To compile every piece of SEO knowledge would be an impossible task. The field is still new, yet hugely expansive and constantly evolving. SEO moves so fast, you can barely afford to blink twice without missing something.
That’s why we turn to experts to give us SEO insights for small businesses, and what better experts to ask than the people running those businesses themselves? Here is what business leaders had to say about SEO and what you should know.
Always Be Posting
Small business owners know a thing or two about consistency, and that’s really the name of the game in SEO. Starting with something simple like a blog, you’ll need to post at least once a week to ensure those efforts add up over time.
“While there are a lot of different moving parts that go into SEO, it’s important, especially for small businesses, to post blogs consistently,” said Abraham Rahmanizadeh, COO and Co-Founder of Leafwell Botanicals. “The more written content you have on your site, the more likely people will find your website through search queries. Blogs are a place where you can both reveal your expertise in a certain field and show readers the unique personality of your brand. Take advantage of this opportunity and you’ll get more engagement from the right customers.”
Creating a content schedule is a great way to stay on track and be accountable.
If your company is aiming to be a local legend, you can’t just rely on street signs and word of mouth. People are constantly searching the web for businesses in their vicinity, which is why you should double down on local SEO practices to boost your visibility.
“Optimizing for search results requires a multi-faceted approach,” said John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner of Berry Law. “One effective way to do so is by building local citations. Citations help internet users discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings. Rather than using Yelp, BBB, and Yellow pages, you can build citations by signing up for companies like Moz or Yetz. that will submit your business information to various data aggregators directly. Aggregators own the space known as the local search ‘ecosystem’, where local searches retrieve their data. Directories and listings sites rely on these aggregators for their information. As a result, the more citations you can build, the more trust and authority you create back for your site.”
Local SEO isn’t dramatically different from standard SEO, but these are just a few distinctions to keep in mind.
Researching keywords is the first step on any successful SEO journey, so get used to the process sooner than later! Thankfully, there are so many tools to help you speed things up and make more sense of it all.
“Topic is a great tool to use when optimizing content for SEO purposes,” said Dan Potter, Co-Founder of CRAFTD London. “It analyzes the necessary focus keywords and selects a list of words to include in your article, while grading it based on the content during the modification process. It’s become invaluable in optimizing our information as we have moved up Google’s ranks consistently, whether doing so ourselves, or through the digital marketing firm we work with. Nevertheless, I would recommend it over other competitors like Clearscope as it seems to be more efficient while providing more accurate data to work with regarding keyword strengths.”
Not every keyword strategy works perfectly for every company, so embrace trial and error to find your best approach.
The Right Words
Speaking of keywords, you’ll quickly find that there are many categories to cover in this area of SEO. Some keywords are popular and competitive, while others are longer, less contested, and more open for opportunity.
“Targeting high commercial intent keywords is a large part of our strategy,” said Katie Lyon, Co-Founder of Allegiance Flag Supply. “Although competition for these search terms can be great, the rewards will improve your conversion rate drastically. To increase the chances of being visible in a search engine, choose the right syntax your users would use to search the category or field you’re promoting. Focusing on highly relevant but low competition keywords will put you in a good position to optimize your copy. There are many tools available that can help you find the optimal keywords for your content such as Clearscope and Topic to name a few. Lastly, try incorporating keywords that already drive traffic to your site. Capitalize on what works and expand from there.”
Learn about which keywords accomplish certain goals, and whether they’re worth pursuing based on your resources and capabilities.
Full Speed Ahead
Can you really expect customers to wait around for your website as it takes forever to load? That’s just not good business in 2021, and it reflects poorly on your Google rankings as well.
“Make sure to check the speed of how your website page loads,” said Mike Pasley, Founder of Famous IRL. “If it’s too slow, this can affect your search engine rankings. You may need to check on a different browser from the one you normally use, because checking as if you were a first-time viewer of the page will give you much better insight into what others would experience. There are a number of things you can do to fix poor loading speed of your website including upgrading your server and lessening the amount of coding behind the site, if you can. Some tools to measure the speed of your website are Google page speed insights, Uptrends and PageScoring.”
There are often some quick fixes to boost the speed of your site, and they’re worth making for the SEO results and overall user experience.
Some SEO tactics happen behind the scenes, while others are more upfront and make a splash in the real world. We recommend using every possible angle for the best effect, and don’t forget to get in the media spotlight once in a while.
“SEO is vital to help grow your brand and reach new customers,” said Daniel Snow, CEO and Co-Founder of The Snow Agency. “There are a number of ways small businesses can grow their SEO. They include securing interviews in the media, including print and digital media as well as on television shows. Being interviewed on podcasts as well as on Facebook and on LinkedIn also works well. Test SEO keywords and study Google Analytics as well as check to see what your competitors are doing.”
This is a long process and you won’t see immediate results, but your efforts will pay off if you put in the work now.
