Being a small business owner is not an easy job. You don’t only have to take care of absolutely everything that has to do with your business, but also try to keep on with your family life, social life, and try to at least make minimal use of that gym membership declared as a business expense for tax purposes.
Trying to balance all of the above takes already more than your daily 24 hours, when now someone comes and tells you that you need to also take care of your small business online. Why? Because everything and everyone is online. You start to hear words like Google ranking, SEO, keywords, listings, social media, content, blogs… what does that have to do with your business? It has to do a lot – unless you own a marketing agency, in which case it has to do pretty much everything. Being and growing your small business online won’t only give you higher chances of improve your relationship with your actual clients, but reach thousands of potential customers that are out there, looking for a business like yours and ready to make a purchase. Doesn’t sound too bad, huh?
Guessing you already know all this – basically because you’re looking information on how to improve your small business’s online presence – I’m going straight to the point. Here’s some simple and headache free SEO techniques that will set your business online and help you get a comfortable nice position on Google rankings.
1. Set up a Google My Business account
Google My Business is the online equivalent of your physical business. Fortunately, this is totally free and will enable you to appear in the local search results for queries specific to your industry.
Does this look familiar?
Google has local listings that link to your Google+ business page, which means you can put all your small business info for current and potential clients.
You can also encourage happy customers (emphasis on the word happy) to leave reviews on your Google page. Although there is no proof that those reviews will increase your ranking, positive reviews are a great tool to encourage clickthroughs to your websites, and ultimately, great word-of-mouth for potential clients. Think about it, would you choose a business with zero reviews or one with 10 reviews of 5 stars? Plus, you can use those reviews on your website on social media, improving trust in all your networks.
To create your Google My Business account, just click here.
2. Build a fast, mobile-friendly optimised website
Google is focusing more and more on mobile optimisation, encouraging website owners to provide the best mobile experience – they even tell you which sites are mobile friendly in the mobile search results.
You will not only have a great website, easier to use in mobile and tablet, but you’ll also rank higher on Google. This is why it’s worth it to spend a couple of thousand dollars in a good custom website instead of a cheap web template.
Not sure if your website is mobile friendly? You can test it using Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ tool.
3. Choose your keywords
If you are a bakery, you won’t choose “fresh meats” as a keyword, right? You know the business better than anyone, and although this is common sense, it’s recommendable to conduct extensive keyword research to identify gaps in the market.
If you target the exact same keywords as your competitors, it’ll be harder for you to grow, as they’re already established and they have more online coverage. To find those gaps in the market, you can use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner or just make a Google search of the terms and scroll all the way to the bottom to “Related searches”.
It’s also useful to look at how Google is displaying results in your niche. For example, if Google shows a lot of images or videos in the results for the keywords you want to rank for, you might consider create visual content instead of just text. Which brings up to our next step.
4. Content is the key
Without content, there are no keywords, and without keywords, there is no ranking. Content is what will help you rank for your target terms. It’s crucial to have relevant content in your landing pages, but if you want to build trust and be helpful to your clients, a blog is your greatest tool.
Blogs create the opportunity to show the human part of your business, giving information about your products, services and useful tips your audience will appreciate. Blog posts are not only long chunks of keyword stuffed texts, you can be creative and mix it up – stories, news, how-to articles, interviews, checklists, case studies, slides, infographics, videos, etc. Anything that you feel will make a great connection with customers.
Always remember, create content for humans first and Google second. Focus on your current or potential customers problems and how to solve them, rather than throwing a bunch of keywords in every paragraph.
5. Create unique title tag and description for each page
Can’t stress enough about the importance of unique keyword-drive title tags and descriptions. Creating a single description for each page of your website sounds like a lot of work, but it’s a long term benefit task. Once you choose your keywords, it will take around 5 to 10 min per page.
If you don’t create and include your titles and descriptions manually, Google will select the page title and content that thinks it’s relevant for the search query, which not always match the keywords you want to rank for. Plus, your website will look nice and neat on search results.
6. Use Google Search console as your ultimate SEO tool
If you clicked in the mobile friendly tool, you see that sends you to Google Search Console Mobile Friendly Tool. Search Console is a great and free tool that gives you a wealth of information about your website’s performance in Google Search, site errors or issues.
Remember those keywords we talked about? Search Console tells you what keywords your website is ranking for, so you know if you’re addressing the right ones. It also tells you if your website is mobile friendly, your site speed, any crawling and indexing problems, etc. It’s pretty much the Saint Grail for your optimum website’s performance in Google.
To create your Google Search Console account, just click here.
7. Take advantage of local listings
Local directories are a great low cost SEO methods for small business servicing local areas. They will help you reach potential customers, build links to your website and create a trusting online presence. Most of them are free and easy to create – just type in a short description, business logo, a couple of photos, your business contact info, and you’re ready to go.
Here’s a list of some free Australian local listings for your business:
For more info on local business directories click here.
8. Engage on Social Media
Yes, social media is a pain in the ass, but it also plays a very important role in your business relationship with your current and potential customers. It helps to increase your business’ visibility in search results, building a trustable online brand by engaging with users, publishing relevant content and attracting followers.
The first step towards developing a strong social media presence is knowing where your customers are. There is no point on creating a Twitter and Instagram account if your customers are on Facebook and LinkedIn. Once you found them, engage with them providing useful content, such as product launches, promotions, giveaways or useful tips. Be open and honest with your audience, always responding to those reaching out via social media with questions or feedback.
You don’t need to be a social media expert or spend 5 hours a day on every platform to ensure an effective social media presence. Put apart 30 min a day or a couple of hours a week to publish your content, answer customers and engage with other business or potential buyers.
9. Create media relationships
Media coverage of your local business can have a really long-term positive impact on your business’ search results and online brand, especially from reliable third parties.
Dedicate some time to research local media bloggers and influencers, offer them to try your products or services. If you’re sponsoring a charity event, email a reporter or the local news. PR strategies will benefit your brand’s reputation and search results visibility by producing positive articles, videos, and other types of content.
10. Offline efforts will benefit your online presence
While improving your rankings and search traffic is very important, don’t forget the importance of building real life relationships. When a customer makes an in-store purchase, ask them to join your mailing list by offering an online discount, encourage them for positive reviews, or inform them of your Facebook contest. Face to face interaction is still the main and most effective tool for business growth with happy customers and positive word-of-mouth.