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When was the last time you referred to a hardcopy of yellow pages to inquire about a local business? If you can’t remember, it’s alright.
Times have changed and so has the way we search for information. Using the internet is the most popular way consumers find local businesses in their daily lives.
Consumers now simply take their phones out and search on Google for any product or service they need. From dentists to plumbers, and restaurants to lawyers, everything (almost) is available at your fingertips.
So if you’re operating a small or local business, it’s important that your business gets found when your customers look for information. That’s where small business (SMB) SEO has a role to play.
In this article, we’ll discuss 9 best practices for SMB SEO to help your business rank higher in search results and get found.
But first, let’s understand why small business SEO is important and how it’s different from enterprise SEO.
Let’s dive in.
Why Bother About Small Business SEO?
Google — more or less — is the first thing that comes to mind when customers want to know about anything. Be it products, services, or finding answers.
Let’s say you liked a real estate property in Adelaide. And you’re looking for a conveyancer to do the legal work for you. You searched “property lawyers adelaide” in Google and there you go.
You got a list of property lawyers in Adelaide.
Now, do you think there are only as many conveyancers in Adelaide as shown in this list? Certainly not.
These are the only companies that have listed their businesses with Google.
Next, if you had to choose from the list, how would you go about it?
Most likely you’ll look at the top 5 or 10 firms, see their ratings, and read customer reviews. And you’ll call two or three of them and inquire about their services before finalising one. That’s what most consumers do.
Now let’s change the scenario a bit.
Assume that you’re a property lawyer and imagine your customer’s search journey as discussed above. Now if you want to be one of the two or three firms your customer would call, first, you need to make it in the list of the top 5 to 10 conveyancing services.
For this to happen, you’d need to optimise your small business website for search engines.
Difference Between SEO and Small Business SEO
Small business SEO differs from enterprise SEO (or regular SEO) in many ways. However, we’ve outlined some key differences that you should know.
- Different target locations: The main difference between SEO and SMB SEO is the search results they target. An enterprise SEO doesn’t focus on optimising for a specific geographical location. On the other hand, SMB SEO is more focused on the location of their physical presence simply because they are targeting a local audience.
- Strategies: Since enterprises target a wider audience, their content addresses customers on a bigger level — say nationally or globally. Moreover, their content production scale is also very high.
Whereas, for small businesses, you need to create locally relevant content. Additionally, you’d build links and manage reputation on a local level.
- Tools: SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, BrightLocal, etc. cater to enterprises as well as small businesses. On the other hand, there are tools such as Google Search Console, SEO Clarity, and BrightEdge that are specifically meant for enterprise SEO.
That said, let’s see how small business SEO works.
Small Business SEO Best Practices
Here are 9 SEO tactics to help your small business rank high in search results.
1. Create SEO-friendly Website
Whether a small business or an enterprise, the most basic and recommended SEO tactic is to create an SEO-friendly website.
An SEO-friendly website refers to a site with simple architecture. Ideally, your web pages should be structured and linked together in a way that’s easier for users and Googlebot to navigate.
If your site pages are many clicks away from the homepage, orphaned, and not linked internally, then it’s a complicated structure. So the search engine crawlers may find it difficult to crawl and index such pages.
Instead, keep a simple and flat site structure wherein users can access any page from the homepage in a maximum of three to four clicks.
Also, ensure that all these pages are linked internally so that crawlers can find them easily.
Moreover, use category pages to group the related pages together into a single page. Then, when you add new content or product pages, add them into the category they belong to. This makes your site user and SEO-friendly.
Another way to optimise your site’s usability and crawlability is by using sitemaps.
It gives users and search engines overall visual navigation of your site along with categories and subcategories.
Meanwhile, if you think that you don’t have the technical expertise, you can also hire external SEO services to audit and improve your website structure.
2. Research Keywords for Your Niche
It’s important to understand how your potential customers are searching for information online. To know user behaviour, you need to tap into their search intent — the “why” behind their Google search.
This is where thorough keyword research can help.
Since you’d have a basic understanding of your small business and target audience, you can start with making a list of search queries that you expect your customers to search for.
Next, you can use a free keyword tool like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs Keyword Generator to generate the trending keywords for your industry.
For instance, we searched for the keyword “accounting services” in Ahrefs’ free keyword generator.
Thus, it suggested the list of related search terms that people are searching in Google. It also shows you the keyword difficulty (KD) and the search volume for each keyword in the list.
Accordingly, you can shortlist the relevant keywords and create content around these search queries. This would help you map the keywords according to your audience’s buying journey.
3. Provide Valuable Content
Most small business owners add their products or services and contact details to their website and leave it like that hoping it would bring in the customers.
However, to boost your small business SEO, you need to create the right content that adds value to your audience. So if you’re targeting people in a specific region, city, or neighbourhood, you’d need a local SEO content strategy.
While you may not have many resources like big companies, you have the advantage of knowing your target audience at close quarters. This would help you curate content with local knowledge and personal approach.
Meanwhile, also remember that your content goals shouldn’t only revolve around getting more clicks. You should provide content that your audience enjoys and is helpful in some way.
Thus, it becomes a great opportunity to educate and inform your customers about your business, products and services while you engage them with your content.
If you feel it can be too much for you to create such content while handling your business, you can also hire a digital marketing agency that understands your local audience and small business SEO.
