Killer SEO Tips for Small Businesses
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most critical parts of your business. Regardless of the size of the company, whether a large corporation or small business, a website is often the first impression consumers have of your company and brand.
Competition is fierce in the online world, and it can be challenging for small businesses to compete with massive marketing budgets and brand recognition. Since three-quarters of people will never take the time to scroll past the first SERP (search engine results page), SEO is an aspect of marketing that you simply cannot ignore.
Small businesses rely heavily on inbound marketing, hoping that their ideal customer will come to them either organically or via the efforts of a well-strategized SEO plan. When compared to a major corporation, however, there is much more to contend with that goes far beyond a solid strategy and keywords.
The goal is the same for small businesses and large corporations: reach that first SERP and increase your profit while doing so. Although tactics and approaches (and definitely budgets) may be different between small businesses and large corps, that doesn’t mean they can’t compete for those top spots on the first page of Google.
Before we get into the main differences between large and small businesses in terms of SEO, let’s first look at some stats on inbound marketing that are quite interesting, and are things that any sized business can take advantage of.
Inbound Marketing Stats and Benefits
Inbound marketing is greatly impacted by SEO, and that stands for businesses of all sizes.
First off, blogging is one of the main traffic drivers for websites. Google is looking for fresh content to index, and when that content is also SEO optimized, the door is open for any sized business to capture the attention of their target market and drive traffic to their site.
Hubspot found interesting stats that make a strong case for the relationship between blogging and organic inbound traffic:
According to Social Media B2B, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.
The Content Marketing Institute reports that 8 out of 10 people identify themselves as blog readers.
ContentPlus published that blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links. Indexed pages and indexed links translate into higher rankings with the search engines, and that means more website traffic to your site.
Content Marketing Institute recently reported that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus in an advertisement. The bottom line: We don’t want to be sold to, we want to be educated, and articles deliver the kind of information your prospects are seeking in order to make smart, well-informed decisions.
The data doesn’t lie and these stats are hard to ignore if you’re looking to drive more organic inbound traffic to your website with SEO optimized blogs and content throughout the pages of your site.
Now that we know what the largest driver of traffic is for all websites, let’s take a deeper look at how small businesses can win at the SEO game.
The Commonalities in SEO Between Large Corporations and Small Companies
While SEO has many opportunities for scalable customization, it is also built on a universal foundation that applies to all users, regardless of the company size.
These commonalities are available and accessible to anyone employing SEO tactics and strategy. Let’s take a look at what they are:
- Research and strategy
- Keyword optimization
- Sitemap indexing
- User experience
- Mobile responsiveness
- Social media
- Link building
Within these basic points, there are also some pretty basic rules that Google plays by:
- You provide a high-quality on-site experience for visitors
- You make an ongoing effort to provide relevant and valuable information on your website, aka fresh content
- Your content is valuable, original, and goes deeper than readily available information
Once you’ve got those points down, you can work within all the standard features of SEO to optimize a website and business of any size.
Now that we know how SEO is structured and available to all, let’s take a look at what sets small business tactics apart from large corporations.
Killer SEO TIPS for Small Businesses
At the core of every small business’s SEO strategy is a deep understanding of the customer and their needs. Without this understanding, within the culture of the company and the products/services, any SEO strategy can fall flat.
Performing a brand discovery to drill down on the personas of the target audience will help determine different pain points to address. Understanding the audience’s pain points and their why will translate into SEO with keywords and web copy.
Large brands also have to focus on this, as the customer is the center of everything, but with more brand recognition, they don’t have to try as hard or get as specific.
With more specificity, small and mid-sized businesses have a better chance of choosing the right keywords and then optimizing their entire website to capitalize on the relevance they provide to that keyword.
Meeting the audience halfway with an optimized website and targeted keywords is going to do a lot for a small business with little to no brand recognition in the market as a whole.
SEO practices don’t vary between the sizes of a company. It’s in the application and ongoing strategy, and patience, that will win the race. And SEO is absolutely essential for small businesses.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what can help set a small business apart from a large corporation.
Large companies have the advantage of brand recognition and large websites that have many opportunities for keywords and optimization in blogs, product descriptions, and general copy.
Small businesses, however, won’t see any traction come from “Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, etc.” for example, where companies like Amazon will.
