In today's digital era, every business needs a strong online presence and visibility to stay competitive in the market.
Getting your voice lost in the swarming sea of websites is common, and if you want to bury something, bury it under Google’s second page.
But lifting your brand and waking it up from the dead is only possible with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO for small businesses is as important as that of a big brand to gain visibility organically without paying.
However, as a small business owner, lack of funds and time might prevent you from hiring an SEO agency or in-house SEO expert. But don’t worry, you have come to the right place where I will be sharing some strategies and SEO tips for small businesses.
From lifting the brand to targeting the right audience and increasing traffic to converting customers, the SEO strategy for small business works well for everyone.
Before I get into details, it is important to shed some light on search engine optimization.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of optimizing your website particularly content to gain higher rankings on Google and other search engines.
It involves everything from optimizing web copies and blogs with target keywords that people are searching for.
SEO also includes building a website that is user-friendly and responsive so that people can access your website on any device whether it be smartphone or laptop.
In addition, it involves listing your website on Google Business profile, building backlinks, getting social signals, including meta tags, image optimization, and so much more.
Let’s move on and find out some more SEO tips and strategy for small business to gain better visibility.
But before that, I would like to answer “is SEO worth it for small business”.
Finding answers to whether SEO is worth it for small businesses.
In a few words “Yes”, it is worth your time and effort and is considered to be a vital part of the online presence of small businesses.
But before that you need to address a few more questions to know whether SEO is worth it for your small business or not.
Before diving straight into making SEO strategies and implementing them, it is worth knowing whether there is any demand for what you sell or not.
If you are into local business, the answer is yes, because statistics state something surprising.
- 4 out of 5 consumers find local information through search engines (source).
- 76% of users who search for something nearby on their smartphone usually visit it within a day (source).
- 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase (source).
In simple words, if your local business is not showing up in the search results, you are losing much of the revenue which otherwise would generate a decent income.
The question is how to find whether there is any demand for what you sell or not.
Simply log into any keyword research tool such as Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner.
Enter your keyword and see its search volume of it.
The more the volume, the better it is.
However, there is also a great potential for zero search volume keywords.
But for now, you need to check the volume of keywords to get a rough idea about whether your product/service is in demand or not.
It is not always people who search for specific products or services.
Rather, they search for how to solve the problem they are currently facing.
For instance, you might search for a free tool that helps you find keyword volume and difficulty.
Assuming that you are new to digital marketing and don’t even know anything about it.
What would be your search query?
It would be the “best free tools to find keywords.”
Now if you are offering a free keyword tool to help people analyze competition and search volume, you can simply teach how to solve their problem.
After answering the above questions, you are now in a position to answer whether SEO is worth investing your time and money or not.
If yes, then continue reading the rest of the post as I am going to discuss everything in detail.
Let’s get started.
SEO for small business websites starts with a well-structured website to get started as it is the cornerstone for SEO.
A well-structured website helps Google understand how to crawl webpages and ultimately leads to boosting traffic, gaining ranking on major keywords, and driving sales.
As you might know that algorithms drive search engines.
When a user searches a query, these algorithms pick out the most relevant website catering to the user’s query and display results.
And that is why I mentioned before that your business website should be well structured to make it easier for Google and users to understand where to navigate and when.
If your existing website is not generating traffic or sales, you need to seriously consider implementing the right SEO strategy for small business.
Don’t waste your money on buying a new hosting and domain to create a website from scratch.
Remember, you are short of funds and can’t afford wasting valuable resources and time on creating something from scratch.
Here are a few suggestions I would like you to implement on your existing website.
- Headings and subheadings: Organize your main topics into headings and subheadings and optimize them with keywords. It will help spiders determine what your pages are about. Remember to use the H1 tag once followed by H2 and H3, which you can use multiple times.
- Titles and descriptions: Give all of your pages a title and description that accurately reflect the content. Make sure to use keywords.
- Internal links: Internal linking your web pages whether it be blog or anything related will help search crawlers to understand your website better. It also helps visitors to navigate and explore your website without juggling pages and posts.
