SEO for any business can be tricky, but small businesses may face a lack of time, resources, and personnel to make full use of it. 77.8% of small businesses surveyed say they have no SEO strategy in digital marketing place but plan to make use of it in 2021.
If you’re looking for ways to get your small business website ranking on search engines, but you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
SEO rankings don’t happen overnight, so to help you get going, we’ve listed five areas of SEO that you can use to boost your small business SEO performance and get you noticed in local searches.
In this SEO Checklist for Small or Local Businesses, we’ll cover:
- Setting up monitoring tools
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Optimise for On-page SEO
- Keyword Research
- Metadata Optimisation
- Internal Linking
- High Calibre Content
- Nail down the technical SEO
- Technical SEO Audits
- Fix Broken Links, Redirects, Indexing Issues
- Optimise Site Speed
- Check Mobile-friendliness
- Ensure website security
- Make the most of Local SEO
- Google My Business
- Build NAP citations and listings
- Target local keywords
- Optimising for Off-page SEO
- Link Building
- Be active on social media
- Gain customer reviews
- How can our SEO agency help your small business?
1. Set up monitoring tools
Before you get started with your SEO for small businesses, an essential first step is to set up monitoring and analytics tools. You won’t be able to see if your SEO strategy is working unless you can track it. One of the first things you should do when getting your website started is to install Google Analytics. For a small business owner, It’s free, intuitive, and offers a wealth of insights to help you see where your web page traffic is coming from, how many repeat visitors or potential customers you have, demographics data, and more.
Once Google Analytics is installed, it will give you a baseline for your current website’s performance and how you can improve it to boost your local SEO rankings.
Google Search Console
Search Console is yet another invaluable resource from Google and is completely free. While Google Analytics relates to your website’s performance across all your marketing channels, Google Search Console gives you insights specifically into SEO performance, including search rankings, what search terms you appear for, indexing coverage from local directories, and more.
Sitemaps give Google clues about your website’s structure. They help search engines crawl your website and more quickly understand what your site is about. This will help you appear for the most relevant searches to your business. If you want to rank in a competitive market, sitemaps are an essential local SEO tactic.
2. Optimise for On-page SEO
Optimising the content on your small business website is the next most important step in SEO – after all, content is king. If you’re struggling to get traffic or potential customers to your website, or you have traffic but it’s not converting, you should evaluate your site’s content and the on-page elements of SEO.
Keyword research is one of the most talked-about aspects of SEO. If you read any kind of SEO material on the web, you’ll have come across it. That’s because it truly is a core part of any SEO strategy.
Optimising for search starts with understanding what your audience is searching for. Each of your pages should have a target keyword that is the focus of your content
Understanding search intent
There is a right way and a wrong way to do keyword research. When choosing the keywords you want to target, you’ll need to think about the intent behind the search term – is it transactional, informational, or navigational?
Transactional keywords are search terms where people are looking to act, whether downloading something, buying a product, or otherwise.
Informational keywords can be used to inform your audience about your product. These types of searches include audiences that are early on in their customer journey. Using your blog to target relevant, informational keywords is a great way to pick up organic traffic and rankings.
Navigational keywords are search terms for people looking directly for a website. These are usually branded keywords, and easily drive clicks and conversions.
Short tail v Long tail keywords
Another aspect of keyword research to consider is identifying both long tail and short tail keywords for your content. Long-tail keywords usually include 2+ words and are the best way to drive highly relevant traffic to your website.
For example, if your business provides bedroom furniture, you could target the keyword “bedroom furniture”, with a monthly search volume of 90,500 and keyword density of 90%, but it will be much harder for you to rank for than a keyword like “french style bedroom furniture” that has a search volume of 1,300 and a keyword density of 77%.
BIn SEO for small businesses, you should be targeting keywords that are highly relevant to what you offer, you’ll drive highly qualified traffic, leading to a better conversion rate for your site.
Title Tags, Meta Descriptions & H1s
Once you’ve identified your target keywords for each page of your website, you should incorporate them into your metadata. This includes the title tags, anchor text, meta descriptions and image alt text.
Your target keyword should be naturally used at least once in each location. While optimising the title tag for your target keyword is essential, it should still be engaging, catchy, and make the reader want to click.
Each of your landing pages should also have an H1 set that includes the target keyword. Be sure to only include one H1 per page!
If your small business’ website includes many different pages, you’re off to a great start. Your users should be able to access all the information they want about your business from your site including your address, phone number and social media.
Adding internal links between your website pages can give your SEO efforts a major boost. For one thing, it helps search engines better understand the importance of your landing pages.
If multiple of your pages are linking to one of your main service or product pages, it gives Google the signal that that page has authority meaning it could rank higher in SERP’s (Search Engine Ranking Pages).
It also leads potential customers to other pages on your website, causing them to spend more time on your website. The time a visitor spends on your site is another major ranking factor for search engines.
High Calibre Content
All of the best SEO efforts mean nothing without high-quality content that your readers will love. With poor content on your website, nothing can save you from a drop in rankings, high bounce rates, and low-quality traffic.
This is why you must have a high-quality content marketing plan in place that is engaging, creative, informative and highly relevant. You should also ensure to use original content on all landing pages, use quality link building tactics and include content to target local SEO, especially if you serve a specific area.
