Small business SEO may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
With a little time and effort, you can improve your website’s ranking in Google search results, which will help more customers find your business online.
Customers find businesses through search engines like Google, so it’s important to make sure your website is optimized for search engine algorithms.
This website traffic can more easily be converted into customers, leads, and sales since you meet a particular need they have.
For example, if some searches for “tow truck near me,” odds are they need a service soon.
Or someone searches, “wedding cakes near me,” if you are a bakery, would you want to miss out on that potential customer?
Of course not!
This guide will cover some small business SEO tips to help you get more customers through your website.
Why small business SEO is important for small business owners
Small business SEO has one of the best ROI (return on investment) of any marketing activity.
This is because after putting in work in the beginning, you continue to get results for your past efforts.
Unlike PPC ads, it is costly to run, and the moment you stop spending money, the traffic disappears.
Organic search plays a critical role in getting users to engage or convert. To put that in numbers, 40.9% of Google searches get an organic click for mobile devices.
That’s a huge difference compared to the mere 2% of paid clicks.
For desktop devices, it’s 62.2% organic versus 2.8% paid clicks.
These are only a few of the many reasons why you should utilize small business SEO.
Types of SEO
There are two types of search: organic and paid.
As stated above, organic means unpaid, natural first-page rankings in search results. Paid search, as the name suggests, focuses on paid rankings.
For this guide, we will focus on organic search and discuss the different types of SEO you can use for your small business.
On-Page SEO Tips
On-Page SEO involves optimizing the content on your website.
Optimizing each page on your website helps algorithms understand the topic of the content you are publishing.
This tells search engines that your website is relevant to people searching for specific terms.
In this type of SEO, a small business owner would do the following:
- Keyword Research – Looking for keywords to include on a page (more on this later).
- Content Creation – Publishing high-quality, informative content revolving around the keywords.
- Keyword Optimization – Adding the keywords in strategic places in the content. Avoid keyword stuffing and only add them where it makes sense.
- Website Design – A clean, easy-to-navigate website will offer a good user experience that will keep people on your site longer, which helps with rankings.
For On-Page SEO, excellent content is key to higher rankings in the SERPs.
According to Rand Fishkin of SparkToro (formerly with Moz), your content should be ten times better than other content on the results page.
Areas of On-Page SEO
To succeed in this type of SEO strategy, a small business must pay attention to these best practices that will help increase your first-page rankings, traffic, and conversions.
Title tags are HTML elements that show the title of your web page. Along with meta description, they appear in search results like this:
Meta title tags are crucial because they help search algorithms understand what your page is about.
This is why it’s vital that you follow the SEO best practices for optimizing title tags, such as including your target keywords.
SEO aside, they also leave first impressions on the people looking on search, which can be a make-or-break factor on whether searchers will click on your link.
Below the title tag, meta descriptions explain what your page is about. It is the longer version of the title tag.
Just like the first HTML element, meta descriptions also tell search algorithms what the topic of your content is.
Meta descriptions also need keywords to rank your page in the SERPs.
Header tags are HTML elements H1-H6 that’s long been a fixture of SEO, but most people know little about them.
But what exactly are header tags?
These HTML elements are used to determine headers and subheadings within the content. For example, just take a look at the illustration below.
While header tags aren’t as critically important for site rankings as they used to be, they still serve a role that can indirectly influence your rankings.
Header tags indirectly impact rankings by:
Making content more scannable for an easy read.
You are sending the right signals to search engines about what topic your content contains.
Image ALT Tags
People visiting your web page can physically see the photos published on your site.
But search engines can’t. And this is where image ALT tags come in handy.
ALT tags, otherwise known as “alt attributes” or “alt descriptions,” are HTML codes and text that you add to describe an image.
If you include keywords in these tags, search algos will quickly determine what your photos are about.
These tags are vital because they improve user experience and contribute to image SEO.
ALT tags lend search engines a helping hand by describing what an image is about through keywords.
These are hyperlinks that direct to another page on the same website.
Internal linking is an essential step in SEO for the following reasons:
- It allows for more straightforward navigation on the website.
- It helps establish site architecture for the given website.
- It helps distribute link juices around web pages.
- Both internal and external (more on this later) links send search signals about the topic of your content. But internal ones are used to show relationships between content.
