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SEO
8 min read

Small Business SEO: Everything You Were Too Afraid To Ask

As an SEO Agency that has been operating for over 10 years, we often get asked about the value and importance of a service that can at times feel time and budget consuming as we progress towards KPIs and ROI achievements.

According to the founding father of Microsoft, Bill Gates: “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” That statement might have been controversial once, but few would argue against it these days. Building an online presence is essential in order to showcase your business and your products. It’s one of the main ways people will find your business and learn about your offering. Plus, if you have time and you’re willing to be persistent, it can be an incredibly cost-effective channel. 

 

Why is SEO important to a business?

It might seem obvious, but the first thing you need for your business in 2020 is a website – a website designed to convert your target customers into your actual customers.

You can do it yourself, you can ask your nephew, or contact a web development company, this is your decision – but remember the better the site, the better the results you can expect.

So, let’s say that you have a beautiful website, made by professionals, filled with user-targeted content and with wide-open arms you are waiting for new clients. And for some reason, the phone isn’t instantly ringing off the hook. This is the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO) to your business.

 

The stats behind SEO

Google controls over 80% of online searches. The rest is accounted for by other search engines – Bing, Yahoo and so on. So, in order for people to come to your site and become your customers, you need to be visible in search engine results. You do this by sending positive signals to what are called search crawlers and improving the authority of your website around your chosen and target product or service.

Here is where we need the help of SEO. Simply, by definition from Wikipedia, SEO is “a set of measures for internal and external optimisation to raise the site’s position in the search engine results for specific user requests, with the goal of increasing network traffic and potential customers and subsequent monetisation of the traffic.”

If you do a related search to your business offering, you might find you are no way near the top of the results or even the first page. This can be a frustrating realisation. Where do you start in order to correct this? We’re going to try and explain…

 

How can I get Google to find my website?

Firstly, to be sure that the search engines will find your site, you need to notify them about it. To do this, register your site in the Google Search Console.

Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a free service that helps you monitor the health of your website – from how well the search engine can access and crawl your site, to how many pages are indexed. Search Console will also help in the following areas: 

  • recommending basic improvements to the HTML of your website
  • giving you information on pages that can be found (or those that disappear)
  • the type of searches your business is getting visibility for
  • messages regarding site health from Google.

To help Google find all the pages you want to index, create a sitemap and robots.txt files. Most website builders will guide you through this process. 

Check their correct operation in the Google Search Console. An SEO or web development specialist can aid you with this if need be.

The next step is to add your business to the Google My Business Listing. This listing is the digital representation of your physical business – kind of like a modern phone directory. Ensuring your business information is 100% correct on Google My Business is essential as users will engage with listings to contact businesses. If you’re working on the road and take calls on the go it could be the difference in closing a deal, if you have a physical location it could mean a customer is able to find your shop easier.

Put some time and effort into this – add good images, select the right business categories. This is the digital representation of your business within Google’s own infrastructure and has massive implications for Local Business SEO, so give it the attention it deserves.

 

How do you make your web pages SEO friendly

SEO requires your website to be relevant to the person’s search query, and therefore it’s important to understand the type of words and phrases that are being searched for in relation to your products. There are plenty of free tools (Google Keyword Planner is the most well-known) that will guide you through the process at a very top level, but working with a specialist here is invaluable to understanding everything from the generic keywords or search phrases used, through to those which are most likely to result in customers contacting your business. For example:

  • ‘Camera’ – low purchase intent
  • ‘Canon dslr camera best price’ – high purchase intent

Based on the information collected, optimise the site pages for targeted requests. Include relevant keywords in the page titles, meta description, the content posted on the page, and in the content headers. Remember, this content needs to remain informative and there are no benefits to putting a keyword over and over again on a page. Again, working with an SEO specialist will allow you take into account the entire market, what is known as supporting keywords and something called keyword placement (where exactly on the page a keyword is placed).

 

Is a mobile SEO strategy important?

Over the last 10 years, mobile has become the predominant device for browsing websites. As a result of this, it’s incredibly important that your website displays correctly on all devices – but especially mobile. Not only does this enhance the user experience, but your site’s performance on mobile – such as loading speed – will impact your search ranking. Of course, you are not an Amazon, which estimates that every 100ms increase in latency cuts profits by 1%, but you will also lose profits due to a slow working site. One of the quickest wins to stop this from happening is to ensure images and videos you upload are not too big in size. 

If you have had your website for a while, Google Search Console will tell you when mobile-first indexing came to your site. This could help you understand any drops in traffic you may have seen if your website is not mobile-friendly.

 

Think about conversions and leads

Carrying out the basics of an SEO strategy and bringing a site up to the standards expected by Google will help your website rank higher in search results. Taking the steps to understand the reasons why users are (or aren’t) converting into customers will change your business. 

There are plenty of tools, again provided by Google, that will give you insight into the behaviour of traffic on your site. Understanding conversions and leads into the website will allow you to make informed business decisions for the better and working with SEO professionals will open the door to tailored campaigns to benefit your SEO.

Gathering data can be carried out in a few different ways

Firstly, simply using Google Analytics raw data and sifting through to find what you want. For example, you could look at the following data:

  • Top-performing pages by traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate
  • Audience demographics such as age, location, and gender
  • Traffic sources – ie. where your visitors are coming from (Google, Email, Social)

The next option is to setup segments and filters on Google Analytics. This allows you to narrow the data down more specifically. For example, you could set up a data view that compares audience segments – does a male user who has come from Google behave differently to a female user? 

The final and most helpful option is to determine actions you want to track and use Google Tag Manager to set up specific actions that will translate into data in the Google Analytics. This can then be paired with the segments mentioned earlier to identify the most valuable channels.

Examples of areas to track would be phone number clicks, form fills and downloads related to products. Any new e-commerce shops could also consider product view elements, including size views, searches and overall product views. 

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keith_hodges

Keith Hodges, Head of Search at POLARIS, is an SEO expert with over 8 years’ experience in the industry. Heading up the search team at POLARIS, the SEO Agency specialises in campaigns for clients in the B2B, Retail and Services sectors. Keith enjoys technical SEO and the ever-evolving landscape that is organic search, keeping up to date with changes in the industry and how these changes impact client accounts.

Comments (2)

  1. commented on

    Excellent notes thanks for this.

    For further information on digital marketing for small business owners;
    I recommend looking up handy guides from Neil Patel & Exposure ninja & Brian Dean from Backlinko they have excellent free guides and are leaders in the SEO Marketing. Check out their Youtube channels as well.

    I have implemented a lot of the user advice given above, and I would recommend a lot of businesses to look at two core mistakes. 1) make it visible what you do straight away as soon as your website opens. So an accounting website should say we do accounts & tax etc. Also, have a clear call to actions offering a service that the client would like. So again as soon as they got onto your website have apparent buttons to click for the invitation to actions
    As an example, an accountant may have to contact you or arrange a free tax planning consultancy or book a free accountancy analysis trial. An example of this can be seen on my website http://www.totalbooks.co.uk This way; you increase conversions considerably. So more people will book a meeting.

    Then look at ways for people to come to your site.

    Thanks again for the lovely article on SEO and digital marketing for small business owners.

  2. commented on

    “I recommend looking up handy guides from Neil Patel & Exposure ninja & Brian Dean from Backlinko they have excellent free guides and are leaders in the SEO Marketing. Check out their Youtube channels as well”

    Yeah Neil Pate excellent guide for free about SEO
    Accounting Courses

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