- Outbound Links: Outbound links are important when implementing on-page SEO. Make sure to link to websites with high page and domain authority and add value to the page for readers to explore further information.
SEO strategy for small business involves analyzing your competitors.
The more deeply you analyze your competitors, the better you can plan SEO for small business.
Here’s what you need to do to analyze your competitors.
Look at your competitors and see which keywords they are ranking for.
Are they targeting low competition keywords or high competition keywords?
Dig deep to analyze keyword gaps and use those keywords to your benefit.
One of the tools you can use to analyze keyword gaps is Moz Keyword Explorer.
When analyzing your competitor’s SEO plan, make sure to list down all the meta tags they use on their website.
Install Chrome Extension like Meta SEO Inspector to retrieve information.
Once you have compiled, think of the way that would help you stand out from your competitor.
Backlink analysis will help you analyze your competitor’s strategy and types of links they build on high-authority websites.
Not only do you need to check what sites they are getting backlinks from, but also find what type of anchor texts they are using to rank keywords.
Content is king and without quality content, you will not see any positive results from your SEO strategy.
Analyze what type of content your competitors are publishing on their blog.
It can be either informational, how to, commercial, guides, or roundup posts.
Also, don’t forget to check the average word count they are publishing.
Are they only writing SEO optimized blogs or using other formats as well such as video, podcast, or infographics.
After analyzing content, you will better understand what to do differently and how to beat competitors.
Every page and blog on your website should be friendly and include target keywords.
It also helps in maintaining your website’s hierarchy consistent when you add new pages, write blog posts, or other internal pages.
Here are some tips to make an SEO friendly URL:
Search Engine Optimization without picking the right keywords is not possible.
Especially when picking the right keywords, make sure to choose long tail keywords that people are searching for. Optimize your pages with keywords that are being searched in your niche by your target audience. Write blogs related to search queries and optimize it in your blog to get organic traffic.
High volume and low competition keywords will bring the results quickly instead of going for tougher ones. Google Keyword planner is one of the best free keyword research tools to help you analyze competition and volume.
However, I also use other tools like SEO Surfer or WhatsMySerp for keyword research to get volume and related terms.
To effectively implement SEO for small business websites, you must also perform a comprehensive competitor analysis. It includes everything from checking their backlinks to keyword optimization, blogs to on-page and off-page SEO strategies.
I usually try to find the keyword gaps and optimize my existing and new content with those keywords.
It's usually a good idea to check your competitor's Google My Business NAP results.
Simply start by searching the business's name, which will display a GMB panel on the right side of your window.
Take a close look at the category under which they appear, usually below the review stars.
Select view page source by right-clicking in the white area next to reviews and business name.
HTML code page will appear.
Now press Ctrl + F on your PC to search for the primary category you saw under the reviews.
Go to the third iteration of the category, which will be shown after the business name and the word “Null”.
You will see all other categories that were selected by the competitors you searched for.
Don’t copy the category used by them, ranking higher than you on specific keywords.
You will notice that they have a category that matches the keyword.
Make sure to add the category to your listing and keep in mind it must be a related category.
Creating content on a regular basis is one of the most effective SEO tips for local and small businesses.
It is an on-going process that requires you to create content people are searching for.
Normally 3-4 blogs per week will help you boost your site’s credibility and ranking.
Whether you are selling SaaS products or offering some kind of service, creating helpful and useful content is one of the Google top ranking factors.
In the digital age, blog is a common term everyone knows and I assume you are one of them. So if you want to gain traction organically, make sure to write SEO-optimized blogs that are user-friendly.
However, ensure not to use keywords excessively and write for readers instead of search engines. My personal Formula is to write 70% for humans and 30% for search engines.
Whether you are writing short-form content or long-form content, the purpose should be to serve readers, and their problems and give solutions.
Another important on-page SEO tip for small businesses is adding alt text to all the images on the website.
The purpose of adding alt text is to inform Google, what the image is all about.
Some of the traffic to your website is driven by image results, which is why you can’t ignore adding image alt text, and it also contributes well to your website's on-page SEO optimization.
Most webmasters add a primary or secondary keyword, which is not at all acceptable by Google.
