Effective SEO Tips for Small Businesses
Small businesses that are trying to establish their brand need to ensure that they have good visibility online.
If you want your website to rank highly in search results, SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, can help. In plain English, this is a strategy that means working on your website and your overall digital presence, to help your website rank highly in organic (not paid) search results on search engines like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo.
Investing effort into SEO can deliver great results for your business, but it does require a lot of time, and it doesn’t give overnight results like paid channels can. We’ve put together a few tips to help you speed up this time-consuming process.
01. Research your keywords
What are keywords (search phrases) that potential customers are likely to be typing into search engines like Google when looking for products or services that you sell? For an online accessories store, it might be purses, wallets or handbags for example. In this scenario, you should identify keywords in Google such as bag, wallet or women’s purse.
One-word search terms are highly competitive though, so also look for ‘long tail’ keywords which are more specific to individual items, for example “black satin evening bag” is more likely to be a keyword that converts to a sale (if you sell black satin evening bags) rather than simply “handbag” because the customer is looking for something specific and is likely to be ready to buy.
Once you have identified a list of 20 – 30 keywords that are relevant for your site and frequently searched for, you can then optimise your website and content for these terms.
To find the right keywords for your business and the volume of searches each month, you can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner.
02. Don’t overstuff your site with keywords
I know, I know we’ve just told you to optimise your content with keywords, however, you also need to make sure you don’t add them too many times. Google’s guidelines state:
“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”
If you are just sprinkling your chosen keywords all through your content, you risk distorting the meaning and annoying readers. Your priority should be to make the text clear and easy to read.
03. Create a Google Business Listing to Optimise for Local Search
One of the easiest ways for a small business to boost its online visibility and increase search traffic is to create a Google Business listing. These listings can help search engines – and customers, find accurate information about your business. You can upload photos, your contact details, opening hours and even post offers and regular content to your listing. You can also encourage your existing customers to give you reviews on your Google My Business page. Make sure you keep the content on this page updated, particularly opening hours around things like holidays and weekends.
04. Use Internal Linking with Anchor text
Just getting users to visit your homepage is not enough. You need to engage them so that they spend more time on your website, read more of your content, or view more of your products.
This is where internal links come in. They make it easy for your customers to navigate to other pages on your site. By showing customers the other pages, you can increase your ‘average time on page’, and reduce your ‘bounce rate’ which are all important factors that affect your SEO and rankings. Google crawlers can better understand your content and establish links between it.
Avoid one of the most common mistakes of using ‘click here’ as an internal text link on your site. This is called anchor text and ideally it should also include relevant words and/or keywords as part of the link.
05. Regularly publish high-quality content.
The main reason search engines exist is to help people find answers to their questions. So one great strategy is to create compelling and regular content that answers these questions (like this blog). Articles, videos and photos (with alt descriptions) all help.
“Freshness” is a Google ranking factor, which means that your newest content will show up higher in search rankings for a few weeks after you publish. Regularly adding new content to your site and updating existing pages also encourages Google’s bots to visit your site more often.
A good content strategy will also position you as a thought leader in your industry.
06. Correctly label all of the photos on your site.
When you add photos to your website on different pages you can take advantage of image-based search traffic as well as regular search traffic.
Before you upload your photos to your website, make sure the file name is descriptive of what the photo is actually about – a file name like IMG54000 is not going to help your search rankings!
You should also include an alt description for each image as this is one of the ways Google decides to rank an image. Ideally, your alt description should include at least one keyword or at very least, your location and business name.
When you are editing and renaming the images to load onto your site, also be careful with image size – aim to keep images well under 1 MB – ideally somewhere around 500kb is good. Large images slow your site down, and site speed is also a ranking factor that Google pays attention to. You can use Squoosh a free online tool to compress your images
07. Optimise your title tags and meta descriptions
A must-mention for small business SEO is to ensure you have added meta titles and meta descriptions to each page on your site. Every page features a title tag and meta description, which appear in search results. You want to create title tags and meta descriptions that not only include your targeted keyword but also entice users to click through.
For the best results, your title tag should not exceed 60 characters, your meta descriptions, between 150 and 160 characters, and include a few of your targeted keywords. If they are too long, Google will simply cut off the last part of the title or description.
Be aware though that Google sometimes modifies your meta descriptions to match what people are searching for, so they might not always show up exactly word for word on the search listings with the ones you have written.
08. Don’t trust agencies that promise guaranteed results
Be wary if you are promised a number one ranking. There are no easy shortcuts to ranking organically. A good SEO agency will help you to rank as highly as your site can, but it simply isn’t possible to guarantee page one rankings.