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Updated May 04, 2023

How to Build a Successful SEO Strategy When You’re a Small Business

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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer

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Most small businesses have built a website to create an online presence. They know the more targeted online traffic they have, the more leads they can generate. However, unlike larger companies, many small businesses don’t have a massive budget for search engine optimization (SEO). 

Fortunately, many easy-to-implement SEO tactics can help your small business website climb in search rankings without breaking the bank, whether you hire an outside SEO company or work on it in-house. 

How to build a small business SEO strategy

A solid SEO strategy can help bolster web traffic and generate more sales leads. Focus on implementing the following key elements to get the most out of your small business SEO strategy.

Editor’s note: Need a website design service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

1. Use the right keywords in your SEO strategy.

For small businesses, using the right keywords is crucial to success. You’ll want about 10 to 20 keywords to start with. 

What are your potential customers typing into Google? What are their wants and needs? Try the following ways of determining effective keywords: 

  • Listen to your customers to find keywords. Listening to your customers is an effective way to gather keywords. Is there a typical question they ask? Is there a standard service that comprises most of your revenue? For example, a small electrical business may find that most of its work is based on home outdoor needs. Therefore, a good keyword or phrase may be “outdoor electrical services.”
  • Incorporate long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are phrases of about three to five words. You’ll likely get a higher ranking for long-tail keywords since they have less competition. 
  • Use location-based keywords. Location-based keywords can help improve your local marketing strategy. For example, instead of “outdoor electrical services,” try to rank for “outdoor electrical services landscape lighting Greenville SC” or “hang backyard string lights Greenville SC.” 
  • Check your website searches. If you already have a website, examine the results coming from its search function. Customers may type their specific needs into your search bar, revealing excellent keywords to focus on.
  • Use keyword tools. Don’t forget keyword tools like the Google Ads Keyword Planner or SEO Book’s Keyword Suggestion Tool. They are easy to use and can help you drill down different keywords and their popularity.
TipBottom line

Enter your keywords into one of the best spreadsheet software solutions and accurately record how well they rank monthly.

2. Get featured in online directories to improve your SEO rankings. 

Popular online directories help in two ways: 

  • Online directories feature your website links. Online directories are an ideal external resource to feature your website links. When you have an external website of authority, like a prominent directory, that links back to your site, your online ranking will improve.
  • Online directories boost your business’s credibility. Being featured in a respected directory increases your business’s credibility. When you appear on multiple online resources, your business will seem trusted and known.

There are many free websites where you can list your business. Notable directory sites include Yelp, True Local and Hotfrog. Make sure your listings appear on authoritative sites, because Google doesn’t look at every listing site favorably. With listings, quality is better than quantity. 

3. Use blogs to drive your SEO strategy.

Regular, advice-driven and optimized small business blogs should be a core element of your SEO strategy. The more content you have, the better your target audience can find you online.

Blogs are a way to create informative, valuable content that entices your target customers to engage with your brand. Blogs can help you do the following: 

  • Give advice.
  • Tell a story.
  • Provide a case study.
  • Highlight trends.
  • Communicate with your audience.
  • Showcase your expertise.
  • Build a rapport with current and potential customers.

Blogs improve your online search ranking in the following ways: 

  • Blogs are an opportunity to create various unique keyword-focused URLs.
  • Blogs provide content to share on social platforms.
  • Blogs drive traffic to your website.
  • Blogs feature your keywords to help with organic searches.

For best SEO results with your blog, consider the following: 

  • Keep blog posts around 750 to 2,000 words.
  • Focus on one keyword or keyword phrase for each blog post.
  • Include relevant images with alt tags in your blog posts. 
  • Include several internal links in your blog content. 
Did You Know?Did you know

Repurpose your blog content to build traffic to reach people who missed it the first time. For example, expand a blog into two parts, promote evergreen content on social media, or share blog content in an email newsletter.

4. Use external linking as part of your SEO strategy.

External linking refers to websites of authority that link back to your website. Like online directories, they help boost your online presence and show Google that your website is an authority on a particular topic. 

However, you must be thoughtful and intentional with your external linking and focus on relevant bloggers and respected online publications. Having trusted sites link back to your website also increases your overall business credibility and helps you stand out as an expert in your field. 

5. Optimize your website to boost your SEO strategy. 

Optimizing your website is a technical SEO tip that can improve traffic, help with search engine rankings, and reduce friction.