It’s a better strategy to use long-tail keywords for small businesses, which provide a more natural and colloquial way of performing a search. For example, “car repair in Denver” is a great long-tail keyword for a local repair shop in Denver to use for their website. Thinking about how people naturally speak and ask questions can help a small business work the long-tail keywords into their copy and ad spend to ensure they’re reaching the right people.
Local small businesses can benefit majorly from implementing local SEO practices that are directly specific to their area and services/products. Google Maps populates search results in a local area, helping small businesses get found.
Local SEO targets a unique geographical area, helping keywords target local searches. If the business is local, that audience will also be local. Optimizing a local listing on Google will also help small businesses show up in the SERPs, increasing the chances of being found. Local SEO involves essential factors like address and phone number while it’s not essential in SEO for large corporations.
The trick is to focus on using local-specific keywording. If the small business is located in a specific city or sells to a certain region, those words definitely need to be in the site’s keyword list.
Content is, and will always be, king. There is so much more to content than telling people about products and services. Content is a vehicle to both tell a story and optimize a website to get found online — the pulse of a website.
Publishing regular content gives Google something to crawl and index regularly, opening a great opportunity for optimized content. Small businesses may not have the resources to produce a blog post a day or a white paper each week, however.
Establishing a cadence that doesn’t feel overwhelming but provides new content frequently will drastically change a small businesses’ ranking. And when done over time, that archive of optimized content will continue to perform better and better, bringing more and more people to the website.
Creating a content strategy will help keep the momentum going, keep topics relevant and fresh, and can involve a more personal tone that relates to customers and shows the culture of the company.
Optimized, relevant content is key.
Website Design, User Experience + Bounce Rate
A poorly designed website is highly likely to have a high bounce rate. When someone lands on a website and is met with archaic design from the early 2000s, doesn’t immediately see what they’re looking for, or has a hard time navigating, they’re going to close out and look for another resource.
Web design, user experience, and bounce rate are all intrinsically connected. In order for bounce rates to be low and conversions to be high, both web design and user experience must be at the core of a website strategy.
While large corporations can spend the cash to hire award-winning design teams, that’s likely not an option for small businesses. Using websites like Wix and Squarespace, for example, can help small businesses create a beautiful looking and high-performing website on the cheap.
Web design, user experience, and bounce rate are also deeply connected to SEO. Everything from the top to the bottom of every page on any website is valuable real estate. Using the old adage, “location, location, location” in terms of web design can help the placement of optimized phrases and content.
SEO Strategy for Small Businesses
The SEO strategy will look very different for different-sized businesses. Although SEO comes from the same core principles as we looked at earlier in commonalities, the application of those principles is unique to each company.
Large corporations cast a wide net that ends up attracting a large audience. Small businesses have to think more creatively and specifically to thrive.
According to HubSpot, 75% of people don’t look past the first page of Google. They will revise the search before they click on page two. Wild! Considering that data, it’s so important to tap into the science of marketing and SEO and play it to your advantage. With the right strategy and tools, any small business can look huge online.
Large and small companies alike fight for top positions on the first page of Google. SERPs are the most important real estate in the online world, and snagging that first spot in an ongoing war. SEO is also a relatively inexpensive way to increase conversions and profits without having to dump a ton of money into advertising. It takes a good short term and long term strategy that is continually adjusted and updated based on performance, but it can be done.
Copyright: Third Door Media. Written by Search Engine Land, Design by Column Five: image source
These are the top five strategies all small businesses need to implement:
- Keyword research and targeting
- Local search engine optimization
- Mobile optimization
- Content creation
- Link building
By building an SEO strategy around each of these points will be significantly cheaper than paid advertising. It may take hiring a professional digital marketing team to get things off the ground initially, but it will be well worth it, and not to mention incredibly reliable, in the long run.
There are also a host of SEO tools that can be used to amplify an SEO strategy.
Invest in SEO now!
Regardless of where in the journey small business is, just starting or five years established, investing in SEO now is essential. The world is moving in a direction that relies heavily on Google and online searches. Capitalizing on that can make a huge difference in a small business. Working with a professional and experienced digital marketing agency can help a small business make leaps and bounds in the online world. Get in touch with us at Pico Digital Marketing to discuss your needs and goals and discover how we can help you get there.