If you’re a business owner trying to grow your small business through marketing, SEO can often seem like something that’s primarily for larger businesses dependent on the internet. Even many smaller sellers might think that using keywords and catering to search engine optimization is unnecessary for them, but in reality, it’s the opposite. Nearly any business can benefit from strong SEO on its website, as it makes your site easier to find for both new and returning customers. After all, whether you’re big or small your customers are trying to find you on the top of Google search results.
Improving your SEO campaign can be challenging if you don’t have any experience in SEO, and those who are more skilled might not know many SEO strategies for small businesses. Nonetheless, it’s important to know exactly how SEO works since it’s very likely to be something that can improve your business, and one of the best ways to improve it is through working with a digital marketing agency that provides specialized small business SEO services.
Whether you’re new to this field or just looking to improve your ROI, there are a few things you should look for when it comes to any digital marketing agency. These are just a few of those traits, as well as some introductory knowledge to small business SEO so that you can have a better idea of what you need from an SEO agency.
What Is SEO?
For absolute beginners, SEO is short for search engine optimization. The term mainly refers to how well your website is able to be recognized by a search engine like Google, which it determines through various algorithms based on what users type into their search bars. Strong SEO essentially means that you can find a business easily without just Googling the name of the business itself. When someone Googles your business name, that’s called a “branded keyword”. You definitely want to rank for your business name, but it’s even more preferable to rank for “generic keywords”. Generic keywords don’t involve your business name, but likely your products or services. These people are much more likely to be new business, the kind that helps your business increase its revenue year over year.
SEO accomplishes this by catering directly to how people use a search engine. This is usually done by filling a website with relevant keywords that appear across various pages, which convinces Google to recommend your website to people who type out a similar specific phrase collection of words. Since more people than ever tend to search for goods and services online first, implementing a good SEO strategy will ensure that your business is easy to find.
SEO For Small Businesses
When it comes to small businesses, an SEO company has to be a little more mindful of how easy it is for them to be washed up by large internet businesses and corporations. When it comes to digital marketing, small businesses aren’t just competing with fellow small businesses – they also have to show up alongside websites like Amazon and Wal-Mart, which can be a huge task for certain types of services.
That said, there are still tons of ways that small businesses can improve their SEO to help stand with these powerful competitors. There are two types of SEO in particular that are especially important for small businesses to know, since both are often needed to get an edge over other small businesses and help make your small businesses look even larger.
The primary way that SEO is used is through content on the website itself, which is usually referred to as on-page SEO. This essentially involves ensuring that there are ample amounts of keywords on the landing pages, in any blog content on the site, and even in About Us sections that might just give descriptions of the content.
This is what most people generally refer to when they talk about SEO, since it’s the more controllable form of SEO. Since you have full control of your own content, you always want to ensure your website is optimized enough to be noticed on its own, even though there’s also another way to improve your site’s recognition.
Alongside adding SEO keywords and phrases to your own site, having other websites featuring the name of your business, links to your content, and similar keywords can boost your site and make it easier to find. This is what off-page SEO is meant for, as it involves trying to use relevant keywords and links across the internet to help provide more ways for potential consumers to find your website. Off-page SEO is vital for a successful SEO campaign.
This can include things like guest posting on other blogs, building links to your website throughout the internet, social bookmarking, social media, as well as sharing content across other sites and businesses. People who find your website through off-page SEO are likely going to access your website from these other sources, rather than from a single Google search, but it helps you cast a much wider net and funnel more new consumers toward your business’ website. Off-page SEO is the data Google uses to determine if your business should have the integrity and authority to rank at the top of search results.
How To Improve SEO for Small Businesses
With these introductory facts about SEO out of the way, it’s time to start talking about how you can improve your small business SEO in more specific terms. These are the sorts of things that are offered by digital marketing agencies like Canopy Media, which have specialized teams that optimize your site with their SEO tools and experience in improving SEO for businesses.
If you work with a digital marketing agency to improve your small business SEO, these are the main things they’re likely to recommend and offer as part of an SEO service. These are hardly the only things they’ll provide and do for you, and different services will often have unique plans or packages to consider, but these methods and positive traits are great things to look for when hiring a small business SEO service.
Keyword Research and Planning
Before anything else, your small business SEO service is likely going to put a fair amount of time researching what keywords, phrases, and terms most people search for when it comes to your type of service. Even if they’ve worked with clients who are in similar fields as your business, they will usually still want to ensure you aren’t just imitating someone else’s SEO strategy, while still making sure what keywords are most successful in your type of business.
Using their own tools and websites like MOZ, SEMrush, Google Trends, Google Search Console and maybe even your own Google Analytics account, SEO service providers will usually want to make sure the keywords they want to use will garner success before including them into your new or old website content. Once your keywords and strategy are fully determined, they can begin implementing them.
High-quality Blog Content
One of the best ways to organically include keywords into websites involves writing blog content, including longer-form writing that can inform customers or advertise products. The nature of this content makes it easy to place relevant keywords throughout the page without seeming like a trick or a trap for visitors that might be considering one of your services or products. Blogs (like this one 🙂 can often help businesses understand a topic a little better too.
With this in mind, a small business SEO company will usually help you write new content to place on your site, which can improve its overall SEO. Since blog posts can cover various subjects, this is also a great way to get a wider variety of keywords on your site, helping you cast a wider net than you normally could with most on-page SEO strategies.
