SEO Industry is poised to reach $80 billion in 2020, but thanks to COVID-19 it will reach a new height in 2021. Besides, COVID-19 has compelled small businesses to focus on online channels like SEO, social media, and content marketing.
SEO for small businesses is the most challenging task since it requires time and a good budget, but it could be the free source of getting clients if you execute it really well.
The metric shown above belongs to one of our clients that gets thousands of views from Google Maps. He doesn’t spend a penny on PPC or any other paid channels.
Needless to say, Google My Business is just a small portion of the entire SEO; the other half is to get a higher ranking on organic search.
I will walk through you all the essential steps to lead your small business website in the online world and to get clients.
1. What is SEO and Why Is It Important for Small Business?
SEO is the process to make your site more visible in search engines — mainly Google— which means more visitors and more chances to convert prospects to clients.
There are two sorts of SEO:
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
On-page SEO is composed of whatever you may control in your site to enhance your positions. It includes website speed, keyword placement, meta description, alt tag, etc.
On the other hand, Off-Page SEO is composed of whatever is done on different sites that can influence your positions. Usually, Off-Page is also called backlinks.
Want to hear the secrets of ranking on Google?
Content and backlinks are the two major ranking factors.
If you write quality content based on the keyword that your customers are searching for on Google and you gain backlinks from authoritative websites that link to your business website, you’re more likely to get a higher ranking on Google.
Wait, what is a backlink?
A link that you get from other websites like Trump gets votes from you. The more votes he gets, the higher the chance of winning in an election.
Otherwise, it is difficult to say how we’d find websites, companies, or even a simple piece of advice we search daily without SEO.
At some point, you’ll be forced to use SEO— as the days go by, PPC is getting insanely more competitive than ever before.
California has the highest average CPC and North Dakota has the lowest average CPC. It means you need 88% more money to market in California than North Dakota.
One Smart Sheep’s clients are based in Maryland; we extracted the region’s average CPC via SEMrush.
It clearly shows Insurance has the highest CPC of $12— meaning one click from your client in Google Ads Search can cost you up to $12 for a single click even if the client purchases your plan or not.
It’s worth mentioning that 30% of businesses in the USA spend more than $800 a month in paid advertising.
The budget doesn’t remain constant, but the budget keeps eating more money from their pocket due to higher competition in PPC.
The worst part of PPC?
Of all US searches, only an estimated 2.8% of people click on paid advertisements. Therefore, ranking higher in organic search makes more sense than spending dollars on PPC.
I know what’s on your mind. Isn’t SEO competitive too?
Of course, it’s.
But if you started earlier for your business website, you’ll have more content, more backlinks, and more traffic.
Yet, only a few small businesses are putting SEO on priority.
In a nutshell, SEO has 20 times more traffic opportunities than PPC on both mobile and desktop.
2. Custom Web Design Based on UCD
How is a custom web design critical for small businesses?
If your business has a site with poor design, you’ll have a higher bounce rate that means lower ranking on Google.
In other words, your customers will turn to your competitors that signal Google your website is of poor quality and is not satisfying the users’ needs.
Do you think the clients will love the design shown below? These screenshots were taken during the writing of this post.
Of course, clients may never take action on these websites unless they’re in emergencies.
It indicates a good web design is crucial as it impacts how your customers perceive your business.
Clients take only two actions on a website:
- Leave your website and turn to a competitor.
- Learn about your business and take meaningful actions.
Moreover, a good design website should load within 3 seconds; otherwise, users will abandon your website, hence lower ranking on Google.
We, at One Smart Sheep, aim to make a website that is not only insanely fast but based on UCD (User-Centered Design).
User-Centered Design is a framework of procedures where usability objectives, user attributes, workflow, service, or process have been given comprehensive attention at every phase of the plan procedure.
It’s not the thing that makes us different from other competitors.
We also provide you with real-time web design. Our design team will build your custom website live on a dedicated link allowing you to give real-time visual feedback on any device.
Here are some of our clients’ websites:
2. Technical SEO Optimization
Technical SEO is optimizing your website’s infrastructure and backend to improve its visibility in search engines. This is an essential aspect of SEO that is often overlooked but can significantly impact a website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Some critical elements of technical SEO include:
- Site Architecture: A well-structured site architecture helps search engines understand the content of your website and improve its crawlability.
- URL Structure: Ensure that your URLs are structured clearly and concisely. This makes it easier for search engines to understand the content of your pages.
- Sitemap: Create and submit a sitemap to search engines to help them understand the structure of your site and easily find all of your pages.
