If you are a small business owner struggling to grow your online presence, then you can follow the simple steps laid out in this article, to ensure your website is effective. The opportunities are growing for small businesses to take on their larger competitors due to a number of factors. Google is catering to small and local businesses now more than ever through numerous updates to the appearance of the SERPS. Everything from the incorporation of maps to snippets, help put small and local businesses right in front of their target audience.
Peter Kolski from SEO Service USA says, “With google getting smarter every year, it is easier than ever for small and local businesses to gain visibility online and thrive. Having said that, business owners need to make sure they take time to understand the basics of SEO.”
Let’s delve into 7 important SEO steps small businesses need to take, to stay on top of the competition.
- Focus on long tails
Keyword Research is probably the 1st step on everybody’s list, when it comes to ranking a website, and the keywords you choose can greatly determine your success. If you are a small business owner, you might not have a gigantic SEO budget. Hence, focusing on long tail keywords with slightly lesser search volume might help you get a foot in the door. Long-tail phrases are basically expanded versions of the keyword you want to rank for. For example: Instead of “printing stores” you can focus on “print shops in Sydney.” There are many ways to find Long Tail or LSI keywords for your site. This type of focused targeting can also increase your conversion rate.
- Produce Quality content
A lot of small businesses out there have state of the art websites, but this alone is not enough for the business to grow. As a business owner you need to make sure you blog, and put out high quality content on a regular basis. If you invest and produce content that is relevant to your audience, you gain authority in the eyes of google and this will help your website’s SEO. The more content you have the better, as google then indexes more pages, and your audience in turn spends more time on your site to consume the content.
- Local SEO
Local SEO has grown in importance recently and given small business a chance to compete with the giants in the industry. Make sure you optimize everything on-site by including pages, specific to the community. Thanks to Google’s pigeon update, Yelp and other sites similar to it like urban spoon, have gained a boost. Hence your company’s presence on these platforms and local directories is vital. Gather local reviews on your own website, as well as these local directories to gain more visibility. Use tools like Google’s MapMaker to identify duplicate listings for your sites.
- Outreach for links
Gathering backlinks for your site can be done in many ways. If you are a local business you can contact local publications to include you in their posts or weekly roundup. Try to guest post in high authority sites in your niche, and get a link back to your own page. You can also run social media campaigns side by side. Social Signals are starting to impact rankings more, albeit indirectly. You can also perform contextual links exchanges with many sites. In addition to these, local business citations are very effective.
We touched on social signals playing a role in ranking, Google Plus’s importance is sometimes overlooked by small business owners. Despite not being as popular as a Facebook or Twitter, google plus still has a lot of value. A recent study by Moz showed that “After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor.” So get your Google+ pages going.
- Gathering accurate Business Citations
Business Citations are a great source for links. Most of the time there will be more than one citation for your business. Someone else would have listed these variants. You need to make sure your business or company data such as Phone Number and Addresses are all mentioned correctly. You can claim duplicate listings through a verification method.
- Quality guidelines – Stay White Hat
The link building process can often be frustrating for small business owners, if they do not have a lot to offer in exchange for the links. During this time it can be quite easy to start buying links from link farms and other Black Hat methods. Don’t. Engaging in this type of strategy can get you a Manual Penalty from Google, and these penalties can be very hard to recover from. It can take months or even years for your site to regain its ranking. Make sure you have a Google friendly site at all times.
How to optimize your website for Google:
- Follow Kissmetics’ golden rule for on-site optimization, which is to not optimize for more than 5 keywords per page. Anything more than that can leave you at the risk of a penalty.
- Incorporate hyper – local content as google is much better now at telling neighbourhoods apart not just cities. For instance, if you own a small bike repair shop in Pyrmont, Sydney. You can create content for people in and around Pyrmont, and not just target the whole of Sydney.
- Make sure they aren’t any broken links. More often than not, if you have a large site, there can be 404 pages and pages that are not linked properly. Make sure your site is organized correctly, so that Google can crawl your site thoroughly.
- Write your Meta descriptions properly. Make sure your Meta description describes your page’s offering accurately, whilst incorporating your targeted keyword in a natural way.
- Create a contact page with a map, so that customers can access your store or office easily. Your contact page should be in a convenient location on your webpage.
- Make sure pages with related content are linked together. Internal links can help people navigate your pages easily.