Small Business SEO Tactics to Improve Search Rankings - These tips will help any business, big or small.
Small Business SEO Tactics to Improve Search Rankings
With over 5 billion searches a day on Google, it's clear that ranking well for your product or service is important.
And while a good SEO strategy is important for any successful business, it is even more important to small business owners. A 2017 ReviewTrackers study found that local searches are 35% of all searches.
Local search is when a search engine (Google and to a lesser extent Bing) shows different results, giving extra priority to relevant, reputable, and highly rated brick-and-mortar locations near the searcher’s geo location. These results depend on ranking factors different from that of other organic results. And, most importantly, the consumers who are searching for local things behave very differently.
Case and Point. If I am looking for live music on a Friday night on my phone, I will get the closest bars and pubs. If I drive just 2 -3 miles away, I will get a completely different list searching for that same phrase again.
This is why we've put this guide together.
Small Business SEO Tactics to Improve Search Rankings
Now keep in mind, if you built your website via drag-and-drop on Web, Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy or any of the dozens of other online "builders", none of these tips will work for you. This guide is for businesses that have a real website. With real code.
#1 Content Marketing -
If you are not actively marketing your business on Google, you need to. Content Marketing increases your authority, gets you in more searches, and brings you leads that turn to sales.
The beating heart of any marketing campaign is Content Marketing. Provided you have a truly mobile-responsive site (or even better an AMP - Accelerated Mobile Pages) website, Content Marketing is the very best method to increase your Digital Footprint on Google and Bing who collectively have over 98% of the search market. More importantly, on mobile devices (both Android and Apple) Google has 94% of the search market.
The Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing as;
A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Lastly, proper content marketing has two important channels - Social Media and Google Search Results Pages (SERP) - and they both drive traffic to your website.
Let's take the granddaddy. When you see a "post" in your news feed on Facebook, and you click on a picture, there are just two possible outcomes to that click. It can either open up the picture in a new screen, or send you to a website. (Which do you think is more valuable?).
Additionally, if you have followed all the Google Best Practices SEO, your content marketing should appear when you search that keyword phrase on Google.
And that real estate is invaluable.
And here is something that very few website design companies with tell you, so listen up.
A website that is not set up correctly for content marketing, or is not actively engaged in content marketing, will only show in the Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) when one precisely types in the business name.
Of course, they will talk geek, throw fancy phrases around, and more. But A Static Website will not be seen for any of the relevant keywords and search phrases your potential customers use.
The only way to increase your "Google Footprint" is with Content Marketing.
#2 Rich Snippets
Website crawlers have gotten far more advanced and capable over the past few years. However, sometimes what is patently obvious to a human user is completely obscure to a bot. The result is that, occasionally, site crawlers may make errors or omit data while indexing your site.
The solution is to use structured data for rich snippets.
Using structured data is nothing more than formatting your website's code into a uniform layout. When search engine crawlers index your site, they will be able to pick up a richer amount of data since it was laid out in this “expected” format.
Ever plan a meal and Google a recipe of how long to cook something? See the highlighted first organic (not an ad) listing?
That is a Structured Data Rich Snippet.
Now, Can a Small Business Do It?
Here is another small business rich snippet...
Any small business can use structured web page data for Rich Snippets in Google Searches
Without structured data dictating what is said in your listing, Google will simply pull any text it thinks is relevant from anywhere on your page and display it in that boring little blurb in organic search results known as the "snippet" under your URL listing in the search returns. If you employ structured data markup, visitors will know right away that your site can give them the information they need – and they will click through accordingly.
Besides, with handy devices such as Google Assistant on your phone, and Google Home in your living room, it should be important to have control over what text is displayed in your search return snippet: because that is what is read back to you aloud.
As little as a few years ago, all searches gave back a list of blue links with black text underneath.
Now with Rich Snippets, you have multiple ways to get ahead of your competitors.
The last of our SEO tactics to improve search rankings is speed.
#3 Loading Speed
As mobile internet speeds have increased, so have the expectations of website performance from mobile users. According to a study by Adobe, almost half of users will leave a website if it loads slowly.
Oddly, Google says on phones "Most sites lose half their visitors while loading."
Thankfully, there's a lot your website designer can implement, such as using high compression for images to significantly reduce the load time. Additionally, a good web design/ marketing firm generally uses faster servers than the "Build Your Own Sites" use.
Additionally, all that drag and drop coding sits in your web page coding, mucking everything up. Bottom line is clean code runs fast and loads faster.
Now, keep in mind, most every study has confirmed that if it takes more than 4 seconds to load, you will have lost over half your clicks.
So, we tested a 6 page "build your own website" a client had when they came on board. It took nearly 8 seconds to load.
Then we built an 84 page website. On our servers. With our coding.
Just a tad north of 2 seconds.
Why would Google have multiple test sites to measure your website loading speed?
Because Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
In other words, if both you and your competitor had the exact same information, if your site loaded faster you would be ahead of them in the listings.
Page speed is also important to user experience. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page.
So yes, Google counts milliseconds.
And it matters.
Small Business SEO Tactics to Improve Search Rankings - Summary
If you'd like to wage a digital war with your competitors, you need;
- A Fast Loading Website with Clean Coding
- A Targeted, Optimized Content Marketing Program
- And Throw as Much Rich Snippet Coding at Google As Possible