Are you struggling to get leads from search engines?
Want to improve your small business’s SEO?
Google considers over 200 factors before ranking any page in the search results.
Managing your small business seo along with your other small business duties can be difficult when you have limited resources.
In this post I asked the following question from the known SEO experts:
Q: Can you please share your best tip for small businesses that are just starting out with SEO?
I’m confident that the following answers will help you to save lots of resources and get better results from your blogging plan.
Don’t forget to add your favourite answer in the comments below.
Enjoy the answers.
#1 Kane Jamison
Kane is the Founder of Hood Web Management, a Seattle SEO and internet marketing company. He’s also the author of Seattle Homestead, an urban homesteading blog. You can follow @KaneJamison on Twitter.
Best tip for small businesses after integrating some basic keywords into their page content and title tags is to acquire links that their competitor’s have by using tools like Open Site Explorer. Then go back and fix on-site issues.
Too many people obsess over minute on-page SEO details when they really need to prioritize building up the authority of their website to a competitive level.
Easiest things to do is get an Excel file with these links for each competitor (across their entire root domain) and go through the list one by one, figuring out a way to get a link from the site for themselves. If the site looks spammy, skip it. If the site is relevant to your business, place extra priority on it.
#2 Giuseppe Pastore
Giuseppe is an Italian SEO consultant working either for big and little brands to help them improving their on line visibility. He (not so) regularly writes on his own blog about technical SEO and link building, and sometimes as a guest author on well know websites (SEOmoz.org and SearchEngineJournal.com among them). You can find him on Twitter (mostly) and Google+.
My best tip for small business who want to start doing SEO is to focus on very specific keywords with a low competition and a good conversion rate. When just starting, it’s almost impossible to rank for broad keywords, so it’s far better understanding which are the long tail keywords to optimize for.
I suggest running an Adwords campaign and keep note of impressions, CTR and conversion rates, then group variations of the same keywords in semantic sets and create specific optimized landing pages (or add optimized content to the existing landing pages) for each set.
These pages will be more likely to rank for a good number of highly converting and lowly competitive keywords. Build your business on long tail keywords and it will be more sustainable to lose rankings for some of them. If you focus only on big traffic keywords you’ll struggle too much to achieve them, you won’t have results in the short period and if you’ll rank only for them you’ll be in danger if your rankings drop.
#3 A.J. Ghergich
If you are a small business that is just getting started with SEO here is my advice.
Step 1: Pick keywords that you actually have a chance to rank for. Start with a few simple long tail keywords. Once you have proven you can rank for those, you can branch out into more difficult keywords.
Step 2: Do some basic On Page Optimization. Do not make the mistake of obsessing about “optimizing” your site to perfection. You will end up doing more harm than good. Make sure you have some really well written Title Tags and that Google is having no issues indexing your site. Think of your Title Tag as the headline of a newspaper article. Use it to entice someone to click on your site instead of simply stuffing it with as many keywords as you possible can.
Step 3: Forget about SEO, at least for a while! Seriously, this is the best thing you can do. From time to time revisit and refine your keyword targets as well as your On Page Optimization but the best thing you can do is move right along to step 4.
Step 4: Start producing content! Content marketing is the new SEO. Even a small business can produce compelling content. If you have better content than your competitors you will win long term, especially if you learn how to promote your content through social media.
To get started create a list of some of the “frustrations” or “problems” your potential customer may have. Set out to create content that speaks to those frustrations and attempts to solve them for your customer.
By producing helpful relevant content you will attract brand awareness, social shares and yes LINKS. If you do this on a consistent basis your SEO will take care of itself and you will leave your competition wondering what you know that they don’t.
#4 Doug Antkowiak
Doug is the lead Social Media Strategist at a Portent, Inc., full-service internet marketing agency. When he’s not writing short-sentences, he’s vehemently complaining about why Ghostbusters 3 isn’t a thing yet. Follow Doug on Google+ and Twitter.
Knowing where to start for small businesses is a complicated question that my colleagues and I covered in a local SEO blog series. Since I focus on social media, I tend to think about reputation management. Specifically, I recommend small businesses claim a social media profile in every social network possible.
There are three reasons behind the madness:
- When you claim a social network, you have control over that search listing and prevent anyone from misrepresenting your brand.
- If you optimize each social network for your brand, these social profiles will create more opportunities for referral traffic because they occupy results on a SERP.
- If you engage users with your social networks, it creates an additional contact list for you to announce promotions and news about your business.
#5 John Doherty
I’d say that my best tip for small businesses getting started with SEO is to do keyword research before you build your site and plan your information architecture around that. I see too many sites trying to retrofit SEO/keyword targeting, and it’s always messy.
#6 Steven Shattuck
My top three tips would be to first get a good content management system that will allow you to easily customize your website and publish content. The second thing you should do is write excellent and unique website copy. The third is to leverage off-line relationships for co-marketing, guest blog posts, etc. This will help you start to build at least some links to your site.
