SEO for Small Business

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key part of ensuring that your business gets found online. But what, exactly, is SEO? What does it require from you, the business owner? And what’s the pay-off for putting time and effort into doing it? In this article, we’ll cover the basics of SEO for small business, and set the stage for the rest of January, when we’ll dive into more detail about SEO as it pertains to specific techniques.

What is SEO?

SEO is an aggregation of techniques used to improve and promote a website to boost traffic from search engines.

Why Does SEO Matter?

Search engines are the primary driver of web traffic, and the most common way that consumers connect with new businesses online. While search engines are pretty smart (and getting smarter all the time), they still need some help when it comes to serving up relevant data to searchers. If your web content isn’t optimized to help people performing searches related to your business, you’ll miss out on valuable traffic to your website, listings pages, and social media channels.

What Does SEO Entail?

There are a variety of ways you can optimize your website and online content to boost your visibility to search engines. Some of the primary tactics include:

  • Optimizing your website’s design, information architecture, and browser compatibility to make sure your content is easy to access on a variety of devices and platforms
  • Including appropriate keywords in page titles, headers, text, URLs, and image tags
  • Making sure your contact information (address, phone number, and email) is included on each page of your site
  • Adding meta descriptions and a robots.txt file to your website’s backend
  • Creating and regularly updating your business listings on all major search engines—Google, Bing, Yahoo, CitySearch, Yelp, etc. (Good news: SinglePlatform gives you the power to manage all your listings in one place!)
  • Getting links back to your website or listings (by submitting links to relevant websites and sharing content on a blog or social media channels)
  • Using analytics to track and improve your overall SEO performance

What’s the Benefit of Improving Your SEO?

The bottom line is that the time and effort you invest in SEO will help more potential customers discover your business online. The more you optimize, the better chance you have of being discovered. The better your website and listings experience is for viewers, the more likely they’ll be to take the next step and become a customer.

How Small Businesses Can Boost SEO

Every small business wants to be found online, but it’s not always that simple. 50% of small businesses said they would spend money on search engine optimization if they had a larger budget. SEO improves website visibility, so with a strong SEO strategy your website will appear higher in search results. By making a few specific changes to your website, you can organically drive traffic to your site without having to increase your marketing budget.

Google Trends

Use Google Trends as a go-to keyword search tool. It allows you to see how search queries change over time when people search for your keyword, and allows you to compare different words or phrases to see which is best. You can also take a look at the regional breakdown that shows you where the search terms are most popular to help you better tailor to your customer base. With this knowledge, you can use specific phrases on your website and blog to increase traffic.

Browseo

Browseo is a web app that not only allows you to view any page without distractions caused by design, but it also highlights the parts of a web page that are relevant for SEO. In other words, it shows you how a search engine sees your site by stripping it down to the most basic level, without any fancy fonts, colors, headers, or images, and displays relevant SEO information. It’s super easy; all you need to do is enter in the website URL.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is a free tool that crawls your website in search for SEO roadblocks such as broken links, missing metadata, oversized files, and duplicate pages. It then provides a report of the problem areas, and you can use the report to improve your site and SEO.

Rank Checker

Rank Checker allows you to find out where your website lands in search engine results. All you need to do is install a button onto your toolbar so you can easily access this information whenever you want and keep an eye on where you stand.

Boosting SEO is an easy way to drive more traffic to your site and to your local business. SinglePlatform helps local business keep all of their information consistent and accurate across the web. Accurate information boost SEO for businesses like yours. Learn more about SinglePlatform today.

Why SEO Is Important for Small Businesses

With 93% of online searches beginning with using search engine, being active online for any small business is critical in 2016. For small business owners, capitalizing on the overwhelming search traffic is even more crucial. 

SEO Drives traffic to the business

Search engine optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of your business online. Optimizing your website means that your website has strong content, performance, authority, and user experience.  Improving your SEO increases the visibility of your business and helps customers find your business. You’re missing out on valuable traffic if your website isn’t optimized effectively. According to Google, 18% of clicks from users go to the first position (the first link on the page), 10% of clicks go to the second position and 7% of clicks go to the third position. Having your business as close to the first position as possible can help your business catch the eye on new customers.

You can use tools like Google Analytics and Alexa rankings to monitor your traffic. This will ultimately help you make more informed decisions regarding what is working for your business and its strategies. SEO can be an overwhelming strategy for small business owners so focus on the small steps. Update your website regularly and make sure that it functions fast and efficiently.

Overall, SEO is an important facet of your business’s online presence.  You have to make your content easy to read, easy to navigate, easy to find, consistent in layout and design, and also quick to download. By accomplishing that, you will increase your SEO, and increase the chance of your business standing out online.

 

SEO for Small Business: Social Media

Search engines index content from all sorts of websites—including social networks, which are some of the most highly-trafficked sites on the web. While SEO how-tos often focus on the changes you can make to your business’s website, many of the same principles apply to your social media profiles as well. In this article, we’ll cover what SEO means in a social setting, what you should be doing to optimize your social media profiles, and how you can use content on social to boost your business’s overall search ranking.
What Is Social SEO?

