SEO for Small Businesses: How to Rank High and Get Conversions

SEO for Small Businesses

SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. It is a series of actions a webmaster or a person managing a website does to make it or its contents organically rank higher in the search engines.

In other words, the person in charge optimizes the contents on the web pages on their website so that search engines can love and show them in the results.

SEO helps people looking up stuff online to find the most accurate and relevant information related to their queries. Therefore, it requires the use of words (spoken or written) to avail results. The words users use are known as keywords.

Not like there's specific SEO for small businesses and another for bigger ones. The difference is often the scale and budget at which the processes happen.
SEO for small businesses

SEO Engine Optimization = Search Experience Optimization

SEO is meant to help the search engines avail relevant results to users. So, when the search engines provide results, they rank from the most relevant to the least relevant for the searcher.

When the user keys in the search box a particular term or keyword, let's say "avocado", they'll get results that will explain what an avocado is, its components, nutritional benefits, recipes, and pretty much everything concerning this fruit. As they scroll down the results, they'll start noticing other related fruits, places with the name, and even organizations with this name.

The first thing the search engine does is to meet the searchers intent. In our case, it provides the user information about the fruit first before other info.

That said, SEO is ultimately meant to serve the user. The user is the boss if you may. And since search engines do it for users, webmasters also need to do SEO for the benefit of the user.

How Search Engines Work (Crawling, Indexing, Ranking)

Search engines have bots/spiders that go around the world wide web to crawl, find new content, and store it in servers. When someone searches for a topic, the content is availed in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in order - from the most relevant to the least relevant.

Analogy: Take this as a bookshelf in a library. Each book has a title and is in a specific category, scientific, religious, fiction... Search engines are the librarians that pick the books and store them in places so when a person asks, they know where to get it from and avail it according to the request.

When you go to the library and ask for a Christian book, they have a full shelf or more to suggest to you. When you ask for a Christian book called "XWZ", they go pick it off the shelves and give it to you. If you need more, they'll present you a list with similar content.

Webmasters are responsible for labelling, cutting the books in sizes, and making the "books" look good so they are unique and stored properly. And when requests are made, the users are happy with what they get from the librarian.

Unfortunately, not all content and websites make it through the crawling, indexing, and ranking process for various reasons.
  • It's not well labelled
  • It's not original
  • It has technical issues
  • Is denying search bots from finding it
That's why you need SEO for your business.

Why Care About SEO?

More and more people are online today. And the numbers keep rising. Naturally, businesses are attracted by where people are. And since people are online, each business needs to engage them there.

That's why businesses create websites, social media accounts, and other online properties. The next step is to optimize them so the right people get it. That's where SEO comes in.

What Goes Into an SEO Process?

Auditing Your Site

Auditing a site requires a check into every aspect that can affect SEO in one way or another. From the speed of the site on computers to mobile devices, to the underlying technical elements of the site, auditing finds out about every component of SEO that might affect the performance of a website.

An SEO will usually identify both the positives and negatives that suffice during the audit. When you recognise the problems with a website and its pages, a proper audit should recommend solutions to the problem.

Coming up With a Strategy

The next step is coming up with a strategy that will help you reach your goals. Speaking of goals, you need to have an idea of what you want to achieve for your business.

Often, the ultimate goal for businesses is to get buyers for their products. Well, with SEO, you'll need to break the "big goal" into smaller digestible chunks.

Let's say you want to sell 100 items from your store. Come up with a plan identifying who your audience is and what they really want. Determine the best way to approach them, and present the products in the best way possible.

Capture their attention, then present your products.

If they are young people, they like watching short entertainment videos, and are willing to spend money to look cool, then include all these ideas in your plan or strategy.

It's advisable to have a single achievable goal and keep adjusting it when you reach there. 

You could start with writing about the product, its benefits, and how it can be used through articles and blogs. Make it apparent to the audience that your brand can serve their needs and optimize so they can easily find it. 

Keyword Research

Keywords are the foundation of every SEO project. Therefore, keyword research is a key component of enabling a webmaster rank a piece of content or the entire site on the web. Keywords are the words people use to find whatever they need on the web.

To research keywords, you have plenty of tools at your disposal, some paid others free. Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush are examples. Typically, you'll need to have an idea of what you want to rank for and two or three competitors in your industry to see what they are doing.

Then use the tools to generate keywords. Often, the tools will provide the level of competitiveness the keywords have. Anything from 0-30 is low lying fruit that any site can take advantage of, 30-60 is medium, 60-80 is tough. Anything above 80 is difficult and unattainable for small businesses, particularly if your site is new.
An image showing keyword competitiveness

Content Creation

The next step is creating content as you strategically use the keywords. Content here could mean articles, blogs, images, maps, and videos.

You could choose to go with informational, navigational, or transactional content. Some people go with reputational content that aims to promote the image of the business.

Regardless of which type of content you choose to go with, ensure it's well done and optimized for the consumers and the search engines as well. A well-written piece of content will be at least 300 words and original.

By the end of the day, you want content that will appeal to your audience and trigger engagements, bring in leads and conversions.

If you do it right, you'll gain relevance, authority, and trust from your target audience and other industry players.

Optimizing

When it comes to reaching your audience, you have to make sure your content is optimized in a way that will convince the search engines to place it at the top.

