SEO Tips for Small Businesses - The Definitive 2022 Guide
Optimize your website and expand your small business's visibility.
When you’re running a small business, it’s vital that your company appears on “page 1” of search results. Regardless of the browser being used, whether Google, Firefox, or Internet Explorer, your website needs to be easy to find after a quick internet search. But without some work to optimize your website, it isn’t going to magically appear on the first page of search results. If you are not sure why appearing on the first page of search results is important, consider how often you personally find yourself seeking results from page 2.
This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play as a critical part of your overall marketing strategy.
You’ve likely heard of SEO, but what exactly is it? How does it benefit your small business? And how do you create your own SEO strategy?
In our SEO Tips for Small Businesses - The Definitive Guide, we do a deep dive into all things SEO. First, we’ll discuss SEO and how it can help you grow your small business. Then, we’ll explain some easy ways to start implementing an SEO strategy of your own.
What is SEO?
To start, SEO is the process of enhancing your website to help it appear at the top (or near the top) of a search engine results page like Google. But as a small business owner, you don’t want your website to appear in just any search results; you want your website to show up when a user types in a query associated with your business, products, or services.
For instance, if you own an auto repair shop, your page should pop up for relevant searches related to “auto repair,” “car repairs,” and “auto shops,” so that users will find your business right away. But you certainly don’t want to show up in irrelevant searches like “dogs” or “ice cream shops,” as those queries have nothing to do with your business.
You see, when your website ranks in a high position on the search results page for relevant searches, you’re more likely to attract the right kind of visitors to your business, as in, those looking for what your business offers.
In addition to attracting visitors who are actually interested in your services, there are countless other benefits of SEO for small businesses. For example, SEO can help:
- Increase traffic to your site
- Build your authority
- Improve your brand awareness
- Weed out the competition
- Enhance the user experience on your website
Implementing an SEO strategy for your small business isn’t difficult, but it does require some time and patience. Below, we’ve listed 11 helpful SEO tips for small businesses.
1. Learn More about Keyword Research
When it comes to the best SEO for small business practices, we recommend getting a better understanding of keyword research. This involves determining which words or phrases (AKA keywords) users are typing into search engines to find your business.
But before doing any research, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the four types of search intent, which involve why a user is entering a specific search in the first place.
- Informational: This search intent covers who, where, what, when, or why. For instance, the user might want to know what your small business specializes in or where it is physically located.
- Navigational: The intent behind this search is to find a specific website location, such as a login page or blog post, rather than typing in that page’s entire URL. In this case, the user may type in the name of your small business with the hopes of landing on your home page.
- Commercial: Users with commercial search intent are interested in learning more about something with the intent to buy in the future. For example, it could include search inquiries related to product reviews and ratings.
- Transactional: This search intent indicates that the user is ready to make a purchase or perform an action right now. The user might include search words like “buy,” “subscribe,” or “sale,” or the product’s specific name or category.
Next, it’s time to learn more about some terms related to keywords:
- Focus keywords: These are the specific keywords you want your page to rank high up on the results page for when a user types them into the search engine. For example, if your small business repairs cars in Southern California, your focus keyword might be “San Diego auto repair shop.”
- Broad-match keywords: This type of keyword could yield a wide range of matches that may not be specific enough to make your business show up in the organic search results. In the case of your auto repair shop, the words “auto repair” or “cars” would likely be considered broad-match keywords.
- Long-tail keywords: These keywords refer to longer phrases or even full sentences that include more words for a more specific search. For instance, “auto repair shop near me in La Jolla, San Diego” is a long-tail keyword when compared to the simpler “auto repair” or “cars” terms.
- Search volume: This refers to how many searches there are for a specific keyword. If one keyword only has a search volume of 10 while the other is 100, you’ll likely want to go with the option that is searched more often.
- Competition: Some keywords are more competitive than others, making it more difficult for your page to rank for that keyword because of other competing websites. Understanding the competition can help you pinpoint relevant keywords within your reach.
Once you better understand the types of search intent and keyword terminology, you can start doing your own keyword research.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
Begin making a list of keywords you associate with your small business. Consider both broad-match and long-tail keywords that your users might enter to find your small business, and think about each area of search intent. What would users type in to find your business hours? And how would that differ from if they were ready to purchase your products or services?
For more inspiration and guidance, do a Google search with these terms to see what kind of results come up. Check out the competition and look into suggested searches in the search bar or at the bottom of the page results. Don’t miss the People Also Ask section, which features common questions related to the keywords you enter.
