Today’s post will discuss the “why” of small business SEO. I addressed this in an earlier post, too, but I want to revisit it and talk more specifically to small businesses. Small business SEO provides benefits that are tangible, although they take a while to materialize.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization refers to the process of making changes to a website so that it will appear at or near the top of a search engine results page (SERP).
The general rule is that the higher your rankings, the more traffic comes to your site. Whether you are a blogger, businessperson, or sell services, this increase in traffic generates more pages read, more items sold, and more services contracted.
Why do you want to rank highly on the major search engines? It is simple.
Surprisingly, bigger businesses do not always rank better. If you are in a highly competitive market, you will have to fight to rank consistently near the top on results pages. If you are in a niche market, it is actually easier to rank well as a small business.
In earlier articles, I have discussed the “how” of SEO. If you want to learn about search engines, keywords, how to apply keywords to your website design or blog posts, or how to optimize your site, then please click the links to those pages.
How SEO Helps Your Small Business Get Found Online
Here is an overview of how SEO helps your small business.
You may use the word pedicure. Your potential clients may be using foot treatment, foot soak, or pedi to search for services. You want to make sure your website copy, title tags, meta descriptions, and alt tags all show this other usage.
Knowledge is power and can give you an edge over your competitors. Does the title of your site or blog reflect the content? I admit, this last one is a tough one, especially when you want to pick and use a unique name that stands out.
- Website structure
Your website architecture may make sense to you, especially if you built it. But does it make sense to your potential readers and customers?
Do you give easy access to the information they need on the site? Is it visually interesting and easy to navigate? Do you link to good quality sites or are you linking to junk? Do you have good quality sites linking to you, or are you being linked to by poor quality sites?
- Technical optimization
Does your site load quickly? Is it secure? Is the code clean? Does it pass a check by the W3C for HTML and CSS?
Do you have any broken links? Do you need to set up redirects for pages that no longer exist that have links pointing at them from elsewhere? Are your images compressed? Do they load quickly and easily?
Do you add content regularly? Is your site stagnant? Do you give crawlers and users a reason to return to your site?
Are you taking advantage of the smart phone revolution?
Google Is Not the Only Important Search Engine
Is your business or blog present and searchable via mini-search engines such as Facebook, Yelp, Porch, LinkedIn, or a professional site such as the Home Builders Association, the Chamber of Commerce or your own professional organization?
People aren’t always searching on the web for small business products and services via Google. Sometimes they are searching via a specific app on their smart phone.
You need to adjust your marketing to this shift in searching.
So how does this list above help your small business? If you can answer those questions and add them into your website and online presence, you will build and improve your SERP rankings.
Small Business SEO Tips to Get Found Online
Here are a few general tips to improve your SEO as you build out your website and microsites.
- Know your target market. Know your customers and clients. Understand their problems and concerns. What problem are you solving for them? What pain points does your business address? Why should they buy from you?
So what? What are you doing for them?
If you can answer those, then you can decide what content to create. For example, if you are a concrete contractor, write blog posts discussing how your concrete patios make for great entertainment and party spaces. Or, that your patios provide an extra room for the family.
- Use the way of speaking your clients use. For example, I write one way for my academic articles and another way for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small businesses. Again, this comes back to point #1, above. Know your market.
- Create value. Perhaps you are constantly asked the same questions by clients or by friends and family. You can repeat the same response over and over again…or you can create a blog post about it and point people there.
This sets you up as an authority, and drives traffic to your site through links and visits. It also gives you an opportunity to help people solve a problem without having to give up huge amounts of your precious time.
- Add value. Charge what you are worth. But always make sure you are worth what you charge. The value you add is worth its weight in gold. This value and good quality will lead to recommendations and more clients and work for your small business.
- Be active outside of your website. We all have a scarce resource — time. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it might be better to post two quality blog articles a month. Then take the time not having a weekly blog post to write saves you and be active on social sites.
Other Small Business SEO Tips to Get Found Online
As I mentioned above, also be sure to put yourself on microsites. Those good quality links will add to your PageRank, so long as you are active on those sites.
Share your knowledge online, and answer questions. Giving comes back to you in the form of setting yourself up as a domain expert.
A client once told me, ‘Your company’s rates are twice what everyone else’s are, but your consultants do it right the first time and don’t dawdle . . . so we actually pay less.’ My response, ‘That’s why we only hire professionals.’ —By Xprtly – Experts By The Minute
Also, combine your loves. If you love your Jeep and own a detail shop, spend time on the Jeep Forums helping other Jeep owners maintain their cars.
Building traffic to a website can take time. If you post good content over time, and have a solidly built website, then you will eventually build an audience.
What if you want that traffic NOW?
Write this down: “Just build a great website.” Don’t cheat.
Good SEO is like eating healthy. When you eat nutritiously you feel better, and the odds of you becoming sick or ill are reduced. Yet how do you prove this?
If you eat junk food, though, the results are noticeable. Small business SEO is like eating healthy. Easy to say in theory, hard to do well and consistently in practice.
Hiring a Small Business SEO Professional
It is difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee results. The most knowledgeable professional can follow all best practices to optimize your site.
Yet, you will not see results for at least 4-6 months. You may not see results at all. Why can we not guarantee results? Because we have no control over search engine algorithms.
(We agree. It’s a great gig if you can get it!)
As with any professional services, do your due diligence. Ask for referrals. Do a bit of research yourself to understand what your small business SEO expert can and cannot offer you.
The search engine companies discourage this, and absolute results are not within the control of a company or individual, not matter how skillful.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
We have compiled a great set of SEO tips for those of you who want to learn SEO or who cannot yet afford a reputable small business SEO professional.
You can also attend our weekly “SEO Thursdays” Periscope (1 PM EST/10 AM PST). There you can ask questions and we will answer live.
You can leave comments or questions on the blog post articles. You can also make a coffee date with Jewel Ward to chat online or in person.
Some Last Thoughts on Small Business SEO
We recommend these sites and articles.
- Impact Zone’s SEO blog posts: SEO DIY Tips and Tricks.
- Google’s Webmaster Advice
- Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- HubSpot’s Guide for On-Page SEO Management
- Yoast’s General SEO
- O’Reilly Media’s The Art of SEO, 3rd Edition Mastering Search Engine Optimization
SEO performed by a qualified professional is an investment that will provide returns in the form of greater traffic, sales, and rankings.
Professional SEO will give a ensure an improvement in your search engine results rankings. How much and how soon, though, that is difficult to guarantee.
I hope you found this post useful. Whether or not you choose to DIY or go with our professional services for your small business, Good Luck!
If you would like to get found online, work with me on your small business SEO.