Search engine optimization is a long-term investment. It takes time, resources, and may require strategy changes. Despite this, by the year 2020, companies will be spending $80 billion on SEO. That is a mind-boggling number. Justifying search optimization can be a difficult decision for small businesses. There isn’t always a lot of room in budgets to do SEO properly. And going with cheap search engine optimization agencies may do more harm than good. Today I am going to share with you a few things you can do right now, to start on your small business SEO.
Understand SEO Before Implementing it
Many of the difficulties that arise with trying to optimize your website come from a misunderstanding of how SEO works. Getting on the first page of Google often times is harder than it sounds. And when it comes to links building, it is not as simple as signing up with online directories. All it takes to dispel SEO myths is a little research.
Much of what I have learned about optimizing for search has come through reading. Each week, I check in with blogs from Moz, Yoast, and Search Engine Land. All of which are leaders when it comes to SEO. There are also many guides that have been published to get your started on conducted SEO. Simply doing a quick search will pop up many.
If you don’t have time to go in-depth into SEO, at least become familiar with some of the terms and facets. As a small business, this can be difficult, especially, when you are busy working with clients or trying to obtain new ones. However, taking the time to understand SEO better will pay off in the long run. At the very least, this will equip you to speak knowledgeably about it when looking to hire an SEO agency.
Sign Up for Webmaster Tools
Setting up accounts with the webmaster tools for search engines is one of the best ways to track how your website is doing on search. It is a must for small businesses that want to do SEO. This includes tools such as Bing Webmaster Tools as well as Google Search Console. Read this post for more details on how to get started.
As part of this set-up, you’ll also want to get a Google My Business page. This will help your company appear in local search results. With a Google My Business page, you can post pictures of your office, hours open, days of the week open, and what types of services you offer. Plus, there are analytics that go along with this to help you understand how often you are showing up in search results.
Doing Keyword Research
How will you be able to improve your rank on search engines if you don’t know which search terms you want to rank for? This is why it is important to conduct keyword research. Keyword research shows you what terms your audience is using. There are many tools to help you get started. I recommend using SEMrush. Their keyword research tool helps you see which questions are being asked around key terms. In addition, using Google’s related search terms at the bottom of the page can help you see what other people search in relation to your term.
Once you have a good list of terms you want to rank for, organize them into groups. You can sort them by geography, targeted page, search volume, difficutly, priority, or even PPC cost. Having these words before will help you to see which words you want to focus on improving your rank. In some cases, keyword research may also help small businesses fine tune their offering or products by identifying specific aspects of focus.
Creating Web Pages
For each of the relevant search terms, you need to create a page. As an example, if you wanted to rank your archery website for terms such as longbow, cross bow, or compound bow, you would need to create a page for each of those. Additionally, having material such as blog posts, white papers, or landing pages for downloadable webinars can also help the terms to rank well.
Having a URL Structure That Makes Sense
Website structure is very important. Not only for helping your users navigate through your website, but also in helping search engines crawl your site. Keep it logical. Here is an example:
If you have WordPress, this is made easy by going into the setting tab and adjusting the permalink structure.
Check Indexed Web Pages
Typing in site:yourURL as a search pops up all the web pages that have been indexed by that specific search engine. If your website has 100 pages, you’ll want to look for 100 search results. When the number is roughly around the number of pages you have, you are doing well. If the number is less than the number of pages you have, you’ll need to investigate why. This can be done via the webmaster tools. Check for errors in indexability. Should the number be higher than than the number of pages you have, you’ll also want to check to see if there are extra pages that need to be deleted.
Build Content for People, Not Search Engines
In the process of not doing SEO, you are doing SEO. Google and other search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to sort out those who just want to rank well. Search engines want to return results that are the most relevant to the people searching. If you over optimize for search engines and don’t fulfill user requests, your rankings will sink. So, in order to rank well, you need to know your audience. You need to know what types of content they like, what types of questions they have, and what types of products they like. This will allow you to serve relevant material. Therefore, if your customers like your website, so will search engines.
As a good measure, review the titles and meta descriptions of your web pages. Make sure they are inviting and entice the reading to further learn about your product or offering. Then check the copy of the web page itself.
Small businesses naturally deliver great customer service. Channel that great customer service into your content and website and you will naturally have good SEO rankings.
Small Business SEO for Small Businesses
These are just a few of the basic things a small business can do to begin working on their SEO. There are many other things that can help such as link building, optimizing for local search by streamlining NAP, and performing a site audit. Stitch Writing is a company that helps small businesses with their SEO. As a small business itself, we understand what it takes to improve your rankings. If you’d like to learn more, please check out our SEO page, or feel free to contact us.