When a small business is ready to scale and find new clients, one of the first things they do is build an online presence. But for many small businesses, SEO tools are often overlooked when they build their online profiles and web pages.
These businesses then find that their pages aren’t bringing in traffic the way they want. So they update their site’s presentation, add new content, and create a brand identity, but they still struggle to get unique views.
There’s a primary key to building an online presence that drives potential clients and traffic—SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Unfortunately, small businesses often don’t realize just how important SEO is. Without SEO, even the most beautiful, well-made website won’t have as much of a reach as it should.
SEO can seem like a complicated world to jump into at first. But with so many new SEO tools popping up, it’s never been easier for small businesses to get started.
In this post, we’ll answer these questions and more:
- What is SEO?
- How does SEO work?
- Best SEO tools for small businesses
- How small businesses can learn about SEO
Scratching the surface: what is SEO?
While we won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of SEO, you’ll learn enough here to understand just what SEO is.
SEO, in short, is the process of improving your site’s organic search visibility and ranking in Google through various strategies.
By tweaking your site and content to include these strategic SEO keys, your small business is more likely to be seen on the search engine results page (SERP), even if users aren’t searching specifically for it.
What you can add to boost your SEO
The strategies you can use to boost your SEO include adding things like:
- Keywords: These are popular word combinations or phrases people search for when trying to find a type of business, product, or content.
- Title tag: This is the title of your web page and what shows up when your page is displayed in Google’s search results. It should be relevant to your content and enticing. Of course, you’ll want to follow a few rules, but we’ll include a tool below for this!
- Correct formatting: This happens by adding the proper headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to your web pages and proper-sized paragraphs throughout your content.
- Proper URL: You can create this by ensuring your URLs consist of relevant keywords or tags, rather than random numbers and letters. For example, our nonprofit SEO post uses two relevant keywords in the URL— nonprofit and SEO.
- SEO-focused images: These should be relevant to your content, including an image description and source.
- Meta description: This is the description that is displayed under the title tag and URL when your web page is shown in the SERP.
Now I know this is probably a lot to take in, but we’ll go over the best SEO tools any small business can use to add these SEO strategies and start optimizing web pages. If you're looking for a quick crash course (or a refresher!) download our new FREE guide SEO Terms: Explained!
Now, let’s learn more about how SEO works.
How does SEO work?
Google’s goal is to present users with the best possible search results. Therefore, Google uses automated programs that go through various steps to determine where a web page should rank in its SERP. We’ll walk you through a summary of the steps Google’s programs take when searching for results:
- Crawling: This step occurs when the automated programs “crawl” through the web page’s content, such as text, images, and videos.
- Indexing: The programs then categorize the information into one extensive database, also known as Google Index.
- Ranking: The database is then analyzed, and as users search for content, Google’s programs pull relevant pages and rank them based on the collected data.
Seeing how your page ranks among others is important because you can gauge how well your SEO is doing and learn more about your web page's reach among competitors.
Three types of SEO
There are three types of SEO that Google uses. The automated programs will pull from one of these types of SEO when they go through the above steps to determine what results display first and how they rank compared to other web pages.
- General SEO: This is SEO that is not targeted at an audience in a specified location and aims to boost the overall SERP rankings.
- Local SEO: This SEO is targeted at an audience in a specific location and focuses on boosting the SERP of a web page related to a location.
- Programmatic pages: This is SEO for web pages that focus on more than one specific location, but still aren’t generalized. For example, if your small business has locations in two cities, this SEO would help you reach viewers in both cities.
Understanding what your goal is for your web pages can help you come up with the best content writing strategy and help your pages use the correct type of SEO.
Local SEO for small businesses
While there are three types of SEO that Google uses, we will focus on local SEO specifically. As we mentioned before, local SEO is beneficial for small businesses that want to reach people in their area.
You can do a few things to optimize your small business's SEO in your local community and draw in more localized traffic.
- Create a Yelp account
- Set up Google My Business (We’ll discuss this tool below!)
- Add location-focused keywords to your content
Why does SEO matter to a small business?
SEO is the difference in your site ranking in the first couple of pages on Google or ranking last. It can make or break your organic traffic growth. Using the right SEO techniques opens up your small business’s growth potential and can reach new clients.
You can create a winning online presence and improve customers’ experience when they search for your products or content.
People can be lazy. They often enter a couple of keywords into Google and click on the first few web pages that pop up. By improving your SEO, you can put your webpage in those top results. SEO takes away the struggle of finding your small business without directly searching for it.
Read our SEO benefits for small businesses guide to find out!
How SEO tools can help small businesses start ranking
The subject of SEO can be quite the rabbit hole to jump down. With SEO tools, small businesses can take a “shortcut” and easily find out what they need to add to their web pages. This takes the hassle out of learning the ins and outs of SEO. These tools and software help small businesses with things like:
- Evaluating current SERP ranking
- Improving SERP ranking
- Learning more about your web page’s current traffic and customer behavior
- Determining an SEO strategy plan
- Finding high-converting keywords
- Reaching new clients
- Creating SEO-friendly content
- Improving your web page’s traffic and clicks
- Understanding how to better optimize web pages
Best SEO Tools For Small Businesses
We’ve scoured the web and found six great SEO tools for small businesses to get started with. Some of these tools do focus heavily on specific aspects of SEO. Therefore, using several of these tools at once is an excellent way to find the best SEO strategy for your web page.
- Google Analytics
- Moz Pro: SEO Software
- Google Search Console
- Ahrefs SEO Keyword Tool
- Google My Business
Now that you’ve got the list, you might be wondering which tools are right for your small business. No worries! Let’s look at how each tool can help your pages start ranking right away.