Make sure to follow the tips below for perfect Alt text:
Mobile responsive websites are considered as a major ranking factor in the sight of Google.
As most people browse websites on smartphones or tablets, choosing a theme and design that is readable and easy to navigate on mobile is important.
If you are using WordPress builder for your website, you can find thousands of mobile responsive themes that can help you with mobile responsiveness from the initial phase of your website design. Or you can hire an experienced web designer to do the job for you.
However, to verify whether your website is responsive or not, go to Google Mobile Friendly test tool to test your website.
Another way to test your website responsiveness is to access your website on your smartphone.
If you find clutter and messed up menu, text, and images, it surely needs some fixes.
Try to fix the issue as early as possible especially if you are running a small e-commerce website.
It could result in abandoning cart, high bounce rate, and no conversion.
Site speed is another SEO ranking factor that Google considers when placing websites on top results.
The probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds (Source)
Whether your website is accessed through a smart device or desktop/laptop, your website must load quickly.
Google is more vigilant about user experience; if your site loads slowly, it will take it negatively.
Make sure to check your website speed often, and if your website is taking more time, follow the below steps.
The majority of small businesses choose cheap and shared hosting to save money.
However, the fact is that cheap hosting leads to poor performance of your website, which includes slow loading speed.
The reason is that they share resources and data space with other websites, leading to server overloading.
But if you choose performance optimized hosting, you will get dedicated space, resulting in optimal speed and performance.
Images are worth a thousand words.
But large image files can result in poor performance and slow loading speed.
The best way to avoid slow speed issues is to compress and optimize images.
If you manage a WordPress website, you can install a handful of plugins to deal with image optimization.
Some of the best plugins to optimize images on WordPress includes:
Caching your web pages allows you to speed up your website.
It allows webpages to reduce Time to First Byte (TTFB), by requiring the server to use minimal resources to load the webpage.
You can cache your web pages in numerous ways, but the easy way to cache your web pages is to install a plugin.
W3 Total Cache is one of the best free WordPress plugins to help you cache your web pages quickly and easily.
Another great plugin to cache web pages is by installing WP Rocket.
The tool is handy and allows you to improve performance up to 80% and reduce the page load speed.
Plugins on your WordPress website are good to add extra functionality.
However, installing too many plugins can also cause slower loading speed of your website.
Moreover, plugins without any updates from developers are vulnerable to security threats and can cause performance issues.
Make sure to install only necessary plugins and delete the unwanted ones or simply deactivate if you need it in the future.
Technical SEO is the process of website optimization to allow search engine spiders crawl and index your website.
In this section, I am going to discuss the best technical SEO tips for small and local businesses.
Secure Sockets Layer or SSL allows you to secure your website from attacks and malwares.
In 2014, Google made it compulsory for webmasters to use HTTPS everywhere and were given preference over non-secure ones.
To identify whether your website is using SSL or not is to check if the URL starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP.
Most of the web hosting companies offer SSL plans on a yearly basis, but some are offering it for free.
No matter what you choose, it is important to have on your website to make it secure and reliable in the eyes of Google and visitors.
Creating an XML sitemap is one of the key SEO tips for small businesses.
It is a file you upload on your website, which helps search engines understand your website before crawling it. Think of it as a map that allows search engines to know where each page exists.
Sitemap of any website also tells about when the post was published, how frequently it is updated, and when was it last modified.
AMP allows your website to speed up content delivery on mobile devices.
It is backed by Google and uses special code called AMP HTML.
AMP versions of your website load quickly on smartphones and tablets by taking the code and content down to the lowest level, which leaves only videos, images, and text intact, but inactivating forms, scripts, and comments.
Make sure to enable AMP to get yourself a special place on search results.
Schema Markup is also an important part of technical SEO for small business websites.
It is a process of customizing web pages as it should appear on search engines.
You might have come across search results on Google showing star ratings.
Or in some cases, you might have come across search results showing business hours, services offered, and recipes.
All of these search results are due to schema markup.
If you want to add schema markup to your website, you can go to schema.org.
rel=canonical tags are often used on websites with similar content on two different pages.
