Search Engine Optimization, known as SEO, is an essential tools in any small businesses arsenal. SEO is all about making sure your website and services are seen online ahead of competitors. It’s easy in theory, of course. Yet SEO isn’t about going down a list of rules and checking off some boxes. It's a little more complicated than that. The strategies employed in a solid SEO plan can be perplexing no matter what field you’re in. Every new week brings the latest techniques for bumping your business up in search results. Staying on top of SEO and making sure your site reflects positive SEO mechanics is a constant battle. We asked some readers to give their best SEO tips and their responses are below.
#1 – Customer's Needs
It's tempting, when writing content for a small business, to want to focus on telling customers why they should want to buy your product. However, customers rarely search for someone to sell them something. Instead, they're looking to solve a problem. When you're considering content creation with a goal of ranking organically, focus in on that customer need. It's not about why they should buy from you, it's how you can help them solve a problem. This can be seen in the dramatic rise of how to, how do I, what is, and related question-based queries over the last few years. This is often correlated to the rise in voice search on smartphones, where people are more inclined to ask a question instead of typing specific keywords.
Thanks to Rich Missey, Insureon
#2 – High Impact Pages
In SEO, the 80/20 rule couldn't be more true. You need to focus your efforts on pages that bring the most value. So start off by looking at keyword data in your Google Webmaster account. You'd be surprised to find a wealth of information there that you can use to optimize your site. Find words that generate high click traffic and then ensure their landing pages are optimized. To optimize, apply focus keywords in the page title, description and header tags. But on-page optimization is half the battle. You also need to promote those pages for backlinks. The key to success in SEO is to have laser focus on a handful of keywords and systematically apply current optimization techniques.
Thanks to Zaki Usman, Pagezii Marketing
#3 – Don't Obsess Over Rankings
1) Before going after highly-competitive terms for your industry, especially if you're a new site with a relatively thin link profile, you should be targeting long tail keywords. This will enable you to capture traffic early on as you work on optimizing for the more competitive keywords. 2) Always have a unique, dedicated page with a singular thematic focus. Remember that search engines consider user intent and that your key pages should always seek to address user intent when they search the keyword your targeting. 3) Ensure that your website is architected logically and that it is easy for search engines to crawl all important pages on your site from a singular starting point. This means paying attention to the internal linking of your primary pages, and the folder and document organization of content on your site. 4) Don't get too hung up on your rankings for a singular keyword. Remember that search rankings are increasingly unique to regions, geographies, and user personalization. Rather than focusing on a single keyword be sure to focus on holistic organic growth. Often, you can get more organic traffic from thousands of long-tail keywords than through one short-tail keyword. Leverage tools like Google Search Console to monitor how many unique, un-branded queries drive traffic to your site, and focus on optimizing the keywords that are driving clicks/impressions.
Thanks to Marc Nashaat, Powered by Search
#4 – Content Marketing
The main proven way of getting high quality backlinks that will help your web pages rank better is content marketing. Unfortunately, we've all written articles that we thought were the greatest things ever created only to be greeted by silence. In my opinion, nothing is as important as knowing what will work before you create content. We use BuzzSumo to understand the types of pieces that are getting a lot of social shares and then we create our own piece that would appeal to the same people who liked the original article, video or infographic. We then reach out to all of the places that shared the original piece, letting them know that they (and their followers) might enjoy ours, too.
Thanks to Dave Hermansen, Store Coach, Inc.
#5 – Optimize Blog Posts
Optimize your blog posts for SEO. Studies have found that B2B marketers that blog receive 67% more leads and marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. Optimizing your post with proper SEO is one of the best ways to ensure your site gets as much visibility as possible – even older posts continue to draw traffic if the content is valuable and answers a question that many visitors or potential customers search for. Proper SEO optimizes your post so that it can be effectively indexed in search engines like Google. When writing your blog posts, use relevant key phrases (not just key words) throughout the content, especially in your headline and social posts, to draw organic traffic and simultaneously grow your audience.
Thanks to Maria Sipka, Linqia
#6 – Answer Common Questions
1. Optimize your Yelp page. If you're a local business, Yelp is a very strong locally ranking domain and can ‘float' to the top of some rankings
just based on the overall authority of Yelp.com. By optimizing the name, description, and content of your Yelp page for keywords, you're often able to capture some rankings early. 2. Answer common questions that occur in the sales process. Most businesses experience repetitive concerns or questions that influence the outcome of the sales process. Build out landing pages that address these questions or concerns. Usually, these questions or concerns are very commonly expressed as a search query. Thoroughly covering these on your site with the specific advantages of your business, services, or products can help you find unique long tail keywords that are profitable to rank for.
Thanks to Jordan Brannon, Coalition Technologies
#7 – Authenticity
The most important to do items for SEO is authenticity and contributing quality content. Of course it is important to have the technical basics down such as on-page SEO, only having one website, etc., but you need optimized content that is structured to help your target audience. Start with the website content and add regular blogs using keyword research to guide your navigation construction and editorial calendar. You also want authenticity across the internet by making sure your online presence is consistent across the board. This means you should have your correct name, address, phone number, hours of operation, website, and more on all online listings platforms.
