For local business owners, search engine optimisation is a valuable tool.
Google’s high ranking gives you greater exposure, prestige and holds you at the forefront of the minds of consumers.
But it does not happen overnight to rank high on Google.
In reality, most small business owners don’t talk about investing in SEO at all, either because they don’t know where to start, or they’ve tried something that didn’t work.
This article is intended to give small business owners like you a list of the most important aspects of SEO to prioritise.
Tick these 10 elements off, and you’ll be well on your way to climbing the search rankings.
START WITH KEYWORD RESEARCH
Before you get started adding keywords to your site, it’s important to know what words and terms are already attracting customers.
- What service does your business provide?
- What are the biggest problems your business solves?
- How are your customers doing business with you? Online or in-store?
Once you know what language your customers are using, you can better optimise the keywords that you use to attract even more.
There are many free and paid keyword research tools available. Some of our favourites include: Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Moz Keyword Explorer.
ANALYSE YOUR COMPETITORS
Once you know what keywords you’re optimising for, it’s time to figure out how you rank for those keywords against your competitors.
Look at the websites on the first page of Google’s search results in your niche, especially any that rank above you.
Try to decide what keywords they rank well for, what kind of content attracts traffic to their websites, how many pages they have on their website for related content, and how organised their website is.
Only a cursory glance at other websites will give you ideas about what you can do to rank for comparable terms, and maybe even do it better than they are.
FIX ANY TECHNICAL SEO PROBLEMS
Before jumping into your content plan, it’s important that you fix any technical issues with your site first.
Having the best content and a beautiful site design won’t mean much if your pages take forever to load.
How many times have you clicked through to a website, only to sit there loading, and then simply click the back button?
Site speed is one of the most common issues dragging down a site’s search rankings.
This can happen for a number of reasons such as poor hosting, unclean code, too many ads, and unoptimised pages (which we’ll talk about next).
Check your site speed now!
Once you start creating content for your site, there’s more to SEO success than just uploading it to your site and forgetting about it.
You need to organise and format that content in a way that’s easy for Google to read and index.
Do this by making the proper use of title tags, meta descriptions, and body content.
It makes it much easier for Google to read your content and categorise it into something that might be important to searchers by clearly marking what these elements are.
It also makes scanning the content much easier for readers. Note, you should never forget that there is a person reading it, even though SEO can be technical.
ADD SCHEMA MARKUP
Schema markup allows you to add more rich information about your business to your search engine results listings.
Elements like your business name, address, phone number, online reviews can help customers make more informed decisions about who to contact, visit, and ultimately do business with.
OPTIMISE YOUR IMAGES AND VIDEOS
Unoptimised images on your site is one of the biggest reasons for slow load times. Lots of high resolution pictures consume lots of bandwidth.
Aim to upload images to your site already optimised for load times by compressing files sizes and using formats such as JPEG rather than PNG or GIF.
Those files can be optimised further once on your site too through proper use of keywords.
Make sure all images on your site have complete ‘alt tags’ and ‘alt descriptions’ filled out.
All of these keywords are important to Google when determining your site rank, not just the words you can see in your content.
OPTIMISE YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Google My Business listings can be hugely beneficial for small businesses.
They allow you to view contact details in local search results, and show how many happy customers you’ve had with ratings.
If you haven’t already, the first step to creating a Google My Business page is to assert and verify your company.
Google gives you a step-by-step guide on how to do this here.
Once verified, fill out as much relevant information as possible, from contact information, business hours, store locations, and address.
With an optimised Google My Business listing, you’ll be more likely to appear in search results when potential customers are looking for local solutions to their search queries.
USE LOCAL BUSINESS DIRECTORIES
On top of Google My Business, you should also consider other local business directories.
Online lists that include your name, address , and phone number (NAP) and other contact information, such as your address on the website, are local business directories.
Sites such as Yellow Pages, Truelocal, Yelp are all directories of businesses. When making listings in these folders, the thing you want to remember is consistency.
Ensure your NAP is consistent across all listings.
This will help you build your online presence and links back to your website, but it’s not as important as getting your own website and Google listing optimised first.
GET RELEVANT LOCAL LINKS
Getting links to your website can help you improve your overall search rankings. The important part to remember is not to be spammy about it.
Think about what you can do to work with other local businesses. This could be by collaborating on projects, guest posting on other peoples blogs, writing testimonials for other businesses.
The idea is to create value for others. Naturally they’ll be more inclined to include a link back to your website if you’re giving them something of value, rather than just asking if you can give them a shoutout.
For a more in depth guide on building links back to your site, visit our Link Building Guide here.
SHOW YOUR REVIEWS
Reviews are hands down one of the most important elements of search engine optimisation.
We all look at reviews when making purchasing decisions online. So what good is optimising your way to the top of search rankings when you have no proof of happy customers?
If you’re in the top three results, and both your competitors have more reviews than you, it could hurt the amount of people who click on your site rather than others.
Fortunately, Google My Business makes it easy to collect and display what your happy customers are saying.
This provides a convenient connexion you can give to clients so that if they have a Google account, they can leave a public review of your business.
Depending on your company, websites like ProductReview.com.au, Yelp.com, and Trustpilot.com can also be useful tools to garner feedback.
We hope this post has given you plenty of search engine optimisation ideas for your small business.
As relevant as SEO is, many owners of small businesses still lack a plan. You’ll be well on your way to climbing the search rankings if you can get these 10 areas under control.