Some types of content you could employ for your small business are:
- Landing page content
- Blog posts
- Social media content
- Video content
- And many more
For more help with content marketing, check out our blog on Resources for Planning, Executing and Measuring Content Marketing
3. Nail the Technical SEO foundations
If the content is king, technical SEO is queen. The elements of your website that affect technical SEO – things like redirects, 404s, broken links, mobile-friendliness, etc. – directly affect your user experience. Most users will abandon a website completely after one bad experience. And with Google’s algorithm focusing more and more on the user experience, you can’t afford to have a technically poor small business website.
Technical SEO Audits
The first step in checking your technical SEO is conducting a full technical SEO audit. This will help you identify unknown technical issues of your website and help you get a full understanding of where improvements need to be made.
Fix Broken Links, Redirects, Indexing Issues
After conducting your technical SEO audit, you should have a list of any broken links on your site and outbound links from your website. You should go through and rectify any broken links, and add redirects from any pages that have been deleted. Otherwise, the page might still index and will lead them to a broken page.
You should also have a full list of indexed pages of your website, you should cross-reference this with what you have in Google Search Console, and what appears in search results, to check that all pages are indexing correctly, or to identify pages that aren’t indexed.
Optimise Site Speed
Having a slow-loading website is one of the worst technical SEO faux pas you can make. If your website takes too long to load, your visitors are likely to bounce and go to competitor pages. Since site speed and user experience go hand in hand, optimising your website loading speed with site speed optimisation tactics is a must to help you outrank your small business competitors.
In 2019, Google’s algorithm switched to a mobile-first approach to indexing. Essentially, this means that if you don’t provide a great user experience on mobile, you stand no chance of ranking in the top 10s.
Ensure website security
Website security is of the utmost importance in 2020. Visitors want to know that when they visit your website their data will be safe with you and this will benefit their online user experience.
That’s why Google rewards sites with HTTPS certificates with higher rankings. It’s a simple step that makes a big impact on SEO, especially SEO for small businesses.
4. Make the most of Local SEO
Local SEO for small businesses is one of the most impactful tactics you can employ in your SEO strategy, particularly if you serve a particular area or deliver to specific locations.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a powerful tool for local businesses. When a user searches for your business or looks for a certain type of business “near them”, they’ll see a Google My Business listing.
You should fill out your profile as thoroughly as possible, with your business phone number, address, website, business photos, operating hours, social media and more, listed prominently.
You can even add business categories to help people find your business. You can pick up to 5, and make sure you add as many relevant to your business as possible.
Google My Business also offers users a platform to review your business, which is a great signal of trust for search engines.
Build NAP citations and listings
NAP citations are when your website name, address, and phone number (NAP) are listed on another website. When these are listed in local business directories and local listings, they send a signal to Google that your business is real and can be trusted.
If you have few to no citations or ones with inconsistent information, this can harm your SEO, so it’s important to build NAP listings and make them consistent across the web.
Target local keywords
Again, if your small business serves a particular location, or only delivers to particular areas, you should make sure your content reflects that. Service-in-location keywords, or “bedroom furniture in Manchester” keywords will help search engines list you more prominently in local search results, and help you make sure your traffic is coming from the right audience.
5. Optimise for Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO refers to external factors that affect your SEO performance. Once you’ve fully optimised the on-page elements of your website, the next step is to build on the elements that you have less of an impact on.
Gaining backlinks from authoritative websites is one of the most surefire ways to boost your rankings and outrank other small business competitors.
Not only does it tell Google that your website can be trusted, but it can also lead to better brand recognition, more referral traffic, and more conversions from qualified traffic.
While link building is one of the most important SEO tactics, it is also one of the most complex and time consuming to use.
Learn more about link building and why it’s important.
Be active on social media
Being regularly active on social media is one of the best ways to engage directly with your audience and potential customers. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Snapchat, being active on social media allows you to engage with your audience and build community trust.
Small businesses can use social media to:
- Share important information
- Keep customers informed of business updates
- Connect with audiences personally
- Get customer feedback
- Share website content, infographics, and blogs from your website.
And as always, making use of social media platforms is another opportunity for a great link to your website as part of your SEO strategy!
Gain customer reviews
Your business’s reputation has an impact on search rankings, both from a user and search engine perspective. For one thing, Google’s algorithm doesn’t just read content and on-page signals, it also takes into account Google reviews of your website across the web, which can directly impact your rankings.
Not only this but having a greater amount of customer reviews builds trust with potential users, helping to lead them to convert.
For small businesses, this is even more important, because, with smaller brand recognition, potential customers will have to rely on reviews from the people in their area.
To help build your reviews, you should politely ask each customer for a review of your business after they’ve had a chance to try your product or service.
How can our SEO agency help your small business?
While this may seem like quite a bit of information, it should help you make a start at boosting your SEO performance. But it is just the start of a fully-fledged SEO strategy, and we realise that most small businesses don’t have the time to focus their efforts on SEO.
At Tecmark, we’ve helped businesses of all sizes and industries boost their rankings and sales with the help of our Manchester SEO services.
Whether you’re looking for help kick-starting your SEO, or you need someone to guide your team with SEO strategy, get in touch.