Thanks to Kari Simpson, Digital Marketing Inc.
#8 – Using HARO
One great SEO tip that helps to establish expertise and build your authority in search results is to answer Help-A-Reporter-Out (HARO) requests. If you’re unfamiliar with HARO, it is a mailing list where reporters and writers send queries looking for expert advice on a specific topic. Help a Reporter Out is free and easy to sign up and you can pick specific topics to answer, that you have expertise on. The first benefit is you can potentially be featured in high quality sites like Forbes or Inc. Which will help you to establish thought leadership in the area they are looking for. The second benefit is getting a link back to your own site, which will help your site to perform better in search engine rankings. Even better, most of the links you get from HARO will be clearly branded, for extra SEO value. It only costs you time and effort, but can be an effective way to get exposure and good press for your business and boost your SEO efforts.
Thanks to Michael Heiligenstein, Fit Small Business
#9 – Don't Forget the People
The best advice I could give to any entrepreneur or business owner who wants to do SEO for their web property is to never forget you are dealing with people. Unfortunately, the majority of SEOs seem to forget that the ones who create links are people, not websites. There's a quote I love that says:If you don't understand people, you don't understand business. — Simon Sinek. Be mindful of people's time, always start with why you are reaching out and don't ramble on. If you want to pay a compliment, do it last; order matters.
Thanks to Jonathan Nuñez, John's IMSecrets
#10 – Focus on Website Visitors
User engagement is becoming a powerful factor in Google's search algorithm, so focus on ways to make your site more helpful and useful to visitors. It's a win-win. A positive user experience increases the time visitors spend on your site (which makes Google happy) and ultimately leads to more conversions (which makes you happy). A few simple tips for better user experience include improving your page load time, ensuring your site displays properly on all mobile devices and creating an easy navigation structure. Be sure to keep your content clear & concise to immediately address user needs. Short paragraphs, bullet points and lists make for easily digestible content, which many visitors prefer.
Thanks to Phil Cohen, Factor Finders, LLC
#11 – Google My Business
Users finally have the opportunity to view the most important information about a business almost effortlessly. A Google my Business page is very easy to see and will show up in the top right of the SERP's. Businesses can display information such as a description, business hours, directions and even a call now button if searched on a mobile phone. By having a Google my Business page, customers can find you more easily through search and Google maps. Customers can also leave a Google review in an instant without having to visit any additional websites or social media sites. It's a great way to interact with your customers and opens another door for communication. Lastly, it verifies your business which allows you to build trust with your customers.
Thanks to Chelsey Moter, seoWorks
#12 – NAP
Make sure that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) is in order across your page, and across any directories that link up to your page. If there are differences in the information from one location to another, it tells search engines that your site is not legitimate. After this is settled, then you can move on to things like Google My Business and offering your expertise to anyone industry related that will link back to your site. Reviews (Good Reviews) are critical, and they need to be linked to in order to get the full effect of their ROI.
Thanks to Alexander Ruggie, 911 Restoration
#13 – Reduce URLs
One of the absolute best ways to help your entire site rank better is to reduce the number of URLs in Google's search index. Duplicate pages, low-value pages, WordPress tag and category archives, and pages without canonical tags all have the potential to slow your indexing and dilute your PageRank, which means that critical pages won't rank as well as they should. Make a habit of searching site:mydomain.com on Google every once in a while to see if there are any pages that shouldn't be there, and either delete them, add meta robots noindex directives, or 301 then to more appropriate pages. Just be careful not to add noindex to your robots.txt file: that will prevent Google from recrawling the pages entirely, which means they'll never be removed.
Thanks to Joe Goldstein, Navolutions
#14 – Take it Offline
When approaching your SEO strategy take it offline. Many of your competitors will do their keyword research, set-up their site architecture and begin a company blog so you’re going to need to step it up to outsmart them. Google gives more weight to high-quality inbound links and mentions in prominent publications so invest in a long-term strategy that builds a community around your brand. The best way to be featured is to develop in-person relationships. Get out to media and industry events, meet the people behind the websites you want to work with and determine how you can help them succeed with their business. The links, guest blogs and mentions will follow naturally and so will your organic rankings.
Thanks to Alyssa Furtado, RateHub
#15 – Invest Time
The best SEO tip for entrepreneurs is to invest in it. Invest time in learning about SEO to implement basics on your website, even if you decide to invest money in hiring someone to help. There are so many resources available to learn the basics of SEO like keyword research and on-page optimization, especially from companies like MOZ. You may not be an expert, but you'll at least have a starting point and feel more educated if you decide to hire someone. Also, pay attention to when the advice or articles you're learning from were published. SEO is fast changing industry, so advice or tactics from a few years ago may not apply to today's best practices.
Thanks to Julia Alaniz, TopSpot Internet Marketing