Did you know that only half of small businesses (49%) invest in SEO to improve their business’s visibility and 18% of small businesses do not plan to ever pursue targeted SEO efforts like link building, content creation, or keyword research? [JE1] If you’re a small business owner not using SEO content to your advantage, you’re not making the most of your online marketing investment. To stay relevant in today’s competitive marketplace, a strategic SEO program is no longer an option – it’s a virtual necessity.
What is SEO?
SEO includes commonly searched keywords that customers use in search engines like Google, Bing and Yelp when looking for a business. When you add these keywords to your website content, search engines take notice and your business ranking increases, making it easier for customers to find you.
To determine what keywords are best for your business and industry, begin by researching content on your competitors’ websites. For example, if you are a florist, you may see other businesses using terms like “best place for roses” or “affordable floral arrangements.” These are common terms that customers would use in a search engine when looking for your business.
By implementing an SEO plan, your business builds credibility with customers and online search engines. Think of search engines as credit bureaus – you did not build your credit score overnight and building online credibility takes consistent effort as well. Implementing an SEO strategy helps you create and maintain a positive online ranking.
Once you have enhanced your online presence, it is important to monitor and refine your strategy as necessary to maintain your online search rankings. Much like a credit score, your online presence and reputation require your ongoing focus and attention to ensure your business has a positive image with customers and prospects.
Basic SEO best practices, such as using search terms and keywords in your content and building links with other websites, still work. But with the changes above taking place, it’s getting more difficult for busy small business owners to keep up with the “rules” of SEO.
In order to compete effectively, you must have a well-thought-out SEO strategy that helps your business’s website rank at the top of search engine results and local directory listings. Getting advice about SEO and other online marketing tactics from the experts can help.
In this blog post, we will be uncovering the following topics to help you build an SEO plan that will work for your business:
Besides gaining a strong online presence, putting together an SEO plan into action allows you to:
1. Attract more customers to your website
68 percent of all online experiences begin with an online search. An SEO program makes it easy for customers to find your website, learn more about your products and services and builds stronger connections with your brand.
2. Keep your business competitive
A strong online presence helps you gain an instant competitive edge on the over 40 percent of small businesses that still do not have a website. A consistent SEO strategy ranks your business higher in online directories so buyers find your business first instead of the competition. It also keeps your business relevant and gives you the same online advantages as your largest competitors.
3. Build brand awareness
Implementing a strong SEO plan will capture the attention of customers who are actively seeking your products and services. It also positions you as an industry thought leader and conveys the unique value proposition (UVP) that only your brand offers.
4. Enhance your in-store and online revenue
Over 50 percent of businesses say SEO generates more customer leads than any other marketing initiative. An SEO program helps customers quickly learn more about your products and services and encourages them to make a purchase. It also makes it easy for them to buy, enhances your sales conversion rates and increases your online revenue with eCommerce options.
When you implement an SEO strategy as part of your approach to online marketing, you’ll find it easier to attract new customers, retain existing ones and enhance your revenue. After partnering with over 3 million small businesses, Web.com is here to help you make it happen.
Feeling confused about SEO? You are far from alone! While you probably know that SEO is important for your website and overall online presence, that is also probably the extent of your knowledge – and that’s okay!
SEO is confusing, and not just because the “rules” change every so often. It can also be really technical. Experts Susan Kim and David Stansbury from Digital Caffeine went over search engine optimization basics and here are 10 things you need to know:
1. SEO is different from paid search
A lot of small business owners think SEO is paid search, and that’s it. When we talk about SEO, we are talking about organic search. Organic search is free and happens when you optimize your website to get more traffic. Paid search refers to the ads that pop up at the top of search results.
2. SEO can do a lot, but it’s not a panacea
A lot of people think, “When I optimize my website, I’ll be at the top of search rankings, and I’ll get all this free traffic instantly.” Optimizing your website properly is key, but it is only part of the equation.
3. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint
SEO is a marathon that requires putting good shareable content on your website consistently and having other reputable websites link to your site. It also requires continual nurturing and maintenance for it to work properly. This takes time.
