In today’s world marketing and advertising are well beyond the days of Mad Men and Don Draper. The times when a good newspaper ad will net you new business are long gone. In its place is a plethora of online and digital tactics that require a certain amount of technology know-how. One of these tactics is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Simply put, SEO allows search engines to better understand your website and where it should rank for various searches. Ultimately, SEO aims to increase your website visibility on search engines like Google and Bing by helping them understand your content and increasing online authority relative to peers. If the search engine understands what your website is about, it will be more likely to show up when online users are searching for your business offerings.

Additionally, you could be missing out on potential customers and leads if your business isn’t thinking about SEO the right way. With that in mind, here are some SEO tips that small businesses can use to rank better on search engines and drive traffic to your website.

Claim and update local listings with correct name, address, and phone number (NAP)

Often people are searching for businesses that are closest to their current location. A location based search provides the user with reviews, business hours, and other details someone close to your location will likely want to know. This is where Local SEO comes into play and it differs slightly from traditional SEO.

Traditional SEO is concerned with your overall search rankings. For example, if you own a law firm, traditional SEO strategies will work to get you to the top of search results for people searching lawyer. Which, if you’re a lawyer, is very useful. The downside is you’re competing with all the other lawyers in the world.

Local SEO, however, is concerned with ranking in the local search results, the ones you see on a Google map when you search. Using the same example, let’s say you’re a lawyer in Delaware, OH. You might not care if people in Los Angeles find you when they search lawyer. After all, how likely is it that someone in Los Angeles will hire a lawyer in Delaware, OH? It would be a better strategy to rank locally and be one of the results returned when someone in your area searches for a lawyer.

Claiming and keeping your local listings up-to-date plays a big role in your local SEO. Consistent name, address, and phone number listings (commonly referred to as NAP) across your social media, your website, and sites like Yelp adds to the credibility and authority of your business listing.

Overall, Make sure all your listings contain the same information. Have you ever renamed your business? Did you move locations? Was your phone number ever changed? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it’s a good idea to track down your listings to be certain they are correct and not hurting your local SEO.

Have a mobile-friendly website

Studies show roughly 56% of searches come from a mobile device. Which means that if your website isn’t compatible with mobile devices then chances are you’re losing out on business. And, if you haven’t updated your website in the past 5 years, chances are you don’t have a mobile responsive website.

Google has started penalizing websites for not being mobile friendly. This free tool from Google shows if your website is compatible with mobile devices. Having a user-friendly mobile website will improve the user’s experience and make information easier to find. Have you ever visited a website that is slow to load on your mobile device and you end up leaving the site because it’s taking too long? Don’t let this be your website and make users leave your page!

Pick relevant keywords and include them on your web page

One of the things search engines look at are the words you use in your copy. So, using the lawyer example, if you are using words like law, legal and lawyer, then your SEO will be better off. If you’re a lawyer and your website talks about cotton candy, then you’ll be worse off.

While that may seem like common sense, picking the right keywords to rank for can be complicated. The first step is to pick the search term or phrase you want the post to show up for. You’ll want to do some research about what people are actually searching for. The easiest way is to use Google Keyword Planner through Google AdWords. This is a free tool that shows you the volume and different variations of searches people are using search engines for.

You may notice that some of the terms you’re using to market your business are not high volume terms. If that’s the case, you may want to think about going after terms that more people search. Take a look at your competitor’s website as well. They may be featuring keywords that your business is not currently targeting.

You should also try and pick realistic keywords to go after. If the keywords are too general, then chances are you’ll be competing for the number one spot with other business with more resources than you. If, however, you choose more specific keywords with a decent amount of search traffic, then you could have a better chance at outdoing your competitors.

Create unique content

Creating unique content is a good way to help with your SEO. Not only that, but quality, unique content can help increase your web traffic and, ultimately, grow your business. And content can take lots of forms.

Blogging is probably the most straightforward way to create unique content. But that doesn’t mean it is the easiest. It’s difficult to identify what kinds of writing will resonate with your audience and it’s time-consuming to write a quality blog post. If writing isn’t your forte, you may what to think about doing more visual content like infographics or video.

Creating good content helps in three ways. First, it can get other websites to link to your site.  Links from sites you don’t own gives your site more authority and Google will recognize your site as credible. Second, it gives you things that can be shared via your social media accounts. Search engines look at social media and if your content is being shared it will ultimately help out your SEO ranking. Lastly, it gives your customers and your audience a reason to keep coming back. The more a person comes to your site the more likely it is you will convert them to a customer.

Define success and track your results

Before you even start thinking about implementing and SEO plan (or any marketing plan for that matter) you should always have a clear idea of what success looks like. Do you want to rank on the first page for a certain number of keywords? Do you want to increase page views? Or maybe you want to increase the sales of a specific product or service? Whatever the case, you need to know what your end goal is.

After you’ve defined that you then need to find a way to track the results. Digital marketing is a scientific process. You need to make assumptions, test those assumptions, evaluate the results and then tweak your plan appropriately.  

There are analytic platforms that can track certain keywords and show you how they are ranking and where your website ranks. You can also use Google Analytics to track key performance indicators for your website. You can view how many users visited your website, which pages are visited most often, how many returning visitors you have, and how people are moving through your website.

It’s important to remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t see drastic results overnight. Good SEO takes time and strategy to become effective. Holony Media can help answer your small business marketing questions and help develop and implement your SEO strategy. Contact us today for a free digital marketing consultation.

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