When done right, search engine optimization (SEO) is what can level the playing field for small businesses hoping to tap into the same market targeted by bigger businesses. While many of those big guys can afford to maintain a massive marketing staff, smaller businesses are often ran by multitaskers who have things like customers and daily business operations to worry about. If this is where you’re at in 2017, the good news is that it’s not all that difficult to grasp some of the basics of SEO. Here are some tips to get you started.
Do Your Keyword Research
Keywords will always be at the heart of basic SEO. There are many effective ways to research the words and terms that will be linked to your small business in 2017. The Google Keyword Planner is a handy free tool that can get you started.
When researching your keywords, go beyond the very top choices and determine whether or not less-popular keywords will be just as effective at connecting with your intended audience. And consider what keywords your competitors are already using to target the same customers.
Embrace Local SEO
More than half of all consumers use Google to find local businesses and more than 90 percent of consumers start local purchases online. This is why it makes perfect sense for small businesses to embrace local SEO with geo-specific techniques. Accomplish this goal by:
• Creating and claiming your business listing on Google Places, Yahoo Local and similar directories
• Incorporating keywords on title pages specific to your business and its location
• Using location information to send out texts and social media posts to local customers
Pay Attention to Meta Tags and Title Tags
Often ignored by small businesses, meta tags and title tags help with both rankings and attracting online attention. Meta tags are the short descriptions of the content for each of your website’s pages that appear on search engine results pages. Similar to meta tags, title tags are very short descriptions (no more than 60 characters) that appear at the top of the blurbs that show up with your website’s link on results pages.
Have a Good Link Strategy
Links are arguably just as important as keywords when it comes to effective SEO for small businesses. Leading search engines like Google use links to determine whether or not a website is providing value for searchers. Links can be either internal (links that direct visitors to other content within your website) or external (ones that point back to your site). Build an appropriate link strategy for your small business by:
• Sharing links to your website in your social media posts
• Including links to your website in newsletters and other customer communications to build quality external links
• Becoming involved with your local chamber of commerce or other community organization and asking them to place links to your site on their websites
Make Your Website Content Locally Focused
Go beyond keywords and add some local flavor to your website content. For instance, if you serve multiple neighborhoods within the same geographic area, naturally include references to those communities within your content. The same thing can be done with your blog and social media posts.
Track Your Results
No SEO strategy will be effective if you don’t monitor your progress and track your results. The easiest way to do this is by tapping into the stats you can get from Google Analytics and the reports displayed. Software tools like Moz can also be helpful if you need to track monthly traffic and identify issues like missing meta tags that may be making it difficult for search engine crawlers to rank your site.
You’re not going to see immediate results with search engine optimization unless you explore some paid search options; although SEO is often more effective when it’s a mix of organic and paid efforts. By nature, SEO is a gradual process that involves building and maintaining online relationships. If you’re going to start anywhere with your SEO efforts in 2017, focus on your content. Whatever you present to your audience needs to be in the form of relevant, useful information that’s easy to digest.