Unless you’ve been residing under a rock over the past few decades, you’ve probably heard about the importance of search engine optimization (or SEO for short). As a small business, this happens to be one of the most important tools in your arsenal of marketing weapons. It also happens to be quite overwhelming, at least at first glance.
The good news is, with the right strategies in place, mastering SEO doesn’t have to involve Jedi mind tricks or other crazy shenanigans (unless you really can do mind tricks, in which case you’re probably already way ahead of the game).
To get you pointed in the right direction, here are 50 super simple yet highly-effective small business SEO tips to keep in mind.
1. SEO is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. That means you can’t just set it and forget it. It takes time, effort and commitment. Figure out which keywords you want and need to rank highest for and then start plugging away. Don’t give up and you’ll eventually see results.
2. Content is king, but there’s a science to it. Google now considers the quality of a web page’s content as one of the most important factors when determining how high it will rank, so make sure that your site is chock-full of awesome content. Oh, and just to make things a little more complicated, the number of words you use is also important (just remember 450 word minimum; 1,500 word = Rock Star).
3. Keep the fresh content coming. Along with quality, the frequency with which you post new content to your website also plays a significant role in Google’s ranking algorithm. The more you update your site with things like fresh blog posts, the more the search engines will crawl your site and the higher it will rank over time.
4. Never, we repeat, NEVER use duplicate content. Like, ever. Not only is it lazy and just bad juju, but doing so will probably get your site flagged by Google, which will result in the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
5. A well-designed site with compelling images and video can improve ranking. That’s because the nicer the site and the better the content, the lower your bounce rate will be. Search engines will take notice.
6. Use Google Keyword Planner. If you’re not sure where this is, simply log into your Google Ads account and choose the keyword planner from the menu. This will help you hone in on the right keywords to start focusing on.
7. Research your competitors for keyword ideas. See what’s working for others in your industry and do your best to mirror that (without blatantly copying, of course – see #4).
8. Always include your focus keyword at the beginning. One of the simplest yet most effective of all the SEO tips and tricks out there is to ensure that your focus keyword appears in the first paragraph of your content.
9. Don’t forget title tags and meta descriptions. All too often people focus on the on-page content and forget about the behind-the-scenes stuff that is also super important, particularly when it comes to small business SEO. Make sure you always include your targeted keyword in the title tags and meta descriptions of any content you post online.
10. Target local search traffic with geo-tags. Including the location of your small business is of high importance for local SEO, so leverage this with your title tags. For instance, instead of just “ABC Laundry Service” use: “Dallas, TX Laundry Service”. You may also want to incorporate your geo location with keywords throughout your website content, where it makes sense and is readable.
11. Oh, and images too. The images you include on your website and blog posts should provide the option to include an “alt image tag,” that is, include a behind-the-scenes description of the image. Take advantage of this by always including your focus keyword.
12. Keyword density still matters. It used to be that the more times you could stuff your keyword into your content, the better. Now, Google will actually rap your knuckles for overdoing it (figuratively of course). A good rule of thumb is 1-3% on keyword density. Oh, and make sure it’s readable.
13. Use primary keywords with higher volume and low competition on your main products and service pages. Broader search terms can still be used on these main pages, with more targeted ones for blogs and other content.
14. There are plenty of ways to cheat. Ok, well, maybe we shouldn’t use the word “cheat.” It’s more like taking some shortcuts, which is a huge deal when you’re super busy running a successful small business. SEO tools like the Yoast plugin for WordPress can help you make sure you’re hitting the mark without having to spend hours at it. It’s a must use.
15. Give your URLs some love. One area that is often overlooked in SEO for small business is that of URLs that are generated for blog posts. Make sure yours are SEO-friendly by including your targeted keyword(s). For instance, instead of yourbusinessblog.com/p=457? use www.yourbusinessblog.come/seotipsandtricks. Make sense?
16. Use hyphens to separate multiple-word URLs. This makes it easier for everyone – including Google – to read and understand what the link will lead to. For instance, using the link from the previous example, the URL could be further optimized to yourbusinessblog.come/seo-tips-and-tricks.
17. Speaking of URLs…If you’re starting a new business or have the opportunity to change URLs, incorporating the main keyword for your industry (if possible) can help move your site up the ranks.
18. Make sure all your relevant pages have been indexed with Google . You can check this by typing “site:www.mydomain.com” into the search bar.
19. Take advantage of H2 header tags. Not only do these make your content easier to read, but it’s also good for SEO purposes. Try to incorporate your focus keyword whenever possible as well, but be careful not to overdo it.
20. Be generous with general blog post tags. When publishing a blog, platforms like WordPress allow you to include tags (sort of like categories) to help readers find the content they’re looking for when visiting your site. A good rule of thumb is to include at least 3-5 tags for each post with at least one being your targeted keyword.
21. Leverage long-tail keywords and keyword phrases. Broad search terms are much harder to rank for because everyone and their long-lost uncle is using the same ones. While you do need these in your main website content, try to focus more on long-tail keywords and targeted keyword phrases, particularly in your blog posts.
22. Experiment with new keywords. Pay extra attention to those keywords and phrases that feature low to medium competition and are low-volume. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.
23. Get familiar with Google Analytics. All of your SEO efforts will be for naught if you aren’t measuring results and tweaking your approach. Google Analytics allows you to see who is coming to your page and through what sources as well as what their activity on your site consisted of. All of this will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t.
24. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. About a year ago, Google made it abundantly clear that any site that wasn’t optimized for mobile use would be dropped like last night’s cold lasagna. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, SEO is pointless. (You can check the status here to be sure.)