#7 Modesto Siotos
Modesto is a Natural Search Strategist at iCrossing UK and has extensive experience of small, medium as well as enterprise level SEO campaigns. Modesto regularly blogs on digital marketing blog Connect and you can connect with him on Twitter.
Google seems to make it harder and harder for small businesses trying to get established by focusing exclusively in SEO. My advice to small business owners is to look into all other marketing channels for opportunities and find the right balance. SEO is becoming increasingly expensive and there is no guarantee that today’s good organic visibility will keep growing in the longer term.
With the updates Google rolled out in the last couple of years (Panda, Penguin, Page Layout and EMD) many small businesses, which relied too heavily on SEO, saw their revenues suffering. Some even went out of business, whilst others still struggle to recover and reposition themselves into an increasingly completive landscape.
Nevertheless, it is not all doom and gloom for small businesses because they have the unique advantage of being agile and able to quickly get things done. For example, I’ve seen many small companies taking SEO to the next level with correctly implementing rich snippets and authorship, having a dynamic content marketing strategy in place, whilst being very successful in other areas with some innovative social media campaigns, creative email marketing, cost-effective paid search activities and frequent CRO.
#8 Ryan Kent
Ryan is the founder of Vitopian, an SEO company in Rancho Cordova, California. Before Vitopian, Ryan worked for Verizon Wireless on the Knowledge Management Solutions team as a database administrator and application developer. You can join Ryan’s circle on G+ or Vitopian on twitter.
The world of SEO has changed dramatically in the past 2 years. Let go of what did or did not work in the past and embrace current day standards. A few suggestions:
1. Offer solid website architecture. Does your site appear correctly in the 5 major browsers? Does your site appear correctly in all devices (smartphones, ipads, etc)? Are search engines able to cleanly crawl your site? Do you have a responsive design mobile site? The answers to these questions often separate good sites from great sites.
2. Invest in your website design. Quality web designers have a way of cleanly presenting your site in a user-friendly manner. Is all your text readable from both a color, size and font perspective? Is your main content crowded? Do you have a clear Call To Action? Is your site’s purpose clearly evident to new visitors? Do visitors comment on the design of your site?
3. Invest in your content. The days of 500 word “internet” articles have come and gone. Word count and keyword density are no longer considerations. If you create a new web page, choose a clear keyword focus. Next, focus on ensuring your web page is the best one on the internet for the given topic.
4. Earn links, don’t build them. There is a clear difference. Earned links cannot be easily copied by competitors. The type of pages which earn links typically offer direct traffic, tweets, likes, +1s and other forms of social promotion.
5. Embrace social media. If you have not recognized the value of social media yet, it is time to dive in. Social media signals are arguably the strongest indicator of a web page’s performance in search results.
#9 Kieran Flanagan
Kieran is an Online Marketing Strategist who has worked for some of the biggest brands in the world delivering results across a range of countries. You can find him on Twitter @searchbrat and occasionally blogging on Searchbrat.com
One of the best tips for small businesses just starting out with SEO, is to use PPC as a testing tool to gauge the level of interest for the keywords you want to target. Keyword research is still one of the most critical parts of a successful SEO strategy.
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to choose a bunch of keywords for their business, spend months acquiring organic traffic for them, only to find out they don’t convert or they don’t have the budget to compete long term for them (or worse still, both of these).
PPC can give you some immediate feedback on the keywords you plan to target. They can help small businesses estimate the amount of traffic they can acquire for them and once on the site, if those users will convert.
I would recommending building really small adgroups for each keyword you want to target. That adgroup should contain all variations of the keyword (long & short tail). I would then run this for up to 3 months. Going through this process will help you put a valuation against each keyword and allocate both resources and budget accordingly. It will save you money in the long run.
#10 Matthew Green
Matthew is a SEO Strategist with Ethical SEO Consulting, a start-up search marketing firm out of Denver, Colorado. He specializes in developing local inbound marketing strategies for small to mid-sized businesses. You can connect with Matt on Twitter, G+, and Linkedin, or drop him a line on his blog.
Understand that good SEO will not produce a return on investment over-night.
I have seen so many small businesses owners who approach organic search marketing as their silver bullet solution for more customers and dominance of their local market quickly.
This is the absolute wrong mindset and will lead to some very bad decisions from a SEO standpoint, including things like: relying on one, or many, exact keyword match domain websites, rather than focusing on establishing a positive and unique online brand; outsourcing link building to a guy in his basement with SENuke and Xrummer installed on his laptop; over-investing in SEO initially and depending on quick results, which, when they don’t come, leave the business high and dry.
If you are just starting out with SEO you need to fully expect an organic SEO campaign to take 6 to 9 to 12 months to produce the results you want to see. If you need to make the phone ring today, invest in Adwords.
Organic search marketing, like carving out a market share in any offline setting, takes time, creativity, and a lot of hard work. Avoid joining the ranks of those busniesses who must constantly battle Google’s algo (spending TONS of money along the way) because they rely on manipulative, silver bullet SEO.
By having proper expectations for your SEO strategy, you can avoid making the mistakes that have left so many small busniesses in a very bad position.