There are also various tools you can use to further brainstorm and narrow down your keyword list. We suggest using free options like Google Ads keyword planner, AnswerThePublic, and Ubersuggest, but there are also several helpful paid marketing tools available, too, such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, and Wordtracker.
After finalizing your keyword list, you’re ready to move on to your on-page SEO approach.
3. Optimize Your On-Page SEO
A big part of implementing SEO for business growth involves identifying areas where you can improve.
Using the keyword list you brainstormed, do a Google search to see how your website performs. Is your website showing up on the first page? Who are your competitors? And are they outranking your page? This kind of information can help you determine the strength of your current SEO strategy and inform you on ways you can improve your on-page SEO.
But let’s back up a minute. What exactly is on-page SEO again? It’s the practice of optimizing your web pages so that your website appears high in the organic (not paid advertisement) search results when users type in relevant keywords. To achieve this, you need to ensure these keywords and phrases are included in your website content.
You can assess your current on-page copy using these tactics:
- Include keywords Headlines (aka “H1” titles) when appropriate.
- Analyze your page title tags and meta descriptions, and incorporate target keywords. Make sure each one is unique, catchy, and short (under 160 characters).
- Determine if your website copy mentions your keywords and discusses relevant topics.
- Optimize your images. This includes compressing them into smaller file sizes and including alt-texts with keywords.
Adding relevant keywords to your content is a great SEO tip for small businesses, but do realize there’s a big difference between incorporating them naturally and overstuffing. Forcing in keywords just for the sake of ranking can actually do more harm than good. Not only can it put off your readers, but Google might even dock you for doing so. If your content sounds robotic, awkward, or repetitive, it’s a sure sign you ought to scale back on your keyword usage.
4. Get Technical
Stay with us here; it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty side of things: technical SEO. It’s not hard, but it does have a slight learning curve.
The following are a few steps you can take when tackling technical SEO.
CREATE A SITEMAP
A sitemap is another key to your SEO rankings. Much like a floorplan, a sitemap lays out all the important pages of your website and tells the search engine where to find them. The search engine then knows what pages of your site to crawl and index, helping to push your pages to the top of the search results for relevant queries.
But for this to happen, you must first create a sitemap and submit it to Google. Whether you’re looking to automatically or manually build your sitemap, craft and submit it with the Google Search Console tool.
TRACK DOWN BROKEN LINKS & PAGES
Broken links and pages are a big no-no when it comes to strong-performing websites. You already know how frustrating it is when you hit a 404 error, so you can only imagine how your users will feel if they can’t access your content. And guess what? Google and other search engines don’t like them either! That’s why it’s important to fix or remove broken links and pages.
Aside from randomly coming across them in your searches, there are other ways to identify these pages. For one, Screaming Frog is a free tool that can help you track down dead or broken links. However, if it’s an especially big undertaking or you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always hire someone more familiar with this type of work and have them track and fix these links for you.
IDENTIFY POOR PERFORMING PAGES
If your website has pages that aren’t performing well, what’s the point of keeping them around? They’re just dead weight that could potentially ding your site in the eyes of Google.
Once you identify the pages that aren’t doing you any favors, you have a couple of options. One, you could refresh and revamp the content, making it more valuable to your users. Or two, you could redirect the page to a stronger, better-performing page.
IMPROVE THE USER EXPERIENCE
Above all, you want a user-friendly website. This makes both your users and Google happy. How do you achieve user-friendly status? You can achieve this by optimizing your website for both desktop and mobile devices, and by assessing your Core Web Vitals, which measures your site’s loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability.
5. Pay Attention to Your Content Marketing Strategy
Yes, keywords play a major role in getting your website to rank well and show up in the appropriate search results. However, you need to take a more holistic approach if you want long-term results, which involves creating a strong content marketing strategy.
Content marketing encompasses everything from high-quality blog articles to videos, images, and infographics. You see, when you produce relevant and contextual information that relates to your website and small business, you’re telling Google that your content provides value. And Google takes notice. In fact, Google uses factors like expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) when ranking websites, but it also considers how active and up-to-date your content is, which means the more you post, the better.
So, how do keywords fit into this SEO tip for small businesses? Of course, you can produce content, images, and videos with your target keywords and include them in the alt-text, headers, and captions. But you can also use your keyword research to determine what specific topics you should cover.
For instance, maybe your small business auto shop isn’t ranking on the first page up when users search for “vintage car repair,” which might encourage you to write a guide around the specific kinds of services your auto shop provides specifically for vintage models. This topic is informative, relevant, and helpful to users looking for this kind of service, which helps signal to Google that you are an authoritative source on the matter.
