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SEO Basics for Small Businesses to Get Noticed in Search Results in 2019

A majority of small businesses do not realise the importance of SEO basics as a vital digital marketing technique.

SEO is an essential approach for businesses to get relevant traffic to their site. When the right people visit a site, they are likely to convert into leads and sales – the bread and butter for any business.

Search engines drive 93% of all website traffic. – BlueOpps

SEO provides small businesses with an opportunity to beat the competition by earning a place on the first page of Google’s search results.

The goal of a search engine like Google is to provide the best possible answers to search queries. The search engine uses machine learning technology to make sense of online queries to push the best sites on top.

If you can help users in your niche, Google can help you get in front of them and start building a relationship.

Wish to do SEO, but don’t know how it works? Here are some SEO basics basics:


1.     Fix Your Website

To get the most visibility in Google search results, your website should fulfil some essential technical criteria:

a. Load Speed

Nobody wants to visit a site that takes ages to load.

A 100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7% – Source

Why create a bad impression and lose out on rankings? Make sure your site loads fast on desktop and on mobile devices. The optimum site load time is 2 seconds or less.

“2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.” Maile Ohye, from Google

b. Website Structure

A well-defined website structure ensures better usability – it helps the user to move from one page to the next. The pages of a site should flow in the order of importance.

Make sure the links on your site are functioning and do not lead to an error page. Create an internal linking strategy to connect similar content on your site.

Internal links make it easier for users to navigate through related content pieces.

c. Mobile Friendly

Most web audiences are now using mobile devices. Close to half of all website traffic comes from mobile devices.

A mobile-friendly website gives users the same information and experience on their smartphone or tablet. A responsive website design ensures that your site works well across devices and browsers.

d. Structured Data

Structured data helps search engines to qualify the pages of a site. It helps your site to communicate with the search engines in their language.

Adding structured data helps you to qualify site pages into categories such as an article, event, product, local business, and organisation, etc.  

e. Keyword Optimisation

A vital part of making a site true to a niche is to optimise it for search terms. Website owners should include targeted search terms in various places including website content, meta titles, meta descriptions, URLs, and headings.

Helpful tools

SEMrush: to audit your website for technical issues

Schema.org: to put in place the correct structured data in the code of your website

UberSuggest: keyword research

Google PageSpeed Insights: To check and resolve website load speed 

Yoast SEO: to optimise site content

Google Search Console: to analyse the performance of a site

Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool – Test your site for mobile usage


2. Get Local Visibility

If you have a restaurant or a salon or a fashion store catering to a local area, then local SEO is one of the best ways to get regional site visitors. Here are some quick tips:

  • Create a Google My Business profile with your business address. Embed the map from the profile to the contact page on your site. Encourage customers to add reviews on it – don’t forget to respond to the negative reviews.
  • Optimise the site for local search terms and publish content that answers local search queries.
  • Make use of local structured data to showcase your business as a ‘local business’.
  • Include business contact details such as address and phone number on your site.

Use this guide to optimize your business locations for local SEO so you never miss a customer.


3. Create Unique and Valuable Content

Your target audience is typing thousands of queries in the Google search bar. You can answer these queries by publishing interesting blog posts, infographics, and videos.

When site visitors find the content useful and engaging, they stay on for longer. People love sharing useful content on their social media profiles.

When a piece of content gets a thumbs-up from a user, it sends out a positive signal to Google.

The search engine pushes up content and pages according to audience preferences. A longer time on the site, a lower bounce rate, and a higher number of social shares are all beneficial for SEO.

Helpful tools

Grammarly: to check grammatical errors in your content

Canva: to design images and infographics for blog posts

Buzzsumo: to find trending content in your niche

Google Analytics: track content performance, bounce rate, and time on site


4. Build Links

Google is always looking to rank sites who have deep expertise on a topic. Besides producing user-friendly content, you can display your knowledge by linking with high authority sites. How to build links with bigger sites in your niche?

The best way to build links is to create some path-breaking content. Most good sites are looking to link to quality content. Such content could be in the form of a guide, an infographic, a video, or a report.

If you think you have a valuable piece of content; you can write an email telling webmasters how linking to it will be a value-add to their readers.

In the video below, John Lincoln from Ignite Visibility covers link building for SEO and provides a simple strategy that works:

Another way to earn quality links is through guest-blogging. You can look for high-authority niche sites to submit quality guest articles.

A good way to start is to understand their guest posting guidelines and pitch fresh-new story ideas. Make sure to target sites which a have a domain authority that’s higher than your site.

Back-linking is a great way to expand the reach of your business, drive traffic to your site, and improve rankings.

Local businesses can target local sites for backlinks and press mentions.

Helpful tools

Moz: to check the domain authority of targeted websites

SEMrush: to check competitor backlinks

Hunter.io: to find email addresses for connecting with editors and webmasters


Bonus: 4 SEO Strategies For Jumpstarting A New Website

Whether you are a small business, or a Fortune 500 organization, nothing is quite as exciting as having a brand new modern website.

