The Small Business SEO Checklist (Cross 2 Off Today!)
Get started on the right foot with Small Business SEO using this simple checklist that’s easy to incorporate. It’s easy enough to get started today.
Eighteen years ago, Google changed the world.
On September 4th, 1998, Google filed for incorporation, and the rest, as they say, is history. What they accomplished was an easy and quick way for users to find info on the web.
Easy for users. But for companies looking to be found on the web, getting ranked high in search listings seems pretty daunting. There are a lot of rules to getting ranked, not all of which companies like Google make public.
And some businesses think that the best way, or the only way, to get the attention of customers is to pay for clicks. That’s a marketing cost that many small businesses don’t have the resources for.
But with as much as 73% of traffic coming from organic search to a business’s site, the power of search as a part of your marketing strategy can’t be ignored.
With limited resources and knowledge, how does a small business make sure that they are doing everything they can to get good rankings in search engine results?
It’s easier to get started than you think. With a few tips and strategies, you can boost your rankings and get found more quickly by your customers than ever before. It all starts with this Small Business SEO Checklist.
What is SEO?
Before we dig too deep into how to improve your search ranking, we should start with an understanding of what Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is and why it’s important to Small Business SEO.
In layman’s terms, it means the things you do to make your website show up higher in a search. So, let’s say you’re a cupcake bakery in Las Vegas. When someone goes to a search engine and types in “cupcakes in Las Vegas”, somewhere in those search results you should be listed. Wherever you show up is your rank in the search. If it’s on page one, your rank is high. If it’s on page 12, it’s low.
Google doesn’t disclose exactly what it takes into account, but there are a few general areas we know they use for measurement, including internal and external linking, relevance of your content and value to users
Which brings us to this question: what are the tactics you can do as a small business owner to improve your Small Business SEO rankings?
Start with Social
Getting your social media game in line is an important part of pushing your Small Business SEO search rankings up. Just having a Facebook account isn’t enough, though. You need to make sure you’ve got the right accounts with the right information available in them.
- Create your accounts: If you don’t have social media accounts for your business, you need to create them. You should have Facebook, Twitter and even a Google+ account. Also, you should create a Pinterest account. Facebook and Twitter might seem like no-brainers, but Google+ might seem like a stretch. You’re probably thinking that no one is on Google+, but for this tactic we’re not thinking about users as much as we are about Google. No one loves a child more than their parent, and the same goes for Google and its social media platform. This is an excellent place to “get in good” with Google and should be a part of your Small Business SEO strategy.Pinterest is another suggestion that might surprise you. But, as you’ll see below, having people share your content is an important piece of the puzzle. Sharing links is what Pinterest is all about.
- Optimize your accounts: Don’t just create your social media accounts with any old name. Make sure that your accounts use your business name so that they are recognizable.Also, be sure that your profile is filled out for your social media accounts. Use the words that people will use to search for your business in the description. Also be sure to include your address on sites like Facebook, so that you can be quickly found when someone is looking for a local company.
- Use them to share your content: When you post new content on your website, or you have an offer or news about your business, be sure to share those things on your social media accounts. When you’re posting, make sure that you’re including links back to your site and use relevant keywords as part of the post.
- Sign up for Google Local: As many as 85% of consumers use search to find a local business. So it’s important that you’re able to be found as local. Registering your business with Google Local will give you a boost by those looking for businesses in your area.
Content is King
Search engines work for their users, not for the businesses that rank in their results. Because of this, they want to list the most meaningful links at the top. Links into a site count to help with this, as does fresh content that is purposeful. The interplay of these two elements means you need to create new content, and that content needs to be helpful or interesting.
- Create shareable content: Creating new, fresh content is important. But if no one reads that content, or doesn’t share it, it’s not working as hard as it can for you. By creating content on your website that people want to share with their network, like blog posts, videos, and whitepapers, you increase the number of links back to your site.
- Include links to other websites: Including links out from your content to other relevant sites helps to build your authority (and therefore, your site’s significance) to users and to search engines.
- Post on social media: This tactic has two benefits. Not only does it create links back to your website, but it also makes your followers aware of new content you post, which in turn makes it easy for them to share it with their network.
- Images are content, too: Search engines aren’t smart enough (yet) to know what a picture is about. But images are still part of the content of your website. Make sure to include descriptive text within the “alt” tags for your images. (If you’re not sure how, a web development company can help with this.)
Know your Keywords
Keywords are the words that people use to search for your site. From our example above, “cupcakes” and “Las Vegas” are keywords. You want to make sure that search engines know you should be included the search results when a user types in those words.
- Make a list of keywords: If you were searching for your business, what words would you use? Don’t just think about the obvious ones. Whatever your specialty or niche is, make sure you’re including those words in your list as well. You’re likely to rank better on your specialty words than you are on the more generic search terms where there is more competition.
- Look at what people use to find you: There are a few tools available from Google that can help you understand what words people are using now to find you online. These include Google Analytics and the Google Search Console. When you know what words people use to find you, you can make sure those terms are reflected in your content and website copy.
- Use those words on your homepage: Once you have a list of keywords, make sure you are using the important ones on your homepage in a natural way that fits with the message of your website.
- Don’t stuff: Most of what we’ve talked about are tactics that will improve your rankings, but this is one that will ruin it. If you try and “stuff” keywords into your website copy and content, search engines like Google will penalize you for it. Make sure that your use of your keywords is natural and relevant on your site.
Two more things to consider as you work on your Small Business SEO. The first – be patient. It takes time for your efforts to make a difference in your rankings. And on the other end of the spectrum – don’t wait! Because it can take time. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.