You’ve probably heard that you should be ‘doing SEO’ for your small business website. But what is SEO and how do you actually do it / what does it involve?!
What is SEO? The Basics…
Put simply, Search Engine Optimization is all about getting organic traffic to your website via search engines. To do this, you should be following a set of practices both on and off your website (known as on-page and off-page) that will help your content to rank higher in the SERPs – also known as search engine results pages.
Higher rankings, usually lead to more impressions (eyes on your link), which in turn leads to more clicks and visits to your website. Get it right and this can lead to a real boost in both sales and inquiries to your business. And cracking the Top 3 results on page 1 (for the right keywords) of Google SERPs can make a HUGE difference to your business’s success. I’ve known customers go from zero online leads or sales via their website to it being their main sales channel within the space of a year. What a result!
Now, many small business owners shy away from SEO as they think some technical knowledge is needed. It could be seen as just another thing to get your head around so it remains a mystery unsolved. Or simply, some business owners are just used to doing things in a certain way and they just don’t see the potential of their website as a sales/lead-generating machine. Indeed, the business owner mentioned above was extremely skeptical about SEO and didn’t want to invest in it initially. He soon changed his mind!
How to Do SEO
If you’re thinking of getting started with SEO for your small business but aren’t 100% clear on ‘how to do SEO’, I’m here to help. So, let’s start to clear things up to demystify and simplify SEO for small business owners.
There are 4 main elements in the mix of this digital marketing strategy…
1. Create Targeted Content using Keywords & Phrases
Google aims to return search results that best match what they perceive the searcher to be looking for. Therefore, creating keyword-rich content that’s focused on what potential customers are already searching for is an important element of SEO. This is known as an inbound marketing strategy. It’s about engaging with your audience by creating valuable content that aligns with their needs.
So, undertaking some keyword research is a great starting point. Research what terms your small business website is already being found for, then look at what potential customers are actually searching for to find products and services like yours. Use these keywords within your website copy to boost the chances of getting found by the right people.
But a word of warning! Those keywords shouldn’t just be slapped into your website willy-nilly. There is a process of On-Page Optimization to follow to please the Google Gods (and other search engines!).
2. On-Page Optimization
Once you have selected your keywords and phrases the next step is to get them onto your website. Web pages need to be organised and structured in a way that’s easy for search engine spiders to understand. Spiders are bots that crawl around websites, indexing content and having a gander as to what it’s all about. Give them the wrong signals and you won’t rank for the terms your customers are using.
Depending on your current copy, there’s probably no need for a complete re-write. Most websites just need a few basic tweaks to optimize the page content to help give the digital spiders all the right signals
On-page optimization includes working on:
- Add structured headers (eg H1, H2, H3)to organise your website copy
- Adding keywords within the page titles, headers and general page copy at the right density
- Adding an SEO title and meta description to each page
- Adding alt text to images
In an ideal world, every page on your website will be optimized. But I often discover that small business websites aren’t optimized at all or kinda done but not quite finished. Occasionally, it will be ‘done’ but using wrong phrases and information so the website gets returned to somebody that was looking for something else. This isn’t ideal as that customer will bounce off your site quickly. And Google takes that as a signal that your site isn’t what people want to see. Whilst ranking is the goal of SEO, there is no point in ranking at No.1 for something that you don’t sell or a search term that doesn’t get any visits. Make sure your site is correctly optimized to avoid that happening.
Don’t be afraid of the ‘T-word! Technical SEO is important but it’s not something that a small business owner needs to fully understand to fix. The key things from a layman’s point of view is:
- Loading Times: ensure that your website loads quickly. Load time can be slowed down by using images that are too big, Flash animations, or by having pop-ups appear as your website opens.
- Mobile version: it’s important that your mobile site works just as well as your desktop version. It should be responsive to screen size and should also load quickly.
If your website is old it’s possible that it’s built using older technology that doesn’t work as well for getting indexed with Google. If you are experiencing any major technical problems, it’s advised to speak to your web developer or a specialist technical SEO to fix them.
4. Building Authority & Off-site Optimization
All of the above elements are done on-site and are known as on-page. But there are several things that can be done off-site (known as off-page) to help your website get discovered and build authority. Off-page optimization helps to promote your website by letting Google know more about it and contributes to your business seeming trustworthy and knowledgable to the little search engine spider bots.
Off-Page Optimization Techniques include:
- Creating a Google My Business Account
- Submitting a site map to Google Search Console
- Creating and implementing a backlink strategy
- Guest blogging
- Online PR – articles in national or local press digital versions.
And that’s How you Do SEO for Small Business (more or less!)
So there you have the basic breakdown of how SEO is done and what’s involved for small business owners. All of the above factors combine to determine your business’s place on Google’s search page ranking results. Now, doing all the above doesn’t guarantee your business will surge to No. 1 on Google overnight (or even at all), as Google is its own thing and we can’t control it or manipulate the results. But you can start by starting to learn and follow these best practices to boost your chances of pleasing the almighty Google Gods. AND also very importantly – please your customers too.
There are lots of different tasks involved to make all of the above happen but don’t be daunted as SEO can be worked on slowly and you can work on optimizing one page at a time. Once you learn the basic principles much of it can be rinsed and repeated as you create new pages, including product or service pages and content such as blogs and sales pages. Just as you gradually build your social media following, SEO is a slow burn but start chipping away as the results are more than worth it.