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An SEO Guide for Small Businesses

SEO is a foundational marketing technique that when done correctly, can produce consistent, trackable results for small business owners. For most small businesses, though, SEO is not high on the list of digital marketing products to focus on. The reason for this is SEO is difficult to understand and a lot of professional SEO agencies are only focused on advanced techniques that make campaigns too expensive for small business owners.

That does not have to be the case. At its core, SEO is the process of making a website relevant for users looking for products or services offered by the business. That is not necessarily as complicated as many SEO agencies would have you believe. Below is an SEO Guide that will produce results for small business owners without breaking the bank.

Focus on Local

One aspect of SEO that is usually overlooked by big SEO agencies is the local aspect. This is mainly focused on Google My Business listings and location based keywords. Think of the last time you searched for something...if you weren't looking for information, I'm sure you either used your location or "near me" in the search. That is because most people are looking to take action when they search and they prefer not to travel hours to do or get something that is just around the corner.

For small business owners, this means focusing on your local market for SEO. Google My Business is free and you can create a website, run ads, collect reviews and post updates all within the platform. Building out this listing and keeping it updated regularly is a pillar of Local SEO and can have a significant impact for small businesses on a budget.

Implement Tracking Codes

This is not just true of SEO, but is true for any marketing effort: always track results. The beauty of digital marketing is that it is measurable. In order to measure anything, though, you have to have tracking set up. For SEO specifically, you will definitely want to set up Google Search Console and use it to identify keywords, track performance and monitor site coverage.

For more general tracking, you should use Google Analytics or something similar. Not only do you want to implement the tracking code, but you should also set up goals and conversion metrics. This will give you a way to see if your efforts are working. If you are working with an SEO agency and they are not providing you with reporting that is relying on some kind of analytics data, they are not doing their job. The only real way to track progress and measure performance is to use data and the only way to use data is to collect it.

Concentrate on SEO 101 Tactics

The reason SEO is so difficult for a lot of small agencies or small business owners is because it can be very complicated. When you get into technical SEO, link building, schema, structured data, etc. you begin to need more and more resources and time. That means more money, which for small businesses, makes SEO less appealing and for small agencies, makes SEO too expensive to focus on. While those advanced SEO tactics are extremely important for highly competitive industries or regional/national campaigns, for small businesses, the basics are the most important part of an SEO campaign.

For the majority of small businesses, if you focus on the core aspects of on-site SEO and continue to produce quality content and have a mobile friendly, conversion oriented site, you will be competitive in organic search. The following checklist is a good overview for the basic elements to optimize:

  • SEO Titles

  • Meta Descriptions

  • Headers

  • Include focus keywords in site content

  • Include keyword in anchor text for internal linking

With these elements, you will have a good enough foundation to compete in SEO, at least for a select number of strategic keywords.

Write, Write, Write

The same thing I am doing with this blog is exactly what SEO was founded on: content. The best way to make a site relevant is to provide information. While most small business owners and young SEOs may think "How to" or "Guide" articles and blogs are doing a business a disservice by giving away your secrets, it is just the opposite. Users doing searches may be looking for information first, but most of them are going to end up needing to purchase a product or service at some point. Giving them the information they need gives you authority and credibility. It also gets more people to your site, which boosts rankings with Google, putting you in front of more users.

No matter what you have to write about, continue to write. Rankings are not static and SEOs or business owners that stop producing relevant content will start to fade out of the rankings. The only way to get to the top and to stay there is to give users the information they are looking for.

Whether you are a small business or a small agency, this guide will give you a head start for your next SEO campaign. While this guide does simplify SEO, even these basic SEO strategies will require some writing skills, basic website development abilities and computer savvy. If you don't feel comfortable with these skills, hire a professional SEO agency to handle your work.

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