This (free!) tool is the all-in-one package for understanding and evaluating how your website, content, and products are performing. You’ll receive an in-depth overview of your site’s data, sorted into easy-to-understand information and statistics.
You can learn more about your users’ behavior when they land on your website. It also gives you information about their location, the type of platform they’re using, and the source of traffic.
- Collects website data automatically
- Creates customized analytic reports
- Measures internal website reach
- Helps you understand customer behavior to improve conversions
- Provides detailed information about customers
- Gives you comprehensive data about how your content performs
Moz Pro is a great tool to help you gather more information about your site’s data. This tool helps you learn more about your SEO and site crawl information. It also offers link metrics to help you implement new SEO strategies into your content.
Moz Pro can even help you improve your users’ experience on your site, as it can search for any errors in your content. In addition, you’ll receive competitive data that will help you take your web pages to the next level.
- Provides data about site crawling
- Provides data about improving your site’s ranking
- Helps you implement new SEO strategies.
- Provides data about your site’s link metrics
- Improves content marketing
Google Search Console helps you keep your site’s data up-to-date within Google Index. This way, Google always has new information and versions of your website. In addition, this tool provides valuable information about your current search traffic and keyword performance.
It can even help you find technical issues within your site. For example, if Google doesn’t have your latest content indexed or has classified something on your web page as spam, this tool will notify you immediately.
You can use Google Search Console to find more information on how Google crawls and indexes web pages. This way, you can better understand the process Google’s automated bots go through when creating the SERP.
- Keeps your site up-to-date in Google Index
- Provides information about Google’s crawl, search, and ranking process
- Monitors your ranking in Google Index
- Helps you improve how Google sees your site
- Monitors impressions and how often your URL is viewed in SERP
Ahrefs is effective at finding high-converting keywords that you can use to improve your SEO performance. This SEO software for small businesses also helps you with keyword ranking and SEO health.
It will also analyze your website’s link profile. A link profile analysis is important because your SERP ranking can be affected if you don’t have an adequate and diverse amount of backlinks pointing to your webpage.
- Improves SEO health
- Analyzes link profile
- Finds keyword research for ten search engines
- Tracks your ranking in various SERP
SEMrush researches keywords for you, so you create an effective SEO strategy. Plus, it lets you select up to 500 keywords and check how your web page ranks against competitors that also use them.
It also gives you a “site health” score and shows you what you can do to improve your content for better rankings. This software goes the extra mile by researching any backlinking opportunities you can use to enhance your link profile.
- Gives you a comprehensive SEO audit
- Tracks keywords that competitors use
- Tracks competitive keyword strategies
- Improves SEO ranking
- Tracks backlinking opportunities
For example, here’s what Google My Business shows for Worklife Studios. You can see their reviews, ask them questions, and learn more about their business. This is a direct way for potential customers to find out more about a business without clicking on a web page.
Creating a profile for your business on Google My Business is one of the best ways to improve local SEO and collect reviews to further your online reputation.
- Lets you collect reviews
- Builds a local online presence
- Improves local SEO
- Provides business information directly from Google
- Increases search and product visibility
- Improves local customer base
How to track SEO performance
Keeping an eye on your website’s SEO performance is important for improving your SEO. You can track which SEO strategies are better than others and create new strategies based on the data you find.
Aside from using the tools and software above, there are a few other ways to track your website’s SEO performance:
- Track keyword rankings and fluctuations: Ranking keywords can change over time, and as you continue creating content, you’ll want to stay up-to-date on which keywords are currently popular. You can use this to update old content and improve your performance.
- Track your conversions: Watch your conversions and ensure that even though your site is receiving traffic, it’s the right kind of traffic. If you’re bringing in more clicks and still falling short, there’s something that needs to be changed within your site or with your SEO strategy.
- Track customer behavior: You can keep track of this with the Google Analytics tool, and see which paths customers take that lead to successful conversions, and which way leads them to dead-ends. You can use this to optimize your site further.
- Monitor organic search traffic: You’ll want to watch this as organic search traffic directly results from your SEO and backlinking. This data will help you understand if your SEO is producing ideal results, and whether you need to change courses of action.
- Track click-through rate (CTR): Understanding your CTR can help ensure your SEO targets the right audience. Your title tags, meta descriptions, and main keywords affect this. Optimizing these for your target audience ensures you have a high CTR.
What else can small businesses do to improve their SEO performance?
Now that you have the best keywords and a great SEO strategy, what else can you do so people can find you? Here are some more ways you can make sure your page is ranking and your readers are happy!
- Create unique and SEO-friendly content: Make sure the content you’re producing isn’t the same content you already have on your site. Let’s not rehash anything that’s already been said. You always want to provide your readers with new and valuable information, not content reused just for keywords.
- Don’t pack in too many keywords: While keywords are vital, overstuffing them into your content can be detrimental and hard to read. Ensure your keywords fit naturally and are placed strategically throughout your content. They still need to make sense where they’re placed. Otherwise, readers and Google won’t be pleased.
- Guarantee your website is user-friendly: If you haven’t optimized your site for mobile users, now’s the time! Negative user experiences on your site can hinder your conversions. Also, ensure your site is easy to use and navigate. If you aren’t sure, get out your phone and give your site a test run.
How small businesses can learn more about SEO
We’ve made it to the end! This post is a good starting point, but there’s much more to learn about SEO. Small businesses who want to improve their SEO knowledge can begin by learning more about keyword research and SEO content creation.
Here at Slam, we’re launching an SEO course and guides that take you through the ins and outs of everything you’ll need to become a small business SEO master. Sign up to our newsletter so you can get free tools (like our brand new Airtable content calendar!) and first access to this course.
Liked this? Take a peek at these articles: