earch engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most effective methods for enabling your customers to find your business online without spending money on ads. In a nutshell, SEO is a way to structure your website and optimize your web pages to end up at the top of search engine results when your customers search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Since most people click on one of the first few search engine results, including SEO in your strategy to grow your business is critical. Even with minimal experience, developing an SEO strategy for your small business doesn’t have to be a headache.
Whether you already have a website or are creating one for the first time, these nine SEO tips for small businesses can help you grow your viewership.
9 SEO Best Practices for Small Business
1. Quality Content Matters
Before implementing other, more technical strategies, be sure that you maintain a high standard for the quality of your content. Even if you land on the top of the search engine results page (or SERP), customers will turn away from your website if they don’t find what they're looking for. Design your website to be user-friendly with relevant, valuable information for visitors.
Here are some guidelines to help you improve the user experience:
- Create content that matches keywords and headlines throughout your website.
- Appeal to your target audience. Put yourself in your potential customer's shoes and understand their interests.
- Include photos, audio, and video to help round out your content.
2. Use Keywords The Right Way
A keyword is a word or phrase that your target audience will search for when looking for relevant topics. Conduct keyword research to determine what your target audience uses when searching for issues related to your business. You can use free and paid tools — many also offer tutorials to help get you up to speed.
After generating a list of keywords, distribute them into your content. Your keywords should match what you anticipate to be potential customers’ search intent, not just their search query.
Use the following best practices to optimize your website for organic search:
- Target one primary keyword per page.
- Don’t use the same primary keyword for multiple pages on your website.
- Consider using the target keyword on your headline, headers, subheadings, URL, first paragraph, and throughout the text.
- Experiment with long-tail keywords (longer phrases that generate lower search volume but can be highly successful).
- Use secondary keywords throughout your web pages that relate closely to the primary keyword.
- Avoid keyword stuffing, which is where you fill your content with keywords to the point that it sounds unnatural. Not only does keyword stuffing undermine the credibility of your content, but it does nothing to help your pages' rankings.
3. Local SEO Matters
Local SEO, in a nutshell, optimizes your website for specific locations. If you run a location-specific or brick-and-mortar business, customers might find you when searching for companies in their area. If so, you want to be ready for them.
Here are some simple ways to leverage local SEO:
- Set up a Google Business page so that your business appears in local searches and include your contact details.
- Add your business website to relevant online business directories.
- Link to your website on all your social media profiles.
- Ensure all your business name, address, and contact details are consistent across online platforms.
- On the footer of your website, include your business address. Including this information can help online search engines connect it to a geographic area to improve local search results.
4. Build Internal and External Links
Linking within your website allows visitors and online search engines to find new content you create. Internal links can direct your target audience to more of your content rather than back to Google. Be sure that your anchor text (the text clicked to bring you to a linked webpage) is accurate and enticing.
An external link is generally defined as any link from another website to yours. Receiving high-quality backlinks from other websites helps signal to ranking engines that your website is an authoritative source on a particular topic, helping your sites perform better in the search engine results. To increase the external links your site receives, build relationships with other websites, and even do some outreach to see who is willing to link to your content.
5. Create a clear Website structure
Suppose you structure your website in a way that isn’t easy for visitors to navigate or for search engine algorithms to investigate. In that case, you’ll lose your audience. A clear website structure can be as simple as creating a hierarchy that includes different categories, pages, subcategories, headings, and links to and from other areas on your website.
6. Improve Site Speed
Page speed is a ranking factor and can affect your website’s ability to gain organic traffic. The faster your website load time, the more likely visitors will stick around, and the more likely online search engines are to rank it highly.
Several ways you can improve your website speed include:
- Compress images.
- Remove unnecessary elements in CSS.
You can do many of these things yourself. For instance, website plugins can help you compress images so they’ll load faster. The same goes for cleaning up elements in CSS.
7. Design For Mobile
The truth is, most website visitors will probably visit using their mobile devices. Online search engines are more likely to rank your website higher if you create a mobile-friendly website.
This step may be beyond your technical skills, but it doesn’t need to break your budget. You can purchase a template optimized for mobile or hire a designer to help you if you can afford it.
8. Write Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
The title tag is the name that shows up in the SERP (search engine results page). The title tag doesn’t always need to be the same as the title on your page. Ideally, your title tag is between 50 and 60 characters. Important keywords should come first to catch the attention of organic searchers.
The meta description is a snippet of text after your page's title in the SERP. It’s a description of your piece of content that draws in the searcher. While it may not directly help your web pages climb the ranks in search engine results, it does help convince would-be visitors to click through to your website. Yes, you can include keywords, but write it in a way that you think would convince someone to click on your website.
9. Monitor Changes
Whatever SEO tactics you use, monitor the changes you implement to see what works and improve what doesn’t. Track where you started — use a few key metrics such as newsletter signups, the number of keywords you rank for, or your site's weekly traffic. Then, as you implement changes, go back regularly to see your progress.
You can also track your website’s success with tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console. These will help you understand more about traffic, click-through rates, impressions, and more. Keep track of these reports to continue to do better.
SEO is vital for the success of your business's presence in organic search. From the way you structure your site to the keywords you choose and the content you write, leverage these best practices as you build your SEO strategy, and you’ll likely start to see an improvement in your page analytics.