- Crawling and Indexing: Ensure that your website is properly configured to allow search engines to crawl and index your pages.
- Site Speed: Site speed is a ranking factor, so optimize your website to load as quickly as possible.
By paying attention to these technical details, you can improve the overall visibility of your website in search engines and attract more organic traffic.
4. Keyword Research for Small Business
Keyword research is the process of selecting keywords that your customers are searching for on Google.
Anything you type on Google is a keyword, even auto-suggestions provided by Google.
Undoubtedly, Keyword Research is your blueprint for your SEO campaign, driving every choice you make. If you do not understand which keywords should direct your website, you cannot drive traffic, revenue, and ROI.
Let’s take an example of the “Wedding Company” keyword.
You have to use a keyword research tool to investigate the keyword from monthly search volume to organic competition.
At One Smart Sheep, we use Ahrefs for keyword research, backlink analysis, and more.
Ahrefs reveals the keyword has a monthly search volume of 150, meaning 150 people are searching for “Wedding Company” in the USA per month. Since Ahrefs has limited data, we expect more than 1000 people are searching for it.
Moreover, the keyword is not easy to rank for on Google, but with a long term plan, you can rank it with quality backlinks.
Thanks to Ahrefs, we come to know Wedding Company shouldn’t be the perfect keyword we should target. We have alternative keywords that have high search volume and maybe lower competition.
When you click on “Wedding Planners Company” we find out the keyword has higher search volume and lower competition.
But if you work on keywords with no monthly searches and high competition, it’s like beating your head against the wall.
4. Effective Silo Structure
A silo structure is a kind of site structure where content is organized logically. It is made up of hierarchical groupings such as topics and subtopics.
In other words, you can consider it as creating classes and sub-categories for your website.
A good silo structure enjoys a better ranking on Google than a flat structure since Google Bot finds it easy to crawl the website and digest the content based on relevant themes.
Websites with no apparent central themes suffer low ranking in search engines.
With the introduction of E-A-T quality factors in SEO – E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust — it’s crucial more than ever to position your blog as a niche expert that is not possible without focusing on an effective silo structure.
Google’s official SEO guide also states you should achieve expertise in a specific area. Your overall website should speak for itself; you’re the authority in your local small business.
Bruce Clay quotes:
“Well-ranked websites are founded upon the concept that a website should physically be organized like a doctoral dissertation. A dissertation has an identified title, abstract, table of contents, and then content laid out to reinforce the overall theme of the dissertation as a whole, all with references and footnotes supporting the subject.”
Enough theory, let’s go practical.
The Studio is a New York-based small business for Yoga training. It has a miserable silo structure that doesn’t have any content about:
As compared to New York Yoga, which has a good silo structure, it could be made better.
Locations must have separate pages so that it can rank well on Google for the respective area.
Google will find it harder to understand the website’s theme, and it may not enjoy a better ranking on Google at all.
5. On-Page SEO Optimization for All Important Pages
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing web pages individually on relevant keywords in order to rank high and attract more relevant traffic from search engines.
TheKnot and TheCut are ranking well on Google for the keyword “Wedding Planners New York” since they have used the keyword in the title, URL, and meta description.
You shouldn’t be an expert at On-Page SEO; small and big businesses use SEO Yoast to optimize their pages for On-Page SEO.
You just need to put your focus keyword.
You’ll get recommendations for your On-Page optimizations.
Is it getting complicated for you? Let me explain in easy words:
- Put the keyword in the title that is typically the name of the page.
- Place the keyword in the first paragraph of your page.
- Make sure your URL has a keyword you want to rank for except the homepage.
- Place the keyword in the meta description.
- Don’t forget to link other pages of your website as internal links.
It’s the basics, but if you want to go in advance, you can either hire an SEO expert or hire a company based in the USA like One Smart Sheep to optimize for you monthly.
6. Google My Business SEO Optimization
Local SEO for a small business can be a game-changer since it requires less effort and can significantly impact your small business’s revenue.
These are the most important ranking factors in Local SEO:
Relevance means how relevant your business is to the user’s search query.
When you complete all sections of your Google My Business, keep the Relevance factor in mind.
For example, One Smart Sheep provides your small business with a professionally developed website, hosting, maintenance, and support for a budget-friendly price each month.
The sole name One Smart Sheep isn’t enough to inform customers about our business on Google Maps. We added modifiers to make the listing more relevant.
Therefore it’s ranking for the first position on Google Map in Fulton. One Smart Sheep is just a few months old; that being the case, we have no reviews yet on Google Maps.
