With SEO strategies, small businesses have the unique opportunity to offer quality services while engaging their customer base on a personal level. Though small businesses thrive by building a solid community presence, it’s now more important than ever for small businesses to take advantage of these SEO (search engine optimization) tips to boost their online presence.
Having a website simply isn’t enough. It’s far too easy to get lost in the noise of the vast ocean of websites. As a small business owner, understanding the best SEO strategies to keep your website visible is crucial to get the most out of your website.
At Slam Media Lab, we specialize in SEO solutions through meaningful content writing, web pages optimized for site traffic, and strategized keyword research. We help small businesses step beyond the confines of foot traffic and reach a larger audience using the same powerful tools that give big-name companies a traffic-generating boost.
We’ve prepared a guide with SEO tips and tricks to give small business owners like you the same edge. This guide covers:
- Basics of SEO Strategy for Small Businesses
- Benefits of Small Business SEO
- SEO Tips for Small Businesses
- Measuring Your Small Business’s SEO Performance
Basics of SEO Strategy for Small Businesses
To get the most out of SEO strategies, understanding what SEO is and how it works is crucial. Google’s search bar is the first place you go to find the nearest shop or restaurant with the best reviews. Just type in a few words, and Google spits out millions of results.
Nobody sifts through Google’s endless results. Potential customers expect to find what they are looking for in the first page—and often the top few results.
Getting your website in those first few results is not just a game of chance. Google’s algorithm chooses which sites to feature in its top spots according to several factors, including:
- Relevant keywords
- A healthy system of links
- Web page format and metadata
Understanding how these factors affect a page’s ranking and how to best use them to grab a top spot in Google’s results page is the basic foundation of SEO. Before we start exploring SEO tips for small business owners, let’s study up on the basic definition and types of SEO and unravel how SEO works at its core.
What Is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of designing and developing a web page with a strategy to grab one of the top spots on Google’s results page. In essence, SEO involves optimizing a webpage for search engine visibility.
Knowing how to incorporate SEO strategies can help you get the most out of your site so that interested patrons can find it with a quick search. Google provides a helpful SEO starter guide that explains the technical ins and outs of its search process.
Types of SEO
There is more than just one type of SEO. Grabbing a top spot in a search engine’s result page is a competition. If you want to win, you should pursue every avenue to make sure your site takes one of those spots. Here are the main types of SEO to keep in mind:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Local SEO
Types of SEO: On-page SEO
On-page SEO involves strategizing your site’s content to improve its search engine ranking. As its name implies, the focus is on the web page itself. The most important on-page SEO strategies include:
- Keyword research and integration
- Consistent use of headers, lists, and numbers
- Relevant metadata
- Purposeful internal linking
Your small business can profit immensely just by improving your on-page SEO. Though keeping your site’s content professional and engaging is crucial, you can take deliberate steps to optimize your site’s content for search engines.
Types of SEO: Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO targets the SEO practices that take place on other sites. At its core, off-page SEO involves outreach to outside sources to build your own site’s authority and ranking. Here are a few of the most effective strategies for small business owners:
- Contribute to other sites through guest posting
- Reach out to influencers for reviews and product or service mentions
- Leverage social networking on and off social media
Improving outreach can help you get your small business’s name out and make connections. It also provides the opportunity for a crucial aspect of off-page SEO: backlinking.
Just as you should maintain a healthy network of internal links in your own content, you should also take steps to get the link to your page on other sites. Backlinking acts as another means for customers to find your site and lends reputability to your site, boosting its spot in the search engine’s ranking system.
Slam’s work with Ayusa International’s foreign exchange student program provides a great example of an effective off-page SEO strategy. Ayusa already has a professional and informative website with a great keyword strategy. The international company also has regional Instagram profiles that provide program details, spotlights student success stories, and broadens its overall reach.
Types of SEO: Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing a site so that the search engine can more efficiently perform its analysis and accurately rank your site. By incorporating these technical SEO strategies, you are helping the search engine help you:
- Maintain a clean and accessible site structure
- Integrate mobile-friendly design
- Resolve dead links
- Improve page speed
Even if a site’s content is engaging and optimized for search engines, behind-the-scenes issues can hurt a site’s ranking. It’s important to keep the technical aspects running smoothly so that the search engine can do its job and give your site a higher ranking.
Types of SEO: Local SEO
Though SEO can help your small business reach a vast audience beyond the breadth of your community, local SEO improves visibility to the community itself. Brick-and-mortar businesses especially need local results to boost their in-person traffic and sales. Here are some strategies for small businesses to boost their ranking in local searches:
- Set up Google My Business
- Create a Yelp Account
- Ask customers for reviews
- Improve citations by getting your business info (name, address, and phone number) on other sites
By incorporating these strategies into your SEO plans, you let the search engine know that they are a legitimate business in a specified local area. When potential customers search for a product in their area, the search engine will know what businesses to highlight on its results page.
