Small Business SEO: How to Get Your Site to Rank in Search Engines

Small Business SEO: How to Get Your Site to Rank in Google

Are you wondering how to build traffic to your small business website?

Getting found on Google is most always an answer, albeit not an easy one.

What is Small Business SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

It is a process that ensures a website can be found on search engines for the relevant words and phrases that describe it.

When your small business has a website, it is important that people can find it. A good SEO strategy helps you get more free and organic traffic in exchange for you providing indexable information.

It’s a simple transaction: you help search engines give their users what they need (content or products) and in return search engines are willing to help you with ranking your website correctly.

In essence, a search engine’s job is to match users seeking information with web pages providing that information.

Why is SEO Important for Small Businesses?

According to a study conducted by Forrester, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.

There’s more:

  1. 3/4 of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
  2. Almost 80% of users state they tend to click on “organic” search results (and scroll past sponsored results). 
  3. Over 80% of internet users admit to using search on a regular basis.

This is not that surprising, really. By now we all recognise the internet to be a huge library of information available to everybody. We all go to the internet in search of answers and knowledge. In fact, the term “Google” is now a verb!

But do you remember when debates among friends could go on for hours and even days? The term “search” referred to a flip through the pages of a dictionary, encyclopedia or other reading source and possibly even a trip to the local library.

Then in the mid 90s the world of “ask and answer” changed. Engines like Archie, Veronica and Jughead and Excite entered the scene.

When it comes to the modern-day search giant, i.e. Google, there’s simply no alternative to Google’s traffic. According to SparkToro, Google is driving almost 60% of traffic to various websites. And while that number is slowly decreasing, the next best alternative, Facebook, is only driving ~5% of web traffic:

top website traffic referring sites - google is #1

When things are like that, can your small business really ignore Google SEO?

These days, when most of your customers may be turning to Google to even type in your name and get to your site, not being in Google means being invisible.

As readily available as content is today, have you stopped and wondered what makes it possible for the correct information to hit the tip of our fingers? How is it that we can get the most relevant answer when searching for our questions?

If you Google that question you will find this answer: SEO

Further Reading: 59 SEO Statistics You Need To See To Believe

How Do Small Businesses Do SEO?

Fundamentally, SEO consists of the following main areas:

  • Technical tasks (i.e. ensuring your site can be accessed by search crawlers)
  • Content (i.e. creating content that describes your service or product and matches ot to searchable keywords)
  • Link acquisition (i.e. getting linked from other sites to improve your site’s authority and consequently rankings)

Search engines (read: Google) follow an algorithm to make sure they are listing websites correctly. In order for a search engine to rank your website higher, it needs to comply with some key best practices. In fact, search engines use hundreds of signals to evaluate whether your page is good and relevant enough for their users to see it but it all comes down to the three main factors:

  • It must be easy to access for search engines and easy to use for human beings
  • It must be relevant (match the search query)
  • It must be trustworthy (other web pages must be referencing this page as a reputable source).

This is where all those main SEO areas help:

Further Reading: SEO Basics: A Beginners Guide on How to Do SEO

Technical SEO for Small Businesses

Technical SEO is fundamental for any website visibility. In essence, it ensures that all important pages are working and can be easily accessed by search engines. With site speed and page experience updates, Google has made it clear that technical SEO is even more important.

What both of these updates mean is that Google wants to serve pages that are fast and provide good user experience, especially on mobile devices.

Your domain and branding may also be considered part of technical SEO because that’s where any website starts from:

example of domain names and logos appearing in search results

For your small business:

Technical SEO may be overwhelming to a small business owner. It is not easy to figure technical aspects of SEO out or find a reliable developer who would be able to help.

The good news is that modern content management systems make it easy for you. WordPress, one of the most flexible and easiest content management systems out there, is a good choice if you have no time or resources to figure technical aspects of site management out. Most hosting providers now offer one-click WordPress installation, so it should be easy.

Here are a few resources to help:

Further Reading: 10 Top Tips to Increase Your Blog Post SEO

Finally, if your small business doesn’t have a website yet, check out Namify which will make your life mгch easier by helping you find a domain name that is based on your primary keyword and that will be easy to brand:

Namify helps you find a domain name that is based on your primary keyword and that will be easy to brand:

SEO Content for Small Businesses

Search crawlers use text content to assess relevancy. While Google can now understand videos and even recognize image content, text is still fundamental for identifying how relevant each document is to a current search query.

Words are the smallest elements of meaning in speech and writing. In SEO, they are imperative. Having the correct words listed will help search engines narrow down the web pages that contain the correct information you’re looking for.

