SEO, or search engine optimization, involves a number of techniques that make it easier for customers to find your business online.
If you don’t include SEO as part of your marketing strategy, it’ll be much more difficult to connect with customers and drive traffic to your site.
Even if you rely largely on consumers within your immediate area, having an established web presence is key. When your site doesn’t show up readily in search results, customers may never know about you.
In other words, it’s crucial that you invest in SEO. But because the way we use the internet changes rapidly, the best practices for optimization have evolved significantly over the years.
Therefore, the tactics that business owners may have used five years ago are likely outdated. In some cases, they might even be harmful.
Failing to follow Google’s best practices for optimization can result in ongoing struggles and official penalties.
To have the best chance of improving your site rankings and increasing your conversions, small business owners will want to keep these dos and don’ts in mind.
- Engage in Quality Link-Building: The practice of building backlinks to websites is nothing new, but the way in which we do it has changed over the years. It used to be that you could build hundreds of backlinks from low-quality sites and still win out in search rankings. But now, that can end up hurting your website. You’ll want to consider guest posting for SEO, which involves creating useful content for reputable websites as a guest contributor. In exchange, you’ll typically receive a backlink to your own site. This can improve your own domain authority and have positive effects on your site’s rankings. Just make sure that the sites you work with make sense for your business and your audience.
- Publish Valuable Blog Posts Regularly: In addition to creating content for other websites, you’ll need to develop high-quality posts for your own site. Landing and product pages can provide a good opportunity for optimized content, but you should also start a business blog and post there regularly. Create content that addresses common questions and concerns your customers have. Be sure to stick to a schedule and promote the content you post on social media and in email newsletters. Google loves websites that are updated consistently, so posting new (and optimized) blog posts at least a few times a month can help drive traffic and build brand trust.
- Focus On Your Online Reviews: For small business owners, online reviews are particularly important. In fact, most customers consider online reviews to be just as valuable as personal recommendations. If you want to improve your brand reputation and reach more customers in your target market, you’ll want to focus on generating and managing your online reviews. To get more reviews for your business, simply ask your customers in person or via email. Once they realize this simple act can provide so much support for your business, they’ll be happy to share their feedback. Whenever you receive a new review, respond promptly and with compassion. Make sure the reviewer feels heard and that you take their experience to heart. By building up your online reviews, you’ll appear more prominently in search results and can nurture your customer relationships.
- Use Spammy Methods: In the past, it was possible for business owners to cheat the system and still win out. But Google has gotten a lot better at discerning when a site is engaging in spammy practices. And if you get caught, you could face major consequences. Techniques like keyword stuffing, posting duplicate or “spun” content, and sneaky link redirects may have once helped with your rankings, but now they’ll result in penalties. Simply put, it’s best for your brand to maintain its integrity. While SEO doesn’t provide overnight results, spammy methods can put your entire business at risk. Always make sure that the SEO techniques you use are on the up-and-up.
- Forget About Mobile Users: Did you know that more than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices? While some business owners might have considered smartphone internet use to be a passing fad, it’s now clear that the majority of us access the web from our mobile devices. Therefore, your business website has to appeal to mobile users. You need to ensure your site is truly accessible, meaning it’s fast, easy to navigate, and provides a consistent experience across all devices. If your site hasn’t been revamped within the last five years, chances are that you may be leaving mobile customers in the lurch. And since local consumers are more likely to use their smartphones to search for solutions nearby, it’s imperative for small businesses to prioritize mobile-friendly website design.
- Try to DIY Your SEO: While there are certain aspects of SEO that you could conceivably handle on your own, there are also numerous mistakes you can make without the proper know-how. And since we know that these mistakes can translate into penalties, you could be taking a huge risk if you DIY your SEO strategy. If you’re relatively new to the world of digital marketing or you simply don’t have the bandwidth to execute a strategy on your own, it’s always best to entrust a professional. There are no guarantees with SEO, of course, but you’ll have a much better chance of improving your rankings if you work with an experienced SEO reselling company that knows how to play by Google’s rules.
Small business owners know that the odds are against them. But with these dos and don’ts in mind, you can avoid many of the pitfalls and improve your online presence. That, in turn, can help you reach new customers and enjoy long-term growth in a competitive marketplace.