7 Quick and Easy SEO Tips for Small Businesses

Start off simple. If you’re new to SEO, that’s the best advice I can offer. Search engine optimization is an ongoing effort with many moving parts, and the payoffs are never immediate. But you don’t need to be an SEO guru to start moving the needle on your search engine rankings. Start with some simple tips to boost your SEO — and work at them consistently — and good things will happen.

Easy SEO TipsStart off simple.

If you’re new to SEO, that’s the best advice I can offer. Search engine optimization is an ongoing effort with many moving parts, and the payoffs are never immediate. But you don’t need to be an SEO guru to start moving the needle on your search engine rankings. Start with some simple tips to boost your SEO — and work at them consistently — and good things will happen.

Here are seven easy SEO tips that any small business owner can do. You don’t need to be a Web designer or have years of experience in marketing. Of course, you’ll want to learn more about SEO and expand your efforts as time goes on. Until then, these tips are more than enough to get you on your way.

1. Start a Blog

Content is king. That’s an old SEO adage that you’ll hear repeatedly if you hadn’t heard it already. Google’s algorithm is programmed to favor websites with unique, relevant content that’s highly useful to visitors.

Starting a blog is a great way to get useful content on your site. And there’s so much you can do with a blog. You can write about new products and industry trends, or you can engage your customers by offering helpful advice. Blog posts can help to establish your business as a local authority, and they can also be shared on social media to provide backlinks and positive social media signals — both of which are helpful for your website’s SEO.

Google’s search algorithms also favor websites with regularly updated content. Maintaining a blog serves this purpose. And if shoppers like what you have to say, they’ll be more likely to bookmark your site and return for future purchases.

2. Create a Google My Business Account

Creating a Google My Business profile allows your business to be shown in the local “maps” results of Google.com. If your business has walk-in customers, then that’s a big deal. Think about how many people use their smartphones to find nearby places to eat, shop and run errands. You can get an influx of new customers from the few minutes needed to start a Google My Business profile.

3. Start Building Backlinks

Building a network of backlinks (hyperlinks to your website from other sites) can establish your business as an authority in your field, resulting in a higher search ranking. To start building backlinks, create profiles for your business on sites such as Yelp, Bing Local and Foursquare. Build a company page on LinkedIn, and create a YouTube channel if you can offer informative or instructional videos — the possibilities are endless.

As you start profiles on different sites, remember to list your business information exactly as it’s listed in Google My Business. Doing so will boost your SEO efforts.

4. Get Your Titles, Headers and Meta Description Tags in Order

Titles and headers help Google determine which search terms are relevant for pages throughout your website. For example, if you owned a formalwear shop, then the wedding dress page should have the term “wedding dresses” in the page Title and a variation of that phrase in the <h1> header. The page Title is not visible on the page so you’ll need to view the source code to review your page Titles. The <h1> header is usually the main headline above the page content, and there should only be one, unique <h1> per page.

Like the page Titles, the meta description is also not visible on the page, but it does appear with your website in the search results. You can think of your Title and Meta Description like an advertisement in Google’s search results.

5. Ask Your Customers to Write Reviews

Reviews are helpful for small business SEO especially when they’re positive. Always ask your customers if they’ll post reviews to your Google My Business page or any other online review sites you’ve joined.

And really, you should create profiles on as many of these sites as possible. Angie’s List, Yelp and TripAdvisor are three of the most popular. Remember to make sure your name, address, and phone number (aka your NAP) on these sites match exactly with your Google My Business profile. As noted above, these citations can make a sizeable impact on your local SEO. Positive reviews can be even more impactful because they can lead to more prospects turning into customers.

6. Mention Your City and State

Boost your local SEO by frequently listing your company’s city and state throughout your website. Don’t overdo it, but putting this information in your meta tags, your home page <h1> header and throughout your content is helpful.

If you have a blog — which was one of the tips listed above — then articles pertaining to how your business is relevant to your city and region are also helpful. Mentions of your city and state can influence Google to favor your website in local search results.

7. Make Sure Your Site Works on Mobile

More people search Google nowadays using smartphones and tablets than desktops and laptops. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, then your mobile search engine ranking is likely to take a hit. Remember that Google’s algorithm is tuned to connect people with sites that offer good user experiences. A site that’s not optimized for mobile won’t display correctly and may not even function as intended.

WordPress and other online publishing tools offer free website templates that are ready for mobile users. So you’re probably in good shape if you use this kind of platform. However, you may need to enlist a Web developer to convert your site for mobile. While this could be expensive, it’s well worth the cost. Otherwise, you risk losing more than half of your potential online customers.

Conclusion

Getting started in SEO doesn’t have to be a big deal, and this guide proves it. Anything you can do to improve your SEO – even the small things – will pay off over time. Just be patient and don’t get overwhelmed. Keep your process simple, and learn new things when you can. Eventually, your quick-hitting efforts will snowball and your website will climb in the rankings.

Want more SEO tips?  Click here to get a copy of our Ultimate Local SEO Checklist.

A Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO for Small Businesses

By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of local SEO and how to improve your local search rankings. In this era of smartphones and mobile Internet usage, local SEO may be your greatest ally in expanding your reach online.

Local information is growing in importance when it comes to ranking highly in Google results.Just how critical is local SEO? Every second of the day, more than 40,000 people are making search queries on Google. Many are shopping for goods and services — where to get drinks with coworkers, where to drop off their dry-cleaning or where to pick up a new set of headphones. And half of those consumers who searched using their smartphones became customers of businesses they found online within a single day.