For a look at how local SEO can improve the reach of your small business’s website, take a look at Slam’s collaboration with Worklife Studios Silver Lake.
Before we dig into their website, a quick search of this small business leads to its Google My Business profile, providing a glance at its location, business hours, and reviews. Worklife Studios is an excellent example of the benefit of local SEO strategies like setting up Google My Business.
Worklife’s website also demonstrates its focus on reaching the local community. Its main page provides three sections plus a bonus “coming soon” events tab:
- A studio tab detailing location, hours, and contact information along with Google Maps integration and Google My Business and Yelp links
- A shop tab featuring its neighboring shops
- A food tab highlighting different types of eateries near Silver Lake Studios
WorklifeStudios also incorporates a rotating selection of other things to do around Silver Lake Studios on its main page, providing a great example of a visually engaging element that boosts local SEO.
How Does SEO Work?
With the various types of SEO, search engines need a specific process to parse through each site and determine its relevance, quality, and reputability. Google provides an in-depth guide to how Google Search works, but the process can be summarized in three simple stages:
- Crawling: Like a spider on a web, Google’s automated program—known as Googlebot—“crawls” throughout the vast web of links to identify, analyze, and evaluate each page.
- Indexing: Google keeps track of the relevant data from each page through indexing, storing, and organizing a page’s content, structure, links, and other information important to the ranking process.
- Ranking: Finally, Google synthesizes the information it collected and stored to determine how relevant and important a page is according to a given search query.
Understanding these steps can help you make an educated plan to improve your small business’s rankings in Google’s results page.
Benefits of SEO to Small Businesses
Incorporating SEO strategies into your outreach and marketing plan can help your small businesses grow and reach your community like never before. Through a thorough and effective SEO plan, you can achieve these benefits for your small business:
- Increasing Web Traffic
- Staying Connected with the Community
- Establishing a Brand
- Expanding the Customer Base
SEO is worth every ounce of effort, and small business owners like you especially have the opportunity to reap its rewards.
Small Business SEO Benefit: Increasing Web Traffic
The most immediate benefit of SEO strategies is increasing web traffic, boosting the number of visitors and views a web page gets organically. If your small business’s site ranks high on the search results page, potential customers will likely click your link and pop by for a digital visit.
Whether or not you’ve expanded your sales online, garnering site views gives your customers the following opportunities:
- Learning about the small business, perhaps for the first time
- Perusing the products and services the small business offers
- Taking note of the business’s location, operation hours, and contact information
Even if you don’t plan to make direct sales through your website, it’s a great avenue for advertising. For such an advertisement effort to be effective, it needs to garner organic traffic through search engines. That’s where SEO comes in. Check out this post for tips to boost web traffic.
Small Business SEO Benefit: Staying Connected with the Community
As a small business, your connection to your community is everything. By improving your digital presence, you have an even greater opportunity as a small business to connect with the community outside of your brick-and-mortar location.
An accessible site can not only help local customers find your business, but it can also provide updates on products, services, and events as well as opportunities for interaction through polls, reviews, and customer highlights.
Both on-page and off-page SEO can help you maintain a digital presence in your community. By incorporating SEO strategies into your website and social media activities, you can create more opportunities to reach out and interact with your community and customer base. This post provides tips for nonprofits to leverage instagram that can be helpful for small businesses too.
Small Business SEO Benefit: Establishing a Brand
As a small business, it’s important to capitalize on what makes you unique, and the primary way to do that is establishing a brand. While you can communicate your brand through specially designed logos and merch, the digital world provides an even greater avenue.
A website reflects the character, mission, and aesthetic of a business. Through intentional content and design, you can establish your small business’s brand through a website.
SEO helps spread your brand to a wider audience, communicating what makes your small business so special.
Small Business SEO Benefit: Expanding the Customer Base
While the goal of many small businesses is to reach the local area, having a digital presence provides the opportunity to an even larger customer base. In order to achieve this kind of growth, you can leverage SEO strategies to make sure your site is visible to the vast ocean of internet users.
This can be especially advantageous if you specialize in online sales or would like to add that option to your existing services. Boosting site visibility can drive up onlines sales by reaching customers outside your local community.
If it’s up your alley, you can also reach potential tourists and travelers with a high rank on Google’s result page. A solid SEO plan can help you expand your customer base to potential vacationers looking for attractions, amenities, and shops.
Check out our post on how nonprofits on TikTok can leverage the platform to reach a wider audience, demonstrating the strategies and benefits of expanding the customer base through digital marketing.
SEO Strategies for Small Businesses
With all the factors that can influence a site’s rank, having an SEO plan is crucial. Our post on nonprofit website best practices provides SEO tips and tricks that can benefit small businesses as well.
A solid SEO plan should involve a combination of strategies to be most effective. While a complete list of every step to improve SEO would be overwhelming, here are a few tips to get started.
