One of my best pieces of advice when it comes to SEO for small businesses is to truly spend some time understanding your audience and their intent. Even if your website is perfectly optimized, if it’s done for the wrong audience, you will not see good traffic. Google is taking audience intent into account more and more, as updates like RankBrain try to understand the semantics of a search query and not just the literal definition of the words. If you can comprehensively answer the questions your audience is asking, your site will rank highly in Google organically.
When someone searches for the name of your business specifically, Google will pull information from your Google My Business page and display it in a panel on the right-hand side of the search results, increasing your business’ exposure. This is great for small businesses, because not only do you get a lot of space on the first page of Google’s organic search results, but you are also able to immediately show what your business is about. Again, the panel is only available to those who have set up their free Google My Business page.
SEO is the process in which the traffic to your website is improved from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing via organic or algorithmic search results in search engines. The higher a website appears in search results, the higher the number of visitors the page will receive from the search engine. There are several methods to improve your pages ranking without submitting to the paid schemes offered by search engines. Listed below, and in no particular order, are 10 that we believe are absolutely vital!
URLs in forum signatures are also a way to get traffic for free. There are forums, which get millions of visitors a day and if you are a popular user on such a forum, you can use this to get traffic to your site. When you post on forums and people like your posts, they tend to click the link to your site on your signature to learn more about you. In rare cases you might be able to post a deep link (i.e. a link to an internal page of the site) rather than a link to your homepage and this is also a way to focus attention to a particular page. Unfortunately, deep links are rarely allowed.
When Larry wrote about the kick in the proverbial teeth that eBay took from Google’s Panda update, we managed to secure a link from Ars Technica in the Editor’s Pick section alongside links to The New York Times and National Geographic. Not too shabby – and neither was the resulting spike in referral traffic. Learn what types of links send lots of referral traffic, and how to get them, in this post.
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This one needs to be handled with caution. Just like the old link farms there are some really bad places pretending they handle a true Press Release. The top ones cost. Alternatively there are ways to get a free press release from a reputable press company. One way is to do something newsworthy in your town and then talk your local newspaper reporter to put the news “on the wire” for you. It might get picked up provincially/state-wide or nationally.
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Spread content, get links, and get noticed. I highly recommend doing this the “white hat” way. White hat is a SEO term that means you are linking your content for customers, and not just for Google to see. Back in the day, people would post links like crazy everywhere. There would be websites just full of links called link farms. Google created updates to combat this type of black hat scamming. So, don’t risk your site’s SEO, and go the trusted route of getting links from reputable sites.
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There are many SEO tactics you can perform on each of your website pages to increase their rank in search engines and get more visitors. This includes producing high-quality content that your audience is searching for, and writing concise meta descriptions for your pages. The meta description appears below your URL in search results. Knowing what a page is about and what will result in a click makes users much more likely to do so. On-page SEO tactics such as these are free, but do take some time. For more help with on-page SEO, check out this blog post: Google Ranking Factors: On-Page vs Off-Page SEO.
Google loves speed and they actually got tired of waiting for people to speed up their sites. For this reason, they launched the AMP project. This is a special page structure which strips away some of the fancy styling to leave a much simpler page. Simpler pages load faster, and while there’s some debate in SEO circles about the ranking benefits that come with AMP, if you are running a website on budget hosting, this is almost certainly a winning concept. If you’re running a blog on WordPress, this is a relatively simple deployment, too.
No matter if you have a beautifully rendered website, or a stunning portfolio you won’t get very far if you’re lacking sufficient SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The thing is, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are extremely objective when it comes down to things like sitemaps, alt tags, and keywords – just to name a few. Understanding the terminology isn’t really that important, but understanding how to improve your SEO is.
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Firstly, a disclaimer – don’t spam Reddit and other similar sites hoping to “hit the jackpot” of referral traffic, because it’s not going to happen. Members of communities like Reddit are extraordinarily savvy to spam disguised as legitimate links, but every now and again, it doesn’t hurt to submit links that these audiences will find genuinely useful. Choose a relevant subreddit, submit your content, then watch the traffic pour in.
Having an industry influencer publish a blog post on your site or turning an interview with them into a blog post can help to drive traffic both through organic search but also via that influencer promoting the content to their audience (see the backlinks section above). This can also help to add more variety to your content and show your visitors that you are active in your field.
This is not to say that small businesses can’t show within the top organic results. If your business is located in a less competitive market or industry, like a nail salon in a small town, you have a better chance of ranking high in organic results. Most small businesses find it easiest to rank within local results, though small businesses can also rank high in organic results by investing in search engine optimization efforts.
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Hack #1: Hook readers in from the beginning. People have low attention spans. If you don’t have a compelling “hook” at the beginning of your blogs, people will click off in seconds. You can hook them in by teasing the benefits of the article (see the intro to this article for example!), telling a story, or stating a common problem that your audience faces.
Keywords are the words and phrases that customers type into Google when looking for information. Use the Google Keyword Planner Tool, available through your Google Ads account, to find the most popular keywords people use when searching for your type of business. Optimize your website for those keywords by adding them in blog posts and to web pages.
The strength of your link profile isn’t solely determined by how many sites link back to you – it can also be affected by your internal linking structure. When creating and publishing content, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities for internal links. This not only helps with SEO, but also results in a better, more useful experience for the user – the cornerstone of increasing traffic to your website.
You may find that your business doesn’t appear for relevant searches in your area. To maximize how often your customers see your business in local search results, complete the following tasks in Google My Business. Providing and updating business information in Google My Business can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.
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Social networks are also a way to get traffic for free. If you are popular on networks, such as Twitter or Facebook, the traffic you get from there can easily surpass the traffic from Google and the other search engines. It is true that building a large network of targeted followers on Twitter and supporters on Facebook takes a lot of time and effort but generally the result is worth.
New websites have a hard time competing for top keywords, that’s why it’s best to start off by identifying long-tail keywords (a phrase containing three or more words) that your site can more easily rank for. The task of identifying what those long-tail keywords should be is tedious, there’s no way around it. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start plugging in keywords that are relevant to your site to see what the competition for each of those keywords looks like. This will help you eliminate the ones you shouldn’t be optimizing for and select the ones that can work best to drive traffic to your site. The three key things to look for:
While with search advertising, you’re paying to show up in the top spot for relevant searches, with social media advertising you are paying to show up in relevant feeds. With both forms of advertising, you can specify the type of audience in front of which you’d like to appear, but with more psychographic data, social media offers superb targeting.
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