Clearly, ranking high in local search results is vital for small businesses with walk-in customers. And boosting the effectiveness of your local SEO isn’t even that hard! Unfortunately, many small business owners are behind the eight ball. Even business owners who’ve invested in general SEO over the past several years may not be up to speed on optimizing local SEO. Many of the tenants of national and local SEO are the same — you still need great content, a user-friendly website, solid performance and exposure to establish authority in your field — but local SEO requires signals and testimonials that solidify your business as a reputable local asset.

By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of local SEO and how to improve your local search rankings. In this era of smartphones and mobile Internet usage, local SEO may be your greatest ally in expanding your reach online.

Start a Google My Business Profile

First things first — create a Google My Business profile for your business.

Your Google My Business profile is the foundation of your local SEO efforts. For starters, you can define exactly how your contact information should ideally appear throughout the Web and social media. Second, a your profile allows your business to be shown on Google Maps, and that alone can bring many customers through your doors.

Google My Business is also associated with online citations and reviews, both of which can heavily influence the success of your local SEO efforts. We’ll go into greater detail on these in the next two sections.

Starting your Google My Business profile is easy. Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and set up an account. You’ll be asked for information about your business such as contact information, hours of operation, available payment options and more. You can even provide pictures and video clips to accompany your listing. Then all you have to do is verify your profile via mail or phone. That’s it. The service is free and ultimately helpful to your bottom line.

Check Your Citations

Citations are one of the most important factors in your local SEO ranking. A citation is any listing of your business name, address and phone number on other webpages or social media pages.

A general rule is more citations leads to a higher local search ranking. Google’s algorithms place even greater weight on citations listed on popular business portals such as Yelp and Angie’s List, so be sure to claim profiles on those sites, too. You can also check out inexpensive services like WhiteSpark and BrightLocal that can help you find sources for new citations.

One thing about citations — it’s critical that your citations exactly match your Google My Business listing. Make sure you keep your name, address, and phone number consistent across every single online citation.

Encourage Your Customers to Write Reviews

Google’s algorithms have evolved over the years to reward websites that provide great user experiences. That’s why positive reviews — both in quality and quantity — are so important for your local SEO efforts.

Positive reviews can be the difference in ranking on the first page or being invisible in the search results, especially in more competitive fields where consumers have more choices. That’s why you should always follow up on good customer experiences by asking for favorable reviews.

The most impactful reviews are those attached to your Google My Business profile. However, reviews on sites such as Yelp are also helpful.

Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

By now, you probably understand the importance of contact information in local SEO. To optimize your website for local SEO, make sure your contact info (again, exactly as it’s listed in Google My Business) is listed on your website. You should also add the city, state and/or zip code of your business to your website’s title tags. Also reference the city and state in your website content wherever it makes sense.

Fresh Insights in Selling to SMBs

Despite the attention given to large enterprise marketing, it’s small and medium businesses (SMB) where the bulk of marketing investments go. SMB is where there’s enough volume to do plenty of testing. Plus, you’ve got a tighter decision-making unit and shorter sales cycles. And you’ve got a lot of company

Despite the attention given to large enterprise marketing, it’s small and medium businesses (SMB) where the bulk of marketing investments go. SMB is where there’s enough volume to do plenty of testing. Plus, you’ve got a tighter decision-making unit and shorter sales cycles. And you’ve got a lot of company. Plenty of agencies, research firms, and other marketers are focused on SMB, and willing to share their insights. One new set comes from Bredin, Inc., a Boston-based agency that just published a new study on how SMBs buy today.

Kudos to Bredin for figuring out how to persuade 532 busy business owners to take a 15-minute survey online, in May 2014. Respondents were asked all kinds of questions about their buying, influences, media preferences, resources, the works. Here are the nuggets that were most revealing to me.

  • These buyers trust their peers more than any other information source, across the spectrum from awareness to researching product details to the buying decision.
  • They still rely on trade shows and events for product information. Second only to peers and colleagues.
  • They like print materials, for brochures, checklists, handbooks, case studies. When it comes to tablets, they expect to see quotes, order confirmations, videos, interactive tools, and presentations.
  • They want to hear from their vendors, regularly. Not just when they are ready to make a purchase. Encouraging, isn’t it?
  • They welcome email, phone and face-to-face contact from vendors in the period when they are researching, but not ready to buy-what we marketers call “nurturing.” But the number of nurturing contacts they want varies widely, from weekly, to monthly, to every six months.
  • Most of the time (74 percent), the business owner himself or herself is the person investigating the new products and solutions. And this is among businesses with up to 500 employees.
  • The vendor website is a top resource when conducting product research and honing in on a purchase decision.

What should marketers take away from these observations?

Thought Leadership: Establishing your executives and your company as trusted advisers in your field is hugely important in this market. This means networking, content marketing, PR outreach, speaking engagements, and trade/industry professional activities.

Block and Tackle: There are always shiny objects out there, but make sure you have the basics covered. A well-trained sales force, enabled with informative materials, both digital and print, email, phone and trade show support.

Content-rich Website: Intuitive navigation, clarity of design, benefit-oriented copy, loaded with explanatory tools, like case studies, product comparisons, testimonials, how-to guides, video demonstrations-this is how to attract and serve the SMB buyer.

This fresh data confirms my long-held view that business owners value the help they get from their vendors. Ours is a relationship of mutual benefit, as long as we do our part to help them solve their business problems.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.