24 Top SEO Tips and Tricks for Small Businesses
Implementing an SEO campaign can be a lot to take in for a small business.
There are numerous articles discussing SEO tips and tricks, and it can get overwhelming fast.
Use this guide of the 24 top SEO tips and tricks seeks to make life easier for small businesses that are looking to take on SEO.
Beginning Steps:Below are 7 SEO tips that you should utilize while you're building your website
1) Have an SEO Strategy Prior to Designing a Website
Your website design will end up having a significant impact, whether direct or indirect, on where you rank in search engines. Koozai discusses why it’s vital to begin SEO before creating a website, and there are several reasons to do so:
- Site Structure: By considering your website structure prior to writing a single line of code or designing a single part of a website, you’ll be able to strategically plan out how you’ll be able to attract visitors to your site.
First, you need to consider these site structure elements. You should consider hierarchy, the simplest way to code the site, how you can create a shallow depth website, and what menu navigation works best for you site.
- URL Structure: Your URL structure ties into your site structure. You’re going to base your URLs off of the focus of each page. You should aim to create search friendly URLs by using permalinks.
- Internal Linking: Are you wondering what the importance of internal linking is? Creating an effective internal linking strategy will allow you to distribute link equity and help you rank for certain words by optimizing links with anchor text.
Having a plan for which pages to distribute more link juice to will help search engines determine which pages are the most important.
- Outbound Links: When creating outbound links, you want to ask yourself “does this link add value and is it relevant?” If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t use that link. It’s also important that you’re linking out to sources with a high page authority or domain authority.
- Heading Tags: Formatting heading tags from the beginning and having a plan of how you want your site to look, will make it easier when it’s time to start implementing these tags. Ideally, you’d want your <h1> tag to be represented first in the body of a page’s content, and subsequently followed by <h2>, <h3>, and <h4>.
2) Analyze Your Competitors
In any SEO competitive analysis, you should look for:
- Keyword Consistency: What keywords are they using? How often do they reference particular keywords? Are they using their primary keyword in heading tags?
- Website Structure: What kind of pages have they created? What URLs are they using?
- Title Tag and Meta Description: Compile a list of the title tags and meta descriptions they use for their pages. Browser extensions such as META SEO Inspector will provide you with this information. Once you have it, find a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
- Backlink Analysis: See what sites are linking to your competitors. This research step is useful for link prospecting.
- Highly Ranked Keywords: Get a feel for what keywords your competitors are ranking for and where they’re ranking to help you determine your plan of action.
- Content: Is their content meaningful or is it too SEO-friendly? Develop an understanding of how they’re trying to attract customers and what their main selling points are.
3) Use Google’s Keyword Planner
While there are countless keyword research tools, the most widely used and easiest to use is Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Use this tool to research search volume for certain keywords you’d like to target.
By using it to compare search traffic, you can determine which keywords will be the most advantageous.
For example, KathodeRay Media could use Keyword Planner to find out the difference in search volume of “top seo companies” and “top seo agencies.” In the chart below, you can see how “top seo companies” is searched much more frequently than “top seo agencies” is.
You can also use Keyword Planner to help you generate new keywords on a topic. If you search for “real estate agents,” you’ll receive 800 keywords related to real estate.
When researching keywords, you should note that the most popular keywords aren’t necessarily the keywords that you should be targeting. You should be more focused on targeting long-tail keywords.
According to Moz, 70% to 80% of keywords are long-tail keywords. To find long-tail keywords, use these resources that we’ve used to research them:
4) Focus on User Experience
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, has stated that focusing on improving user experience is how small businesses outrank larger ones.
Content is how you become a larger business, but creating an ideal user experience helps level things out. To accomplish this, you should have a User Experience checklist. This will give you an idea of what to look out for and areas that could be improved.
One crucial area that many small businesses fail to understand is that content should read naturally. It shouldn’t include excess keywords to help you rank higher, but instead your content should include keywords where it is relevant to do so and where it adds value to your audience.
5) Setup Google Analytics
If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, it’s time to familiarize yourself. Not only is it free to use, but it offers businesses insight into where website visitors are coming from, which landing pages’ people are clicking to from search engines, and what people are searching for before visiting your site.
Analyzing data frequently and comparing it, will show you what areas you need to improve upon.
6) Make Sure Your Website is Indexed in Search Engines
First things first, create an account on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Once you’re all setup, submit your sitemap. If you don’t have one, here’s how to create a sitemap. Once created, specify its location in your robots.txt file.
By submitting your sitemap to Google and Bing, it makes sure that your site is properly indexed. But that’s not the only reason you should create an account on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
They also provide you with information on website errors, who’s linking to your site, and which keywords are used the most on your website.
This SEO tip will help your pages gain more trust among search engines. They serve a variety of roles. Standing Dog Interactive analyzed what role each of these pages plays and how they can help your SEO strategy.
On-Going Steps:If you've already launched your website, these SEO tips are paramount to a successful SEO strategy.
8) Create a Blog and Write Consistently
While creating a blog shouldn’t be done solely for SEO, blogging offers several SEO benefits, on top of providing interesting and relevant content to your audience. Create a blog will assist your marketing efforts by:
- Helping you build your brand
- Giving you greater visibility in search engines
- Creating fresh content, which search engines like to see
- Building more indexed pages
- Offering an opportunity to acquire links, and build outbound & internal links
9) Aim for Longer Content…if it Makes Sense
Statistics from serpIQ show that longer content ranks better…much better. But while you may have a better chance of ranking, creating long content shouldn't be what your primary focus in each of your blogs.