#11 Cyrus Shepard
The best advice I can give to any small business starting out in SEO is to go for the big links and not settle for the easy ones. The biggest mistake most beginner SEOs make is spending months and 100s of hours persuing low quality links, such as spammy article marketing. That same time and effort could be spent on quality content marketing.
For example, an infographic costs $500 to produce and $100 to promote on StumbleUpon. You’re not going to succeed this way every time, but the wins you earn are well worth it.
#12 Jasper Martens
Jasper is the Head of Communications and Inbound Marketing at Simply Business insurance. He initiates and coordinates SEO, social and (online) public relations activities together with the inbound team.
I see many start-ups making the mistake on focussing on keywords in overcrowded markets. If you are an insurance broker operating on the High Street and you decide to start a website offering car insurance, it’s impossible to rank for generic keywords such as ‘car insurance’.
Try to focus on a niche. In this instance, the insurance broker should have focused on local search or on a specific type of car insurance they can offer.
Author authority and social signals in search are more important than ever before. Why not use your most important asset (yourself) to build your personal profile online? Especially if you are a sole trader it makes sense to merge your personality and your business into one profile.
Your customers will probably see you as the business anyway so it’s important to relay that throughout the online engagement. Personality is an important factor in social media and small businesses/sole traders can utilise their personality to the business’ advantage.
#13 Jayson DeMers
Jayson is the Founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based SEO & Social Media Marketing Agency, Writer for Search Engine Journal, SEOMoz, and more.
SEO is an investment in the future of your business, so hire an SEO consultant from the beginning to help you plan accordingly.
Every aspect of your business affects SEO; not just what’s on your website. Offline advertising, such as TV and radio ads, even affect SEO, albeit indirectly. For example, if your TV ad is especially funny, your business might get mentions in the press, which would result in inbound links to your website, which are the primary “currency” of organic search rankings.
Similarly, if your radio ad tells a short story that leaves a cliffhanger which listeners must visit your website to learn more about, you’ll see increased social activity and inbound links to your website as the community buzzes about your ad.
#14 Steve Webb, PhD
Steve is the founder of Web Gnomes, an Internet marketing firm that offers industry-leading SEO audits. Steve received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, and he has worked for numerous Internet-related companies, including Google. You can connect with Steve on Twitter and Google+.
My best SEO tip for small businesses is simple: don’t take shortcuts!
Over the past few years, search engines have released numerous updates (e.g., Panda, Penguin, etc.) that have been extremely painful for a lot of small businesses. But the source of that pain wasn’t the updates; it was the shortcuts those companies took, which made them vulnerable to the updates.
If you want long-term, sustainable success in the search results, you should avoid low-quality, short-sighted techniques (e.g., article marketing, irrelevant directory submissions, comment spamming, etc.) and focus on high-quality activities that grow and strengthen your company’s brand.
As counterintuitive as it seems, the best way to do SEO is to pretend SEO doesn’t exist. Focus on your target audience, and create compelling content that they’ll want to consume and share with others. Once you’ve made your audience happy, doing the same for the search engines will be a walk in the park.
#15 Will Critchlow
Will Critchlow co-founded Distilled in 2005 with Duncan Morris. Distilled provides natural SEO and paid search services from offices in London, New York and Seattle. Distilled hosts regular industry conferences including SearchLove and LinkLove.
My top three tips are:
1. Use WordPress. There is a time and a place for custom development and the associated headaches of building a site that is friendly to the search engines. Small business isn’t one of them. Use Joost’s SEO plugin and follow some basic best practices and your technical side is covered
2. Ensure someone in the business really cares about having content on your site that educates, entertains, retains and converts customers. The first two are as important as the second two (if not more in the early days). Although you are strapped for resources compared to bigger, more established businesses, you can care more and be closer to the customers
3. Make sure someone senior is building a profile within the industry (depending on your size and the nature of the industry, many people might be doing this). It’s by far the most powerful link and fame building strategy I know for small businesses. You will say you don’t have the time, but it should be one of your top priorities. I know it’s not easy, but it is possible; I’ve been there.
Bonus Small Business SEO Tip!
I received Larry’s tip just after publishing the post and this is the only way I could think of including this tip in this post.
Larry is the Founder & CTO of WordStream, a provider of PPC management software, including the AdWords Grader and the 20 Minute PPC Work Week.
This may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but you’re just getting started with SEO, I think you’re better off creating content that features other people or products, rather than blogging about your own stuff or trying to get people to link to you.
For example, when I was starting out the WordStream blog back in 2009, we started out by writing mostly about other people, or reviewing other products, or doing group interviews, etc. We wanted to try to build up relationships with influential bloggers and industry experts, rather than annoying them with requests to review our stuff. Over time, you’ll build up a following, for example – people will start to subscribe to your blog, or follow you on Twitter, and you’ll have an audience to share your content with. Over time, the links and traffic will come.
Today, after just over 3 years of blogging, my WordSteam blog now gets thousands of unique visitors every month!
What do you think?
Did you find the answers help to improve your small business SEO?
Feel free to share your experiences or ask any question regarding small business SEO in the comments below.