As search engines determine such relations, they work on ranking your most essential pages higher in the SERPs.
Page speed is another important ranking factor that Google is looking for. It is the measurement of how fast your web page content loads.
Page speed is often described as “page load time.”
A page’s loading time depends on several factors, such as image compression, page file size, and the site’s server.
Google penalizes pages with longer load times, which tend to have a lower average time on page and higher bounce rates.
It’s crucial that you follow the SEO best practices for increasing your page speed. This includes enabling compression, reducing redirects, and improving server response time.
Now it’s more critical than ever that your website is mobile-friendly.
The top priority of a mobile-friendly website is to be sure it loads in less than 4 seconds on a 4G connection.
Small businesses can use this free tool by Google to test their mobile site, Think With Google.
Off-Page SEO Tips
Off-page SEO involves optimizing efforts outside of your website. Unlike on-page SEO, a small business often does not have control over off-page SEO.
For instance, you reached out to an authoritative website to link to your website.
That’s off-page SEO. It is considered off-page because you didn’t change anything about your website.
Off-page SEO is vital because it touches many off-page factors that help rank a website. Some of the most important of these factors include the following.
Building links is at the core of off-page SEO. This is because links are one of Google’s most important ranking factors.
Links are crucial because search engines use them to discover new web pages.
They also determine how well a page should rank in the SERPs.
Search engines look at the number of links from external websites pointing to a page you are trying to rank.
These links tell search engines if the page has sufficient quality to rank for relevant keywords.
Generally, the more high-value links you build, the better you rank on the results page.
In the What is the SEO Process section, we will discuss link building in great detail. So keep on reading to learn more about this process.
E-A-T in SEO stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
It is one factor in determining Page Quality. Search results display pages if it has a beneficial purpose.
If it does, its E-A-T level considers whether the content is YMYL (Your Money or Your Life).
This ranking factor matters on topics such as YMYL, which include pages that can potentially impact a searcher’s safety, financial stability, health, and happiness.
And what do these all mean? It all boils down to links and high-quality content.
Writing blog posts is a great way to help Google understand that you are a small business that deserves high E-A-T.
As mentioned above, links are crucial to rank higher in the SERPs. And it’s not just any link; it should be linked to high-quality content.
For you to create high-quality content, you need to look at your E-A-T.
As a small business, you more than likely fall into this YMYL category since you are offering a service that requires money to be spent.
For this reason, personal branding can be beneficial in establishing your E-A-T.
Being mentioned in media, industry publications, and relevant organizations helps show that you represent a business that knows what they are doing.
Google clarified that social media is not a direct SEO ranking factor.
But despite this, there’s still a connection that indirectly affects how Google sees your content.
Engagement metrics, like “shares,” play a role in SEO. The more social shares you get, the more visibility of your content gets.
And visibility sends the right signals if your content is high-quality and relevant to your target keywords.
That said, social engagement impacts SEO. And you should also pay attention to this when trying to rank on the results page.
Statistics show that 46% of all Google searches are local. And how do you take advantage of these searches? Through local search engine optimization.
This is the process of optimizing content to drive traffic organically. But in this type of SEO, you target more relevant local searches.
Investing in local search engine optimization is vital because 80% of local searches result in conversions.
And 50% of people who made those searches visited a store within a day after conducting a local search.
For small businesses, if a person does a local search like “Consulting firms near me,” you have a better chance get found by potential clients in your area.
That means an opportunity to convert, so you shouldn’t miss out on local SEO.
Important Parts of Local SEO
The process is not all that different from organic SEO. This involves taking the following steps to optimize your content for local searches.
- Create a Google My Business listing
- Performing keyword research
- Creating content and blog posts with a local focus
- Acquiring high-quality links
Note: A Google My Business listing is straightforward to set up, and depending on your market, it’s one of the easiest ways to rank higher and improve your online presence.
The ‘What is the SEO Process’ section will discuss these steps in great detail.
What is the SEO Process
Now that you have an idea of the types of SEO, it’s time you get an overview of how the Search Engine Optimization process goes.
How Search Works
Search engines rank a website in three primary steps:
- Crawl – search engine crawlers scour the Internet for content.
- Index – search engines process and store information they find in a huge database called an index.