With that in mind, SEO content strategy includes two main tasks:

  • Keywords research: What is it your target audience is searching for when they need to find relevant answers or solve problems your small business is solving?
  • Content creation: Writing content that puts those keywords in a natural context and ensures prominence of those keywords in important page elements, like title and subheadings

And this is not just about creating informational content. An SEO content strategy should also refer to writing detailed and well-optimized product descriptions, creating videos where a search user may benefit from them and finding other ways to visualize information to provide more varied and engaging context.

For your small business:

To make sure you have the right keywords included you can use the free Google Adwords Keyword Planner to search for words that match your business. Personally, I prefer Ahrefs Keyword Explorer which gives you access to tons of data including organic competition (so-called keyword difficulty) and amount of traffic a #1 position is likely to send.

Ideally, you need to identify relevant keywords that match your value propositions, have a lower keyword difficulty (lower than 30) and drive some traffic (at least 100 clicks a month):

ahrefs keyword research screenshot

Ahrefs isn’t free but if you have a minimal SEO budget, consider spending it on using the tool.

Another invaluable tool I use on a daily basis is called Text Optimizer which is a keyword research tool with a twist. Instead of extending your core term based on how people search, the tool identifies related and underlying concepts based on semantic analysis. This unique approach allows you to discover more angles and topics to cover to match each of your pages to keyword intent:

Text Optimizer screenshot

It all comes down to having valuable content on your website. If your content is good and trustworthy, search engines will recognize your effort by placing your website on the top ranked. Good content leads to good reputation, which results in more bona fide link backs and recommendations.

Again, to help you get started, here are a few useful resources:

  • Here are the best SEO tools to help you identify and optimize for your target keywords
  • Here are a few useful plugins to integrate SEO into your WordPress site

Simply put, Google takes links as recommendations. When a page links to another, it means something good is there. If your site has backlinks to your website in other spots of the web, search engines assign higher value to your site.

(Note: adding empty or bogus links around the web in order to trick the system is a bad practice.)

For your small business:

Link acquisition is one of the most time-consuming and expensive areas of SEO. These days it is hard to get a link, even if your content is truly great, and it is next to impossible to get anyone to link to your commercial landing pages, like product pages.

To get links to your small business site, you need to start building relationships in your and neighboring niches. Get to know your niche reporters and bloggers, find and connect to local journalists. Try to figure out why anyone would want to link to your site. Some ideas to get you started:

  • What’s your founder’s story and background? How did your small business come to be? Journalists love covering personal stories of success! One well-placed interview may bring about hundreds of feature and interview requests, and hence hundreds of links!
  • Are your products US-made? There are lots of directories and projects aiming at surfacing American made products. These links may bring sales and build brand loyalty as well!
  • Are you partnering with any charity organizations? Can you discuss some combined PR opportunities which would benefit both of your companies?
  • Is there a (free/local) event coming up which you can use as a PR opportunity?

Further Reading: 7 Local SEO Tips For Small Business Owners

Find your winning angle (or angles) and reach out to bloggers and reporters asking them if they’d like to share your story!

Before you do so, don’t forget to set up a detailed “Press” page giving your outreach targets more information and instructions on how to get in touch with you. Your “Press” page should include some interesting facts about you and your small business as well as lots of ways to get in touch with you.

 For example, my page includes an easy way to send me a voice message through SpeakPipe. Another good idea is to use Appointfix to let those journalists to schedule an interview with you right away:

Appointfix calendar scheduling screenshot

In fact, both of those ways may be quite intriguing. I am seeing at least two people a month getting in touch with me simply out of curiosity on how these may work. Many of these are great leads!

Once you start getting your first links, use tools like SEMrush to track your links and keep them organized. You want to know whether your link acquisition methods are fruitful, and monitoring your backlink profile is the best way to do that:

Link Checker backlink monitoring tool

It is also a good idea to keep an eye on traffic and conversions those links are bringing. At the end of the day, good links are those that get clicked and bring meaningful engagement. Knowing those will help you make informed decisions and hopefully build more traffic driving links. 

Finteza is my favorite way to measure effectiveness of any traffic channel because it makes it so incredibly easy that anyone can do it:

Finteza web traffic analytics screenshot


Is your small business struggling with gaining online visibility?

Most of us are.

In today’s world of ever growing competition, it is getting harder and harder to get found by your target customer.

Small business SEO is becoming harder and harder.

Wouldn’t it be great if your small business website ranked on page one when anyone searches for something relevant?

Now that you know the basics, are you still wondering why you should optimize? Having a high-ranked website is one of the key aspects to the success of your website. Good luck!

Hero photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is an analyst at Internet Marketing Ninjas, a full-service Internet Marketing Company and co-founder of Viral Content Buzz. She has 15+ years of experience in search and social media marketing. Ann is also a frequent conference speaker and contributor to high-profile marketing blogs.

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