Implement These 7 Strategies & Watch Your Rankings Climb
The most successful small businesses know the importance of optimizing their online presence, and they invest the time, money, and resources to do so. And when you realize that 93% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses (source: Bright Local), it’s easy to understand why. Small businesses that invest in search engine optimization (SEO) are setting their businesses apart from their competition by laying the foundation for sustained, long term success.
If you aren’t quite ready to allocate the time and money needed to build out a fully optimized website and online presence right now, that’s okay. It should be in your plans to do so in the future, but there are some simple tasks you can check on your own and implement today that won’t take up too much of your time.
Here is a list of 7 quick SEO checks we put together that all small businesses can audit and implement today without spending a dime.
1. Make Sure the Title Tags on Your Website Are Optimized
A page’s title is the first thing search engines like Google and others read when crawling the page to understand what it’s about. The page title can be seen in internet browser tabs, and as the blue link text in Google search results. A page’s title can be updated and optimized by editing the page’s title tag. Optimize the title tags for all pages on your website by understanding how to edit title tags with the CMS that your website is built on (if you use WordPress, we recommend using the Yoast or All-in-One SEO plugins), and updating them based on the primary keyword for each specific page.
For help with keyword research to determine which keyword to use for each page, see our blog post highlighting 6 easy and effective keyword research tips.
2. Have One Dedicated Page for Every Service (or Product) You Hope to Rank For
In the SEO world, content is king. So to give your business the best chance of showing up on page one of Google, you will need to have well built out content for each primary keyword you wish to rank for. Your keywords should be determined by the services or products that your business offers, so you will essentially want to have one page for each service or product.
For services that fall under a broader service term (for example, “tree removal” and “tree pruning” may fall under “tree services”), the dedicated pages on your website should be structured accordingly with the more specific services appearing under the broader service in the website menu. See the below screenshot as an example.
3. Make Sure Your Website is Secure (Install an SSL)
We live in a world where online security and the protection of personal information is of the utmost importance to consumers, as it should be. If your business collects personal information from visitors, such as receiving messages through online forms or taking payments through a payment gateway, your website better be secured with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). And even if you don’t collect any information through your website, you will still want to ensure that it is secured with an SSL as secure websites rank better in online search results.
How can you tell if your website is secured with an SSL? It’s super easy. Visit your website and see if your domain in the browser URL bar shows http:// or https://. If it shows https, then your website is secured with an SSL. If not, you should contact your hosting service to have the SSL installed. Many services will do this at no cost.
4. Make Sure Your Headings Are Optimized
The headings of your content are arguably the most important on-page elements of your website that can be optimized. These headings are often referred to as <h> tags (the html tag for a heading,) and they vary in levels of importance. There are six levels of <h> tags, ranging from <h1> through <h6>, with <h1> being the most important (the lower the <h> tag, the more important of a topic it should be used for). For example, <h1> tags should be used for the main topic of the entire page, <h2> tags should be used for subtopics of that topic, and <h3> tags should be used for further subtopics within those <h2> subtopics.
Organize your content appropriately based on topics and subtopics, and then optimize the headings by including your previously identified keywords in them. Be sure to not overuse your keywords and run the risk of keyword stuffing penalties. Additionally, include LSI keywords as well (other words that are relevant to your primary keywords).
5. Make Sure Your Content is Robust
Avoid thin content. Thin content occurs when a website page has very little text on it, and thus does not offer much information for Google and other search engines to understand what it is about. If the search engine doesn’t understand what your website is about, then it will not trust your website enough to show it in search results.
Make sure your content is well written and robust with information. Be detailed and don’t include “fluff” just to make your content longer. For small businesses, a good rule of thumb is 300-500 words on the homepage and 200-300 words on service or product pages, however these guidelines vary by industry and location. The best thing to do is to see what your competition has on their websites, and then beat that. Run a few Google searches for services or products you provide in your area, and check out your competitors’ websites that show up to see what the content looks like on their websites. Then measure how the content on your website compares, and write more content as needed until yours is better.
6. Make Sure Your Google Business Profile is Optimized
Just as important as websites for small businesses are Google Business Profiles. It is essential to ensure that your Business Profile is optimized. If you already have a Business Profile verified, congratulations – you are at least halfway there. And if you don’t yet have a verified Business Profile, get the process started today (it only takes a couple minutes to request verification). Check out our blog post on how to optimize your Google Business Profile for everything you need to know.
7. Make Sure Your Online Directory Listings Are Optimized
If a website and Google Business Profile are the first two pillars of Local SEO, online directory listings are the third. Online directory listings include websites like Yelp, Yellowpages, Bing, HomeAdvisor, and other websites that contain contact information for local businesses. It is pivotal to make sure your directory listings all display consistent and accurate name, address, and phone number (NAP) information, and the more information in general you can provide, the better. Read our post about how to optimize directory listings for small businesses to ensure your directory listings help you rank in search results.
If you have questions or need help with anything related to SEO for your business, always feel free to send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are really good at getting back to you within 24 hours. And to receive the latest Local SEO tips, strategies and more for small business owners, subscribe to our mailing list below. We will never distribute your information for any reason.