Do you feel confident about your small business’s SEO performance? Are you excited by all the new leads and growth opportunities currently being driven by your ever-expanding digital presence?
If you’re like many small business owners, the answer is probably “no.” Here at Searchical, we have worked with quite a few small businesses in Australia, and we understand the issues you deal with each and every day.
Many entrepreneurs are intimidated by all the industry jargon surrounding SEO and its technical complexities. You know you should be doing more towards improving your search engine rankings, but you don’t know where to start. You might think that you don’t have the time to learn all the ins and outs of SEO. You might also have looked at the expensive price tags of SEO services and come to the conclusion that SEO is simply beyond your budget.
If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to give you seven easy, practical steps you can take to jumpstart your SEO performance and start growing your business online. These steps can be done manually (in many cases for free) and will put you on the road to SEO success.
First, Let’s Break Down SEO Itself
Before we get into our seven-step checklist for building your SEO strategy, you need to have a general idea of what SEO is and how it works. Once you know the big picture, you can jump into the practical steps.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. The idea here is to make your site appear higher in search results so that it’s easier to find potential customers and leads. This can drive organic (aka, free) traffic to your site enabling you to convert more leads and grow your business.
There’s a reason why Digital Synopsis said this: “The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results.” Their research showed that only 5% of all Google’s users ever scroll beyond page 1 of their search results.
Bottom line – if your site is not appearing on page 1, it’s just not being seen.
SEO itself can be broken down into the following three main categories:
- Technical SEO (Site structure)
- On-Page SEO (content/keywords)
- Off-Page SEO (backlinks)
Each of the steps in our SEO checklist falls into one of the categories we have just listed. Google analyses a wide range of characteristics about your site, but most of them will also fall into one of these general categories.
Google’s search algorithm is built with one goal in mind: to help users find the solutions to their problems. Before you can tackle any SEO activities, you must be able to precisely identify the problems your business is solving for your customers.
Once you know the questions you’re trying to answer, you will be prepared to start modifying your site and creating content that improves your SEO performance.
Our steps below assume that you have set up your website, that it has less than 30 pages, and that it is already being indexed on Google. This means that you can search for your site, and it will appear in the results.
Now, without further ado, let’s begin.
Step 1: Improve Your Site’s Structure
We’ll start with some of the technical issues with SEO first. One of the site characteristics that Google looks at when analysing your site to determine its ranking is structure. Whenever a page of your site is indexed on Google, their bots do something called “crawling” where they scroll through your pages, click your links, and score you based on how well your site performs.
Here is where you should focus on load times and ensuring that your site features, such as buttons and galleries, are functioning properly. Technical SEO can get into the intricacies of coding and programming, but there are a variety of tools to help.
For example, if you are working with a WordPress site, you can install the Rank Math Plugin, which will scan your site and provide steps you can take to improve your structure, add missing meta titles, and more. There are also websites that enable you to test your site’s load speed, such as PageSpeed Insights.
Delete any broken pages and ensure that everything flows well.
Step 2: Lock In Your Keywords
Keywords are one of the most essential elements of any SEO strategy. Simply put, keywords are certain words or phrases that repeatedly appear in hundreds of thousands of Google searches every day. Google looks at your site’s content and tries to identify specific keywords that repeatedly appear in your content.
Based on this analysis, Google is trying to paint a picture of exactly what problems your company can solve. Then, the algorithm will rank you higher in searches that contain your primary keywords. This is why having a solid keyword strategy is such a critical part of SEO.
In this step, you need to do keyword research, find what keywords people are searching for within your industry, and then create content and pages based on those keywords. There are many free tools to help you with keyword research.
One of the most popular is Google Keyword Planner. This tool will allow you to type in keywords and track their current popularity and levels of importance. It will also even suggest relevant keywords based on your preferred words and phrases.
Step 3: Do Competitor Research
A key part of getting your SEO right is choosing your keywords and then building the right kind of content around those keywords. In order to achieve this, it can be helpful to research your competitors.
Many of the free SEO tools enable you to plug any URL you want into them. Thus, you can use them for both your own purposes and to do research on competitor sites. How fast are their sites loading? What kind of pages are they creating? Do their sites have more pages or fewer pages? These are the kinds of questions that you can ask.