The tag lets search engines know which page’s content is the most important.
You can use this tag when you have a blog falling in multiple categories or product in multiple categories.
As you may know SEO only works when you have the right data.
For instance, if you want to track the performance and position of your latest blog, you might not be able to analyze without tools.
Google Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are free to use and help you retrieve data about your website.
Moreover, these tools also serve as a means to crawl your new website, index pages and posts, and point out errors on your website.
After launching your website, it is important to submit XML sitemap to both of these tools to help them crawl and retrieve results.
Along with indexing and crawling, these tools also help you analyze website’s performance such as keyword positions, impressions, clicks, and errors.
And if spammy links back your website, you can simply use these tools to disavow those links.
Robots.txt is a file that tells Google and other search engine crawlers about the pages and files allowed and not allowed to crawl.
It is mostly used to prevent particular sections of your website from being crawled.
However, robots.txt file is not used to deindex the webpage or stop it from appearing from search engine results.
If you want to check whether robots.txt files is on your site or not, simply type:
If there is no robots.txt file, you need to create one.
Several WordPress plugins like Yoast allow you to create and edit robots.txt file.
However, if you are using other CMS, you might need to create robots.txt file manually and upload it to your root domain.
Up till now I have covered almost all aspects of on-page SEO for small business websites.
Apart from on-page SEO, off-page SEO also plays a pivotal role in boosting your website’s traffic and ranking higher on search engines.
Off-page SEO for small business websites includes all the activities done outside your website to rank higher on search engines.
It involves all the activities including link building, social signals, social bookmarking, and writing for publications.
Here are some of the tips to do off-page SEO for small businesses.
Social media marketing is one of the important aspects of off-page SEO.
According to research, people spend more time on social media website presently as compared to few years ago (source)
The purpose of social media marketing is to stay in close contact with target audience and generating clicks from multiple IPs send positive signals to Google.
If you are publishing quality reader friendly content, it may get a lot of shares across social networks and expand the reach.
Make sure to invest some time and effort in social media marketing for better rankings.
Social bookmarking websites are a great way to get visitors on your website and increase traffic.
Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Delicious are some of the top bookmarking websites.
If you are using social bookmarking technique for off-page SEO of small business, make sure to write captivating and quality content and tagline.
Link building is an effective off-page technique to gain traction through promoting links on other high authority websites and gaining high rankings on search engines.
However, link building should be done after analyzing the website’s authority, relevance, and domain authority.
For instance, if you are in a health niche and your link is promoted on pet sites, your link building activity is just a waste.
Link building works on trial and error, so don’t avoid taking risks.
But make sure you are not making spammy links to cheat search engines because your site may get a hard hit in the future.
It is not less than an achievement when your brand is being discussed and mentioned on various forums, social media sites, and other high-authority websites.
Social mentions play a key role in giving signals to search engines that people are talking about your brand.
The best way to get brand mentions is to engage with audiences on different platforms, especially social media.
Higher engagement with target audience results in increased brand mentions.
Make sure not to ignore your potential customers and keep an eye on their queries and problems.
With the passage of time, there is an increased number of websites and blogs.
Some of the blogs are open to guest posting, where you can publish articles and get a backlink.
The best way to approach guest posting is to find high-authority websites in your niche.
Once you come up with a list of guest posting websites, you can check the contact info to reach them out.
Most of the guest posting websites charge money, while some are offering free of cost.
No matter whether you go for paid guest posting or free one, make sure to check the website's stats such as amount of traffic, niche, origin of traffic, and authority.
When it comes to SEO for small and local businesses, you have to wait patiently to see the results.
There is no hard and fast rule as to when you will gain higher ranking on search engines and by which method.
At times, you will see upward ranking just by simply changing the structure of your website and improving website speed. But it is important to know that every aspect of SEO is important, especially when we are entering 2023 and the SEO space is becoming more and more competitive.
Sometimes, you might see your website ranking on top for some keywords just by creating high-quality backlinks.
However, following all the SEO tips for small businesses shared in this guide, whether off-page or on-page will surely prove to be fruitful in the future.
All it requires is patience, consistency, and testing.