4. Optimise On-page SEO Elements
Once you create your website content, you need to optimise it so that it’s findable on search engines. As a small business, you can start with basic SEO tactics such as optimising on-page SEO elements of your site.
Here are some of the key on-page SEO elements you should focus on.
Page title — or title tag — is what users see right below the URL in search results listings in Google.
It’s a concise way to let the users know what the page is about. Moreover, it’s one of the on-page SEO factors that can directly influence your page’s ranking in the SERPs.
Here are some quick tips to optimise your title tags:
- Convey what the page is about in a clear and concise way
- Keep the title tag length between 55-65 characters
- Ensure that all your pages have a unique title tag
- Add the main keyword in the title tag
- Make sure it’s relevant to the topic discussed in the page
- Use words like what, why, how, where, etc. to help users understand the topic angle
Meta description is a text that users can see underneath the title tag.
Meta descriptions expand on what you write in the title tag and give readers a brief explanation of the page as to what they can expect.
Here are some quick tips to optimise your meta descriptions:
- Use your main keyword in the meta description
- Write about the benefits that the page content offers
- Keep it clear and concise
- Keep the length between 150-160 characters
- Add a call-to-action if it’s relevant
- Try to trigger an emotion, but don’t go overboard
Header tags or headings (H1 to H6) are the headings and subheadings on the page that are clearly visible in fonts larger than normal text.
Just like title tags, header tags also directly influence your search rankings.
Here are some quick tips to optimise your header tags:
- On all your web pages, use the H1 tag for the main heading
- Break down your content by using H2 to H6 tags for subheadings
- Indicate what the section is about in your header tags
- Integrate keywords naturally into your headings
5. Optimise for Mobile Devices
Mobile devices account for more than 54% of the global website traffic. Considering this fact, you can’t afford not to optimise your website for mobiles.
First place to start is by checking if your site is mobile-friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check the basic mobile-friendliness of your site.
Keep mobile responsiveness and user convenience as topmost priorities while creating or optimising your mobile site.
Besides, here are some quick tips for mobile optimisation:
- Ensure your site is responsive on mobile devices
- Make site speed a priority as users leave if they have to wait longer
- Don’t plaster your web pages with text-blocking ads and pop-ups
- Use large font size so that users don’t have to zoom in and zoom out
- Keep things simple
- Implement easy navigation
- Keep your CTAs responsive and large enough to be viewed on small screens
6. Get Rid of Basic SEO Issues
Going further, your site may develop some basic SEO issues like duplicate content, slow site speed, broken links, etc. So you need to keep auditing your site periodically to find and fix such issues.
You can use Supple’s SEO Audit Tool to conduct an effective SEO audit for your website. It gives you a detailed audit report along with key issues found and actionable solutions for them.
Based on the recommendations, you can take corrective measures for SEO issues. Alternatively, you can also hire an SEO agency to help you resolve these issues.
7. Focus on Local SEO
As a small business, you’d usually target the audience in specific locations. So you need to let Google know your location with relevant information.
With that, here are some ways you can optimise your site for local search.
Local business structured data
Your business details like Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) also affects small business SEO. Hence, for local businesses it’s crucial to keep updating details like NAP and business hours.
The ideal way to inform search engines of these details is by adding the local business structured data using schema.org in your site.
Create a contact page
Besides search engines, it’s equally important that your customers can find your contact details easily. So ensure that you create a contact page and place it where your user may expect to see it.
Moreover, also consider adding your contact details in your website footer. This is helpful in a way that the user doesn’t have to go all the way up to find your contact page.
Google My Business
Setting up a Google My Business (GMB) profile helps your business appear in local search results as well as Google Maps. Besides, you can also add your photos and opening hours that shows your site with rich snippets.
It looks like this.
So make sure that you set up a GMB profile for your small business site.
8. Acquire Backlinks from Related Sites
Getting backlinks from related and listing sites boosts your local SEO performance. When you add your site to the listing sites, you don’t only get backlinks from them but it also increases your site’s findability.
So consider getting listed on sites like Yahoo! Local, Bing Places, Yelp, etc.
Moreover, you can also ask your suppliers and business associates to link back to your site. This is important because their sites are relevant to your business. So when you get backlinks from their sites, they’re valuable links. It’s a signal of higher relevance to search engines.
9. Set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics
While you optimise your site and attract the traffic, you’d also need to gain insights into the traffic and track progress.
For this you need two important Google tools:
GSC lets you see how your site fares on Google search results. It offers tools that help you:
- Confirm whether your webpages are being crawled or not, so that you can optimise the crawl budget of your site
- Find and fix indexing issues
- Monitor Google Search traffic data
- Show the sites that link back to your website, etc.
On the other hand, Google Analytics offers you the tools to measure and analyse the important business and SEO metrics like traffic, bounce rate, dwell time, conversion rate, and much more.
You’d need these insights to improve your business and SEO strategy to optimise your sales and profits.
As a small business, you may not be competing globally. Your competition might be just across the street or next door. However, this doesn’t mean that SEO is not for you.
With the right strategies and SMB SEO tactics, you can very well outrank and outperform your local competition. So follow the SEO practices we discussed above and get the extra competitive edge for your small business.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or queries, feel free to get in touch. We’re always up for a chat.