4. SEO requires keyword research
Part of optimizing a site is optimizing for keyword phrases – what are the phrases people use to find you? If you don’t know, then your website can’t be optimized.
When a reputable company does keyword research for you, you’ll see that it’s both art and science. You might find out that a phrase you think is important is not used at all – or used all the time (too much competition is not good). They can also find out what keywords your competitors are using – always good to know!
5. SEO is not about keyword stuffing
By keyword stuffing, we mean using a keyword too much on a page or on your entire website. Google will penalize you for overusing keywords – it looks fishy to them. A good SEO company will tell you how often to use the keyword so you don’t get in trouble.
6. SEO requires Google Analytics be installed on your site
Google Analytics lets you see what keywords people are using to find your site, where they are coming from, and what they’re doing when they’re there. Once it’s set up, you need to look at it and make adjustments based on what you find – or work with an SEO company that can monitor it for you and make suggestions on changes that will improve search results.
7. No one can guarantee you a top ranking
Be very wary of working with anyone who guarantees you a top ranking in search results instantly. Companies that promise this are gaming the system somehow, and if they use Black Hat tactics (which are very bad), your website could get shut down.
Conducted by Web.com in partnership with Dr. David Ricketts, Innovation Fellow in the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, a study surveyed entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries, including service businesses, ecommerce businesses and more. Fewer than 6 percent of respondents say SEO is a challenge for their businesses. However, that doesn’t mean small business owners are SEO experts. On the contrary, it suggests small business owners aren’t putting enough emphasis on a vital element in building online awareness for their businesses.
Good SEO requires attention to more than just your business website: Other digital marketing elements such as online reviews and social media also come into play. In addition, the basics of SEO are changing rapidly. Consider:
A good SEO expert will learn about your business’s needs, help you set marketing goals, and then work with you to develop an SEO plan that makes sense for your business and your budget. He or she stay current on the latest SEO trends and algorithm adjustments and review the results of your SEO efforts on a regular basis so you can always feel confident you’re getting your money’s worth.
By taking the day-to-day worries about your site’s SEO off your hands, hiring an SEO expert gives you the luxury of more time to spend time working on your business—and isn’t that what’s really important?
If you’re hungry for new customers, now is the time to invest in SEO. For a small business, search engine optimization can be a gamechanger. By optimizing your website and promoting your content in the right way, you can generate a steady stream of organic traffic straight from Google.
People turn to Google and other search engines to find products and services that will solve their problems. Someone looking to repair their bike, for example, might type “bike repair,” and Google will automatically suggest relevant search queries.
Statistics show that customers rely on search engines to find and select local businesses. A survey from Burke for the Local Search Association (LSA) found that 80% of surveyed Americans used a search engine to find a local product or service the week before the study. Plus, another survey from BrightLocal found that 86% of consumers consider online reviews before contacting local businesses. Where your business ranks in the search results matters, and so do reviews that prospective customers can find. Luckily, a solid SEO strategy can give you an edge on your competition and help you win new customers fast.
Ultimately, the key to a successful SEO strategy is to provide quality content that makes it to the first page of Google. Let’s get started!
1. Let customer concerns drive your SEO strategy
To understand SEO, we’ll start by looking at a brief history of Google. Google ranks websites for certain search phrases or keywords. In the old days, marketers could oversaturate their website with keywords, a practice known as keyword stuffing, to quickly rank for those terms in the search results.
Google has since stamped out this practice by creating a sophisticated algorithm that identifies the most relevant and authoritative content based on a variety of factors. In other words, gaming the system has become pretty much impossible.
The best way for small, local businesses to approach SEO is to identify the primary concerns of their customers and translate those concerns into high volume target keywords. Start by asking yourself: what are the most common problems that my products solve? What unique services am I offering for my target market? What kind of help are potential customers looking for? Then, look for search terms that address customer pain points and convey your value proposition.
