Small Business SEO: Everything You Were Too Afraid to Ask

SEO - for star-ups

According to the founding father of Microsoft Bill Gates: “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.”

The statement is bold and even controversial, but the Internet is without doubt, an excellent opportunity to tell as many people as possible about your business.

As an SEO Agency that has been operating for over 10 years, we often get asked about the value and importance of a service that can at times feel time and budget consuming as we progress towards KPIs and ROI achievements.

Why is SEO Important to a Business?

It might seem obvious, but the first thing you need for your business in 2019 is a website – a website designed to convert your target customers into your actual customers.

You can do it yourself; you can ask your nephew, or contact a web development company, this is your decision – but remember the better the site, the better the results you can expect.

So, let’s say that you have a beautiful website, made by professionals, filled with user targeted content and with wide open arms you are waiting for your clients. And for some reason, the phone isn’t instantly ringing off the hook. This is the importance of SEO to your business.

The Stats behind SEO

Google controls over 80% of online searches. The rest is accounted for by other search engines – Bing, Yahoo and so on. However, Google’s index accounts for just 20% of existing sites, the remaining 80% are the so-called darknet – which we need not worry about here.

So, in order for people to come to your site and become your customers you need to be visible on search engines, send positive signals to what are called search crawlers and improve the authority of your website around your chosen and target product or service.

Here is where we need the help of search engine optimisation. Simply, by definition from Wikipedia, SEO is “a set of measures for internal and external optimisation to raise the site’s position in the search engine results for specific user requests, with the goal of increasing network traffic and potential customers and subsequent monetisation of the traffic.”

SEO can be daunting when you’re just starting out, so, here are the answers to the SEO questions you were afraid to ask.

How can I get Google to find my website?

Firstly, to be sure that the search engines will find your site, you need to notify them about it. To do this, register your site in the Google Search Console.

Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a free service that helps you monitor the health of your website.

From how well the search engine can access and crawl your site to how many pages are indexed. Search Console will also make recommendations for basic improvements to the HTML of your website, give you information on pages that can be found (or those that disapear), the type of searches your business is getting visibility for and any messages regarding site health from Google.

To help Google find all the pages you want to index, create a sitemap and robots.txt files. Check their correct operation in the Google Search Console. An SEO or web development specialist can aid you with this if need be.

The next step is to add your business to the Google My Business Listing. This listing is the digital representation of your physical business.

Ensuring your business information is 100% correct on Google My Business is essential as users will engage with listings to contact businesses.

If you’re working on the road and take calls on the road it could be the difference in closing a deal, if you have a physical location it could mean a customer is able to find your shop easier.

Put some time and effort into this – add good images, select right business categories. This is the digital representation of your business within Google’s own infrastructure and has massive implications for Local Business SEO, so give it the attention it deserves.

How do you make a web page SEO friendly?

SEO requires your website to be relevant to somebody searching for them and therefore it’s important to understand the type of words and phrases that are being searched for in relation to your products.

There are plenty of free tools that will guide you through the process at a very top level, but working with a specialist here is invaluable to understanding everything from the generic keywords or search phrases used, through to those which are most likely to result in customers contacting your business.

Based on the information collected, optimise the site pages for targeted requests. Include relevant keywords in the page titles, meta description, the content posted on the page, in the content headers.

Remember, this content needs to remain informative and there are no benefits to putting a keyword over and over again on a page.

Again, working with an SEO specialist will allow you take into account the entire market, what is known as supporting keywords and something called keyword placement (where exactly on the page a keyword is placed).

Is a mobile SEO strategy important?

Mobile devices are now the primary channel for most websites and as result of this your SEO strategy and website build should be considered mobile first and make sure that your website displays correctly on all devices.

Another important aspect of technical and mobile SEO is loading speed. Of course, you are not an Amazon, which estimates that every 100ms increase in latency cuts profits by 1% but you will also lose profits due to a slow working site. Avoid this.

If you have had your website for a while, Google Search Console will tell you when mobile first indexing came to your site. This could help you understand any drops in traffic you may have seen if your website is not mobile friendly.

Think about conversions and leads

Carrying out the basics of an SEO strategy and bringing a site up to the standards expected by Google will help your website rank higher in search results. Taking the steps to understand the reasons why users are (or aren’t) converting into customers will change your business.

There are plenty of tools, again provided by Google, that will give you insight to the behaviour of traffic on your site. Understanding conversions and leads into the website will allow you make informed business decisions for the better and working with SEO professionals will open the door to tailored campaigns to benefit your SEO.

Gathering data can be carried out in a few different ways.

Firstly, simply using Google Analytics raw data and sifting through to find what you want – this isn’t the most productive way to work, but does give you a general health overview of the site.

The next option is to setup segements and filters on Google Analytics, this allows the filtering of data and specific areas or channels on your website.

The final and most helpful option is to determine actions you want to track and use Google Tag Manager to set up specific actions that will translate into data in the Google Analytics. This can then be paired with the segments mentioned earlier to identify the most valuable channels.

Examples of areas to track would be phone number clicks, form fills and downloads related to products. Any new ecommerce shops could also consider product view elements, including size views, searches and overall product views.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Keith Hodges, Head of Search at POLARIS, Keith is an SEO expert with over 8 years’ experience in the industry and heads up the search team at POLARIS, the SEO agency that specialises in campaigns for clients in the B2B, Retail and Services sectors.

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