Your expectations are high, and you truly believe it is going to be a game-changer when it comes to hitting your growth goals. But in order to fully utilize your website as a powerful engine for generating leads and converting them into buyers, you need to have several strategies in place that send traffic to your site.

1. Make Buyer Persona Discovery Your Pathway for Strategy Development

If you form general opinions about who your buyers are, the content you write attempting to bring organic traffic likely to convert will be lackluster at best. Creating detailed buyer personas will help target the right customers with the right messaging.

A buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of your real customers. They tend to include gender, age, income level, job titles, family status, and much more information. You have more than one type of customer, even buyers from niche audiences, so be sure to create in-depth buyer personas targeting each one.

buyer-persona-customers

You should also map out what a typical buyer’s journey looks like for each persona. This is a three-step journey that nurtures buyers from a starting point where they aren’t sure what their problem is or how to resolve it, to a clear understanding of what that issue is and the best solution for resolving the crisis at hand.

When you understand what your buyer personas go through as they journey through the awareness, consideration and decision stages, you will have sharp insight in how to reach your customers with a strong SEO strategy supporting content they will value.

2. Set Up an SEO-Friendly Web Environment

Let’s face it, not all web developers have an SEO IQ. From hard-coding multiple H1 tags on the homepage, to creating pointless URL structures, they rarely take SEO into account when developing a website because search optimization tends to be all Greek to them.

Start by pulling all URLs, page titles, head tags, image ALTs and meta descriptions from your top pages (your homepage and pages located in the navigation). There are a number of tools that will automatically pull this information and drop it into an excel sheet.

Determine what kind of buyers you want to attract to each page, what those keywords are, and rewrite all titles, tags and meta to reflect a SEO-friendly environment.

Your strategy for a solid SEO-friendly web environment should include implementing schema. This is a task best performed by a team of agency experts. However, if you have a WordPress site, there are a number of schema plugins that make adding rich snippets a breeze. Just make sure you choose a plugin that allows you to add reviews, NAP, industry, and products / services information.

Google crawls your titles, tags URLs, and schema markup. When you optimize these elements to help the search engine understand what your content is about, it will also help your human audience better find you, but more specifically find the kind of information they are looking for.

3. A Thoughtful Blog Strategy Fuels SEO

The right blog strategy can significantly increase SEO. You just have to make sure you create a strategy rooted in how your ideal customers engage your brand and industry, as opposed to writing pointless content to the moon full of scattered keywords. Once you’ve nailed down your buyer persona, you will need to create a blog strategy that both empowers SEO and intrigues your readers.

Using the topic cluster strategy for blogging is an ideal way to gain SEO fuel for a new website, while attracting readers that will convert into leads. This is when you create a set number of blogs using unique topics directed to each buyer persona, while hitting on various stages of the buyer’s journey.

blog-strategy-seo

These topics should reflect each persona’s needs, pains, and frequently asked questions. You will then want to link each blog to a pillar page–a primary service or product page generally located within your website’s top navigation.

This strategy empowers SEO because it organically ranks blog pages with semantic considerations, then funnels the search juice to the primary page. When you have 10 or 20 optimized blogs sending search juice to a single top page, you will see a huge boost in the SERPs in no time.

4. Start Feeding Your New Website Powerful Backlinks

Creating a healthy backlink portfolio is vital to SEO for any website, but when the site is brand-spanking new, creating one is even more crucial to getting a solid jumpstart. A backlink is a link existing within content from a referring domain pointing back to a blog on your website, or a webpage.

As important as good backlinks are, unhealthy ones can harm your SEO efforts. When creating backlinks, be sure to follow these guidelines:

• Only link from domains with subject matter related to your own
• Make sure the referring domain itself has a healthy backlink portfolio
• Look for domains with high authority and trust scores
• Strive for “follow” links, though a few “nofollow” are fine because it gives Google the impression you are not paying for links
• Make sure you have control of the anchor text
• Avoid anchor texts and off-site content that is self-promotional
• Create off-site content that reads naturally
• Write about subjects your audience cares about, and that the referring domain’s readers value

You will also want to segment your referring domains to match the pain points shared by your buyer personas.

For example, if you own a franchise of dog training schools, you will want to form guest blogging relationships with various domains whose content revolves around the multiple and various needs shared by your customers.

In other words, one referring domain can focus on training dogs to protect the family home, while others focus on housebreaking and performing tricks.

Once you start feeding your website with backlinks to a relative and diverse set of healthy domains, your SEO to power up and jumpstart yournew website.


Over to You

Most people use search engines to find answers to multiple questions on a daily basis. SEO paves the way for small businesses to connect with search engine users.

The strategy takes its time to deliver but once it does the results can be quite satisfying. Get rankings for a bunch of niche keywords and you’ll get regular visitors as well as conversions.

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