When it comes to SEO for small business, specificity is key. There is a huge amount of competition for certain keywords, so it is essential to find a way to stand out. The last thing that you want is to be buried on page 2 of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Luckily, your location can be used as part of the search to narrow your competition. For example, if you are a dog groomer based in Brooklyn who is hoping to attract new customers, you can optimize for the keyword “dog grooming brooklyn.”
For small business owners that sell products online, dive into all the different ways that your products solve problems for people. By creating content and positioning yourself as an expert in your field, you can win over new customers.
2. Get your on-page SEO in order
On-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing individual pages in order to improve your overall rank and win more relevant search engine traffic. Every page that you write should have unique and short title tags, unique meta descriptions, and internal links. Let’s look into 7 basic on-page SEO elements you must have under control to secure a chance at ranking success.
3. Write clear, concise title tags
Title tags are very powerful when it comes to search engine ranking. If you want your pages to rank, you need to have unique and descriptive title tags that include targeted keywords.
The length of a title tag is important. Shorter title tags perform better, as longer title tags can get cut off and searchers may not get the full context.
Another thing you’ll want to consider with title tags is the order in which they appear. Large e-commerce sites tend to list categories and subcategories. Too many categories can dilute the SEO.
The first few words in a title or headline are the most important, so update your title tags to include the keywords in the first few words. This practice can also help to increase your click-through rate (CTR).
4. Write enticing meta descriptions
A meta description is a short text that summarizes the content of a webpage. Meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on the ranking, but they have two other important roles:
You can use meta descriptions to share product descriptions or other helpful information about your business. Try to make this text meaningful to your target keyword and unique enough to spark curiosity.
5. Include direct product links
If you’re selling hundreds of products, you’ll need to take a hierarchical approach to organizing your website. It would be impossible to effectively feature hundreds of individual products on one home page. Categorizing your products will make them easier for customers to find, but it can also result in some crucial pages ranking lower in the search results.
One solution to this issue is to try featuring your best selling products (with direct product links) at the top of the home page. This practice helps boost the rank of products that are selling. Just don’t go overboard. Feature no more than 10 bestsellers at a time or you’ll end up overwhelming your visitors.
6. Match internal anchor text to keywords
Many people get internal linking text wrong. If you are trying to rank your category page for something like “children’s clothes,” don’t label the link “Apparel (K-12).” This is confusing to search engines and it may not even make sense to your visitors.
Internal anchor text links should reflect your keyword strategy. Link to pages using the keywords that you want your website to rank for in search. These internal links should reflect common usage and labels that people understand.
7. Remove low-value links
As your website grows, make sure you direct people to the most important content. This includes content that targets competitive keywords, service pages and your best selling products.
Your internal link structure may stop serving you over time. As your website grows and you add more products and content, prioritize your most important pages. Look at what these pages are linking to and remove those that no longer serve your purpose.
8. Increase your site speed
If your webpage takes too long to load, potential customers may become impatient and abandon your site for a competitor. Research from Google found that over half (53%) of mobile users will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Slow site speed can also negatively affect sales. And nearly 70% of consumers say page speed influences their decision to buy from an online retailer.
What can you do to ensure good site speed? There are two easy things you can do to shorten load times:
9. Strive to rank at the top of the SERPs
Most people don’t make it past the first page of the search results. In fact, 75% of users never scroll past page one. To get business from SEO, you want to secure the highest rank possible. Here are 8 things that you can do today to help your website land a spot on the first page.
10. Research your competition
Some people skip the researching your competition step, but it is vital. You need to see what other businesses are doing so you can set yourself apart from your competitors. What products or services are difficult to find in your area? How do your prices compare? What audience isn’t being served? If you discover what is already out there, you’ll be able to identify what makes you unique.
Yes, millions of people make purchases on Amazon, but there are still online businesses that succeed by providing something extra, like superior customer experience, personalized services and/or helpful content. People will seek out quality small, local businesses and become loyal customers regardless of price.
