Search Engine Optimization (SEO) sounds like a huge undertaking that many large companies with expert teams can take on. In reality, SEO is very accessible and can be wielded as a successful tool by small businesses as well. Getting started with small business SEO is easy. Simply take the time to do your research and execute cautiously, and you’ll be on your way. To start learning, read our Small Business SEO Guide- you’ll be climbing the searching rankings in Google and Bing in no time.
Educate Yourself on SEO
The first step to success in Small Business SEO is to complete some thorough research. While SEO is easy to execute, there are best practices that need to be followed to guarantee your success. These best practices are often referred to as “White Hat SEO,” and, in turn, bad practices are referred to as “Black Hat SEO.”
So what could be the harm in testing out your SEO skills and accidentally practicing some Black Hat SEO? While Black Hat SEO can increase your search rankings, it is also against searching engine rules. And, if you’re caught (and search engines are always scanning for cheaters), then most search engines will penalize you for breaking the rules, often by dropping you pages deep into search rankings. Once you’ve been penalized for bad practices, it can be nearly impossible to dig yourself back out. To begin educating yourself (and don’t forget to keep learning) review the white and black SEO tactics below:
|White Hat SEO||Black Hat SEO|
- Offer quality content and services
|- Using unrelated keywords|
|- Use descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags, descriptions, and headers||- Using keyword stacking or stuffing|
|- Create an easily navigable site||
- Creating bait-and-switch pages
|- Ensure your site loading time is fast||- Duplicating content or launching mirror sites|
|- Make your site mobile friendly||- Using spam content or hidden links|
Once you’ve made sure you completely understand SEO best practices, it’s time to get started. The core of your SEO strategy will be in your keywords, which you will base your website, blog, and social content around. There are a variety of websites to help discover your keywords. Such as semrush.com, wordstream.com, and kwfinder.com. Navigate to one of these sites and enter your URL. The keyword site will run a background check and will discover what kind of searches are bringing visitors to your site. The results will also show monthly organic and paid search traffic, backlinks, and competitor comparisons. Make sure to toggle your results to show which keywords you’re already ranking for as well as what position the keywords are at. You will use this information to create your content topics.
Keep in mind that you will need to continuously review your keywords to keep you strategy relevant. New keywords spring up all the time, and, as you generate more content, visitors will be finding different keywords to find you.
Prioritize High-Quality Content
Once you know your keywords, it’s time to start creating high-quality content. The emphasis here is on the phrase “high-quality.” In this day and age, many people are practicing small business SEO, which means that there is a wealth of good and bad content out there. If you create content just to create content, your content (and your SEO rankings) will get lost in the mix. Instead, take your time and create and distribute unique, well-rounded content- not just filler.
To get started, review your keywords. Then start creating content topics around your highest-ranked keywords. Creating content around these keywords will keep you at the top of the search pages. Feel free to use your own internet searches to inspire your topics. Search for your keywords and see what comes up- and what’s relevant to you. Then create unique content that individuals will be searching for and will promote your business. As you continue to create content, work your way down your keywords, creating content that you may not be ranking for just yet. Creating content around these keywords will get you on the search pages.
When you’re creating your content, make sure to reference your keyword throughout your piece. When the search engines are crawling your website they will take note of the keyword and apply it to your SEO ranking. That being said, don’t go overboard with your keyword. Try not to use your keyword more than 3% of the time in any piece, or you could begin toeing the line of black hat SEO.
Focus on the Technical Details
While small business SEO isn’t over technical (anyone can do it!) there are technical details that can’t be ignored if you want to find success. One of these details is using keywords, which we already discussed. The other technical details that can’t be ignored are:
- Inter-website linking- your content should have both internal and external links. The internal links should be backing up your arguments and referencing other pieces of content on your website. The external links should be pointing to outside websites, and should exist to factually support your content.
- Meta-descriptions- The meta-description summarizes your content and is part of what the search engines crawl when searching for an article in response to a visitors search. The meta-description should be up to 320 characters and should include your keyword.
- Use headers- headers will create anchors for your readers and search engines care about them too. Use a keyword in a header at least once in every piece of content you create.
- Use images and alt- tags- Images will keep your readers engaged an alt-tags will help search engine crawlers understand that your images are relevant to your visitor’s keyword search. Your alt-tag should include your keyword.
- Use your contact information – make sure to use your name, address, email address, and phone number on every piece of content you create. When using this call-to-action information, ensure that it is consistent wherever you post it (and all over the web).
Once you’ve created all of your content (and you’re certain it’s high-quality), start distributing! Post it on your website and then start sharing it. You can link to it via any social media channel and can request that your contacts share it as well. Just remember- don’t post it twice on the internet or it will be considered duplicate content and will drag your SEO rankings down.
Create a Presence
In this circumstance, your presence refers to appearing in local maps and search. To create a presence, make sure that your listing appears in Google Maps (and in Google Search) by creating a Google My Business listing with up-to-date information. When you create your presence, make sure to complete the following:
- Enter 100% of your business data. Don’t skip anything!
- Verify your business locations with Google.
- Update your business hours as they change through the season.
- Add accurate and up-to-date photos.
- Manage and respond to reviews.
To keep your presence relevant, make sure to request that your customers leave reviews. Reviews are incredibly important in local ranking and help your business stand out. To get your customers to leave reviews, try these methods:
- Create links on your website to review pages.
- Ask for reviews in follow-up emails or in your email signature.
- Request that happy customers leave reviews.
That’s it! Small business SEO is easy and you will see the results in no time. Simply adhere to white hat SEO, keep the quality content coming, and focus on the technical details, and you’ll see your rankings rise in no time.
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