6. Experiment with Backlinks
Another part of the SEO puzzle involves building backlinks or creating a web of links between your page and other authoritative sites. This is an important strategy because Google looks at the volume and quantity of your backlinks when ranking your website.
Once you’ve created a reputable website of your own, you’ll want to associate it with other reputable websites. It’s a bit like networking in the professional world when you want to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Essentially, when you build backlinks and interlink with other credible websites, you’re vouching for one another.
This SEO tactic doesn’t occur overnight, but it’s worthwhile because it can provide positive results down the road.
To acquire backlinks, begin looking for websites that are in your wheelhouse. Can you offer them a guest blog post that links back to your website? Or maybe you’ll suggest adding mutual links to one another’s sites. Another avenue is to use the Ahrefs tool to find websites that are already linking to your competitors and see if they’re willing to add a link to your site. Over time, Google may rank your site more favorably because of the reputation you’ve earned through your backlinks.
Creating a free Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is another easy way to get more eyes on your small business. When you create your profile, it will link your business to Google Maps and show up first in the search results. From here, you can add (and optimize!) important information about your company, such as your location, phone number, business hours, and even photos.
8. Don’t Overlook Social Media Opportunities
How much does social media impact your website rankings? Well, it depends who you ask. Some believe there is a strong correlation between high social shares and high SEO rankings, while others simply attribute a high ranking to the fact that people are simply more likely to share authoritative content, which organically brings more traffic to the website where that content resides.
Regardless of how you view the extent of social media’s influence over SEO, many agree social media can only have a positive effect on the factors that impact your SEO strategy. More simply put, social media endeavors cannot hurt your SEO strategy.
If you’ve developed a content marketing strategy, then you should already have high-quality content on your website. You can promote this authoritative content through your social media channels to drive more traffic to your site, which will boost your SEO. In this way, your social media engagements support your SEO efforts, helping to increase traffic to your site, raise brand awareness, boost your brand reputation, and maybe even encourage backlinks, all of which tell the search engines that your website is authoritative and legit.
9. Keep an Eye on Your Paid Search Strategy
Paid search refers to a marketing strategy in which businesses can pay and bid for advertisements and listing space on the search engine results page.
Going back to the auto repair shop example, your small business may pay for your shop’s advertisement to appear when users type in a specific set of keywords. For instance, you might want your advertisements to show up when users search for, “San Diego auto repair.”
Now, we’ll ask the same question as we did for social media: How much does paid search impact your website rankings? Similarly, paid search won’t directly impact your rankings, but it may indirectly influence them.
The more users see your ads, the more likely they are to interact with your content, perhaps leading them to organically search for it in the future. Since organic searches can lead to increased traffic and engagement with your website, this in turn boosts SEO. What’s more, if you’re continuing to focus on producing strong, valuable, and timely content, users are more inclined to return to your website. Now that you have a user on your website, they are more likely to share and link to your content, which may encourage the search engines to rank your website more favorably.
10. Use SMS to Your Advantage
Sending marketing texts can help your small business thrive as it’s one sure-fire way to get more eyes on your content. After all, your SMS messages go straight to users’ mobile phones, which are practically always within arm’s reach. And when you send texts with a link to your website, your users can visit your site in one simple click.
So, what happens if you combine your mobile marketing & SEO strategies? You have the opportunity to cast a wider net, capturing even more attention while directing more traffic to your site. Essentially, when you combine these marketing strategies, you cover all your bases.
You see, your SMS messages let you directly address your consumers and encourage them to visit your website. Meanwhile, your SEO initiatives allow you to respond to your consumers’ search inquiries in a more organic way. Like some of the other tactics on this list, this combination of proactive and reactive approaches can help boost traffic and engagement with your website, which may positively influence your ranking position.
11. Track Your Performance
Putting in all this effort won’t mean anything (or help your small business) if you don’t track your website’s performance.
When implementing SEO for business growth, set up a Google Analytics account to monitor and analyze your site’s data. This tracking platform helps you better understand your audience and competition, because it enables you to see where your traffic is coming from, assess bounce rates, target your marketing efforts, and identify your best (and worst) performing pages. Equipped with this information, you can make more calculated changes to your SEO strategy to get the results you want.
Discover How SMS Marketing Can Support Your SEO Strategy
Now that you more fully grasp the benefits of SEO for small businesses, it’s time to develop a small business SMS marketing and SEO strategy of your own. Take advantage of our free trial here at EZ Texting to see how SMS marketing can give you a leg up in your small business marketing approach.