Tips for Boosting SEO Performance
- Content and writing basics
- Internal and external links
Small Business SEO: Keywords
The most basic SEO building block is keyword research and integration. If SEO is a brick road towards greater search engine visibility, then keywords are the bricks.
Just like they sound, keywords are words and phrases that concisely capture the topic of a piece of content. If you want to find something on the internet, you usually Google a few words to get a list of relevant sites. These are the keywords that small businesses need to pay attention to, as they are instrumental in grabbing a top spot in the search engine’s result page.
To optimize their websites, research the keywords relevant to your products and integrate the keywords throughout your site’s content.
Small Business SEO: Metadata
As Googlebot crawls and indexes websites, you can make the process easier to your small business’s benefit by detailing important information in your site’s metadata.
While not visible on the page itself, a site’s metadata includes the description of the page’s contents and relevant keywords in its code. Users can see the description on Google’s result page. By including an effective description and keywords, small businesses can help:
- Google crawl, index, and rank their site
- Potential customers know what their site is offering from the search engine’s result page
Small Business SEO: Content and Writing Basics
Keywords and metadata are certainly vital building blocks in an effective SEO plan, but a strong website must emphasize its content as well.
Without good content, a website is not worth a visit. In the process of incorporating keywords into their site, small businesses must also produce engaging content that readers can connect with. Best practices include:
- Following basic grammar and style rules
- Using plain, engaging, and professional language
- Making text digestible by incorporating lists and images
- Splitting paragraphs to avoid long blocks of text
- Organizing content with a hierarchy of headers
- Including numbers, data, and statistics
- Reflecting the business’s persona through tone
For some more tips, check out this post on what a nonprofit’s website should include in 2023. Webflow University also provides an excellent introduction to content-driven design that can help small businesses get started in producing SEO-forward content.
Small Business SEO: Internal and External Links
One of the means through which Googlebot crawls sites is a system of internal and external links.
Just as you might strategically incorporate keywords throughout their content, you should provide the links to other pages in your website in your new page. This process, known as interlinking, helps:
- Googlebot crawl throughout the entirety of a website better
- Users navigate the website with more ease
When placing internal links, take care to properly anchor their text with relevant keywords
An additional strategy is incorporating external links when posting on other sites. By strategically sharing your own link on other sites, you can provide more opportunities to direct potential users to your business’ site while also increasing your reputability in the search engine’s ranking system.
Small Business SEO: Images and Alt Text
Images are a great way to improve the quality of your content to engage readers while also providing yet another SEO opportunity.
Because long blocks of text are much too exhausting to keep a reader’s attention, it’s a good practice to punctuate a site’s content with images. While you have the unique opportunity to show off your small business’s location, employees, and products through images, you can also access a variety of high-quality stock images in the following databases:
Web.dev provides a technical, but straightforward guide to serving images in modern formats to improve browser compatibility and user accessibility.
When using images, it’s important to include alt text, which is a brief description of the image. Providing alt text with every image increases accessibility and boosts your site’s visibility. Keywords present in the alt text count towards improving SEO. These quick tips for writing meaningful alt text can help small businesses get started.
Small Business SEO: Sitemap
While keywords, linking, and metadata all go a long way in helping Google crawl, index, and rank a site, Google needs to know the site exists in the first place.
A great first step is setting up Google Search Console for your site, allowing you to keep a check on the crawling, indexing, and ranking processes involved in the site.
Whenever you add a page or make structural changes to your site, you should resubmit its sitemap to keep Google up-to-date with the site’s blueprint. Google provides an in-depth guide to help you build and submit a sitemap for your small business.
Measuring Your Small Business’s SEO Performance
Planning an SEO strategy and putting that plan into play are only part of the fun. You can witness the results of your hard work by measuring your SEO performance, which also allows you to make adjustments to improve your small business’s ranking even more.
Free SEO Tools
You can find a variety of free SEO tools to help you plan your SEO strategy and keep track of your site’s performance in Google’s ranking system.
Some of the best tools come straight from the search engine itself. Google offers multiple free services to help website owners stay ahead of the SEO game. By using two of Google’s helpful tools—Google Search Console and Google Analytics—you can keep your site up-to-date, monitor SEO performance, and research keywords and rankings data.
For even more helpful SEO resources for small businesses, Ahrefs provides a list of 29 free SEO tools.
Speaking of free tools, we've just released 2 free tools to help you on your SEO and content journey:
- SEO Terms: Explained — a guide to help you demystify SEO terms and actionable tips to optimize your site and content
- Airtable Content Calendar — a content planner and project management tool to help editorial and content teams stay aligned
Slam SEO Services
For an extra hand in the SEO game, look no further than Slam Media Lab. With Slam’s Search Engine Optimization service, small businesses like you can get the boost they need to snag a top spot in Google’s results page.
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