SEO for the Small Business Owner

SEO. You’ve heard about it. You kind of have an idea about what it is. You know you probably need it. Where the heck do you start?

First things first, what does SEO mean? The letters stand for search engine optimization. In simple terms: get your website visible on Google search results when your potential customers are looking for you online. You may have a beautiful new website, but if no one can find you, what purpose can it serve?

Just like many other forms of marketing, understanding your brand and creating a strategy to achieve SEO is important. For a little help on branding, check out my 6 Must Read Rules for Branding. This is where other terms you may have heard make their appearance, like keywords, tags, alt text, and descriptions. We’ll go through these and your quick to do list.

Clarify your business information on listing websites. These are websites online like YellowPages.com, Yelp, Manta, and others that simply list your business name and information. Google is also one to make sure has your information 100% accurate. Simply open up Google and enter your business name. When you press “search,” the results that pop up are generally those listing sites. Go down the list one by one and make sure hours, website, phone numbers, address, and the name of your business is accurate and the same on every one. Some may ask for payment or a subscription. I wouldn’t pay for any of them unless you think it is beneficial to you in the industry you are in. Angie’s List, for example, may be helpful for some, but not for all. In the end, these listing sites don’t make or break your marketing efforts or even your SEO. It just helps maintain consistent information about you and your business.

Make sure your website has room for content. When websites first became a thing in the 90s, you’d go to a page and the whole thing would be an image. Text, photos, you name it, just one big picture. When Google popped up with other major search engine sites, algorithms started utilizing the ability to locate specific words within the millions of websites online. Now, algorithms still locate words, however, its a little more complex. In truth, I have no idea how it really works, but what I do know is that there is a combination of appropriate content, added regularly, that Google tends to favor. Let’s delve into this one a little more:

  • Keywords: Your business reflects broad and specific descriptive words that people can use to find you when they search for your type of business. For example, if you own a mexican restaurant, assume people will search online with words like “mexican restaurant” “burritos near me” or “best mexican food”.Anticipate what your potential customer will be typing in to that search box and use those words throughout your website. In the early days of SEO, throwing those words on a hidden page of your website actually worked, but now, algorithms work around it. Google favors the use of keywords in well thought out and useable content. This article, for example, uses phrases like search engine sites, SEO, content marketing, and others. This will help my own reach for people like you needing information about doing their own SEO for their small business. Google Ads can help you search for relevant keywords with their keyword research tool.
  • Alt Text: This is a box that is filled in with words or a phrase that describes a photo you have on your website. If, for any reason, the photo doesn’t show up on a page, alt (or alternative) text will take its place. These words are also “visible” on Google search results. This is why when you search for something, photos pop up as well. The alt text as well as the file name are super important to help you score that higher ranking.
  • Tags: Let me guess, you skip this one. Many of us do since it just seems like something extra to do and you don’t really know what to include anyway. Get over that and fill in the tags with at least 5-6 of those keywords we spoke about earlier. Usually, you would tag a photo, blog post, or a page on your website. Include words that are the most relevant to the topic or photo you’re posting. Google really likes relevancy.

Put your Website address on EVERYTHING. The goal is to always circle back to your website. Whether you post on social media, send out a direct mailer, or get PR published in the local paper, your website should always be there. Doing this helps drive a quantity of people organically to your site. Google likes that. It shouldn’t be all about how your website functions or using search engine tools. A certain amount of traffic flowing in to your site should come from direct sources, which can include email campaigns, social media posts, and other traditional forms of marketing. This way, Google can see that you’re a live, functioning company and not some bot funneling people into a scam. 

Use Social Media to drive more traffic. When it comes to promoting your business, social media should be a tool, not a main source of traffic. I’ve seen too many business owners become obsessed with their social media numbers and accounts, that really just doesn’t deliver. Instead, use one or two social media accounts to direct followers to your website. If you don’t want to use a website, then point them to a landing page or some other central hub that gives the end user what they are looking for: information. 

Make sure your website message is clear. The last thing you want is to lose your website visitors the moment they get to your website. SEO work will be completely useless if you are not satisfying the customer once they get to the site. This means, completing all pages with necessary information, if you have a store, make sure they can buy things from start to finish, and keep them interested for at least a minute or two. If you do all of this great SEO work to bring eyeballs to your website and have zero follow through, you will be disappointed with the results. 

If you still need more help, contact us and we’ll help you get that SEO ball rolling. 

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