As a small business owner, you likely already understand that SEO or search engine optimization is all about drawing the right kind of visitors to your website. In order to do this, your website needs to ‘speak the search engine language’, while also delivering a rewarding and engaging experience for your human readers. The vast majority of Google searches end up with the user clicking through to one of the top five results for their query. Knowing which questions and services you should be ranking for, and optimizing your site so Google and other search engines see you as an authority on the topic, is what SEO is all about. Here we take a look at the best strategies for a small business, and how to get started!
Outline your objectives – what do you want your website to do for you?
This goes a bit deeper than the obvious answer of ‘bring in more paying customers’! Understand that SEO is not a quick fix, but rather a long-term investment – it takes time, effort and consistency to work, but once it does, it offers a higher return on investment than any other digital marketing channel. This is because you’re bringing in free organic traffic – potentially for years and years to come.
Remember that your website can do a lot more than just bring in direct sales. You can use it to collect email addresses for your newsletter or opt-in promotional mailers, educate the public and build your brand image, or encourage visitors to follow you on social media.
Design a user journey
Getting people to click through to your homepage is all well and good – but what action do you want them to take from there? A good example might be directing them to a relevant article or blog post with more information on the thing they’re looking for (giving them confidence that you know what you’re talking about) which then directs them to your services page and finally to an order form, your contact page, or your rate card.
Focus on local:
It’s not realistic for a small business to try and compete with an established national or international brand – at least not in the beginning! And if your product or service is highly localized – such as a single brick and mortar store or a plumbing or electrical service, there’s not much point either. If you’re trying to attract customers from your immediate surrounds, then make sure your website is aligned with this:
Have your location on every page of your website:
Use a website header or footer that displays your company’s name, phone number, and address on every page of your website. This lets Google and other search engines know that your service is location-specific, and makes it more likely that when someone Google’s “your service + location”, you’ll show up high in the results they see. If your service is country-wide, such as in the case of a product range you ship nationwide, then make sure your state or province and country name are included in the header or footer.
Register with Google My Business:
Google My Business is an exceptionally powerful and easy to use tool for small businesses, as you can make use of it even if your website hasn’t been finalized yet. At a glance, people will be able to see where you are on Google Maps, get directions to your premises, and access your contact details and customer reviews. It’s also dead simple to set up, so if you’re not taking advantage, make sure you do so straight away. If you have a few loyal, happy customers you can ask to leave a review, then this is a great way to boost your authority locally and draw in more customers without them even visiting your actual website.
Making sure you have a listing on other local directories that link back to your main website can also be beneficial. Just make sure all your contact info and details on these and your Google My Business listing are correct and up to date.
Get your site structure right:
Small business owners have a tendency to prioritize what their website looks like over how it functions – but you really do need to do it the other way around to get the best results from SEO. You can learn more about site structure here.
Technical aspects of SEO:
This is where many small business owners start to get a little nervous! While it’s perfectly possible for you to manage the technical aspects of SEO in-house, it’s going to require a fair bit of time to familiarize yourself with the terminology and processes and understand how to implement what you learn. If you’ve already got too much on your plate, then teaming up with a proven SEO company that can work hand-in-hand with you, or manage the entire process on your behalf is a good idea. For SEO to work properly, you never to cover all your bases – on-page, off-page and technically – and that takes time and consistency. Put in the effort, however, and you can achieve truly dramatic results!