There are many phrases that can send a shiver down the back of your average small business owner: ‘Invoice not paid’, ‘Internet not connecting’ or ‘Tax instalment due’.
But the one that triggers the most serious shudders is undoubtedly ‘Search Engine Optimisation’.
Those three simple words (more commonly known by the acronym SEO) have been known to make grown men cry and grown women reach for the Sauvignon Blanc.
That’s why I decided to write this super simple post for the good guys at Online Marketing Gurus.
I’ve come up with seven of the most straightforward SEO tips a small business could ever need. Ready? Let’s get stuck in.
Tip 1: Start a blog
Yes, each blog post you write is a chance to rank for a new keyword phrase related to your business. But great content that solves your customers’ problems can also build your authority as the go-to small business in your industry, not to mention giving you more word-of-mouth recommendations.
Starting a blog often feels like a big commitment, and you might be worried that you’ll struggle to find things to write about. But once you get started, you’ll quickly find it’s easier than you think.
Aim to write useful content that stands the test of time (evergreen content), and try to mix up your blog post formats—news stories, events, checklists, how-to articles, advice posts, interviews, case studies and more.
I always recommend writing your content for humans first and Google second. That means focusing on creating amazing content that solves a problem, rather than shoehorning keywords into every available crevice.
SEO benefit: A great connection with customers, leading to more qualified traffic and potentially more conversions. Plus every new blog post is a new opportunity to be found in the search results.
Tip 2: Optimise for mobile
Google is focusing more and more on mobile optimisation. Their goal is to encourage website owners to provide the best mobile experience possible. They’ve even gone so far as to indicate which sites are mobile-friendly in the mobile search results.
So if your small business website isn’t mobile-friendly you need to get it sorted quickly You can test how mobile-friendly your site is using Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ tool.
SEO benefit: Your site will rank higher when searched for on a mobile device, and will also be easier to use for those on mobiles and tablets.
Tip 3: Set up a Google My Business page
If you have a small business that relies on local customers, it’s important to set up a Google My Business page and add as much detail as possible.
With the blended search results, having a My Business page could mean your small business website shows up not just in Maps but also in Google+ and the natural search results.
You can read Google’s how-to guide here, which steps you through everything you need to do.
SEO benefit: Your site will show up for location-based searches, attracting more customers in your local area.
Tip 4: Ask for reviews on you Google My Business page
Encourage happy customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business page. While there’s no absolute proof that more reviews result in higher rankings, if you’re already ready ranking well then having a lot of positive reviews can encourage clickthroughs to your website. (Would you click on the business with zero reviews or 100 x 5 star reviews?)
As an added bonus, you can then use these testimonials on your website and social media. I recommend using a free tool such as Canva to turn your testimonials into attractive sharable graphics.
SEO benefit: You’ll encourage clickthrough from the natural listings, and have great word-of-mouth recommendations to share with your network.
Tip 5: Set up Google Search Console
Google Search Console (Previously know as Google Webmaster Tools) is a great place to find data, tools and diagnostics for a healthy, Google-friendly website.
It’s as simple as signing up here for free, and then either verifying your site (here’s a ‘how to’ article) or asking your developer to do it for you. I also recommend setting up email forwarding so you’re the first to know if there are any issues with your site. You’ll find all the instructions here.
SEO benefit: You’ll get a deeper understanding of how well your site works, and be alerted to any potential problems quickly.
Tip 6: Write your own product descriptions
If you run an ecommerce business it can be easy to get stuck with “samey” product copy. This happens a lot when you’re selling branded items available through lots of other websites, which makes it difficult to differentiate your product and your brand.
Wherever possible, write your own specific copy and add as much personality as you can. Include buyer reviews, tips, recommendations and whatever you can think of to make your copy engaging, interesting and stand out.
Psst: If you’re worried about having duplicated content on your site, don’t fret too much. If two pages are a little too similar Google will generally only choose one to show in its index.
You won’t receive a Google penalty for having several pages with similar content in your own website.
So ideally try to make the content on your pages as unique and different as possible.
SEO benefit: You’ll demonstrate your brand’s tone of voice and brand values, and encourage users to buy from you rather than your competitors.
Tip 7: Don’t rely on SEO too much
You should always try to rank as high as possible and drive as much relevant traffic as you can to your site through SEO. But it’s important not to put all your eggs in one SEO basket.
Imagine if Google removed your site from their results. Would you still get any traffic?
Be sure to divide your marketing time between SEO, social media, email, PR and other channels. Building your brand in whatever way you can will always benefit from your SEO efforts. People will start searching for who you are, rather than just want you do.
SEO is a an important slice of the marketing pie, but it’s not the only slice.
SEO benefit: Your small business won’t rely on the whims of the search engines. And your efforts to build your brand in other areas will also have a positive benefit on your SEO.
Over to you
Which of these small business SEO tips have you put into place already? Do you have any other great Search Engine Optimisation tips to share? Please comment below.
Kate Toon is a copywriter, SEO lover and Head Chef at The Recipe for SEO Success eCourse. This eight-week online training ecourse is specifically designed to help small business owners do their own SEO.