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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving visibility on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. SEO is an important aspect of any digital marketing strategy and online presence.

For small businesses, improving SEO is a relatively inexpensive and accessible tactic to make information about the business and its offerings easier to find online. This, in turn, can help improve its web traffic and drive more customers to the business.

In particular, optimizing for local SEO can be a powerful way to ensure a business reaches customers in the area, particularly for businesses with brick-and-mortar locations.

Key Takeaways

  • SEO is a key part of improving a business’s online visibility and attracting organic web traffic to drive more visitors and potential customers.
  • Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Business Profile are all tools that can help optimize a small business’s SEO.
  • Keyword research can help small business owners identify the most relevant search terms for their business and improve the SEO ranking of their online content.
  • SEO tactics include optimizing on-page content such as page URLs, title and body tags, alt text, meta descriptions, and keywords.
  • Local SEO strategies and link building can further improve a small business’s online presence.

SEO vs. Local SEO

SEO describes the general process of improving online searchability, while local SEO is focused on making search ranking improvements in a local geographical area.

Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses

For small businesses, optimizing SEO can have many positive impacts, including:

  • Increased web traffic: This is especially important for ecommerce businesses, but it can also indirectly lead to increased foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations.
  • Better online visibility: A higher SEO ranking can improve the position in which a business’s website is listed on a search engine. Listings that appear closer to the top and on the first page of search engine results are more likely to be visited by users. Only 0.63% of Google Search users clicked on results from the second page of Google in 2023.
  • Improved user experience: SEO rankings are based on how useful the algorithm deems a result to be, so many of the best practices associated with SEO are also good for organizing and describing information on the web more generally.

How to Improve SEO as a Small Business

Although taking advantage of SEO best practices is a multistage and long-term process, here are some steps that any small business can take to improve its SEO ranking fairly quickly.

1. Make a Quality Website

A website’s quality can be evaluated across different criteria, which will vary depending on the industry and nature of the business. However, most good websites will be clear, functional, and easy to use, and offer a true representation of the business’s brand. From an SEO perspective, a good website contains the information or solution that potential customers are looking for.

2. Set Up Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Once you have a website, follow these steps to set up a free Google Analytics account.

  1. Create a Google Analytics account: This will include adjusting the settings for which data you decide to share with Google.
  2. Add a property to the account: This is essentially a category for the business in question. At this stage, you’ll add your reporting time zone, currency, industry category, and business size, and select how you intend to use Google Analytics.
  3. Add a data stream: This is your business’s website URL. Here, you can also enable or disable further data collection, referred to as “enhanced measurement.”
  4. Add tags to set up data collection: There are direct and indirect ways to do this, depending on how your website is built or hosted.
  5. Configure additional settings: Completing this extra step can help ensure that you collect the data you need to measure the results you seek. Google has a checklist of common configurations and their outcomes.

After setting up a Google Analytics account, signing up for Google Search Console can help you measure search traffic for your website, determine and fix issues, and improve your performance in Google Search results, free of charge.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Make a Google account.
  2. Add your website to Search Console: You’ll also need to verify that you are the site’s owner, as it will display confidential information and allow you to make changes that impact how your site is displayed on Google.
  3. Get familiar with Search Console and Google Search: Google offers a basic guide to Search Console usage and Google Search, both of which it recommends getting acquainted with to understand the reports and data that Search Console generates.
  4. Check Search Console monthly and whenever your site content changes: Users will receive email alerts informing them of any unusual events occurring with their website (which may indicate hacking or other problems), so there’s no need to review data daily. However, Google recommends logging in to look at the Search Console dashboard every month as a health check of your website, as well as whenever new content is added to your site.

3. Set Up a Google Business Profile

A Google Business Profile is another free tool that business owners can use to help people find their business on Google Search and Google Maps.

Setting up a Google Business Profile is relatively easy and offers many useful pieces of information to potential customers. Here’s how to set one up.

  1. Sign up for a Google Business Profile.
  2. Verify your business on Google: Once you sign up, Google will ask you to verify your business through phone, text, email, and/or video. Often, it will also review verifications and will send a notification once the review is complete.
  3. Ensure your information is complete and up to date. Providing correct and comprehensive information about your business helps customers find and understand your business.

4. Do Basic Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of identifying keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business. These include words that people may use when searching for information about a business and its offerings online. Much of SEO is about optimizing for keywords, so ensuring that your website contains them will contribute to a more prominent online presence for your business.

Many tools are available that assist with keyword analysis and research, both free and paid. Google Keyword Planner is one free tool that is useful for researching, identifying, and targeting keywords that are relevant to your business. Whichever tool you use, a keyword-targeting strategy should balance the competitiveness of ranking for a certain keyword or phrase with the number of monthly searches it gets.

For example, certain keywords that are relevant to your business might have little competition associated with them, but a relatively good monthly search volume. These would be good candidates to include in your keyword strategy.

5. Optimize On-Page Elements

On-page elements are different components of your website, including content, site architecture elements, and HTML elements.

Here are some key on-page elements that every small business should strive to optimize for SEO.

