There’s an endless list of SEO strategies online touting the “next big thing in SEO” to boost your website to the top of the search results within Google in days. As SEO and digital marketing experts, any strategy that claims quick fixes or instant success makes us cringe. Because of that, we have dedicated our digital and SEO marketing agency to not only providing best in class local SEO services, but also helping educate business owners on how to do small business digital marketing correctly the first time – so they don’t have to spend money to redo it a second time.
TLDR: Small business SEO Overview
SEO is a long-term business strategy inclusive of technical crawlability, information architecture, content strategy, brand building and marketing. To get to this SEO maturity level and succeed in SEO in 2018 and beyond, small businesses need to not only focus on optimizing their content, but building a great online (and offline) experience.
1. Audit your small business website
The first strategy is about looking inward, and analyzing your current SEO experience. If you don’t know what is working and what is causing you to lose local rankings, traffic, and sales form Google, then you can’t put together a strategy to fix it.
- Understand technical, links or content issues that could cause your website to underperform.
- Provide a blueprint of what needs to be fixed.
- Understand the competitive landscape.
- Guide future planning and digital strategies.
Recommended reading: 6 monthly tasks to manage SEO performance
2. Learn about your users
Google and other search engines are using user metrics at an increasing rate when determining rankings for a website.
Learning about your user’s interests and what they find valuable is key to retaining users, building trust and brand advocates, and having a positive impact on the key user metrics that Google values.
The first step to understanding your users is to create personas for your website. Personas are hypothetical users, or “stand-ins” for actual users. Personas define what your users need, want, and like, and that drive the decision making for design projects and strategies – and yes, even Google is a persona.
Recommended reading: How to build personas to meet user and search engine needs
3. Update your website design and experience
Nearly half of participants in a Stanford University study cite a website’s design as the top factor for deciding if a company is credible or not. Whether you’re B2C or B2B, your design matters.
You can lose authority, trust, rankings, and ultimately sales and leads if your website is poorly designed or does not meet user standards,
If you’re wondering why your SEO firm might recommend a redesign, here is a great reason. Rand, Formerly of Moz.com (now founder of Sparktoro), did a great Whiteboard Friday video that outlines what SEO is. He defines it like this:
SEO is any input that engines use to rank pages. Any input that engines use to rank pages goes into the SEO bucket, and anything that people or technology does to influence those ranking elements is what the practice of SEO is about.
That’s why SEO is neuropsychology. SEO is conversion rate optimization. SEO is social media. SEO is user experience and design. SEO is branding. SEO is analytics. SEO is product. SEO is advertising. SEO is public relations. The fill-in-the-blank is SEO if that blank is anything that affects any input directly or indirectly.
This is also why when people try to boil SEO down and put us into a little bucket, it doesn’t work.
4. Focus on your information architecture
Information architecture is the creation of a structure for a website and includes how the pages of your website are organized. The goal is to help a user understand where the information they want is, and help them find it effectively and efficiently.
When building your website’s information architecture you should include designers, developers, SEOs and content strategists.
Recommended reading: The basics of building a great information architecture
5. Stop link building
We’re not in any way saying link building is dead — we hate those uneducated link bait articles just as much as the next guy. We are saying that how inbound links are judged by Google has evolved, and therefore your tactics and link building strategies need to evolve too.
The old way of link building went something like this… a website owner would create a piece of content (most likely something that was just average) and then spend hours reaching out to bloggers, either with emails or through social media, begging someone to link to their piece of content. In my opinion this way of link building is not the best way to gain quality links and the website authority that Google wants to reward.
The new way of link building… our team has seen a consistent correlation between content value and the effort it takes to earn links. As content value and quality increases, the effort it takes to earn ranking metrics, that Google wants to reward, decreases.
This means that you need to create high quality content that users want to share and link to, even without you reaching out to them directly.
6. Get visual
Make sure high-value visual assets are part of your content and website strategy. Research shows that 65 percent of the population is made up of visual learners, leaving auditory and experiential learners in their dust. Not to mention new research that shows the brain processes the meaning of images in as fast as 13 milliseconds — which is much faster than other consumption methods.
- Guide to creating great infographics that people want to share
- The science behind choosing website images
- Strategies for using images to build links
7. Get the data that matters
Understanding how users are getting to your website, how they are using it, and what they are engaging with, is key to shaping new content and experiences that drive sales. After all, without data, the marketing strategies that you are planning are nothing more than a guess.
Getting Google Analytics installed and set up properly can help you answer questions such as:
- How many people visit my website?
- What websites send traffic to my website and which convert the best?
- What marketing tactics drive the most traffic to my website?
- How many visitors have I converted into leads or customers?
Recommended reading: Three seo metrics small businesses need to start tracking immediately