If you’re a small business owner, it’s safe to assume that you’ve read or heard about SEO. It’s a term that’s difficult to avoid in the world of digital marketing. But what exactly is SEO?
Briefly, SEO stands for search engine optimization, and SEO efforts are all about boosting organic traffic to your website, or visitors coming from a search engine like Google or Bing. Where your website ranks in organic search results is vital for getting your business noticed.
For a small business looking to allocate its marketing resources wisely, optimizing for local search is a good way to start. Not only is local traffic more likely to convert, but it’s easier to rank higher in geographically targeted searches. And according to Google, 20% of searches involve users in need of local services or products.
Follow these SEO tips for small businesses to get started:
1) Research Your Target Audience
First, research and develop your buyer persona to better understand your target audience and what they are likely to be searching for. There are free resources available, like HubSpot’s MakeMyPersona and a variety of keyword research tools. Based on your buyer persona, research keywords to include in your online content that will help boost your search engine ranking among your target audience. For example, a home improvement company in Chicago might build keywords like “Chicago roof repair,’ ‘Chicago HVAC needs,’ and ‘air conditioning in Chicago’ into their strategy to reach local homeowners.
2) Boost On-Page SEO
On-page SEO elements are things you can control and adjust on your own website to improve search engine rankings. These include your title tags (the name of your page, and what shows up in search results), meta descriptions (a description of your page contents, appearing below your title in search results), header tags (any bold headlines on your webpages), internal links (links from one page to another on your site), even your site architecture or internal linking structure.
3) Claim Your Local Listings
Ensure that all local listings for your business are accurate, including information like your name, address, and phone number (or your "NAP," in SEO world). Examples of places to check for your listing include Yelp, Google Places, and the Yellow Pages. Good reviews on these sites are not only one of your best marketing tools but will also boost your search ranking, and most popular listing platforms allow you to claim your local listing for free. There are many local listing sites out there, some of which are industry-specific. For instance, HomeAdvisor is a listing site for home improvement services and professionals, Zomato is for exploring local restaurants, bars, and cafes, and Spafinder connects people with personal care and wellness experiences, just to name a few.
Based on data collected by HubSpot, websites with blogs get 55% more visitors than those without blogs. In addition, the more pages you have on your website, the greater your chances of getting found on search engines. Every time you add a new post to your blog, you create a new web page. Including keywords in high-quality content helps improve your search engine rankings.
5) Be Active on Social Media
Social media is a great way to engage with both potential and current customers, while showing off your company’s personality. Keep followers interested with frequent updates, including company news, promotions, contests, blog posts you’ve written, videos, community involvement, and more. Social signals—such as likes, shares, and views—are a common element among Google’s top-ranked websites. Therefore, the more your posts (that drive people back to your website) are engaged with, the more likely your website is to show up in search results.
6) Be Patient
Don’t expect success overnight. It takes time for an SEO strategy to produce noticeable results, so it’s important to set goals and monitor your progress. Take into account where you’re starting and what the competitive landscape looks like. You can generally expect to start seeing results at four to six months, but bear in mind that SEO results grow over time.
SEO is vital for improving search rankings and is a good way for small businesses to stretch a limited marketing budget. Follow these SEO tips to increase local visibility and get found by your target audience when they are researching for solutions to problems that you can solve.