- Rank – from the index, the best answer (aka most relevant) for each search query is displayed, with the first spot being most relevant to your search.
You must optimize your content for crawlers to rank your website higher in the SERPs. How? Through the steps below:
SEO campaigns usually start with keyword research.
Keyword research is finding words and phrases your target audience enters into the search bar.
It involves analyzing those search terms to help you develop an informed content and marketing plan.
The ultimate goal of this process is to optimize content around those keywords. You do this so your website ranks in the SERPs.
Importance of Keyword Research
Keyword research is crucial because it tells you what topics your customers care about.
It also gives you relevant data like search volume that tells you how popular those topics are to your target people.
Determining the intent behind each search term also lets you identify what sort of content you should create to resonate with your target audience.
By researching keywords for their search volume and intent, you get insight into what answers people are looking for.
You get a clearer view of what you should consider in the next steps of the SEO process.
It is like a compass that tells you where to go when doing content creation, outreach marketing, and promotion, among others.
The Keyword Research Process
SEO specialists usually take the following steps to discover search terms:
- Making a list of relevant topics for your business.
- Research keywords that fall into those topics.
- Discover related search terms.
- Come up with a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords for a balanced strategy.
- Use keyword tools like SEMrush to check how competitors rank for specific keywords.
- Refine your keyword list based on search volume, general intent, and trends.
Once you have your keywords sorted, the next thing to do is to create great content and high-quality blog posts.
SEO speaking, content must be of high quality and should contain helpful information for your niche audience.
Remember that searchers seek a ‘relevant’ answer when they type a query.
If you want to rank on the results page, your content must be able to provide answers that are of value to searchers.
Importance of Content Creation
In online marketing, content is ‘still’ king.
The search result’s mission is to compile and organize information and to present the best possible answers to questions.
That’s why content should be helpful and relevant to searchers. And the ‘best’ answers are rewarded in the search results in the form of a higher page ranking.
Simply put, content with SEO value ranks higher in the SERPs. So, you should work on creating optimized, valuable content.
And by optimized, we mean strategically placing relevant keywords on the content you are creating.
Different Forms of Content
There are different forms of content, and they work differently depending on your audience.
Remember that each industry is different. For example, one industry may find blogs to resonate with its audience.
In contrast, others may notice videos as an effective form of content that drives results.
The idea is to find what content appeals to your audience. The more it appeals to them, the better your content will do in the search results.
Below, we rounded up some of the most common types of content that work best for SEO.
- Web Page Content
- Video Content
- Blog Posts
- Long-Form Articles
- Evergreen Content
- Photo and Visual Galleries
- Social Media
- Local Listings
After creating content for your audience, the next step is to build links to your website.
As mentioned above, links are one of the most important ranking factors that Google has established for SEO.
Now, let’s talk about external links, aka inbound links or backlinks.
Importance of Links
Inbound links are links that point from one website to a page on another website. They are like “votes” for a specific page, acting as a real-life reputation.
To put it simply, think of links as people. Say you asked five people what the best diner in town is. Then, they all said,
“Steven’s Kitchen in Manhattan.” In your mind, you would trust Steven since people are vouching for it.
This is what links do for search results. These links signal to search engines that other website trusts your content.
And the higher the number of links that point to your website, the higher you appear on organic search engine rankings.
Ways to Build Backlinks
Link building can be done in several methods, and Moz has provided an exhaustive list to help you build high-quality backlinks.
To give you an idea, we rounded up some popular strategies that work for most campaigns.
- Publish a blog
- Find customer and partner links
- Create unique resources
- Build resources page
- Refurbish top content
- Get involved in your local community
- Be newsworthy
- Be personal and genuine with outreach
Aside from link building, outreach is another way to help businesses rank for their chosen keywords, thus attracting organic traffic and more potential clients.
But what exactly is outreach in SEO?
Outreach is technically one way to do link building. In this method, you reach out to people to create valuable backlinks from third-party sites.
Beyond gaining traffic, doing outreach also helps businesses build credibility within their respective industries.
Often, businesses also perform outreach to improve brand awareness. This is done in several ways, like earning a mention from influencers and press releases.
Importance of Outreach
Outreach is crucial in SEO to stand out from the crowd.
As more and more digital marketers create content for link building, the supply of content is now significantly exceeding demand.