Connect with the Press
You’ll want to be on the good side of the press, or at least make a few connections, on your SEO journey. That’s because journalists and publishers can put out the good word about your brand and earn valuable links that boost your ranking.
“Create as many successful partnerships as you can, especially with reporters,” said Brittany Dolin, Co-Founder of Pocketbook Agency. “Having others publish about your business will not only help with publicity, but it will help you with gaining more backlinks and more backlinks lead to higher Google rankings. Work on creating a good pitch to reporters and those who you feel would be willing to feature your business in their content and you’ll be on your way.”
No need to be on the front page of the Times – just make the occasional appearance in the press and raise awareness about your brand.
Watch the Competition
SEO is like a microcosm of business itself. The competition is always on, and there’s always something you can do to gain a minor advantage over your rivals. Keep this in mind as you do market research and see what other companies are doing in your industry.
“A good way to determine what your SEO objectives should be is to observe your competitors,” said Ben Teicher, President and CEO of Healthy Directions. “See if you can identify what is working with them in terms of things like how their content ranks online. Check what keywords they’re going for as well by using tools such as SpyFu. Once you have a handle on what your competitors are doing to improve their SEO, you’ll have a better sense of what you can do to compete with them.”
Learn from the best if your goal is to overtake them in search!
When internet search first caught on, SEO was very experimental, and the rules were still being written. Companies were skeptical to tackle these projects at all, concerned about risk and whether there was even any reward to be had.
“SEO is no longer a side project or a back-burner priority, and it needs to be treated like a full-time job,” said Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “If you don’t have the in-house resources to make that happen, find a way to outsource certain tasks like blogging, website optimization, and social media research so that you don’t fall behind. Your competitors are working overtime on SEO every day, and so should you.”
By now, you should know that SEO can’t be overlooked, and deserves attention from marketers, creatives, and tech staff from your team,
Link it Up
When other websites mention your brand and link to your product pages, that’s a badge of honor that you should wear proudly! It shows that you’re on the right track, and Google recognizes this by rewarding you with better placement in search.
“Links are really important for us to find content initially,” said John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google. “So if nobody links to your website ever then we’re going to have a hard time recognizing that it even exists. But once we found it and started crawling it and indexing its content and seeing that it’s pretty good stuff then those links are generally not that critical anymore.”
You will accumulate links naturally through creating content and making connections, so focus on those fundamentals rather than counting links one by one.
Some aspects of SEO are more precise, like picking the right anchor text to send visitors to different parts of your website and beyond. Every little piece matters, so don’t skip a single one.
“Pay attention to the anchor text of the links on your website,” said Mary Berry, Founder and CEO of Cosmos Vita. “Make sure that there are strong and relevant keywords in this anchor text because the more you do this, the more likely the search engines will view the topics of these links in relation to your website. However, make sure to not overuse the exact keyword phrases in your anchor texts as the search engine will start to view this as excessive.”
This is a pretty easy lesson to apply, so learn it ASAP and be consistent.
Run the Numbers
Just a few years back, marketers had nowhere near the variety and power of analytics technology we have today. Better yet, many of these useful resources are free, or cost barely anything for massive returns on investment.
“Analyze the traffic of your website and identify exactly which parts of your site are generating traffic and/or conversions, and which parts are not,” said Matt Seaburn. President and Partner of Rent-a-Wheel. “Find ways to improve the content of your website that does not seem to attract visitors. Even if you are generating enough business in general, you can always find ways to optimize all parts of your website and attract even more visitors and customers, through excellent writing, stronger keywords, and mobile-friendly accessibility. Don’t just rely on one good blog post or headline to attract visitors; make sure to enhance every part of your site.”
Without analytics, you’ll rely almost purely on trial and error, which won’t get you far.
Zoom out for a second here – what’s so important about SEO for small businesses? Well, in the internet age, even small, local companies need an online presence, and can set themselves up for success against more serious competitors.
“SEO is very important for small businesses,” said Ben Cook, Jr., Vice President and General Counsel of Cook Capital Group and Printed Kicks. “Anyone running a small business should constantly be working on ways to increase their online presence. Bringing more traffic to your website is key because you want your website to rank as high as possible on Google and other search engines. SEO helps increase your visibility to customers as well and forming relationships with influencers who have a lot of followers is also advantageous.”
Website traffic will equate to more foot traffic, and vice versa, so get moving!
It can be intimidating to start an SEO operation from scratch, but as we’ve discussed, you don’t have much of a choice. There’s no time to waste, so you might as well start small and work your way up to grander challenges.
“Every small business should have an SEO campaign,” said Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover. “Having a visible online presence is a necessity for every website. Optimizing your website for SEO can help increase traffic to your site and attract more customers. Generating unique content on your website can also help in this regard. Many businesses turn to blogging as one way of increasing traffic which works extremely well. I once built up a website that was like a viral blog. In the first 90 days, we did 30 million uniques and 250 million page impressions.”