25. Get your link love on. Another important small business SEO tip is to incorporate link-building into your strategy. That is, make sure you have outgoing links to other quality, relevant content peppered throughout your pages and blog posts. [signinlocker]
26. Get others to link to you. Just as you need to link out to other content, getting other authoritative sites to link back to yours is also a powerful tool in increasing your SEO ranking. Producing consistent, quality content and sharing that content socially is a great way to start. You may also want to come right out and ask if you’re not too shy.
27. Extra points for scoring links from .edu and .gov sites. While you’re working to get some links back to your website, shoot for more high-authority sites, like government and universities because they can significantly improve your ranking.
28. Check to see who is linking to your site from time to time. To determine what sites have linked to yours, login to Google Webmaster Tools and select “Search Traffic – Links to Your Site”. If there are any from sites that are unsavory, contact them and nicely request the link be removed.
29. Internal links count too. In addition to linking out to external content, you can boost your SEO score while also keeping visitors on your site by linking to other relevant content within your site. For instance, reference a similar blog post or link back to a particular product or service you’re talking about.
30. Remember the rule that low quality = high risk. Consider your connections online to be similar to those in real life. When you associate with less-than-stellar individuals, you run the risk of become guilty by association. Same goes for interactions such as links to and from your website and how those affect the way Google subsequently views your business. Stick to only those sites that are of good quality and on the up-and-up.
31. Make sure your site is up to speed (literally). Sites that load slowly can be knocked down in the rankings by Google, so make sure yours is at the right speed by checking it here. If it’s not up to par, it’s probably time to invest in an update.
32. Make it easy to share your content. The more your content is shared, the more exposure your brand will get and the more authority Google will assume your site has (which is the ultimate goal). Encourage your fans and followers to spread the word by including social share buttons on every blog post.
33. Create a Google My Business account. It kind of goes without saying that since Google My Business is an extension of Google, having an active account on there for your business plays a huge role in SEO ranking, so if you haven’t already done so, make it a priority.
34. Claim and optimize all free online business listings. For example, make sure your info is up to date on review sites like Yelp. These pages rank high and can be optimized for your targeted keywords. Besides, it’s always better if you control the information shared on these sites.
35. Be social. Being active on social media can also help boost your authority status with Google. Plus, if you’re not yet on social media, your customers will think you’re still stuck in the dark ages.
36. Leverage popular and high-ranking sites to drive traffic back to your site. Sites like LinkedIn and YouTube allow small businesses to post content and include links back to the associated website. Take advantage of this if you’re not already doing so.
37. Get verified on Google My Business. Boy, that Google sure does like all the attention, eh? Anywho, just as with anything else associated with the search engine giant, getting set up and verified on Google My Business is super important. It will increase the chances of your business appearing in the Google Maps listings.
38. Make sure your Google My Business profile is 100% complete. Once your business has officially been verified by Google, make sure your profile is filled out completely and use keywords whenever possible.
39. Run a Google Ads campaign to identify best keywords. While Google Analytics can provide some information, Google Ads generally provides more in-depth and effective results. It’s worth the investment to be able to hone your small business SEO strategy.
40. Submit any changes to Google right away. Any time you make any significant changes to your website, you should submit the URL for that new content via Google Search Console. This will speed up the indexing process exponentially.
41. Review (and fix) any crawl errors. If Google is hitting a problem, such as a 404 Page Not Found, when crawling your site, it can have a negative effect on your SEO ranking. Avoid this by proactively reviewing your crawl errors and fixing them right away.
42. Choose web designers that understand SEO. If you plan on redesigning your website at any point, be sure the designer you choose to work with is skilled in developing sites that are SEO optimized.
43. Conduct a link audit from time to time. Make sure there are no broken links on your website. Check this every so often and correct any issues in a timely manner. This Link Checker tool is pretty handy for validating this and other things on your website, including the validity of your HTML code.
44. Understand the various Google penalties. Google gives names to the various penalties it assesses, and knowing what these are as well as how to avoid them is key to your small business SEO success. Here’s a great resource from Moz that delves into the details of each and should bring you up to speed.
45. Combine your SEO work with Google Ads. While the latter isn’t free, when you strategically combine both it can result in more leads because your site will show up in the search results more.
46. Don’t neglect other search engines. Just because Google has cornered the market on search engine usage doesn’t mean people don’t still use other, smaller sites like Yahoo or Bing. Just allocate your efforts accordingly.
47. Get started. Like, yesterday. Even if you’re not quite sure how everything works, at least start putting some of these SEO tips and tricks listed here into action. The longer you wait, the more traffic (aka potential customers) you’re missing out on.
48. Get help straight from the source. Google has published a wealth of data and helpful resources to make mastering SEO for small business easy. Take advantage of this free information by visiting here. Or, if videos are more your style, check out the Google Webmaster YouTube channel
49. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day. A watched pot doesn’t boil. Patience is a virtue. You get the idea. The point is, small business SEO takes time. You can’t expect to start seeing results as soon as you implement a few of these tips and tricks. Give it at least 3-6 months and don’t give up. Over time, you’ll start seeing the steady results you’re after. We promise.
50. Consider hiring an expert. Need help? Confused? Overwhelmed? No problem. That’s why we’re here. Give us a call today and let’s discuss how we can bring your small business SEO to the next level.
About Dialed In Web
Through years of experience, Dialed In Web has mastered the process of designing and fine tuning ROI-geared digital marketing campaigns, so that at the end of the day, clients are left with clear, measurable results. Their unique full circle search marketing approach includes the development of highly-effective, customized marketing campaigns that truly stand out and result in what the company refers to as “defined conversions.”