Because social media networks house such an active community of people sharing links and interacting with content, it opens up a whole new SEO channel for small businesses. Social SEO is the practice of optimizing content on your social media channels in order to boost where your business appears in search results.

Optimizing Your Small Business’s Social Profiles

The best way to ensure that your social media profiles are SEO friendly is to fill them out as completely as possible. A few things to consider doing:

  • Include a detailed description and relevant keywords in your description on each social profile so that people searching for those terms will be able to find you easily.
  • Share your business’s physical address and links back to your company website on your social profiles. Make sure to link from your website back to your social accounts as well to close the loop.
  • Incorporate your business’s name into the identity of your social accounts; for example, if your business is called Bobby’s Bakery, then your Twitter handle, Facebook Page URL, Google+ URL, etc. should all include “Bobby’s Bakery” in some fashion. This will help people find you and make a clear connection between all of your profiles for social networkers and search engines alike.

Optimizing the Content You Share on Social Media

There are a variety of ways you can optimize the content you share on your social channels. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • When writing posts or sharing media content, include keywords that will be of interest to your audience and relate to what your business does.
  • If you host a blog or publish other content on your website, you should definitely share it with your social media followers—not only to broaden your readership, but also to help boost your SEO by helping search engines index your content more quickly.
  • Use your business’s name in your posts on occasion, especially in posts containing keywords you’d like to be associated with. This will help search engines connect the dots more quickly.
  • Protip: Sharing content on Google+ will give you an even greater chance of improving your Google search ranking than posting on other social networks. While Google+ may not get as much attention as Facebook or Twitter, it’s worth investing in, especially when it comes to SEO.

Use Content on Social to Build Links

Why is link building important? Because search engine algorithms are largely based on the use and analysis of links between websites. The more links you have pointing to your site, and the more quality websites you link to from your social media channels, the more authority search engines will give to your business. And the higher your authority, the better your overall search ranking will be.

Social interactions such as likes, comments, and shares also contribute to the authority given to your links. If you share content your followers find engaging, they’re more likely to share it with their followers and increase the number of links driving back to your online properties. Content can be anything from a blog article on your site to an ebook to a post on Facebook—it just has to be meaningful and easy to share.

The Bottom Line

If you want to boost your business’s overall search rankings, social media is a channel you can’t ignore. By optimizing your profiles and posts, you can make a real impact on where your small business appears in search engine results pages.

SEO for Small Business: Online Listings

Improving your own business website is an important factor in SEO, but equally important for local businesses is optimizing the content on your local listings. Because local search drives the majority of traffic to small businesses online, having accurate, robust profile pages on a variety of listings sites and apps is essential.
In this article, we’ll walk you through where to get your business listed, how to incorporate keywords into your listings, and how to optimize your content for maximum visibility in online search.

Where to Get Listed to Boost Your SEO

The more listings you have for your business, the greater impact they’ll have on your overall search ranking. However, search engine listings are especially important because they tie in directly with local search results. For starters, you should make sure to have accurate, consistent business listings on Google Local, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local; CitySearch and Yelp are also important because they feed data to Ask.com, Bing, and Yahoo.

How to Incorporate Keywords in Your Listings

As we discussed last week, including relevant keywords in your online content is essential for SEO purposes, and that’s just as true for your business listings as it is for your website. Some ideas include:

  • Using a consistent format for your business name
  • Choosing consistent business types (which also act as keywords) across your listings
  • Including relevant keywords in your business description

Optimizing Your Content for Maximum Visibility

Beyond making sure that your business information is complete, accurate, and consistent, including rich content in your listings will help you gain even more visibility in local search. Having a searchable menu or list of products and services is essential; otherwise, you’ll miss out on people searching for a specific item rather than a type of business.

Including directions and a link to your website can also help you stand out in search results when a user is faced with multiple listings to look at; listings sites such as Yelp and YellowPages will show whether a business has a menu, linked website, and directions associated with it.

Once people land on your listings page, rich content such as specials, offers, and photos can help entice viewers and set your business apart from other competitors in your local area.

The Bottom Line

Local search and online listings are closely related. It’s important for you to get your business listed on the most important search engines, review sites, and mobile apps. Just as important is optimizing the content of your listings pages to ensure maximum visibility when consumers search for local businesses like yours.

Did you know that SinglePlatform can help you manage your online business listings across the web? Learn more about how we can save you time and get more exposure for your business! 

SEO for Small Business: Website Content

With the significant changes that happened in 2013 to Google’s search algorithm, SEO is now more than ever based on the quality of content your website contains. It’s no longer enough to have a site with tons of keywords and proper tags in place. In order to improve your search ranking and online visibility, you need to invest in creating original, useful, and interesting content.
Here are 6 types of content that will help improve your search rankings and bring more potential customers to your website:

1. Content That Answers Specific Questions

A key component of today’s search landscape is questions. Users often want specific answers to specific queries, not just general information about a particular topic. Therefore, when thinking about content to create for your site, consider developing pieces that address questions your customers might be asking.