11. Select Your target keywords
Brainstorm specific questions and concerns that your ideal customer would search on Google. You’ll want to relate the keyword to a product or service you offer.
Not everyone searches the same way, so follow up with some research. To research keywords, head to Google’s Keyword Planner. You’ll need a Google Ads account for this, so if you haven’t signed up for one yet, now’s the time. Don’t worry, you don’t need to set up a campaign or spend money on ads to use the Keyword Planner.
Next, click on “Discover new keywords:” In the prompt, enter some keywords relevant to your business. For example, if you’re a barber in the Brooklyn area, you could enter the following:
Click “Get Started” and you’ll be presented with a list of suggested keyword ideas.
12. Optimize your title and meta description
The best place to look for title and meta description inspiration is the SERPs. Simply search for your competitors and look at what they’re already doing:
If these businesses are ranking, it’s because Google has determined they are the best fit for that search. Take inspiration and find gaps you can fill. What makes you different, and why do your customers love doing business with you? Make these features evident in your title tags and meta descriptions.
13. Create great content
Your small business SEO is likely to receive a huge boost from excellent content. Many small business owners simply publish their products or services and contact details on their website. What they might not realize is that they can win more customers over by also sharing tips and expertise.
Engage your customers and prospects with useful, entertaining content. This will increase your authority in the market and expand your audience.
14. Add your small business to local directories
Incoming links, called backlinks, tell search engines that your site is relevant and trustworthy. Adding your company to local online directories can help you generate more backlinks, which will help with your SEO and hopefully also increase traffic to your website. Make sure that you are using reputable directories.
Here are a few to get you started:
15. Promote your website on social media
Search engines want to provide the most helpful content. Oftentimes, when content is shared on social media, it will get more visibility in the search results.
Dedicate some time to building your social media following so that you have an audience for your latest posts, promos and news. Here are some great ideas to grow a following with your local community:
16. Ask customers for reviews
Most people are conditioned to read reviews prior to making a purchase. Research form Local SEO Guide found that reviews are one of the leading local search ranking factors.
You can improve conversions by getting positive reviews and feedback from customers. Ask current happy customers to leave a review on local listings, social media or for your website.
17. Avoid the biggest SEO mistake small businesses make
When small businesses get started with SEO, they often focus on keywords that have too much competition. They are hoping to attract many different types of customers rather than one very specific type. For example, take the keyword “plumber.” It has a whopping 301,000 monthly searches. That is a lot of competition!
Due to the competitive nature of SEO, it is much easier to rank for niche long-tail keywords. In the example above, other keyword options have more reasonable search volume for a small business. If you are a commercial plumbing contractor, it might make sense to target that keyword. Or use the keyword “replace bathroom sink faucet” to create a helpful how-to blog post to attract new customers and build trust with your audience.
When you are creating content for your niche, you want to make it very specific and targeted. You may find that there are fewer searches, but the people who do find your website will be much closer to conversion.
18. Use a lead magnet to convert your visitors
Search engines provide a unique way to connect with your target market. By providing the information that they want, you can build a relationship of trust that will convert visitors into customers.
As you present your target market with the answers to their problems, you’ll also want to include a call to action (CTA) that they can take. Ideally, this CTA will also capture their contact information so you can connect with them in the future.
What are some great CTAs that will help you convert visitors?
Offering a lead magnet or incentive to share information can encourage prospective clients to share their information. Common lead magnets are downloadable guides, consultations or free newsletters.
When you create an incentive, make sure that it is a) useful to your audience and b) highly relevant to the keywords that you are targeting. Once you have contact information, you can easily notify prospects about promotions, fresh content or new products and services. An ongoing interaction will lead customers to build a relationship with your brand.
As you provide helpful content on a consistent basis, more customers will begin to discover you online and they’ll share your information with friends and family.
19. Take it one task at a time
There are many tasks involved in optimizing your website for search and it can feel overwhelming. If you do a little bit each day, people will be finding you through organic search before you know it.