Fortunately, your competitors have sites that are free to access. Simply pressing the “F12” key on your keyboard (when using the Chrome browser) will even let you see much of the backend code of the site, thanks to Chrome’s Inspector feature.
Step 4: Create Amazing Content
Written content is the key to achieving solid SEO performance. Remember that Google is always trying to help people solve their problems. By demonstrating your site as an authority in your space and creating educational content, you can earn a higher ranking in Google’s search algorithm.
Many companies are starting corporate blogs and providing other avenues to publish high-quality content that allows them to answer questions related to their industry.
If you are a small business that provides car repair services, you could write a number of DIY articles explaining how vehicle owners can take better care of their cars. When a person has a problem, they click on that article, find a solution to their problem, and also hear about your repair services.
This is exactly how organic traffic works. If you can get it right, you can unlock a long-term revenue source that is highly sustainable and highly affordable.
Also, remember that your content must dovetail with your keyword selection. Once you select the keywords you want to focus on, you then need to create a number of pages of content that include and focus on those keywords. This is truly what content SEO is all about.
Step 5: Focus On Getting More Links
Another vital pillar of SEO is linking. When Google sees that other sites are linking back to yours, your perceived authority in the space increases. This results in higher rankings from the algorithm, which translates to more visitors to your page and more sales. There are a number of different ways you can get high-quality backlinks to your site.
For example, you could ask to guest blog on other sites and add your own pages as sources to back up your arguments. Reach out to other businesses that you work with on a regular basis (partners, suppliers, etc.) and ask to write content on their sites.
You might also connect with an influencer or blogger that is in your industry and collaborate with them to get backlinks set up. There are a number of other ways you can achieve this. However you approach it, having a solid library of backlinks is vital for achieving SEO success.
Step 6: Go Beyond Telling, Show Them (More Images & Video)
Research and data analytics have made it clear that video is crucial. Video results are 50x more likely to be organically ranked in Google and sites that have videos tend to have an average user viewing time of 2 minutes longer. Having high-quality images and videos are a vital step in taking your site to the next level of SEO performance.
Visme is an example of a tool that makes it easy to create infographics and explainer videos. Canva is another software platform that makes creating and editing videos fast and easy. When it comes to images, keep copyrights in mind. Fortunately, many website builders, such as WordPress, provide a library of public domain stock images you can use on your site.
You can also utilise sites like Unsplash to find royalty-free images that suit a variety of industries. Be sure to add alt-descriptions to increase the accessibility of your site. Also, in the event that your images do not properly load, the alt-text will be presented to explain the content.
Pro Tip: Include keywords in your image alt-descriptions to improve the image SEO of your site.
Step 7: Throw Paid Advertising Into The Mix
Organic traffic is the most coveted result of any successful SEO strategy. However, the way to truly win when it comes to SEO is through a combination of both paid and organic campaigns. Paid advertising can come in many forms. For example, Google Ads allow you to artificially pay to have your site appear at the top of search results. These are the “paid results” that appear at the top of every Google search.
You can also utilise social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to pay for ads to be delivered to your target audience. Many of these platforms even provide you with targeting and demographic tools so that you can customise exactly who sees your advertisements.
Relying solely on paid traffic is not a sustainable method to achieve SEO. Although you may see a rapid positive increase in the number of views on your site, this result is often only temporary. This brings up a vital point of SEO generally. There is no shortcut to SEO success. The way to build a lasting presence online and earn the trust of Google’s algorithm is to take your time and build a library of content, a well-structured site, and earn a collection of backlinks.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Small Business SEO
No beginner’s guide would be complete without a robust FAQ section. Here, we’ll break down some of the more commonly asked questions small business owners might have about improving SEO strategies for their small businesses. Don’t see your question here? Visit us at our website for more information on how your company can make the most of online marketing for small businesses.
Q: Can small businesses utilise SEO effectively?
A: The short answer here is yes, of course. The longer, more nuanced answer is still yes, but search engine optimisation can be a lengthy (or ongoing) and challenging process. Don’t believe us? Check out these 5 success stories of small businesses working with SEO.
In order to make the most out of SEO initiatives, small businesses need to first prepare a basic SEO strategy, a plan to measure the effectiveness of that strategy, and any necessary contingencies. It can take months or even years for companies to build up a healthy digital presence and cultivate inbound links and a body of quality content.