  • Page URLs: These should be simple and short, and contain relevant keywords.
  • Page titles: Also referred to as title tags, these indicate to visitors and search engines what the page is about. The main keyword for each page should be included in the page title.
  • Headers: Also called body tags, these help organize and structure a page’s content for readers and search engines. Headers should be relevant to the content and include keywords when possible.
  • Alt text: Adding alt text to images helps search engines and those using screen reader software understand what your images are about.
  • Meta descriptions: These appear underneath a title in search engine results. Meta descriptions should both accurately describe the page and entice users to click on it, and they are a good place to include relevant keywords.
  • Content: SEO-optimized content includes keywords that are relevant to the business throughout text and alt text. Images, videos, and other visual content also contribute to SEO ranking, as they make the content more scannable and enhance the website’s visual appeal.

6. Create Relevant, High-Quality Content

Search engines use several other criteria to assess and rank websites: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EEAT).

Examples of how high-quality, relevant content might incorporate and demonstrate these criteria include:

  • Expertise: bios; credentials
  • Experience: photos; real-life examples
  • Authoritativeness: good-quality backlinks; regular posting of new information on a subject; bios; credentials
  • Trustworthiness: transparent crediting and citing; accurate information; user reviews or testimonials on third-party sites; good site security

SEO-optimized content will also include relevant keywords in page URLs, page titles, headers, alt text, meta descriptions, and body paragraphs. It’s recommended to break up long sections of text with relevant headers as well as into sections and lists to make content easy to read, understand, and scan. It’s also good practice to avoid publishing duplicate content across different pages.

7. Incorporate a Link-Building Strategy

Link building is another tactic that can improve a small business’s search engine ranking. There are two types of link building:

  • Internal link building means including links to pages within your own website. It offers a good experience to users and demonstrates to search engines that your website has hierarchy and structure.
  • External link building is the practice of getting other websites to link to your website. Search engines evaluate backlinks as an indicator of credibility and authority, so it’s important to choose high-quality, trusted websites and avoid purchasing links, as using low-quality backlinks can negatively affect your SEO score.

There are many strategies for acquiring good-quality backlinks, some of which could be considered part of a wider digital public relations strategy. Some relatively easy ones include:

  • Applying or asking for your website to be listed on a resources, directory, or business association members page
  • Creating high-quality content, sharing it with people who might be interested in it, and asking for them to link to it
  • Providing testimonials to other businesses and letting them know so they can link to your content
  • Reaching out to suppliers that have a “retailers” or “dealers” page and asking for your business’s website to be listed there

8. Take Advantage of Local SEO

Local SEO is an important tool for any small business that wants to attract local customers. In 2023, 76% of those who searched on their smartphones for something nearby visited a business within a day, and 28% of searches for something nearby resulted in a purchase.

The most important techniques and tools when optimizing for local search include:

  • A Google My Business profile
  • Online reviews
  • Comprehensive, consistent, and up-to-date business information in online directories
  • Location pages on your website (for brick-and-mortar locations)
  • Locally focused content
  • A mobile-friendly website and content. Many people use their phones to look up business information such as reviews, location, and contact details.

9. Measure and Track SEO Performance

Although many SEO changes can be implemented quite quickly, it can take a while for these changes to pay off. Also, SEO rankings are not static, as new content is constantly being published online. As such, it’s important to monitor, measure, and track SEO performance and adjust your strategy and content accordingly; this ensures that your website is performing well, especially relative to those of your competitors.

Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two free tools that can generate reports and offer data on SEO performance. There are many other paid tools and agencies that specialize in SEO performance as well.

What Does SEO Stand for?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it refers to the strategies and tactics associated with helping your website and online content stand out and rank highly in search engine results.

Why Is Local SEO Important for Small Businesses?

Local SEO should be a major focus for small businesses, especially those that have a brick-and-mortar location, as it helps make businesses easy to find. In 2023, 28% of those who searched for something nearby ended up making a purchase, and 76% of those who used their smartphone to search for something nearby visited a business within a day.

Is SEO Worth It for a Small Business?

SEO is a valuable tool in any small business’s digital marketing toolkit. It’s a relatively inexpensive and accessible way to make your business easy to find online, and your website easy to use.

What Tools Can Small Businesses Use to Measure and Track Their SEO Performance?

There are many free and paid tools available for tracking and measuring SEO performance. Google offers several useful free tools, including Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google My Business.

What Are the Key On-Page Elements to Optimize for SEO?

On-page elements that should be optimized include page URLs, page titles (also known as title tags), headers (also known as body tags), alt text, meta descriptions, and page content.

The Bottom Line

Small businesses that implement and dedicate time to an SEO strategy can see many benefits. In 2023, it was reported that 53.3% of all website traffic came from organic searches, and 90.86% of global traffic came from Google Search, Google Images, and Google Maps.

Taking advantage of SEO best practices involves a few steps, including setting up and optimizing a website, signing up for free tools to monitor and track performance, setting up free online business profiles, conducting keyword research, creating quality content, and creating a link-building strategy. However, these small investments can have a huge payoff for a small business through increased visibility and traffic, better online experience, new customers, and increased sales.

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شركة النمر هي شركة متخصصة في تصميم وادارة المواقع الالكترونية والارشفة وكتابة المحتوى والتسويق الالكتروني وتقدم العديد من خدمات حلول المواقع الالكترونية والتطبيقات وهي شركة رسمية ومسجلة منذ عام 2015.

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