Here are three ideas to get you started:
If you try to think up something to write every day, you’ll give up when you develop writer’s block. Having all of your long-tail keywords organized in a content calendar with a publishing schedule helps you stay on track. Get inspired by upcoming events, national days and other creative concepts that make sense for your business.
Search engine optimized content is evergreen content. People can discover it through their Google searches long after you’ve published and it remains relevant. When you’re getting started, be sure to share your content on social media. Ask friends and customers alike to check out your content, share on social media and even link to your website.
Take time every week to update your website. Make sure that your website is loading quickly, that images are optimized with alt tags, and that your content has descriptive and enticing meta descriptions.
Does your small businesses really, truly understand what keywords to use in online ads and on your website, social media, and your blog? Take your knowledge to the next level with one of these SEO keyword tools:
Cost: Free, but you need an AdWords account
Why it’s awesome: You have three ways to find relevant keywords: name of website or page; products or service category; seed list of keywords related to those products or services.
2. Keyword Tool
Cost: Free – and you don’t need to create an account to use it
Why it’s awesome: It is extremely reliable and comprehensive.
3. SEO Book
Cost: Free, but you need to set up an account
Why it’s awesome: It uses a custom database that contains 28,527,279 keywords representing 13,762,942,253 monthly searches.
Why it’s awesome: It’s an incredibly sophisticated system that provides a crazy comprehensive list of keywords.
Cool features: WordStream provides keywords for every use:
1. Choose one keyword per blog post
Only one – not five! The reason will become apparent when you read the next point, but before you skip down, here’s a secret: You will probably need to play around with your keyword or phrase until you hit on the right combination of words. Plug what you want to use into Google Search and see what suggestions the autofill feature starts offering (it uses the most common search terms).
2. Use the keyword in several places
You can’t use the keyword once; you have to use it in several critical areas:
No keyword-stuffing, by the way. Use your keyword too often in the body of the blog post, and you’ll be dinged.
3. Include an image!
Because humans like images, so do search engines. Subscribe to a stock photo site and add one image to each blog post. (No stealing whatever you find on the Internet – just because it’s there, it’s not free for the taking!)
4. Write a compelling meta description
The meta description is what shows up in search results; it explains what kind of information people can expect to find in your blog post. You want people to read your meta description and think, “Wow, I’ve got to read this!”
5. Pick one category
Think of blog categories like food categories: you have fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, cereal, bread. Just as milk will only fall into the dairy category, each blog post can only fall into one category. Oh, and you only need a handful of categories.
6. Use tags that make sense
So, think of tags like the milk in the dairy category; they are more specific, and you can use a bunch of tags for each blog post. To ensure you are using tags that make sense, think about the words or terms someone would use in search to find that blog post.
7. Install the Yoast SEO plugin
We recommend that small business owners install the Yoast SEO plugin on their WordPress site. It rates all blog posts (and web pages) for SEO. A green SEO light is great; orange is OK, and red is not – and the plugin even tells you how to fix any SEO issues.
Thanksgiving weekend—including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday — showed a slight decline in sales in 2021, largely due to the lasting impacts of the pandemic. Despite the declines, the peak holiday shopping period otherwise looked a lot like it would have otherwise.
With online sales reaching new peaks, there’s a lot that online retailers can learn about SEO optimization from the holiday shopping season. Here are five lessons you can take away.
To demystify the SEO process and help small business owners attract more website visitors, customers and revenue, Web.com, the most trusted online marketing resource for small businesses, is proud to offer an easy to use SEO tool. Even if you have little or no experience, this do-it-yourself resource makes it easy to take control of your SEO strategy – and take your business to the next level.
How this simple DIY tool makes SEO easy and effective
To stay competitive in the world of business, you must keep your brand relevant. One important aspect of any online marketing plan is an SEO strategy. Over 90 percent of customers search online before making a purchase. Inserting SEO keywords into your website content will raise your ranking in online search engines like Google, Yelp and Bing and help customers find you.
