SEO for small businesses can at first seem daunting. But once you have a list of tasks to complete, you see not only the importance of this activity but also the ways in which it can be broken into small, digestible pieces.
Getting Started with SEO for Small Businesses
Your first step in nailing SEO is understanding exactly what you offer customers. This is pretty simple for most professionals; as an insurance agent, for example, you provide products that ease a client’s financial burden. Now you must clearly state your purpose on your website, which you can do by answering these questions:
- When, where, and how do customers identify the need for your service?
- Do people only come to you during times of disruption, or are your services always needed?
It’s crucial you write down your answers to find the language that describes the solutions you provide. In turn, your phrasing will drive your content creation and keyword research so customers can readily find you.
Build a Cohesive Website Structure
SEO for small businesses relies on the structure of your website. What we’re talking about goes beyond aesthetics; essentially, each page should lead into another with at least one static text link. This means your site should be easy to navigate. At the most basic level, your homepage should link to other critical pages, such as services and about. Your about page should provide a link to your contact page, and so on.
We know this sounds obvious, and on the surface, it is. But many small business owners start with the best of intentions before losing sight of their original plan and developing a much more complex site. This becomes especially true as you add pages over time.
The easy way to fix this is with fresh eyes. Look at your website the way a client would and ensure its structure makes sense. Start at the homepage and see if you can quickly find and connect to your most relevant pages. Also, remove anchor texts that look spammy to Google.
Give Your Site a Thorough Cleaning
When thinking of SEO, it’s easy to get caught up in the words you use. But, as we alluded to just a moment ago, you first need a clean website. This provides a solid foundation so search engines can efficiently crawl and index your webpages. Some of the most common concerns that prevent crawling and indexing include:
- Broken pages
- Duplicate content
- Un-optimized pages
- Slow page speeds
The first element, broken (404) pages, is one of the most common hurdles websites face. Unfortunately, these elements aren’t good for SEO or visitors. They suggest you don’t regularly update your website or care about its proper functioning – even though you do both.
If you deleted the dead page by accident, you can simply reinstate it so the content is once again accessible. Alternatively, if you intended to delete it, you can redirect the dead page to its appropriate replacement. This might be a similar page or post, or the original page’s new location.
Likewise, update all internal links to broken pages that you find. Once each of your pages works appropriately, you can rest easy knowing you have a clean site.
Optimize Your Pages
The foundation is laid, and that means you’re now ready to optimize your pages. Where keywords are concerned, you should aim for .5 to 2.5% saturation. Try not to exceed the higher end of this range, or you’ll look like a keyword stuffer.
Also sprinkle related keywords throughout your body, subheadlines, and image alt text. Including context for each helps Google accurately understand what you’re talking about. You must also optimize meta descriptions and titles.
Let’s Talk Meta Descriptions
One of the most overlooked elements of SEO for small businesses is the meta description. As a refresher, this is the HTML element used to summarize your page contents. It gives readers a description of your webpage before they choose to click on it, meaning it’s critical to the traffic you receive.
Every page on your website needs a unique meta title and description. The best way to write them is with the intention of getting more clicks; you want to invite readers to your website. You might liken meta titles and descriptions to the headlines and taglines used in classic print advertising. With this in mind, remember to:
- Stay within the length at which Google truncates these descriptions in search results
- Write these descriptions in a way that entices readers
- Include one target keyword for your highest-traffic pages
Burnish Your Copy
In addition to copy that incorporates keywords, it must also be crisp, on-point, and engaging. In addition, most of your pages need written copy. Here’s why: search engines – Google included – look at a website’s content to determine whether or not that site or page should be displayed for a particular query. You’ll have a hard time getting found if you have little or no content or if it isn’t well written and appropriately optimized.
Don’t worry: you don’t need a 3,500-word essay on each page. Some pages will need more content than others, which makes perfect sense in the online world. The key is in what you do with that content. Here are a few rules to help you understand the traits of quality website copy:
- Provide content for every page (at least 100 words as a rule of thumb)
- Include one H1 tag on every page to serve as the main heading
- Incorporate H2 and other tags as appropriate to create a hierarchical structure on each page
- Use targeted keywords in a way that is natural (as we said earlier), and don’t overuse them
For most businesses, the homepage is the website’s focal point. This is where you need keywords, synonyms, and descriptions that can boost topical relevance. Also, be vigilant about your spelling and grammar. These traits don’t impact SEO, but they can instill trust in your potential clients. Errors will also impact your website’s performance in other ways, including the time spent on each page and bounce rates.
Take Advantage of Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that simplifies SEO, allowing you to maximize your visibility in the local market. It’s not a stretch to say an account here can make an enormous impact on your business; not only is it an oft-used feature with browsers, but it also allows you to share offers, announcements, updates, and news with a diverse audience.
The first step is to claim and verify your listing. Complete as many fields as possible and include videos and photos to enhance your profile. Pay particular attention to your category selection; this will help you get found by local people looking for your exact services.
How GMB Works
Whether your business is brand new or already established, a GMB listing can be beneficial. When users type in a specific type of business in Google’s Local Search function, they see a list of nearby businesses with relevant information that includes:
- The address
- Operating hours
- Chosen category
- Customer reviews
Once you create your listing, the system generates a Google Maps location for you. That synchronizes with traditional Google Search for ease of searchability and access. While this listing can’t replace your website, it is a necessary complement to the SEO work you’re already doing.
Ask for Links from Other Businesses
We know you’re busy. That’s the nature of small business ownership. But one of the best things you can do for your website is to build links; it’s a common SEO tactic that signals to Google your site is worthy of citation. In turn, sites with more backlinks often achieve higher rankings.
To keep this as simple as possible, we recommend you ask for links from businesses that have established relationships with you. These can be long-time clients, suppliers, or colleagues you make referrals to. Also link to them from your website as a point of courtesy and to further improve your rankings.
Start a Blog
If you have a website, chances are you’ve thought of starting a blog to go with it. Blogs allow you to creatively use a variety of keywords that may not be appropriate to your website; you can also share knowledge of your particular field so customers see you as a subject matter expert.
As you continue adding more posts, blogging becomes a great way to drive new leads to your business. But you must be patients – blogs don’t grow overnight. It’s equally important to consistently post new content; aim for once every week or every other to keep your blog fresh. Trust us, the effort is well worth the reward.
This list is a condensed version of the activities that go into SEO. And keep in mind this isn’t a set-it-and-go activity; it requires ongoing work as part of your routine marketing efforts. If you have questions about SEO for small businesses – and how it can grow your business – contact Anthem Software today.