The art and science of search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just for the big companies out there – it’s an incredibly powerful tool for small businesses too. You just have to know how to use it to get the maximum returns for your time. Small business owners are busy, but the benefits of SEO are too good to pass up when you’re growing your business. Here’s how your small business can take advantage of search engine optimization in a way that works for your schedule and budget.
The Basics of Small Business Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a big topic – that’s why we’ve written so much on it. Our blog post on the pillar of SEO goes over the details of optimizing your website and your content for search engines and their users. And you can learn all about the different types of SEO too.
It’s not that small businesses should use different SEO strategies from the big companies – it’s that SEO can be expensive and time-consuming to get right. And time and money are both usually in short supply for small business owners. Instead, you can take a targeted approach that gets you increased website traffic for a minimal investment – just what small businesses need to succeed.
Big Hits at Low Cost
Small businesses tend to have small marketing budgets. In the world of traditional marketing, this was a big limiting factor. But fortunately, digital marketing is highly effective and can be very inexpensive if you target your marketing dollars well.
(See our video on how to create a marketing budget for any size business on YouTube.)
Begin with the Basics
There are all sorts of technical behind-the-scenes things you can do (or hire someone to do) to boost your SEO. But there are a few that are very important to your search rankings and also easy and free to take care of yourself.
Check Your Site Speed:
Google and other search sites rank fast webpages higher, because your visitors are likely to abandon your page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool to check your site. If it’s slow, you may need to compress any large images on your site or move to a newer website theme that’s built for speed.
Optimize for Mobile:
Is your site optimized for mobile devices? You can check using Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test tool. More and more searches are now happening on phones, so this is an important ranking factor too.
Review Your Site Organization:
If you’re like most small business owners, your website may have started out with just a few pages and grown over time. Does your page organization still make sense?
If it takes more than three clicks to get to any one page, you have some work to do. Both search bots and site visitors dislike webpages where they get lost, so you should restructure your pages in a simpler, more logical way.
Check for Broken Links:
Links that lead to an error page are frustrating for site users, and search algorithms don’t like them either. You can check for broken links in your Google Search Console and fix any issues for a quick boost in SEO, especially if your site has been around a while.
Create a Content Strategy to Support Small Business Search Engine Optimization
Adding a blog to your website is a free and effective way to boost your search engine rankings. You might look around at all the detailed, 1000+ word blog content on the web and think, I don’t have time for that!
But blogging for many small businesses doesn’t have to mean writing thousands of hours of content each week and signing up for expensive keyword research tools. You can do it yourself for a minimal time investment, and still reap many of the benefits of SEO.
How Often Should You Blog?
First, decide on a content strategy that works for your schedule. Posting on a regular basis is great for your search rankings – at least once per month, at the minimum. But your posts don’t have to be long. Even 300-500 words if you’re posting once a week is a great start.
What Should You Blog About?
Write about what your customers and prospects want to know – share background on your company, details about your product or service, success stories from your loyal customers, or community events where your business made a difference.
Keyword research is great if you have the time and money to spend because it ensures your content gets seen by your desired readers. But if you’re just starting out, simply posting is the way to go. The easiest topics to include are providing solutions to your target customer’s problems! This is the reason you started your business in the first place.
To get the maximum impact from your posts, you want to cover a few basics.
Headline in Title Tag
Search engines can’t see what the title of your blog post is unless you put it in the H1 header case, called the title tag. Write an interesting headline that draws in readers and makes sense to search engines.
Include a Few Relevant Links
It’s an SEO best practice to have links to both your own content and other outside sources in each blog post. Make sure the links make sense in context, and include at least two of each kind in your posts.
Write a Meta Description
This sounds technical, but it’s really just one short paragraph that tells people on a search engine page what your content is about. Make it descriptive and compelling, otherwise Google will just use a snippet from your page without you selecting it.
You can set aside just an hour a week to write a short blog post, edit it for mistakes, and post it with those SEO best practices we talked about. That small investment of time can pay off with big traffic in a few months, all with zero marketing dollars invested.
Local Search for Local Business
Don’t underestimate the value of search engines, even if you’re running a small business with a local clientele. Your website and blog content isn’t the only thing that comes up when someone is searching for a local business – it might also show your business reviews in Google Maps or your Google My Business listing.
But great news – you have control over those listings, and you can optimize them to make a positive impression on those search engine viewers. Setting up your Google My Business listing is easy – get all the details on how to do it right in our blog post on local search ranking best practices. Google My Business is free and powerful, so don’t skip out on setting it up.
Optimizing your Google listing is just like making your website inviting. Take the time to write some thoughtful, custom content in the business description. Add some enticing photos to draw in readers and visitors. And keep it updated – don’t let reviews, whether negative or positive, go too long without a response.
When to Bring in Outside Help for Small Business Search Engine Optimization
These steps should help you grow your small business through the power of SEO and digital marketing, no matter how limited your budget and your time are. But as your business gets bigger and your needs do too, you can hire affordable help to optimize your technical SEO, create content for you, or manage your social media.
We Can Help
But you’ll get the biggest return on your investment as you grow if your SEO strategy is part of a strong overall digital marketing plan.
Looking for more personalized help on your digital marketing strategy right now? Schedule a free business review here to find out how we help businesses grow. You can use these insights for inspiration, and let us do the marketing for you.