Instead, you should try to offer detail on subjects that are appealing to your audience. You should write content with your potential customers in mind, and tailor the content to those customers.
10) Keyword Strategy
Another SEO trick involves where you’re using your keywords. Ideally, you want to include your primary keyword in:
- The beginning of your page’s title
- The first 100 words of your content
- Heading tags
- Alt tags
- Meta description
While including your primary keyword in these places might be ideal, it doesn’t always make sense to, and it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
11) Use LSI Keywords
LSI Keywords are keywords that are related to the ones you’re searching for. Based on what people search and search behavior, Google is able to identify correlated words.
This basically means that you don’t have to use an exact keyword over and over again, but that you should use different variations of that keyword throughout each piece of content.
12) Use Text Instead of Images
Images can add value to a website, but they can just as easily take away from it. If you’re able to express the same things using content instead of images, then most of the time it’s best to use content.
The alternative argument is to create a well-designed site with a minimalistic approach. This can also work, but it has to be executed the right way.
13) Create Local Listings and Optimize Them
A huge part of SEO and a crucial SEO tip is to create local search listings and fully optimize them.
When optimizing your listings, use quality images, creative content, include your hours of operations, and list your products or services.
The common mistake that businesses make in local search is creating inconsistent business citations. Many small businesses will use a either a different name, address, or phone number on different local search listings which will confuse search engines as to what the correct NAP is.Having consistent information is half the battle in local SEO.
Example of a Google My Business listing
14) Use Landing Pages
Landing pages make it easier for you to convert potential customers into leads. It’s not necessarily a specific SEO tip, but more of a general marketing tip.
To assist you in finding ways to use landing pages, DuctTape Marketing put together a list of the most common uses for landing pages.
15) Create a Link Building Strategy
Moz has created 7 chapters that provide an introductory lesson on what link building is, why it’s important and how to start link building.
Since inbound links are a large factor in where your website ranks, creating an effective link building strategy can pay dividends.
But strategy is crucial and link building can take a lot of time. To fully understand the benefits of link building, visit ShoutMeLoud’s explanation on the benefits of link building.
16) Request an Anchor Text Change for your Best Inbound Links
Using Open Site Explorer, you can view your inbound links from the highest ranking sites.
Using this information, you can compile a list of the anchor text that is used to link to your site and where each inbound link is linking to. You want to have varied anchor text, so make sure that the anchor text that’s linking to your site isn’t always the same.
If it is or if it’s too keyword-rich, then send an email to the website requesting a change.
17) Use Schema Markup
Schema markup is a rarely used technique that offers companies a way to customize the way certain pages show up in search engines.
Ever see a rating or a review show up alongside search engine results? That’s schema markup. Should you be using it? Yes, it isn’t just limited to those uses.
Using schema.org, you can get the vocabulary that’s needed to markup your page.
18) Use Canonical Tags to Prevent Duplicate Content
rel=canonical tags are used to rid your website of duplicate content. If you have the same content that exists at two different URLs, rel=canonical tags allow you to specify which is the main piece of content.
It also makes it easier for search engines to identify which to refer to.
But when do you need to use the tags?
You can use the tag when you have a blog in multiple categories or a product in multiple categories.
19) Decrease Your Page Load Time
Large images, music players, flash graphics, and unnecessary plugins can all result in a longer page load time. Having a higher page loading time can result in lower rankings since most users won’t spend the time waiting to get to your site.
20) Measure Your SEO Performance
Like any part of marketing, measuring performance is the only way to improve. Without measuring performance, you’re making blind decisions.
There several ways to go about tracking SEO performance, such as tracking the KPI’s mentioned under the SEO tip #22. For a more in depth explanation use this quick guide to measuring SEO success.
SEO Advice:Know that you have an SEO strategy in place, these SEO tips are more or less just helpful advice.
21) Stay Up-to-Date on SEO Trends
Do your homework.
SEO is an ever changing landscape. Commonly used practices might not be so common in another year or two.
Some of the best resources for SEO information include sites like Moz, Search Engine Land, SEO Book, Search Engine Journal, KISSmetrics, HigherVisibility, SEMRush, and Google.
22) Don’t Dwell Over Rankings
Where you rank should never be your primary concern. You should be more interested with other metrics that can help to improve your rankings. Metrics like the ones below will give you a better understanding of how your SEO strategy is working.
- Organic search traffic
- Average time on-page
- Pages per visit
- Bounce rate
- Page load speed
- Traffic by device
- Total pages crawled
Open Site Explorer is a free tool that can be used to view current backlinks to your site.
23) Stay Away from SEO Agencies that Promise you the World
Don’t let wanna-be “SEO agencies” trick you. There is no easy solution to SEO.
While you may want to believe that there’s a shortcut, companies that promise you first page rankings are more likely to negatively impact your organic traffic than have any positive impact.
24) Don’t Expect Immediate Results
While SEO should be a part of any business strategy, small businesses shouldn’t expect substantial improvements. SEO is an on-going strategy that takes time.
This is especially true if you work in a competitive sector or you’re a startup.