Necessary SEO Strategies for Your Small Business
Being a small business owner is tough.
You put in long hours, link your personal brand to your business, and have a myriad of stories about meeting tight deadlines and circling back to clients to make sure you get paid on time.
You are also probably nurturing a lot of ideas at the same time. So, you may not have SEO at the forefront of your mind. This is because you need sales now, and you can’t want to wait for long-tail SEO strategies to pay off.
On the other hand, you are budget-conscience and you want to be able to leverage free and effective marketing resources every time you can. This brings you to a myriad of strategies, which help your sales and also qualify as SEO strategies.
In the next several paragraphs, I’ll dive into what SEO strategies small businesses should be concentrating on in order to get the most return on effort and investment.
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Easy to Follow Site Structure
When you create and add to your website, you want to make sure visitors will think that it’s easy to get around. Be sure to use a structure that makes sense to your readers, and in turn it will make sense to search engines. This means that you should group information in categories, and and subcategories should be filed in a drop-down menu structure. When people are on one page, make it clear for them how to get out and go to the next page. Once you have this structure set up, upload a sitemap to Google and Bing to ensure that they are read in the most efficient way possible.
Optimize Tagging and Meta Descriptions
Using the proper tagging and meta descriptions on all pages will mean that search engines will be able to crawl your site more easily. This will also mean that when your content is shared on social media, the generated messages will be what you want them to be. This is important, because the URL, title tag, and meta descriptions will appear when your content is shared on social. These are opportunities for you to attract more visitors to your site. Make sure that this message is optimized to capture these opportunities.
Track Your Analytics
It is important to start tracking your site’s data as soon as you launch it. This way you will be able to know what strategies are working well for you and what strategies you should abandon. In the United States, an estimated 90% of searches are done on Google. For this reason, I advise tracking your site data with Google Analytics. It’s a free tool that will also allow you to analyze your site for any errors, target specific geographic regions, and will give you tools to further optimize the technical aspects of your site.
Specialize in Local SEO
No matter what your small business is, you know that making a claim to a niche in your local market is where you can get the most return on your investment. When people can meet you in person or see where you work, this can mean so much more than a beautifully designed website or big promises on products. Considering the overwhelming popularity of Google in the U.S., setting up a completed Google My Business profile can be invaluable to your local search efforts. This way, when people in your local geographic area search for services you offer, your business is more likely to show up.
Leverage Personal Connections
SEO is possible and necessary because of the rankings that search engines give us. And in the past several years, Google has been prioritizing content based on semantics and semiotics. This means that real life reviews and links to your site serve as valuable SEO strategies. One of the strongest strategies that you can leverage is getting positive reviews for your business. You can ask current or former clients to write a review for you. You can then feature those reviews on your website by using the Google review embed code. This will be valuable social proof that increases your likelihood of sales, which will further help your SEO efforts.
Refer to A Checklist as you build your website
Build Credibility with A Portfolio
If you have been in business for a few months, you can easily build credibility by displaying your past work in a portfolio on your site. You can display photos of what clients can expect when they work with you, and you should give a description of the product and what the benefits are. This will work to give potential clients more trust in what they can expect to receive from you. This will also reinforce the reviews that can build social proof for your business.
Empower Clients with Knowledge
Once you show others what you know with a portfolio, aim to start a regular practice with empowering your potential clients with a blog. This will allow you to demonstrate the breadth of what you know about your field and will work to empower others through learning. Blogging is the backbone of any successful marketing plan, and can be leveraged and repurposed in a myriad of ways to deepen your marketing efforts. When you decide to start a blog, you should start with a content calendar so you can have a regular objective to meet. Also set up a way to push your blog content to social media once it’s made public.
Attract Visitors with Link Building
Link building is a critical step to any SEO plan. You can get started with this by asking your business partners to link to your website. This is important because it will work to get more visitors to your site, and it will also increase your site authority, which will push your site up in the search results. If you have the team to do more than this, I describe a link building process that works in my article on off-page SEO. In this process you start with seeing who links to your competitors’ sites, then you analyze those sites for authority, then you aim to build links with those most authoritative sites.
Get Help When You Need It
The above steps are part of an SEO process that you can do by yourself. But it’s also important to keep in mind that SEO is a long-tail process and it’s not easy, especially when you have a business to run. When considering working with an outside SEO specialist, it’s important to work with someone with a proven track record and who can answer all of your questions. For a refernce to follow when hiring support, refer to this Small Business SEO guide.
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What You Should Remember
Being a small business owner, you need to be sure that you focus your efforts on where you will get the maximum return on investment. The low-hanging fruit SEO strategies that you should focus on are:
Easy to follow site structure
Optimizing tagging and meta descriptions
Specializing in local SEO
Leveraging personal connections for reviews
Displaying a portfolio of past work
This is a lot to do by yourself, so you may want to consider hiring an outside expert. If you do this, make sure you get all of your questions answered before you hire them. If you are interested in more information on SEO for your small business, check out these articles:
How Small Business Can See Big Results with Foundational SEO by Marcus Miller for Search Engine Land
How Long Does It Take SEO to Start Working by John Steimle for Forbes
The Ultimate Guide to SEO by Michael Heijmans for Yoast