Before the internet really hit its stride, personal branding was mainly an in-person exercise. Back then, building your own personal brand meant carefully shaping a “real-world” persona while continually reinforcing that image through traditional marketing channels (print, TV, radio, etc.), a painstaking journey that sometimes took years and countless resources. Now, personal branding is virtually […]
Following a few SEO for small businesses tips could save your digital marketing strategy – and get your brand to the top of Google.
Search engine optimization (SEO) remains one of the most important elements of any digital marketing strategy.
Whether your goal is to market a new product, increase brand awareness or improve visibility across search engines, SEO provides the essential backbone supporting that effort and getting your message onto Google’s radar.
It’s not only what gets your website and content to rank but also how you maximize brand relevance, authority, and impact for key local search results.
For small business owners, getting SEO right is key to reaching customers and standing out from other local businesses.
But with so many Google updates and SEO best practices to consider, it can be challenging to sort through the noise and build the small business SEO strategy that positions your brand for page 1 success.
To make things a little easier, I’ve identified 7 practical SEO tips I believe can help small businesses shape and execute a more effective local business optimization strategy.
Working these SEO tools into your digital marketing plans, at least over time, can help provide the boost you need to compete and potentially thrive in local search.
1. Claim or create your Google business profile
The Google business profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is one of Google’s most prominent search features, taking up a wide swath of search engine real estate during every branded search.
Owned and offered by Google, your Google business profile is now one of the best opportunities out there to boost your small business SEO and build credibility with your customers.
If you’re seeking a lift in Google search results and Google Maps, claiming this listing is an essential first step, if not one of the easiest.
Google generally creates a business profile for local businesses automatically, and usually within a year or so of the business start date. This is done after Google bots have crawled your website and verified your brand’s authenticity.
Once Google generates your small business listing, you can take steps to claim and optimize it. To do so:
- Revise and add listing info to ensure your business description, services/offerings, contact info, and business website URL are accurate and up-to-date.
- Upload videos and photos that feature your business and team in a positive and professional light.
- Locate and respond to any Google reviews you may have and develop a review response strategy for managing future reviews quickly and professionally.*
*It’s crucial to monitor and manage your Google My Business listing regularly. Doing so allows you to ensure your business info is up to date, as well as to track and respond to new reviews fast.
If Google has yet to create a profile listing for your small business, you can kickstart the process by visiting Google’s Business Profile Manager and entering your info. Once verified, Google will create a profile you can update and optimize to fit your goals.
2. Claim and optimize other business listings
Now that your Google profile is optimized, it’s time to locate your business listings on other high-value business directories across the web. These include any local business pages that tend to rank well in search engine results, such as Yelp, Facebook, Yahoo, Better Business Bureau, and any niche review sites that impact your business and industry.
Taking control of your business listings on Yelp and Facebook is a great way to supplement and pump up your local SEO efforts. Search engines regard these sites as high-authority and trustworthy, which tends to land them in or near the top 5 results for important local search queries.
More than 70% of consumers click on results in the top 5. Optimizing these well-positioned profiles with accurate details – and an updated small business website URL – provides an excellent opportunity to drive traffic to your business while boosting your on-page SEO.
For most of these sites, claiming and optimizing your small business page is pretty straightforward. Most provide a user-friendly portal to verify page ownership and make changes that reflect well on your brand.
Some of the top business directories small businesses should put on their profile claiming checklist include:
3. Use keyword research to identify target search phrases
What are your customers looking for? Now that you’ve optimized local business listings, you’re ready to identify the local search phrases your target audience uses to find your offerings – and determine which phrases to attack in your small business SEO strategy.
You can start by scouring first-page SERPs (search engine results pages) related to your services. This allows you to identify the headlines, articles, and types of content that typically perform well for competitors, as well as areas where your website and content are falling behind.
Be sure to note any sizable local search gaps between your site and others as you work through the keyword research process.