In the past, SEO was complicated and typically required third-party expertise to develop a keyword list and implement a program. Now, Simple SEO by Web.com provides straightforward recommendations for customers who want their businesses to show up prominently in online search results. Designed to fit your small business budget, Simple SEO is bundled with the resources included in the Web.com “Marketing” website builder package.
Simple SEO makes the process easy and effective. Here’s how it works.
As a small business owner, positive exposure and visibility for your brand mean everything. In today’s online marketplace where 90 percent of customer purchases begin with an online search, you need every advantage to separate your business from the competition.
You’ve explored the benefits of SEO strategies that help your business rank higher in online search directories and lead customers to your website. You may have even used basic SEO tools in the past. But now you're ready for something better.
You want to partner with SEO experts to formulate a plan to take your business to the next level. While there are many resources available, you’re looking for personalized expertise that addresses the specific needs and goals of your business. That’s what Pro SEO Services by Web.com are all about.
“It’s about meeting companies where they are in the business cycle to provide expert SEO guidance that translates into growth experiences,” says Product Marketing Manager Stacie Anderson. Let’s take a closer look at Pro SEO Services and the benefits it offers your business and brand.
Pro SEO Services is an affordable solution targeted precisely to help you increase online visibility and exposure. It puts you in direct contact with an expert team that will develop strategies to meet your current needs with flexibility to adapt as you grow.
While Web.com's Simple SEO option is an outstanding resource that allows you to enter basic information about your business and receive DIY guidance for starting an SEO program, Pro SEO Services is for the small business owner who is ready to hire an expert team to do everything necessary to drive SEO performance.
“Simple SEO is similar to having a personal trainer suggest a workout plan that you do yourself, like adding text to your images to help your Google ranking,” says Senior Product Manager Jason Longo. “Now imagine getting great results simply by having someone work out for you. With Pro SEO Services, our experts get to know your specific goals, then go to work and do everything for you to optimize your website and other critical elements to achieve your goals.”
No matter what your level of SEO experience, there is a Pro SEO Services option that will allow you to gain the advantages of proven expertise and performance.
Want to have your business rank higher in online search directories and attract more website visitors? Pro SEO Services are easy, affordable and a smart investment for your business. Here’s why.
“Let’s say you are an HVAC company focused on home air conditioners,” says Longo. “As a small business owner, you may not know how and where to implement residential keywords into your website content. Pro SEO Services are a way to let us do the heavy lifting for you by using the Simple SEO tool to create a keyword list that attracts the right audience and achieves the results you are looking for, like greater revenue.”
This makes Pro SEO Services perfect for seasonal businesses and other companies that have a specific marketing focus during certain times of the year. “Some businesses like to hire our SEO Pro experts for a three-month period, others like the convenience of a one-year subscription,” says Longo. “Or you may be a lawn care business who wants to invest in off-page SEO (activities not related to your website that raise your business ranking with online search engines) to reinforce your domain authority and help more people find you in the spring. Those extra customers can mean the difference between a great summer and just an average one.”
All of these services can be purchased as one-time or limited-time options and give you the ability to manage your SEO budget. This allows you to see what you are receiving for your investment so you can make adjustments and focus on the services and options that work best for your business. “Pro SEO Services offers you measurable value, and that’s important for small business owners who want to make every dollar count,” says Longo.
“Web.com has a long history of helping businesses with their SEO strategies and Pro SEO Services areis the latest example of the progressive approach we take toward effectively and affordably providing solutions,” says Longo. “By offering a long list of proven SEO options that meet companies in their specific growth stages, we can help them reach their goals today and tomorrow.”
Pro SEO Services are just one of the online resources we offer in our Pro line. You’ll also benefit from our Pro Websites and Pro Online Store that will help you establish and grow your online presence, attract website visitors, generate online revenue and build your brand. You have business goals you are ready to achieve. Web.com has online resources to help you grow your business. Let’s work together to make it happen.
In today’s competitive business landscape, having access to effective online resources is important, and working with an experienced team of SEO experts is a difference-maker. Choose our Pro SEO Services option and put the power of expertise to work for your website and brand.