If it's video or image content google advises that you include written scripts with it. Ensure you've included alt tags to your video and images. Also, include the titles (h1 tag) and subtitles (h2, h3, h4 tags) to make it possible for crawl bots to crawl and index.

You'll also write a meta description, break your content into small chunks, provide lists within the content, and edit it so it's flawless.

Onsite/Offsite SEO

As the names suggest, onsite SEO is what happens within the website to help rank a page and offsite SEO is done outside the website to help rank the site in the SERPs. But all the two serve the same purpose of ranking the pages and website on the web.

What's in Onsite SEO?

- Good and unique content
- Visual elements like images included
- Title tags in place
- Optimized URLs
- Alt texts available
- Internal linking done well

What's in Offsite SEO?

- Sharing site content in social channels
- Building links from other websites
- Getting referrals

Technical SEO

SEO goes beyond optimizing the content on a page.

It also involves other technical aspects of a website. Search engines will be keen on ranking higher websites that are easy to use, quick to load, and secure for users.

It's therefore important that you look into technical aspects like:
  • Security Sockets Layer - (SSL) that provides a secure link that protects a browser user from hacking activities. Your site URLs will begin with https instead of http when you have SSL installed.
  • Mobile Friendliness - Google and other search engines consider mobile-friendliness of a website to be an important ranking factor. In fact, Google uses a "mobile first" indexing of sites and their content. You therefore need to make your website responsive to mobile devices.
  • Site Speed - People who look up for stuff online are not patient enough to wait for a slow-loading website to load. If it takes longer than 3 seconds, they bounce. Use a fast hosting, minify the code of a site, compress your pages, make your images small, and use a single CSS stylesheet.
  • Duplicate Issues - Having duplicate content on your website can contribute to the confusion of web crawlers and users as well. Don't publish similar content and fix any existing similar content.
  • XML Sitemap - Submitting an XML sitemap to Google console makes it easy for crawlers to find and index your pages. The sitemap will indicate priority pages when they were modified, and the frequency of updating content.
  • AMP - Enabling this feature ensures your content is easily delivered to viewers on mobile devices.
  • Structured Data Markup - Adding this code to your site enables the search crawlers to index and organise your pages well for the viewer in the search results. With this in place, you won't just see the header tag and meta description in the search results; you'll also see the date, ratings, votes, prices, and other elements you need site visitors to see.

Local SEO for Your Business

If your business serves locally, it's a great idea to leverage on local SEO. As long as you have a physical store or office, with a name and the business phone contacts (NAP), then local SEO is something to put on your priority list.

Mentioning the areas you target by mentioning them in your content is just one way to get your name in the local park. While this isn't very effective, you can still appear in some queries and get business through it.

The most recommended way to handle local SEO is to submit your Business name, address, and phone number to Google My Business and other directories to appear among local businesses in your place of operation.

With this, you'll appear in search results when someone near your place searches for local terms including the words "near me".

Reverse SEO

Our reverse SEO guide shows what we do to help manage the reputation of businesses. Reverse SEO is often done with the intention of removing or replacing others in the results pages. 

As you can figure, reverse SEO is a more intense form of SEO. It involves the normal SEO processes, plus outreach methods which might include calming people down or reporting them to authorities. Here are some things you'll need to do:
  • Reconcile with those you've wronged
  • Tell your side of the story when another party is talking ill about you
  • Report content that is malicious to the search engines
  • Pursue legal solutions to get compensation for published content against you or your business
  • Write branded content to manage what people see about your business
  • Create online properties like websites, forum pages, social media handles, etc
  • Repeat the process until you achieve the desired results

SEO Checklist

For an effective SEO process, the person conducting it needs a checklist. The list is used to make sure every aspect auditing and implementation are covered. This image shows some of the key elements I use to handle an SEO process. The list could contain close to fifty elements.

A checklist list for effective SEO

Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses

  • Brand awareness
  • Brand credibility
  • Encourages buyers to visit local businesses
  • Converts more
  • Bring leads to the business
  • Makes the user experience better
  • No need to pay for ads
  • Makes sites usable on mobile devices
  • It's the future of marketing
  • Makes your website easy to find and use
  • Builds public relations

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Can Work for Your Small Business

SEO is a daunting task that needs a dedicated business person to tackle it. Unfortunately, because of various business tasks, you'll find it challenging. And the technical aspects can be an issue for some people as well.

Small business owners are very busy people because, often, the business depends on them to run. And given that SEO takes time, it could take a lot from being effective at other duties.

And little knowledge about SEO doesn't help.

If you choose to do without SEO, you'll own a website that no one cares or knows about. I bet you don't want this.

That's why you might need help.

And I'm here to support you to move your website from the web dungeons high the search engines, get more leads, and conversions. Hit me up via email or contact via Upwork or LinkedIn so we can chat about your project.

My services are on a freelance basis. I help clients from all over the world.

Among other things, I will help...
  • Audit your site
  • Link your website with useful tools for SEO
  • Polish your content
  • Create more content
  • Get backlinks from businesses
  • Optimize broken links and pages
  • Ensure all the metadata is accurate and optimized accordingly
  • Listing your business in relevant directories
  • Improve the site speed

Final Words

SEO doesn't have to be complicated. However, it ought to be done right.

From the auditing, recommendation, to implementation, every aspect should be handled with care to result in the desired goals.

It's also worth noting that SEO is not a one time process. You should factor it in your budget to maintain the process as long as the business exists.

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