don’t expect fast results. It normally takes a few months to move significantly higher in search engine rankings.

Also, remember that SEO is constantly changing. What works today might not work in two or three years. Keep working at it and stay up to date on the latest changes that affect rankings.

Aim high

Most of your users won’t make it past the first page of search results. A good position means appearing on the first two pages of search results. Past page three, almost nobody will see your page. So aim high! Discover our solutions financing

Conclusion

If you have a small business, a coffee shop, or a small company then you most likely have a website that serves as your advertising center. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar business or an online business you need to have a website if you hope to reach your target audience. To succeed in this competitive environment, you need to help it rank higher in search engines with SEO for small businesses.

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