Simply understanding that SEO is an ongoing process that can change when algorithms change can better prepare smaller businesses for long-term SEO strategies and viability. In today’s competitive marketplaces, businesses have to be able to adapt if they want to survive amid economic uncertainty, supply chain issues, and the usual turmoil that comes with running a business.
Q: How can small businesses get started with SEO?
A: Within the realm of SEO, there’s a lot to learn, and it can be prohibitively intimidating for some small business owners. One of the best things a small business owner could do when first starting out would be to conduct as much research as possible about the ins and outs of search engine optimisation – strategies, techniques, and how other companies leverage SEO effectively.
Even if your company presently lacks the budget space to outsource your SEO, for instance, a small business can still utilise SEO techniques to improve aspects of daily operations, like increased brand awareness, greater website traffic volume, and more. One of the best tools you can use to get started with SEO is Google Analytics.
Q: How can small businesses effectively measure SEO progress?
A: While no one can predict how well a certain SEO strategy might work, there are several ways businesses can measure the effectiveness of their SEO strategies. Perhaps the most obvious metric to inspect is organic traffic – if organic traffic is up, you can determine that more users are reaching your website after plugging a query into a search engine.
Another way to measure SEO progress is to look at your keyword rankings. Audits like keyword gap analysis can show you how you compare to other competitors within your industry and how much your keywords are contributing to search engine results page rankings.
Q: How long before SEO starts having an impact on business operations?
A: There’s not a singular, tried-and-true answer to this question because every company’s SEO strategy varies somewhat, but in general terms, organisations can usually expect to see measurable results in five or six months. This may seem like a long time to come, or it may seem like the blink of an eye to others – regardless of your perspective, it can take a while for search engine optimisation to take effect.
Of course, the sooner an organisation begins its SEO strategy, the less time it will take for results to become apparent. And if your small business is still struggling to identify any measurable difference in website traffic after more than six months, it may be a result of an ineffective strategy somewhere within your plan.
Q: What do other small business owners wish they knew about SEO before getting started?
A: The answer to this question varies depending on who you ask. For many small business owners, however, there are some common threads when it comes to what they wish they knew about SEO from the onset. One thing small business owners might wish they had known about is the importance of content marketing as an SEO tool.
Content marketing can be a game-changer for some companies. Studies have shown that approximately 61 percent of U.S. online customers will make a purchase after reading a blog with product or service recommendations. And other studies have shown that content marketing, on average, can cost up to 62 percent less than more traditional marketing methods.
This means that publishing content related to your business that utilises keywords your target audience is searching for can provide numerous benefits in terms of website traffic and conversion rates.
Q: Is outsourcing my small business’s SEO worth it?
A: SEO is not as complicated as many small business owners may think. As we have shown in this SEO checklist, there are many goals you can achieve on your own with the use of free tools. However, at the end of the day, there are many key advantages to working with experienced SEO professionals.
At some point, you will likely reach the point in your SEO journey where further progress would require time that you cannot afford to commit. Furthermore, many of your competitors may have bigger budgets and full SEO teams whose sole job is to beat you at the rankings game. Outsourcing is the best way to take your SEO to the next level without having to invest significant sums in full-time SEO employees.
Searchical is the premier provider of SEO services to Australian small businesses. We have experience serving a wide range of industries and can help you succeed with SEO.
Ready to embark on your SEO journey?
Search engine optimisation can be a lot to wrap your head around, especially if this is your first foray into the wild, untamed landscape of digital marketing. Small businesses face plenty of challenges and obstacles on a daily basis, even in the best of circumstances, and it’s important for small business owners to be able to make the most of their limited resources and funds.
Searchical offers a unique approach to SEO management for small businesses and other companies. Our experienced and dedicated teams understand how important SEO can be for small businesses, especially when you consider the fact that improving organic search is one of the best ways to increase website traffic.
Ultimately, customers are more likely to see your company’s website if it ranks well on popular search engines. And in order to get your website to rank higher on search engine results pages, you need to invest in SEO. Finding out the best path forward for your company will likely take some additional research and introspection, but Searchical is here to help when you are ready to make the plunge into online marketing for small businesses.