The 12 most important SEO tips for small businesses

Are you looking to drive more traffic to your website? Have you heard that Google is an excellent way to acquire more but you are unsure where to start? I have prepared my 12 most important SEO tips for small businesses to help you.

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of optimising on-site and off-site website factors to increase organic search visibility and drive relevant website traffic from search engines. Search engines are actually the source of more than 50% of traffic on the web.

How SEO can help your business

An effective SEO campaign that delivers results can provide many benefits to your business, such as increased:

  • Brand awareness
  • Traffic from search engines
  • Conversions and sales

Let’s take a look at how you can go about improving your SEO.

Top SEO tips for small businesses

Think like your target audience to pick the right keywords

When building your SEO strategy, you need to choose the keywords your target audience actually uses. You won’t always only be focusing on keywords for your products or services. You may find that hot topics of high importance for your audience will also be great keywords to focus on.

An example of this is a professional services firm I have worked on before. Some of the best SEO content was for regulatory changes that would affect their target audience. This content was super relevant to their audience and demonstrated that the firm is a thought leader in that industry. The content earned the trust of their audience, which ultimately generated valuable leads and helped move prospects further down the sales funnel.

If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, install an SEO plugin

Platforms such as WordPress have excellent SEO plugins that provide you with a suite of valuable tools. You likely won’t even need to pay, as many of these plugins have a free subscription tier that will more than suffice.

I am a fan of Rank Math for WordPress. The free version of this tool will be more than enough for most SEO tasks you will need to do.

Fix quick win on-page issues

If you already have a strong link profile but haven’t optimised for any on-page SEO factors, you could have some seriously low-hanging fruit. Many times I have implemented fairly straightforward on-page changes and seen improvements in rankings.

On-page optimisations to make:

  • Use primary and secondary keywords in title tags – find out how to optimise your title tags
  • Use primary and secondary keywords in meta descriptions
  • Ensure meta descriptions are compelling to drive click-throughs – i.e., make your search listing stand out and relevant
  • Include your primary keywords in the H1 heading
  • Use primary, secondary and semantic keywords in your main content
  • Make sure you internally link using relevant, keyword-rich anchor text
  • Ensure images have keyword-rich alt text and file names

I cannot count the number of times I have worked on websites that do not even have keywords in title tags. Fixing this one issue often leads to ranking for more keywords and improving existing rankings.

Fix technical SEO issues

You may have technical issues holding back your SEO. For example, perhaps you have inadvertently blocked some pages of your website from being crawled by search engines. This type of issue will result in search engines excluding your content from search results.

Common technical issues to check:

  • Pages blocked from crawling with robots.txt or robots meta tags
  • Duplicate content issues caused by a lack of canonicalisation
  • Slow loading pages – check your page speed here: https://pagespeed.web.dev/
  • Make sure you have a valid XML sitemap and that you have submitted to Google Search Console
  • Is your site structure organised with pages nested under relevant parent pages
  • You should be using static URLs rather than dynamic URLs where possible, and your URLs should contain your target keywords
  • Include relevant structured data – you can find our more about structured data here
  • Check that you do not have any of the following redirect issues:
    • 302 redirects that should be 301 redirects
    • Chained redirects
    • Internal links to 301 redirects that you should just update to the correct URL
  • Resolve broken internal links

You may think the problems above won’t be impacting your website, but I rarely perform an SEO audit and do not find any technical SEO issues. If you are unsure how to find all of these technical issues, you can contact me for more information about our SEO audits.

Fix broken inbound links

Earning links can be difficult, so why waste the links you have already worked so hard to get? Fixing broken links can give a real boost to your SEO.

You can use tools such as SEMRush and AHREFS to find broken links to your website. You can also use tools that will track URLs triggering 404s on your site, or you can analyse your server logs to find 404s.

Ensure that you 301 redirect any URLs triggering 404s to other relevant URLs on your site. These redirects will help preserve the value of your links and boost your search rankings.

Write content that targets both your in-market and out-of-market audiences

When creating content, you should target keywords at both the top (out-of-market) and bottom (in-market) of your marketing and sales funnel. Doing this will provide you with more topics to write about and, therefore, more potential keywords to rank for, and you will also increase the number of touchpoints with your audience. Assuming your content is good, these increased touchpoints should help move your prospects down your sales funnel.

Have a clear call to action to make use of your search traffic

You don’t want to be driving lots of search traffic to your website but then wasting the opportunity to convert them, do you?

Make sure that you have clear calls to action on your landing pages to convert your visitors from search engines. Converting these visitors will prove the value of SEO and, at the same time, grow your sales and revenue.

Ensure your content communicates your expertise

E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trust. These are three factors that Google weighs heavily. E-A-T can be affected by links (see the next point) and the content on your site.

Think about how you can demonstrate your expertise on your website. You can include items such as:

  • Awards
  • Profesional memberships
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Qualifications
  • Mention how many years of experience
  • Client logos
  • Use language such as ‘professional’, ‘expert’, ‘authority’, ‘leading’

Get relevant links

Building good links can be difficult, but relevant links from quality websites can make a difference to your organic search rankings.

When building links, focus on websites that themselves have lots of links, ideally from sites with content relevant to the keywords for which you are attempting to rank. You can use tools such as SEMRush, AHREFS, and Moz to assess the quality of the sites. You can also use these tools to research your competitors’ links and see if you can reach out to some of these sites for links too.

You might find some ‘quick win’ links which are good sites where you can quickly and easily acquire a link. Good examples are relevant, high-quality business directories and community websites that will allow you to submit articles that include a link back to your site.

Set up Google My Business

Google My Business is Google’s way for you to provide them with information about your business directly. Google My Business is particularly relevant for local businesses.

You can improve how your business appears in search results, particularly if you put effort into gathering positive reviews.

Please take a look at our guide to optimising Google My Business.

Track your results with Search Console and analytics

What is the point of all of this SEO work if you don’t even know if it is having an effect? Monitoring the results of your campaigns will help you justify the work and optimise future SEO.

How can you track your SEO campaigns? Well, if you don’t want to spend any money, you can use Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Both of these will give you a good idea of whether your SEO campaigns are working. You can track your traffic and average Google rankings with Search Console while also tracking conversions with Google Analytics. Once you have conversion data, you can calculate a cost per conversion for SEO and work out ROI.

If you’re prepared to spend some budget on monitoring SEO, you can use rank tracking tools. SERanking provides rank tracking for a reasonably low cost compared to some other SEO tools that monitor search positions.

Relax and don’t expect results overnight

My final SEO tip is to be patient. It can take time to see results with SEO – if you are going after very competitive search terms, it can take years. However, once you rank well for valuable keywords, SEO can provide a very high ROI compared to many other marketing channels.

What next?

I have given you some valuable tips to get going with your SEO. If you don’t have the time or feel more comfortable with a professional doing this for you, you can reach out to me by emailing hello@strategyst.co.uk.

About the author

Daniel Lee

I am a digital marketing strategist with more than eleven years' experience. I have worked in digital marketing agencies, as well as client-side. My clients include small businesses all the way up to organisations with revenue in the billions. I provide marketing consultancy both in the UK and the US. I hold a Master of Science degree in International Marketing, and I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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