In today’s high-tech business world, search engine optimization (SEO) has taken a prominent place as one of the most essential marketing tools. SEO is particularly important for small businesses, as it’s a relatively cost-effective way to get the word out to potential customers about your business and brand through your website. Read on to learn about the many benefits SEO can offer your small business, as well as five SEO tips your small business should incorporate into its marketing strategy.

Why Is SEO Important?

SEO is a hugely effective marketing strategy – and it’s not going away any time soon. Even though search engines, such as Google, are constantly making changes to their algorithms, many basic principles of SEO remain much the same. If you think about your SEO strategy thoroughly and focus on providing excellent user experiences, search engines will likely reward your site with a higher ranking and increased web traffic. While some searches are starting to require audio and visual results, they still rely at their core on text-based keywords.

Additionally, as mentioned above, SEO is an extremely cost-effective marketing strategy, and small business owners know that cost-effective marketing is essential to your bottom line. SEO offers a much bigger return on investment when you compare it with other online marketing strategies, such as pay-per-click advertising and sponsored posts on social media channels. It isn’t that these other strategies aren’t important, but SEO should still be the foundation of your small business’s overall online marketing plan.

Tips for Successful Small Business SEO

If you’re convinced about the importance of SEO, it’s time to start considering the most effective strategy for your small business. Below are some tips that have proven successful for a wide variety of other small businesses working to improve their SEO results.

1. Develop a specialized focus.

Developing a focus is one of the best steps you can take as a small business to help your web presence grow. Although it may seem that a better strategy to increase search visibility would be to cover many different areas of expertise, this strategy is a bit counterintuitive. In order to compete with bigger businesses in your industry, you’ll want to take a narrower and more focused approach.

If you put the majority of your SEO efforts into a small subset of specialized keywords, it will help increase your search relevance and visibility for those keywords. For example, if you specialize in roof replacement, you might not get a much visibility for related keywords, such as siding and windows. But if roofing is your business’s specialty and primary market share, that’s where you’ll want to focus your SEO in order to be at the top of the rankings in that particular area.

Quick Tips:

  • Write down your 2-3 most popular services or products and see what produces the highest profit.
  • Research keywords for these popular services and see what has the highest search volume and buying intent.
  • Create landing pages for each of these services and sprinkle in keywords as necessary.

2. Make use of long-tail keywords.

Before we dive into using long-tail keywords, let’s step back and make sure we define what this phase means. There are two primary kinds of keywords: short-tail and long-tail. Short-tail keywords are concise keywords that usually consist of 1-2 specific words. An example of a short-tail keyword would be “roofer”. Long-tail keywords are a bit more verbose and usually consist of anywhere between 3-6 words. An example of a long-tail keyword would be “residential roofer in portland oregon”.

Utilizing a long-tail keyword strategy accomplishes a goal similar to narrowing your focus. These types of keywords are longer phrases – for example, “tips for converting a basement into living space” rather than “basement finishing.” It is much easier to achieve a high Google ranking with long-tail keywords, so although they might not bring in as much traffic, they’re still worth incorporating into your overall SEO strategy. Incorporating long-tail keywords into your site’s content is relatively easy, as well, as they tend to manifest in the natural flow of your writing.

Quick Tips:

  • Write down a few potential long-tail keyword phrases for your business.
  • Determine if you need to add a geo-modifier (ex. portland oregon) to your phrases.
  • Research the keyword search volume for your phrases and rank from highest to lowest.

3. Target your local audience.

Since most small businesses tend to be local businesses, it’s important to consider SEO for local searches. People don’t tend to search for businesses like hair salons, for example, on a national level – they search locally, using keyword searches such as “hair salon Seattle.” To take advantage of locally based SEO, be sure that your website’s content uses location-specific keywords, such as the town or neighborhood where your business is located.

Quick Tips:

  • Write down your 2-4 local or regional points of focus.
  • Research your phrases using geo-modifiers for these locations.
  • Rank your local points of focus by priority.

4. Keep your personality distinct.

In addition to using local SEO strategies, another way to boost your online presence and search engine visibility is to keep your marketing strategy highly personalized. This goes hand in hand with having a strong connection to the local community your business serves.

Make use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect to your local audience on a personal level. Social media allows your business to stay engaged with your customers, not only through promotional posts, but also by sharing items of local interest that are also relevant to your business – for example, posting about a neighborhood festival happening one street over from the location of your diner.

A personalized social media strategy also gives your small business an advantage over bigger name competitors. As companies grow, they tend to lose some of their local personality to a corporate image. Keeping your business’s personality distinct on social media builds customer trust in your brand.

Quick Tips:

  • Write down the best social media channels for your business.
  • Create a social media strategy focusing on how often and what content you are posting.
  • Research local events and news in your area to use as curated content.

5. Don’t neglect your content strategy.

On top of local connections through keyword strategy and personalized social media, it’s important to use high-quality content to help build your brand’s image online. It’s common in today’s market for most business websites to host a blog related to relevant news and issues in their industry. A great content strategy shows Google and other search engines that your business is an active and reliable authority in your field.

As you plan out your business’s blog and content strategy, keep in mind that the traits Google considers high-quality content, including longer posts, incorporation of video and images, correct formatting and grammar, and high-quality inbound and outbound links.

Building your small business’s SEO in all the areas described above isn’t an easy task or something that happens overnight. It takes time, talent, and energy to get your search engine rankings up near the top. However, with some careful planning and a lot of patience, you can navigate your SEO strategy in a way that works well for your business and your bottom line.

Quick Tips:

  • Write down 2-3 topics or categories where you are a subject matter expert.
  • Create a content calendar for publishing content (we recommend at least 1x/month).
  • Boost your content with internal keyword linking for on-page SEO.