It is up to the outreach specialist to identify valuable publishers and convince them to accept and promote their content.
When you do this correctly, you may enjoy high-quality backlinks to your website. And that means better ranking and more organic traffic for your web pages.
Ways to Perform Outreach
Businesses can outreach in various ways. This includes the following strategies:
- Email outreach
- Social Outreach
- Influencer outreach
- Press outreach
Is SEO Difficult
You’ve probably realized by now that SEO is complex with all the steps mentioned above.
Learning its process by yourself demands a significant amount of time and attention. You might even have to spend months learning the basics and finding your footing with this online marketing strategy.
This is why many small business owners are too intimidated to take on SEO themselves.
But you know that SEO is an excellent investment. So, what should a small business do?
Seek help from professionals or join a community that can help you on your journey.
Marketers who have spent enough time mastering the optimization method offers you better chances of achieving your business goals through SEO.
Should You Hire Someone for SEO
If you are a small business that doesn’t have the luxury of time to learn SEO from scratch, it’s probably best to hire an expert or marketing agency to optimize your website.
Pros of Hiring Someone for SEO
You get someone who has a complete understanding of SEO.
When you hire someone for SEO, you acquire valuable digital marketing knowledge to help you achieve your business goals.
You are getting someone with advanced skills that can work hand-in-hand with you.
You get someone who is updated on current algorithmic changes.
Search engine algorithms are an ever-changing element that you need to keep up with.
And staying up-to-date is one of the many offers that an SEO specialist can bring to the table. While using outdated tactics can hurt your rankings.
You get someone to talk to within your business.
Having someone to do small business SEO for you means you can explore ideas that might work best for your business.
There is not one method that works for all approaches in SEO. However, strategically piecing together business goals with SEO could be the thing that helps you stand out to algorithms.
Quicker Return on Investment
Small business SEO is an investment that, when done right, gives excellent returns.
Depending on your business goals, SEO can provide some of the best returns in online marketing.
For instance, one case study shows how a website saw an average of 140,000+ organic visitors per month from the previous 20,000.
That’s an increase of 600%, boosting the client’s brand awareness and, ultimately, their revenue.
Cons of Hiring Someone for SEO
SEO takes time to get results
As we will discuss below, small business SEO is a commitment that takes some time. It takes months or even years to pull off.
Be mentally prepared to commit to 6 to 12 months for superior results.
SEO Is Complicated
Many factors contribute to the success of an SEO campaign.
If you’re hiring someone to do the job for you, you will have to rely on that person’s skill to get results.
That’s why finding an SEO expert with experience and someone you feel you can trust to deliver results is crucial.
How Long Does It Take to See Results From SEO
If you’re hiring SEO experts to work for you, know that there is a baseline period to see results from your optimization efforts.
Ask some SEO agencies, and they will tell you that ranking for high-competition keywords takes 6 to 8+ months.
High competition means keywords that have high search volume that often convert well into visitors or purchases.
Many marketers and advertisers bid for high-competition keywords because of their opportunity to convert, gaining huge traffic and sales. Thus, the term “high competition.”
In contrast, ranking keywords with lower competition may take 4 to 6+ months. By lower competition, it means terms that have a relatively lower search volume.
Low-competition keywords often rank easier in search results because fewer marketers and advertisers are bidding for them.
Ranking low competition terms usually take little to no link building and no domain authority.
As a general rule of thumb, it is best to find high-volume keywords with low competition during the keyword research phase.
These keywords give businesses a chance to rank on the results page.
With that said, there is value in using keywords with a low volume and low competition.
I recommend this more for newer sites still growing and building their E-A-T with Google.
The small and local businesses sector as a whole is very competitive, and the sooner you start working on your optimizing your site, the better.
How Much Does SEO For A Small Business Cost
The cost of small business SEO services depends on what is included in the package.
Services are based on the scope of a project, but just to give you an idea, the typical SEO campaign costs around $750-$2,500 per month on the lower end.
One-time projects cost around $5,000-$30,000.
Hourly rates for consultants are priced between $80-$200.
Wrapping It Up
Small business SEO can be a big step in helping you reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC) and bring in new revenue.
SEO is an excellent long-term marketing strategy that, when done correctly, pays dividends for years to come.