The reality in how people find potential products or services they want to buy all starts with search engines. That’s right 93% of all potential customers use search engines. With so much competition, how does a business make its website stand out? The answer is in good old fashioned SEO. So we have created this list of 20 SEO tips for small businesses.
In this post, we will explore the basics of SEO and the necessary steps to succeed in the game for small businesses starting out. We cover what you need to do when you first create your site, all the way through optimizing it through HTML and content changes. We also talk about another key element of success which is submitting your business to search engines.
1. Create a blog on your website
SEO is driven predominantly by content and your blog will be a very good outlet to share and engage with your target audience. The advantage of blogging is that you can create content that is relevant, creative, brief and well written. It will also add relevance to your site for what ever product or service you are selling. It is the baseline for all internal linking within your site.
2. Update your blog consistently
A blog is great but you have to be persistent in creating and updating content on an ongoing basis. Content is king in SEO. Content means customers and it needs to be fresh. On a day to day basis you must consistently update your blog with new short or long form content without ever letting it go stale.
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3. Quality back links to your website
Back links are the cornerstone of SEO, but they are the hardest to get because they are so specific to your niche. With a blog make sure there is always a good mix of content on your site and that your link profile has a good variety of diverse back links coming from different sites in an industry similar to yours.
4. Create an XML sitemap
Having an XML sitemap is essential because search engines use this to index something called new pages. Submit this sitemap to Google Search Console so that when they crawl your site they are able to receive the new content.
5. Build a good indexing strategy
Optimizing for the search engines can be overwhelming! You need a strategy that you know works and won’t get you penalized by being blacklisted by sites that despise SEO and will punish you accordingly. Google does not want to see pages on your site without enough relevant content so you should have a minimum of 1000 words of useful content on each page.
6. Create unique and original content
Google is smart and if you are using too many of the same keywords it will penalize you. So your blog needs to have good relevant content that is not just duplicated on multiple pages. Google wants to reward people who provide original, high quality content.
7. Create a Google My Business account
Google My Business is the bedrock of small businesses now. Getting listed in here is extremely important as your business will appear in the local pack as well as map searches. Google wants to be the best source of local information for people and having your business listed here can bring you new clients on a daily basis.
8. Optimize your meta tags on each page
It’s easy to overlook this step in the process. However, meta tags are important as they define what is displayed in the search results. They can really make or break your site because they are what most people access your sites for so it’s better to leave them in good shape than out of them all together.
9. Use search engine friendly URLs
This is a big one. The only way to be seen on search engines is to use a URL that follows the rules for URL’s in search engines. It would be great if you could create one unique meaningful URL for each page on your site but you can’t do that so don’t try and make up clever phrase.
10. Keep on top of backlinks
When you start getting back links to your site from other sites it’s important that you keep track of them. If they are deemed to be spammy by Google then they will most likely do more harm than good.
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11. Use a blog plugin like Yoast
Yoast is a tool that helps optimize your content for SEO purposes. It allows you to choose the keywords you want to be found for and it will alert you when the content on your website is not what it should be and can be improved upon.
12. Use a website analytics tool
Just like Yoast, Google Analytics can be used to help optimize your content and see how well your blog is doing. It gives you a lot of information that you can use to work out where your content needs to be improved. Google Analytics is currently free so there is no reason not to use it.
13. Use schema markup on your blog
Schema is used by search engines to organically rank your pages. It also uses SEO technology to help viewers find the information they are looking for on your site more easily. You can check out the schema.org website for more information on this topic. Use it to help you rank your site better in search results.
14. Make sure your site loads fast
Your website needs to be fast and easy to load so that people can see a lot of the information on your site in a short period of time. By providing fast, skilled content with a good SEO strategy you will be rewarded with lots of traffic from search engines.
15. Include keywords in the ALT tag of each image that you create for your site
These images are called ALT tags. This is a way of clearly stating what the image is about and it’s very important when used correctly. As a restaurant owner you are going to want to let people know what type of food or service your restaurant provides in as few words as possible.
16. Use social media to help you reach potential links
Social media can be an effective tool in helping your small business rank higher on search engines. It’s becoming more and more important to use social media as a way to distribute content and get people back to your site. Google has now made it easier to find your social numbers and are making them more and more accessible as you grow your following.
17. Manage your website through a content management system
A content management system allows you to manage your content from one central location. It is also used by search engines to display the information on your site so it helps keep things straight and in order for them. Content management systems are often free and they don’t need to be installed on your server. They are usually built into WordPress which is an excellent content management system.
18. Use primary keywords in your headings
Headings help search engines identify the most important information on your site. It makes it easier for people to find what they are looking for and is an effective way to build your niche.
19. Tweak your meta tags constantly to see if it helps with your search rankings
If you want to find out if your website is ranking well on search engines it is important that you experiment with the meta tags. It’s a little hard to see how this affects your rankings but if you make the updates and they don’t help then you can take them down. The problem is that it will be harder to get people to notice the changes in meta tags and make them since they are not as noticeable as images and text.
20. Most importantly – don’t forget to continuously internal link
Internal links are an effective way to get people to your site. All you need to do is add something that is related to the main topic on your page and make it a clickable link. This helps Google understand what pages are by utilising the anchor text in a link.
For more information on SEO check out our in depth SEO Content Writing Guide.