Many seem to think that small businesses stand no chance against giant corporations when it comes to marketing, but that is not entirely true.
Despite the fact that bigger companies can invest more in the marketing department and hire specialists, small business owners forget about that one thing everyone has access to - the Internet.
Search engine optimization is a gateway to the marketing playground for small businesses.
As a first step Web Development Companies can create you a website that is optimized for search engines. After that, you can either hire an SEO agency or do the job yourself.
Wait… But what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO refers to the various techniques used to improve the visibility of a website in search engines. Naturally, the better your website ranks on the search engine results page (SERP), the better your chances of reaching more people.
Each search engine has a different algorithm put in place, but in this article, we’ll focus on Google.
Google first appoints bots to crawl pages on the web. These bots analyze the webpage’s content and meaning. Different ranking factors affect the position on SERP, such as content quality, page speed, internal and external linking, etc.
There are four pillars of SEO you should be familiar with.
What are the four pillars of SEO?
SEO is built upon on-page, off-page, technical, and content SEO.
On-page SEO refers to optimizing the elements found on the website. These elements include:
Page titles and meta descriptions. These are tags found in the header of a webpage. Page titles affect the SERP ranking and increase the click-through rate (the likelihood of clicking on the link. Meta descriptions only affect the click-through rate.)
H1 – H6 tags. The “H” here stands for “Heading.” These are used to organize the content and make it readable. Search engines identify them as headers.
Internal links. These links lead to another webpage on your website. The text attached to the link (anchor text) should be related to the context and meaning of the page it leads to. They are also used to transfer the ranking power between two pages on your website.
Alternative text. It represents a description of an image put on your website. While it is primarily used as an accessibility tool, it also helps the search engine understand the meaning of the image and, eventually, the page.
Structured data. This one tells the search engine what your page is about. It is a snippet of code.
While on-page SEO is all about what’s on your website, off-page SEO refers to optimization done outside of your website. This is important because it tells search engines whether they should put trust in your website.
External links. These links are found on other websites. They lead to your website and are valuable because they pass the ranking power to your website.
Social media. While the links from social media platforms don’t carry the same value as external links do, they’re still useful.
Technical SEO consists of files and snippets of code that tell search engines how the website should be crawled and indexed. There are many different files used for that purpose, such as:
A robots.txt file. You typically want search engines to have access to all your content for crawling. However, there are times when you want to tell the crawlers not to go to certain sections for different reasons.
For instance, that could be the case when there’s private content you don’t want appearing on the SERP. This is what the robots.txt file is used for – it tells the crawlers not to go there.
An XML sitemap. This one does quite the opposite. It tells the search engines which pages should be crawled, indexed, and shown in search results.
Meta directives. Similar to an XML sitemap, meta directives are used to instruct bots on how the content should be indexed. They are found in the form of code snippets in the header of each webpage and are not visible to website visitors.
Other technical factors impact the website’s usability, such as security, responsiveness, and speed.
Technical SEO also includes the website structure. A well-thought-out structure helps the search engines understand the relations between the web pages on your website. It should be logical and provide a good user experience.
Content SEO and User Experience
Content includes not only text but also images, video, tables, PDFs, and much more. Search engines use content to figure out the meaning of each webpage.
The webpage content is assessed based on the following five factors:
While content is the foundation of a good SEO, it’s still important to make your website simple and easy to interact with.
Your website should be easy to navigate, and it should be visually appealing, simple, and enjoyable.
Now that you understand how SEO works, let’s see why you should go for it if you’re a small business owner.
How does SEO benefit small businesses?
People nowadays seem to expect quick results, regardless of the investment. SEO takes time to work, but once it does, you won’t regret investing time in it.
Aside from the fact that you won’t be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to get a better ranking on the SERP, you can count on even more benefits.
More customers and a higher conversion rate.
The more people can reach you, the more customers you’ll have. Appearing high on the SERP inevitably results in new customers.
Also, if the website’s design is intuitive and enjoyable, users are more likely to complete the desired action, thereby increasing your conversion rate.
Improved user experience.
Most people still think that SEO comes down to optimizing a web page for the search engines. That’s not entirely true.
SEO nowadays is also used to improve the user experience, favoring faster, smoother, user-friendly websites.
Well-structured, clean, and user-friendly websites convince the user to stick around, which decreases the bounce rate.
High-quality, relevant content makes the users happy since they’re more likely to get their questions answered.
A higher position on the SERPs helps you build brand awareness. This leads to more new customers since more people will hear about you and remember you.
Brand awareness is no longer a luxury only big companies can invest in. Small business owners can achieve that with SEO.
Surpass the competition.
If a competitor is selling a product similar to yours, SEO will definitely help you stand out more. A website that appears higher on the SERP is more likely to be trusted by people than one nobody has ever heard of before.
Small business SEO tips
Before hiring an SEO agency, there are a few steps you can take on your own.
Use the right keywords.
If you want to rank higher on the SERPs, you should put some time into finding the right keywords.
Keywords are the exact words users type into the search engine when they want to find something.
If you want to find which keywords work for you, try putting yourself in the users’ shoes. Once you’ve compiled a list of 20 to 50 keywords, go on Google AdWords, or Ubersuggest and check how well they’re doing and if the users really are using them.
Make sure to use the keywords on all pages of your website for maximum results, but don’t overstuff them. They should be placed naturally and used in the context. Otherwise, Google won’t acknowledge them.
Don’t forget about the local SEO.
In their 2021 State of Marketing Report, Hubspot found that half of the businesses said localization was the second-best tactic for the year. This is especially important for businesses that rely on the locals, such as beauty salons, handyman services, and many others.
Before you do any local SEO, make sure that your website contains information that points out your location. Put your business’s name, phone number, and address on your website in a visible place.
After that, you should think about following these steps:
Update your Google Business account. That includes providing information on your address, phone number, working hours, parking, and COVID-19 safety options. Make sure you update it in case of any change.
Use local keywords. It’s time to research what words locals type in a search bar to find what they’re looking for. We advise you to put local terms in your meta descriptions and meta titles.
Connect with other local businesses for external linking. Getting someone big to put the link to your website on theirs is not easy, but it may prove easier if you turn to other locals. For instance, local newspapers may be able to help if they’re willing to cover your product launch while including the link to your website.
Use internal linking.
As we’ve mentioned, getting external links is hard for small businesses. However, you can always use internal links to achieve better results and rank better.
Publish high-quality content and do it often.
Google bots explore not only the technical factors when determining how high a website should rank, but they also explore the content you post.
Even the biggest companies put their time into maintaining a blog or filming a useful video. The key to success is to do it often and to update the content you’ve already published.
Remember, you want to stay relevant so that people can rely on you.
Leverage social media platforms.
Using social media platforms is definitely a great idea. Not only can you expand your customer base, but social media is amazing for spreading brand awareness.
Social media can also aid you in your SEO strategy because people use the search engine on the platform to explore businesses and gather information.
And lastly, you want to be patient with SEO. It takes some time to work, so don’t expect marvelous results to happen overnight.
Check your progress in Google Analytics so that you can correct mistakes and tweak your strategy, but don’t feel bad if it takes months to see any real improvement. Trust the process.
We hope this information helps you have a better understanding on how SEO can help your business. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us for help! If you need a Wix SEO service or Wix Web Designer that can take care of everything for you, contact Phantom Eye Design in Athens, Georgia to get a website that looks pro and wins business.
Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. His work is focusing on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.