SEO for an established small business, big business, or a startup, it remains moreover the same. In this blog, we will focus on ‘moreover’ part of the SEO that must be followed by small and startup businesses.
We will also discuss on the free tools you can use to discover your competitor’s SEO techniques, improve your SEO, and improve your local digital branding.
We will also focus on the basic GOOGLE tools to improve your position at Google search, and keep the track of quality visitors to your website.
1. Do your own SEO
After reading this article and regular practice for a few days, you will get a better understanding of your SEO needs. Later, once your business grows and you are unable to get regular with SEO activities, having basic SEO knowledge will put you in a better position to negotiate the rates with an agency or freelancer.
Since most SEO techniques are relatively easy to pick up, I would say always start out by attempting search optimisation on your own and then switch to an agency once/if you reach the limit of what can be done without professional help.
2. Learn SEO basics
Search optimisation techniques come in various degrees of difficulty, but the majority of them require no special skills and can be picked up by virtually anyone. The best place to start learning about SEO practices is right at the source, from the SEO Starter Guide by Google. It’s packed full of detailed, actionable advice, and most of it is much more reliable than what you would get from articles by SEO gurus pushing their services.
For basic or advanced level SEO, primarily you need to concentrate on the following areas to make it easier for Google crawler or robot to identify the niche and category of your website.
You must have a title tag to your landing page of optimal length (between 25-70 characters). Try to match the keyword used at <title > with <meta description> and <H1> tags.
Website Meta Description
Meta description summarises the website content in 150-170 characters snippets. Google or any search engine uses these snippets in search results to let visitors know what a page is about before they click on it. Sometimes social media and communication applications like WhatsApp generate the preview of the website link shared with your friends and colleagues. These previews generally display the meta description and favicon icon (small brand icon seen at the left corner of the web browser tab).
Web Page Content
Higher text content with matching keywords used at website title and meta description result in better ranking ability in general. Your page main keywords must be distributed well across the important HTML tags like heading, title, meta tag, paragraph, etc. HTML header tags are an important way to signal search engines about the important content topics of your page, and subsequently the keywords it should rank for.
Website ranking and organic visibility on search engines mostly depend on backlinks and internal web page links. ‘Do-follow’ external backlinks from websites having high DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority) and least SS (Spam Score) is recommended. Personally, I suggest choosing websites and blogs with SS between 1-7% and DA and PA more than 40+ respectively. Internal web pages must be linked properly and indexed at the home page. Make sure that there are no broken links (Error 404), as they reduce traffic and ranking ability of the pages.
Getting an SSL certificate is among the first website optimisation tasks. If you were to procure and install your own SSL certificate, it would be a full day job. But you don’t have to do that anymore — SSL certificates come free with most hosting plans, all you have to do is choose the right hosting provider.
3. Utilize SEO tools
When you start reading about SEO, some practices may sound intimidating, requiring complex technical implementation. The good news is that most of those practices can actually be implemented with no technical proficiency whatsoever. There are plenty of tools, free or paid, designed to simplify various aspects of SEO, allowing them to be implemented with a few clicks of a button.
Of course, other tasks, like website audit, keyword research, content creation, and link building are not as easily automated, but there are tools that can help you do the heavy lifting:
Google provides plenty of free and easy-to-use SEO tools. For keyword research and keyword tracking.
Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and Search Console, while various aspects of page optimization can be tested and optimized using the Mobile-Friendly Test, PageSpeed Insights, Structured Data Markup Helper and Structured Data Testing Tool.
Alexa website ranking is appreciated worldwide. You can check your or competitors ranking here for free. Use Seoptimer, Neil Patel, or SEO Site Checkup to analyse your SEO, compare it with competitor’s website, or peep into backlinks.
Before creating backlinks to your website with the help of commenting on the third party blogs, submitting articles or press releases, submitting infographics or pdf, It is very important to check the DA (Domain Authority), PA (Page Authority) and SS (Spam Score) of that website. Use Website SEO Checker to confirm the authenticity and health of the website. Always try to submit your websites with DA and PA more than 40% and SS between 1%-7%.
4. Choose easier keywords
Always choose less competitive keywords for small and local businesses. Try adding locality name or ‘near me’ combination for great results. It is not advisable for smaller businesses to go for highly competitive keywords. Those keywords are long captured by bigger, better-established brands, and it will take an inordinate amount of effort to rank for them.
Instead, go for less popular keywords that have been overlooked by your competitors. These keywords will not deliver a whole lot of traffic, but they will allow you to gain a foothold in the rankings. And once you build your website’s strength with these easy keywords, you can attempt ranking for something more competitive.
To find these initial keywords, run keyword research, and look for low difficulty keywords with at least some search volume. Try Uber Suggest for keyword ideas, keyword volume, and content ideas as well.
5. Play to your strengths
When you were starting your business, you must have counted on some advantages to give you the edge over your competitors. It could have been a better service or a better range of products, but whatever it was, it has to be reflected in your search optimization strategy.
Let’s take an example of an event company in Bangalore. There will be more than 1000+ event companies assisting for corporate and personal events with the establishment over the years. So instead of event management companies of Bangalore, try highlighting the brand new concept, less used concept, or something out of the box idea like event rentals in Bangalore, or surprise planner in Indiranagar.
6. Optimize for local search
The term ‘small business SEO‘ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘local SEO‘. The idea is that the smaller the business is, the more it is tied to a certain area. If this is the case with your business, then you should definitely optimize your online presence for local search.
Google My Business
If you could do just one thing for your local SEO, it would have to be claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB is Google’s own business directory and its prime source of information about your company. Filling this listing gets you into Google maps, pushes you into local search results, and makes you a candidate for the local pack in search results — it takes care of about 90% of your local SEO. All you have to do is visit the GMB page, claim or create your listing, and then follow Google’s suggestions on filling out the rest of the details:
Citation is what SEOs call a listing of your business details on third-party platforms, like business directories and social networks. There is this common belief that the more citations you have (I am talking thousands) the better you rank for local search results.
I will suggest you to build your digital profiles at business directories like Just Dial, Sulekha, Ask Laila etc; try posting regular classified ads at high profile websites. Try to create your social media profiles at major and actively used websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Social media not just help you to create external links, also people look up to them for local and custom products, and services.
7. Manage user reviews
When you are just starting out, Google is going to be cautious about your company and it will look for signs of whether you can be trusted. One of the strongest of such signs is the number of your GMB reviews and your overall rating:
Encourage your customers to review your business by sending them a follow-up email or by asking them in person, if appropriate, and see if they are happy with your product/service.
Make sure to reply to all reviews in a non-generic manner, and take special care of bad reviews. Some of your potential customers will seek out these bad reviews and will judge your business based on how the reviews were handled, so always do your best to deescalate the situation in a graceful manner. And, who knows, the reviewer might decide to change their rating as a result of your reply.
For a country like India, being a small and local business is boon at digital media. Keywords phrases like ‘near me’ is often used to find the nearest and local establishment. Especially for the service sector, people prefer local connect for quick and retention based services. To this end, small business SEO is about maximising every little opportunity, be it your own commitment, your competitive advantages, or a personal touch when dealing with customers.