SEO Tips For Small Business
There is an absolute TON of information on SEO out there. Before writing this post, I asked myself 'what value could I give others that isn't regurgitated a million times over?'.
Then I started to think about when I started my cookie business. I was so busy responding to emails, creating invoices, and (oh yea) making cookies that I simply didn't have the time to sit down and work on my SEO.
So, I set up the basics and focused on what I knew what would give me the most bang for my buck (because time is money - right?!) and did quite well. So, that's what I'm going to share with you today!
1. Have A Website
This sounds like a no-brainer but I'm always surprised to see how many other small businesses rely solely on social media or online markets (such as Etsy or eBay) as their online presence. I won't argue that you can't start a business (and make a lot of money) just on those - but at some point you're going to need a 'home base' (aka website). And it's better to set it up sooner rather than later (see #4 below).
For those of you out there who are intimidated of starting a website. I'm here to calm your fears because it's so easy these days to have a great website without having any technical knowledge. I highly recommend Squarespace or Wordpress (although setting up Wordpress can be a lot more time consuming for a beginner). I've never used Weebly, but I've heard a lot of folks like that platform as well. If you sell, Shopify or BigCommerce are great options.
Don't Get Hung Up On Choosing A Platform
I hear a lot of SEO fear-mongering out there arguing one platform is better at SEO than the other. But search bots don't care what platform you're using as long as it can crawl and index the code. And all modern platforms allow for this, along with the ability to add/edit the more important technical SEO aspects these days. Just remember that giving valuable content to your visitors will have infinitely more impact on your SEO than your platform ever will.
2. Set Up Your Website For Success
Have an idea of search queries you want people to find you with. And this may be an on-going process, don't be afraid to get it wrong - you need to start somewhere. For example, when I started making cookies, I just thought 'decorated cookies in fairfax, va'. I didn't know if I was going to niche down or specialize... As I got further along in my business, I found that weddings generated more business & traffic, to expand upon that, DC was a far better search term than Fairfax for the folks I wanted to reach. So, I adjusted accordingly.
Make Your Site Easy to Navigate. For your blog - tag, categorize, and list related posts. Make all your navigation menu's simple and clear. And don't skimp on internal linking (creating links within your website to other pages on your website).
Verify Your Site with Google. This will also lead you through a short process of setting up certain things like a preferred domain. Go ahead and do all that, it doesn't take long.
Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly. Check here. Yay for simple. :)
Make Sure Your Site Loads Fast. If your site isn't usable, people won't stay.
3. Know The Basics
You all, I cannot say this enough...SEO is NOT DIFFICULT. You don't need to be a marketing wiz or programmer to master this stuff. Just know what gets you the most brownie points.
Content is King
This concept is pretty self-explanatory, but too many interpret this as 'write great headlines and blog posts chock full of my keywords'. No, that's not what this means.
What this boils down to is making sure your target audience is coming to your site and exploring it. If you've got a ton of visits but those visits don't stay too long, that's not going to do much for you. When Google see's that folks coming to your site are browsing your Portfolio, Services, Pricing, Blog, etc. It confirms to them that you are legit, current, and relevant - thus rewards accordingly.
To be more concise: regularly update your website with posts, videos, images, and anything else your target audience would be interested and engaged with.
KNOW THE MOST IMPORTANT TECHNICAL STUFF
The things you cannot ignore on the more technical end for SEO are your page title and URL structure. Don't get all crazy and do something spammy. Just make sure it's readable, makes sense, and contains some of your keywords.
Make use of the h1, h2, and h3's on your site. This is just good practice for readability sake anyway! :)
Name your images with keywords (ex. engagement-photography-location.png) and tag them as such as well. Again, don't go nuts. Keep it simple.
Social media for your business is just a whole other ballgame/post in itself. For the purposes of this post - I'm just going to say promote your blog posts over the usual suspects...Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
And don't forget to get social in general! Get on Yelp and encourage others to post reviews there, create a Google My Business page, etc.
Comment on other blogs that are relevant to your business and, even better, seek out guest blog or feature opportunities on those blogs as well. Get involved and socialize on FB groups where your audience may be hanging out. Just don't be salesy....no one likes that.
4. What to Expect When You're Expecting High Rankings
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Longevity matters. And how long will depend on how competitive your keywords are. So, think of your SEO as you would growing a garden. You need to make sure to start with good soil and seeds (a website) and water regularly (with great content).
Hope this is helpful, as always, questions welcome below!