Distance is also the ranking factor in Local SEO. Your small business may never rank for the top positions all over the city, county, and state. People want to go to the business that is the closest to their homes. Google Maps knows it well.
Prominence is the essential ranking factor on Google Maps. You must have:
- Quality photos
- 100% profile completion
It indicates how popular you’re in your area.
7. Use Copywriting to Attract Customers
Copywriting is everywhere, like what you see on products and advertising and what you read in emails, papers, books, pamphlets, and all kinds of articles.
As a result, copywriting is taken for granted and frequently underestimated since there’s a huge difference between composing words and copywriting.
Ensure your website has powerful words to convince your clients. A good copywriter can turn your website into a marketing machine.
At One Smart Sheep, we ensure our clients don’t only the excellent web design but also the great copy that converts. See our portfolio.
8. Get Quality Citations
Citations are like the book books of the core business information online. Moreover, they help consumers to find the right business for their needs.
Local Citations consist of your business’s name, address, and telephone number on a local business directory known as NAP (Name, Address, Phone).
Along with that, a citation can include some or all the following components:
- Business categories
- Hours of operation
- Driving directions
- Business description
- Payment types accepted
- Owner answers
- Links to societal and other types of media
- Email addresses
- Fax numbers
Additionally, Local Citations are like backlinks and votes, as we discussed in the first step. The more citations your small business gets, the higher you can rank on Google Maps and other business directories.
For example, listing your business on Yellow Pages counts as one citation. Get as many citations as possible for your business.
Ensure all the listings are 100% complete from hours to address. Inform your clients to drop a review as well.
Make sure your citations are accurate since it affects ranking, whereas erroneous citations detract from good ranking.
You should create local citations recommended by Local Moz like:
- Apple Maps
- Infobel / US INFO
- Car (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, etc.)
- Judy’s Book
Did you know?
Search engines such as Google collect information about every small and large business.
If Google finds the data consistent across all sites, then the search engine anticipates the validity of their information, which is thought to fortify the company’s chance of ranking well.
But if Google or any other search engines find the data inconsistent, your ranking may drop.
9. Adding Schema
Schema markup is code —semantic vocabulary— which you set onto your site to assist the search engines in return informative search results for consumers.
Basically, schema markup is likely to create your web page appear much better in search engine results pages (SERPs) since it enriches the rich snippets exhibited under your web page’s page name.
Here is the simple result page:
And this is the result page with the Schema Markup for Recipe.
What do you think which page would your clients click on?
Of course, the pages that have stars, attractive images, and other useful information.
More than a dozen kinds of Scheme Mark exists. See Google’s guide on all types of Schema Markup.
Rich Snippets significantly increase the Click-Through Rate (CTR) that indirectly affects the ranking on Google.
Most of all, SEO behavioral factors like click-through pace, time on site, bounce speed, and the like are thought to be essential ranking aspects.
Yes, I’ve mentioned that Schema Markup isn’t a direct rank factor, but it’s among the very best SEO practices which could place your site ranking in addition to search engine results pages.
Additionally, schema markup may help search engines know your webpage content and allow it to be even more indexable than sites with no schemas.
Thus, we can declare a schema markup signifies better SEO.
Bonus: Start a Blog
I understand that starting a blog section for your small business may be the most challenging task since it requires a reasonable budget and a talented team to run.
Did you know?
Businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors than businesses that don’t.
Regular blogging positions your blog as an authority in your industry, provided your articles are written to help the customers, not to promote your business.
Blogging and posting relevant articles is a remarkably practical tool to boost visitors to your site and your services.
Moreover, every blog post you add to your site; it helps in SEO because it provides Google and other search engines an excuse to re-crawl your site to locate fresh content to index.
Just blogging isn’t enough. Ensure you take a data-driven approach to produce content. It means you should conduct keyword research and discover the keywords that your clients are searching for and have low competition—go to Step 1.
It has proved it doesn’t matter how small your company is; blogging is an excellent way for the organization to construct confidence and establish clout on your business.
In the world today, companies can’t afford to dismiss their online existence. SEO lets you set your small business apart from the competition and emphasize your distinctive selling points in a competitive sector.
SEO for small businesses is not a one time job; instead, it requires keyword research, creating effective silo structure, optimizing each page for On-Page SEO, employing copywriting skills, building useful Google My Business listing, and getting quality citations to get more traffic and more clients.
Did you know?
One Smart Sheep provides small businesses with a professionally developed website, hosting, maintenance, and support for a budget-friendly price each month, starting from $49/month.
Not satisfied with the answer? Schedule a call at your convenience.