Like all things in business, you will generate momentum quickly and SEO will become a second-nature part of your operation.
There was a time when simply showing up and creating content was enough to top the charts on Google search, but now the bar is significantly higher. Quality counts for more, and quantity matters as well.
“If you’re going to do some SEO copywriting, make sure you put lots of effort into making your articles THE BEST on the internet,” said Neville Medhora, Founder of Kopywriting Kourse.
The answer? Dedicate more time and effort to content creation to reap the rewards you seek.
Diversify Content Types
We tend to focus on written content because it was the first format to make its way to the web, but nowadays, formats are evolving due to stronger connections and tech upgrades.
Be ready to jump onto different platforms, try unique content types, and take risks to be on the forefront of SEO innovation.
“Don’t forget to optimize video content on your website and social media platforms for SEO, as well,” said Yuvi Alpert, Founder, Creative Director, and CEO of Noémie. “SEO methods for videos are largely the same as SEO methods for websites and photos, like keywords and indexing, but by uploading your video content strategically to video hosting platforms, you can make sure your content reaches your desired audience. If you want the largest cross-section of potential customers, look to YouTube or Vimeo. Facebook can help you market to your existing customers alongside an opportunity to expand your reach; while smaller sites like Wistia and SproutVideo exist specifically for marketing and business professionals to connect and collaborate within their niche.”
The resources and technologies are there to support your creative efforts – it’s time to use them to the fullest and get out ahead of the crowd.
You might think SEO is just for those Silicon Valley startups looking to build hype online, but everyday businesses like salons, restaurants, and auto shops need to take it seriously too.
“The most important thing for small businesses to keep in mind when working on improving their SEO is that local SEO is far different from other types of SEO,” said Ryan Solomon, CEO of Kissmetrics. “If you are a small business looking to make improvements locally, then you should be operating different practices than your other marketing campaigns. By analyzing your marketing efforts locally you can expand either your social media presence from people in your area or how often people can locate your business in person.”
You’re probably already doing several key tasks for local SEO, but it’s worth examining and refining your strategies even further.
So much of the internet is now visually driven, and every image has SEO underpinnings that you need to keep in order. This will impact your rankings and allow your products and services to be found more easily.
“When you begin taking a hard look at the impact of SEO on your business, you’ll need to remove that your images need a little SEO love, too,” said Timmy Yanchun, Co-Founder of LTHR Shaving. “With the growing popularity of Google Images, simply by including your main keyword in the alt text of an image, you can actually rank that page from the image. Additionally, being sure to include alt text can help the overall rankings of your entire site.”
Whether you’re posting to social media or on your own site, track your images and use the right text every time.
Do we need to mention again just how important an SEO strategy is for your small business? Just consider how often you use search throughout the day. Your phone, your tablet, even voice-activated search – it’s all on the rise, and you want to be there on the results page.
“Many small businesses think that SEO isn’t all that important, especially if they have a strong local presence,” said Travis Killian, Owner and CEO of Everlasting Comfort. “However, what should always be understood is that potential customers find your site through a search engine, and to rank on that search engine, implementing an SEO strategy is a must. One way of doing this is by building an impressive backlink portfolio, which can be done by writing guest posts, coordinating link exchanges and providing expert quotes for platforms like HARO or Terkel.”
With so many SEO resources to help you get going and level up, there’s nothing to lose.
For all the talk about video, images, and social media, we still believe the written word is the most effective way to generate SEO results. It’s proven, it’s reliable, and cost-effective, too.
“When it comes to SEO, your blog can be used as your secret weapon to attract visitors to your website, but you have to use it correctly,” said Rachel Jones, Head of PR at Hope Health . Before writing a blog post, check for similar content, and always provide one more point, or go into more detail. And when you begin writing, remember that while you will include keywords and internal links, the content must be informative and of high quality. Your blog posts should provide actionable tips, and not simply be pages to host keywords.
You don’t need to be the next Steinbeck to write a great blog. Just give a ton of value and have some fun with a range of topics relevant to your brand.
Don’t Let Up
Just like physical training, maintaining a good diet, or practicing other healthy habits for your body and mind, SEO is something you must continue to do if you want to keep seeing results.
That also means sticking to the rules and not cutting corners.
“Your search engine rankings can be earned – and they can just as easily be taken away,” said Jared Zabaldo, Founder of USAMM. “That’s why it’s important to always follow SEO protocols, and to be careful with any site migrations or page redirects. Additionally, Google can tell when you’re just writing content so that you can stuff it with keywords, and you will be penalized for it! So, create content with your topic in mind, and your keywords should organically fall into place.”
This article should convey just why SEO is so important for small businesses, and give you a sense of direction when mapping out an online marketing strategy for your brand. Best of luck, and may you earn that top spot in search!