Example: A boutique clothing store publishes a detailed guide that covers fashion trends for spring in order to answer the question, “What are spring 2014 fashion trends?”

2. Content That Includes Long-tail Keywords

Related to task of answering specific questions are long-tail keywords. These keywords are longer search strings that are less commonly used than single keywords or shorter search strings.

Example: Rather than using the simple keyword “pizza” in their introductory paragraph, an Italian restaurant uses the keyword string “family-owned pizza and pasta restaurant in Indianapolis”.

3. Expert Content on a Variety of Topics

As a small business owner, you’re closer to your industry than the average consumer is—and that gives you a unique position to share expert knowledge that readers will find interesting. Think about how you can share personal insights into your field with online viewers.

Example: A salon owner creates a how-to video on the best way to blow-dry hair, providing expert advice on technique, products, and equipment.

4. Visual Media Content

The more engaging your content is, the more it will positively impact your search rankings. Today, the most engaging content on the web is of a visual nature: infographics, videos, photos, and other graphics. Make sure your site features visuals that will appeal to potential customers and reinforce your business’s brand and mission.

Example: A daycare owner creates a visual tour of her facility, highlighting the space, the staff, and the activities they provide for children.

5. Content Shareable on Social Media

Social media is the easiest way for online readers to share your content with others. The more shares you have, the more traffic you’ll get to your site—and the more search engines will weigh results in your favor.

Example: A home repair business provides social share buttons on each of their individual blog posts to make it easy for readers to share their articles on social.

6. Content That Elicits a Reaction or Opinion

Posting content that people will get excited about—or, in some cases, upset about—is a surefire way to ensure reader engagement.

Example: An organic health food store posts an article about proposed GMO regulations in their state.

The Bottom Line

The more useful, relevant, and engaging your content is, the more traffic you’ll get to your website and the higher your website will climb in search rankings.

SEO for Small Business: Keywords

If you’ve read or heard anything about SEO, you know that keywords are a part of optimizing your content for search engines. In this article, we’ll discuss what keywords are, how to generate a great list of terms relevant to your small business, where to incorporate these keywords, and how to optimize your keywords over time.
What Is a Keyword?

A keyword is any term or string of terms that a consumer might use in a search query online. For a small business, these keywords will by necessity relate to the products and services your company provides, as well as the industry vertical your business belongs to and the location of your business.

For example, if you own a pizza shop in Chicago, some relevant keywords might be:

  • Chicago pizzeria
  • Pizza shop near Chicago, IL
  • Local pizza restaurant
  • Pizza in Chicago
  • Pizza delivery 60605
  • Etc.

How to Generate a List of Keywords for Your Small Business

Chances are, you already have a short list of keywords based on your website copy, business listings, advertisements, and other online content. If not, the best way to start is to think like a consumer. How would someone searching for your business try to find you online, and what words would they use to perform a search?

To research additional keywords, there are a number of tools you can use; one of the best (and free!) tools is Google AdWords. Even if you don’t plan to run an AdWords campaign, you can use the Keyword Planner tool to find new keyword ideas, see the projected web traffic associated with specific keywords, and get a sense as to how competitive specific keywords are.

For even more keyword ideas, you can also take a look at your competitors’ websites, blogs, and online ad campaigns to see what terms they’re targeting.

Keep in mind that the more widely-used a keyword is, the more competition you’ll have for that term, which means that it’ll take more work to appear on the front page of search results when a user searches for that keyword. It’s a good idea to have a mix of broad/higher-traffic keywords and more specific/smaller-traffic keywords; broad keywords will show up in more searches, but specific keywords will direct more relevant traffic to your site.

Incorporating Keywords Into Your Online Content

Now that you’ve developed a solid set of keywords for your small business, what do you do with them? Incorporate them consistently into your online content. Places to include keywords include:

  • In the HTML title tags on your business website (these will be different for each page)
  • In the main headlines (H1s) on your business website
  • In the text on your website
  • In your local business listings
  • In posts that you write for your small business blog
  • In your descriptions and posts on social media profiles

Search engines index content from all kinds of websites, including local business listings sites like Yelp, Foursquare, YellowPages, and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Using rich keywords on all of your online properties will help boost your search ranking and help people searching for businesses like yours to find you online.

Analytics and Keyword Optimization

You might think that once you’ve incorporated keywords into your online content, your job is done. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the end of the story. In order to improve your search ranking and get your business in front of more eyes, you need to look at your performance over time using Google Analytics and other analytics programs you have in place.

How often you review and update your keywords depends on your site traffic / activity, your schedule, and whether you’re running AdWords campaigns (in which case, you’ll probably be looking at data a lot more often than the average site owner).

The Bottom Line

In order to reach consumers online, your business website, local listings pages, and social channels need to incorporate the keywords they’re searching for. With a little research, some minor site updates, and analytics in place, you’ll be up and running with keywords in no time.