When optimizing your website, ensure each web page has the following elements:

  • Correctly placed headings, e.g., H1, H2, and so on
  • Keyword-focused meta descriptions
  • Keyword-focused alt tags
  • Keyword-focused URLs

If you’re unsure about your site’s optimization, ask your web developer or have an SEO company audit your website and fix any gaps.

FYIDid you know

Website designs based on the WordPress platform are straightforward to optimize on your own. Download an SEO plugin like Yoast, MonsterInsights or Rank Math, and follow the instructions for each page on your site.

6. Analyze your website as part of your SEO strategy. 

A good strategy requires analysis. Consider the following advice: 

  • Use a keyword-ranking tool. Consider using a keyword-ranking tool. Various online tools let you input keywords and then tell you how your website ranks for these keywords. Doing this monthly will give you a clear overview of your progress.
  • Use Google Analytics. Look at Google Analytics Specifically, look at your bounce rate, traffic volume and top pages. These metrics will give you insight into how your SEO strategy is progressing and flag any concerns. Additionally, view your traffic type and where it’s originating from. Google Analytics will tell you whether you get organic, referral or social traffic. 

How to manage your SEO strategy

Now that you have the core ingredients of your SEO strategy mapped, it’s time to look at resources and determine who will get the work done.

Some SEO tasks are more technical, while others are more strategic or writing-related. Splitting up the to-do list and delegating to talented team members makes sense. 

1. Figure out who will handle strategy-related tasks.

The basis of your SEO strategy rests on understanding what keywords potential customers search for. Assign the keyword task to your digital marketing manager and discuss keywords with the rest of your executive team. 

If you’re a solopreneur or handle your own marketing, this task will rest with you. If you hire an outsourced SEO resource or digital marketing agency for initial research, review the suggested keywords and ensure they align with your marketing objectives and customer intel.

2. Determine who will handle writing duties.

Since content is a crucial element of organic SEO — not to mention keeping prospective customers on your website — you should have a good writer on staff or outsourced. Outsourcing content, such as text for landing pages and blogs, helps your SEO strategy run on autopilot in the background while you operate your business. 

This person will write your blog with keywords and keyword phrases in mind. If you use WordPress or another content management system, they can also ensure that each post meets the following criteria: 

  • It’s long enough.
  • It includes the keyword in the title.
  • It includes keywords in some headers (if possible).
  • It contains internal links.
  • It has keyword-rich alt tags on images. 
TipBottom line

When evaluating your outsourcing partner for writing prowess and a cultural fit, ask for references and request samples of their previous work.

3. Decide who will handle clerical tasks.

You can have an intern or clerical employee register your site on multiple directories, including the all-important Google Business profile. They’ll need to enter the information accurately and handle the basics, including uploading the logo. 

4. Find an SEO expert to help implement and monitor your SEO strategy.

SEO experts will handle critical elements of your SEO strategy, including the following: 

  • Web programming. Some SEO tactics require web programming expertise, so using an SEO expert is advisable. 
  • External linking. External linking is another time-consuming task. Many business owners are likely unfamiliar with all the high-ranking websites that could link back to their content. 
  • Keyword management. Keeping tabs on how each of your keywords is doing is another area where an SEO expert can help you. 

Why your business needs an SEO strategy

If you’re not convinced your business needs an SEO strategy, consider the following benefits: 

  • An SEO strategy helps potential customers find you. When interested in buying something, many people will first conduct an online search. If your competitors appear in first-page search results and your company doesn’t, the customer may never know you exist. 
  • An SEO strategy helps you build credibility. Customers tend to trust high-ranking websites because they know Google and other search engines evaluate websites by weighing relevant, valuable content and links from high-trust websites. When your website is at the top, you appear to be the most established, credible provider in your space.
  • An SEO strategy helps increase website traffic. To some extent, marketing is a numbers game. The more people who arrive at your website (the top of your sales funnel), the more leads and customers you’ll gain. However, all traffic is not created equal; you want targeted traffic coming to you because they’re potentially interested in buying what you sell. This is why optimizing for keywords is so important. 
  • An SEO strategy is a relatively inexpensive way to promote your business. Although it may cost money to hire an SEO company or content creator, the investment is relatively small compared to the benefit you’ll get from a well-executed SEO strategy. 
author image
Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.
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