Here are my small business SEO tips, tools and guide on generating higher rankings and more traffic.
Two Types of Small Business SEO
SEO is typically divided into two main groups:
- On page SEO: Everything on your website. This includes everything the words in the content you use to all the technical stuff (keywords, coding, etc.) that tell the search engines about your content. This is all within your control.
- Off page SEO: Everything off the page. This is primarily made of links to your website from other websites. This is not completely under your control, but you have quite a bit of ability to influence it in a positive manner.
Small Business SEO Defined
My common definition for small business SEO: Optimizing your website and other content (i.e. YouTube videos, customer reviews on Yelp, etc.) so that it appears in one of the top results of a search engine query.
More simpler definition: In a super market, costlier items are kept on the shelf which are in direct purview of your eyes, as it will require some effort for the customer to check out the top/bottom shelf items, and the customer will probably go for the middle shelf.
In a similar manner, an online shopping website would want to appear in one of the top searches of a search engine query, hence they do the optimization, referred to as SEO (search engine optimization)
My Best Small Business SEO Tips & Tools
I realize that it can become overwhelming attempting to market your small business or startup in the fast paced world of social media, SEO and all the various platforms and software that is available.
1. Build a mobile responsive website. The majority of search is now conducted on mobile devices. Even the majority of emails are now read with mobile devices. Your website must be mobile responsive for Google to rank your site in the top tier of search results.
2. Ensure that your website has all its Schema markups addressed. Schema markup is coding that you put within your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about.
When a website has its schema markup in place, users can see in the SERPs what a website is all about, where they are, what they do, how much stuff costs, plus plenty of other key information. Some people have referred to Schema markup as, “your search engine business card.”
A competent webmaster will be able to address this issue for you so that your website is “Schema compliant.”
3. Build really good citation links. You need to make sure all of your information about your small business is filled out on citations sites (Yelp, YP.com, Manta.com, etc.) and that you have consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone) data for your company across all listings. No need to worry, this company (WhiteSpark) can help you build all the local citation sites that you will need, tailoring your links to your industry and location.
Bonus Tip: Expand the geographic visibility of your key products in organic search
Top organic search results for your own city and possibly a few nearby ones is about the most you can expect from a good website design, general directory listings and SEO; and your free Google+ listing may limit your keywords to general categories as well.
Advanced directory marketing platforms such as BoomjaNetwork.com have years of proven results helping businesses attract exact buyers for specific products in search from every city in one or more counties and states.
4. Generate online reviews as a top priority. Online reviews represents some of the most powerful offsite content that you can build to help in your small business SEO initiatives. Marketing companies, such as LimeLightSpark.com, are quite able to place into your hands a proactive platform for you to build authentic reviews from your customers.
According to a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions, while 86 percent said their buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.
5. Know your best keywords with thorough and ongoing research. If your pages target keywords no one’s searching for, it will not matter if you rank #1 or #100; the search engines won’t send you any traffic! Choosing the right keywords to target is like selecting the right location for your store.
Start with Google’s AdWords Tool – it does 95 percent of what you’ll ever need for keyword research.
6. Start a blog and go after your top keywords and your audiences interests. Blogging can become a small business SEO magnifier when conducted intelligently.
My favorite free small business SEO solution is WordPress SEO by Yoast, which makes it easy as red light, yellow light, green light. Make sure to keep in mind that simply installing this plugin isn’t helpful in and of itself – but many bloggers stop at this first step. Its real power lies in understanding how to use it correctly and choosing the right keywords.
7. Become really good at one or two social media channels. Social media still tends to confuse and baffle small business people on how to effectively leverage it for their brand. It seems that everyday there is a new social media platform that is being launched. My advice is begin by mastering one social media channel. Yes, you should be on the biggest ones, but having yourself buttered all over the place is not effective, and in fact, it makes you want to give up.
I have one client that sells upscale shutters to home owners. The majority of the people who make the purchase decisions for home decor are women. While she has a Facebook page, I told her to concentrate on Pinterest, which attracts a high percentage of women in the age group that purchase their shutters. Since we began concentrating on this one channel, she has seen a significant growth of followers on Pinterest.
“You don’t get results by focusing on results. You get results by focusing on the actions that produce results.” – Mike Hawkins
Social Media Marketing Tip: Have customers check in on Facebook, Yelp and Swarm when they visit your business. In fact, give them some type of incentive to do so.
8. Build good links through blog comments. For a long time my own small business SEO strategy consisted of just commenting on other authority blogs within my niche. Not only does it get you more traffic, exposure and new relationships, it also counts as a backlink. Try and use Market Samurai to see where your competitors are getting their backlinks from. You might just find a bunch of them come from comments on well ranked blog posts.
Compared to standard SEO campaigns, local and small business SEO relies much more on links from other local websites that are really relevant to your business. It’s less about getting links from high authority websites (although that obviously helps) and more about getting links from websites local to you that are talking about similar things to what you do.
9. Email is your top marketing priority. Email marketing is an absolute must for any small business SEO strategy and here is why: Email represents the most powerful way to get your content (blog posts, webinars, podcasts, videos, etc.) distributed. Email will achieve better results in reaching your customers and potential customers than social media. Here are some exciting stats about email marketing’s prowess.
1) Email marketing yields an average 4,300% return on investment for businesses in the United States. (Direct Marketing Association)
2) Companies using email to nurture leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads and at 33% lower cost. And nurtured leads, on average, produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads. (Hubspot)
3) Small business owners estimate that getting an extra hour in their day back from doing their own email marketing (and other activities) is worth $273/hour. (Constant Contact)
4) For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25. (ExactTarget)
5) Marketers consistently ranked email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention. (Gigaom Research)
6) Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, with a 17% higher value in the conversion. (McKinsey & Company)
7) Email is nearly 40 times better than Facebook and Twitter at acquiring customers. (McKinsey & Company)
8) 70% of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. (ExactTarget)
9) 95% of those who opt into email messages from brands find these messages somewhat or very useful. (Salesforce)
10) You have just 3-4 seconds to grab your readers’ attention and interest them enough to open and read your email. (Litmus)
10. Create and optimize your branded videos on YouTube. More and more small business SEO strategists and marketers have begun leveraging into this new online marketing tool that undoubtedly all these years has charmed both consumers and businesses. Combine this opportunity with local optimization and you have the upper hand of ranking high for specific keywords.
Moreover, by embedding every YouTube video on your main business website, video views will be boosted and further on-site discovery will be encouraged. To add even more opportunity, your videos (particularly the longer ones) can be transcribed and repurposed into blog articles, thus giving you even more keyword rich content to publish on your blog.
Small Business SEO is Alive & Well
“Local search is getting more local, and taking advantage of that incoming trend could be the opportunity you need to crush a larger competitor — especially if that competitor operates in the same city as you.
“Google is getting better at identifying and categorizing neighborhoods within a broader city, so you can take local search a step further by using neighborhood-specific keywords instead of just city and state names. Your potential success is determined by how Google views your neighborhood boundaries, so do some research before you begin.” – Entrepreneur
Photo Courtesy of SEO Planter