Free SEO tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and others can help through the research process and make things a little easier. Though limited in many cases, such tools can provide a better look at your site’s online performance and allow you to compare with competitor sites for important industry terms.
Once you’ve located important target keywords, you can begin to incorporate those terms throughout your website. This can include service pages, blog posts, and FAQ pages that could use an SEO jolt.*
*When adding a target keyword to existing content, it’s vital to stick to content marketing best practices. This means avoiding things like keyword stuffing, which can earn Google’s wrath and hurt your local SEO efforts.
4. Get more customer feedback
More than eight of every ten local searchers consult online reviews before buying from your business. That’s more than 80%! This says a lot about the importance of reviews in today’s small business marketplace. It also shows why it’s so important to have a visible and robust review presence shining a white-hot spotlight on your brand and products online.
If you’re a small business owner, having positive reviews provides a distinct and powerful advantage in local search. But how do you get those reviews in the first place?
Of course, obtaining positive feedback begins by providing a positive customer experience. After that, it’s a matter of making the process of leaving a review as easy and hassle-free as possible.
For instance, requesting reviews at the point of purchase can be an effective way to solicit feedback and strike while the iron is hot. Providing easy-access links to review portals on receipts and follow-up emails can also help eliminate obstacles and simplify new review generation.
And by responding to reviews regularly, you demonstrate the willingness to engage with customers directly, showing prospects you value their feedback while encouraging happy customers to speak up.
5. Generate new targeted content
Using the targeted keywords identified during keyword research, you can generate new website pages, blog posts, and even third-party guest posts (off-page SEO) optimized for local search.
This fresh, keyword-focused content serves several important purposes. It gives you the opportunity to:
- Provide your web pages and website a lift in local search, improving your ranking for key industry search phrases while driving more website traffic to your brand.
- Position your small business as a trusted resource among key segments of the local population.
- Increase brand awareness and authority across your local industry
- Allowing you to expand your audience and reach motivated local buyers at a vital leg in the buyer’s journey.
- Add more positive assets to the search engine mix, replacing negative reviews, news, and search results with content you control.
While it takes some work, generating locally targeted content built around well-researched keywords is a great local SEO tool too powerful to ignore.
6. Optimize for mobile
Small business owners looking for a local SEO bump can’t afford to forget about mobile. Over 80% of customers who shop by smartphone perform local searches. And if your small business SEO doesn’t include a mobile-friendly website, those shoppers will ditch you for the competition in a hurry.
So, what do potential customers (and, by extension, search engines) consider a mobile-friendly business website? For starters, people expect a responsive, easy-to-navigate display, including intuitive page design and readable text that clearly points to what they’re searching for.
Additionally, customers want mobile-friendly content that’s easy to digest. Content that includes lists, images, clear subheadings, and boiled-down summaries tends to hold the customer’s attention the longest. This makes it much likelier and easier to nudge that potential buyer toward the finish line.
Of course, many small businesses don’t have web developers on staff, and the thought of optimizing a business site on your own can be intimidating. Fortunately, most platforms provide mobile-friendly features you can incorporate into your design, which can help to simplify the process.
7. Don’t forget about page structure
Claiming your business pages and creating fresh, optimized website content is great for SEO for small businesses. But while search engines appreciate the big things you’re doing, they also tend to reward the small – the icing-on-the-cake features that can put your pages and site over the top.
Altogether, these elements are known as page structure, and small businesses forget them at their own peril.
Page structure elements include the much-overlooked textual features that, when properly optimized, can turn your content into search engine sizzle. These include:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Headers (H1s and H2s)
Optimizing the meta description, title, and header(s) tags across each web page and blog post can provide the kick your site needs to outperform others, taking advantage of features your competitors may be ignoring.
Need help with small business SEO?
My team can help.
We offer unrivaled SEO expertise and SEO service to help your small business be its best on the web. Our comprehensive solutions are customized to meet your local business needs and get results that support your goals over the long term.