User-friendly Web Design
As you probably can figure out from most websites, the text alone is not going to make you want to explore a web page. You need it to be easy to navigate and understand, as new visitors might not make the move to client or consumer if they have trouble recognizing your services or learning the information you wish to offer them on your site.
Think about it. Google wants people to use Google as their search engine of choice. Believe it or not, there are other search engines people could use – like Bing for instance. Google believes if they send people to the right website that those people will likely use Google again. So how does Google know they’ve sent someone to the right website? They measure things like time on site, number of pages visited, goals completed (did they call or email the company?). Google ranks sites with higher engagement metrics higher in search results. Site with low engagement metrics – a few seconds time on site, only one page visited, no calls or emails made – won’t stay ranked at the top of Google for a particular search term very long. So even if you get to the top of Google, you won’t stay there long if people don’t get what they need when they visit your site.
User friendly websites should also include checking your site’s mobile options, which is more important than ever as a massive percentage of viewers will search for goods and services with their smartphone instead of a desktop computer. Believe it or not, it’s likely that more people visit your website from a mobile device than a tablet or PC. So you need to think about them. In Google’s own words, those mobile users are more “impatient, curious and demanding” than ever before. You better make sure you mobile site experience is great – loads fast, is readable on a mobile device and has the most important information available to users as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they’re gone.
An easy-to-navigate website will also lend itself to easier keyword placements, meaning your SEO service will more easily be able to try new strategies if you aren’t satisfied with their initial attempts.
As mentioned earlier, a more user-friendly and visually appealing website can give many more opportunities for SEO keywords. One of the greatest ways to accomplish this outside the eyes of your visitors is through the metadata of your website, essentially hidden pieces of text that are only really present for accessibility and structural reasons.
This can include things like alt text on images, which are essentially image descriptions that give clarity to those with visual disabilities by giving text-based descriptions. Text like this can also improve your SEO, so the best small business SEO services will usually wish to improve and optimize the metadata on your site, alongside its visible text.
Most SEO services will focus on improving on-page content, but many will also look into helping you market yourself outside your website as well. One of the most common ways to do this is through social media, as having your own pages on sites like Facebook and Instagram will give more places for users to encounter your business, often with less competition than large sites like Google would include.
Many forms of social media also have great ways to improve the visibility of posts outside of SEO keywords, such as certain hashtags that appear below the text of a post itself. These can give you even more visibility on searches that might not attract visitors through Google but will get your products or services in front of the eyes of many consumers who might not even be specifically looking for your services.
Avoid Too Many Keywords
While reading about SEO, you might wonder why you can’t just stuff web pages with certain keywords to help search engines find your site easier. Some might even want to try tricking search engines through inaccessible pages that are just pure keywords, but something to keep in mind is that Google still checks the quality of a website to make sure its recommendations are worth their users’ time.
As a result, your SEO service will usually try not to overstuff or overfill pages with keywords. They can certainly help get people onto your website, but it can potentially have inverse effects from having too many. Beyond that, it will also just make your website harder to read and navigate for users who come across your business, making it less likely for them to contact you or purchase your services.
Don’t cheat, be authentic, select keywords that are honest and you’ll be fine in the long run.
Things To Look for In Small Business SEO Services
These have been excellent things that small business SEO services can do for you, but there are also some important things to keep in mind while looking for your ideal small business SEO service. There are all kinds of digital marketing agencies and SEO service companies out there, and you should never feel like you have to settle for one that doesn’t fit your business or satisfy your personal needs.
While the methods and strategies listed earlier are things you can usually expect from small business SEO services, these are going to be ways that you can find an SEO service that’s right for your business. Many will offer fairly similar things, but others will have specific traits and offerings that will help ensure your SEO will lead to greater traffic, more consumers, and a stronger ROI.
No matter how much experience a digital marketing agency or small business SEO service has, they should always be putting in as much effort as possible into knowing what your business needs. This certainly comes with their own research to understand what your peers and competitors are doing, but also in how they include you in their SEO planning and strategizing.
Even though you aren’t the SEO expert, they should still be wanting to build plans with you, getting confirmation and validation from you that you’re comfortable with the direction they’re going. They’ll be the ones doing the optimizing, but it’s a good sign when an SEO service is wanting to include you in as much of the process as they need.
Alongside including you in the planning stages, it helps a lot for an SEO service to communicate its progress and results with you frequently. If something the SEO company is working on isn’t effective, or it thinks you might need to know when the company is unsure on something, it should be approaching you straight away instead of working on the projects distantly from you.
The SEO service provider should also be open and available for feedback, as you should be able to ask any questions you have about your specific small business SEO strategy, or any aspects of SEO or the company’s SEO efforts that you might be confused about. Your team is there to help your business grow online, but it should also want to help you understand its work and decisions.
It can’t be stressed how important it is to find SEO services with experience helping small businesses. Experience can come in all kinds of forms, from past clients offering similar services to strong education backgrounds, but the team you work with needs some kind of experience with this type of business to give you the right type of support.
This is usually fairly easy to find, since many teams will give explanations of their experience and work as part of a team to support your company. Since different workers may have different experiences, this can pool together for a high amount of quality, so as long as you can confirm the types of specialties and experience of your team, you should know whether they’re up to the task of supporting your small business.
Whether you’re new to SEO and digital marketing, or you’ve worked with digital marketing agencies in the past, it’s important to know how your SEO service is optimizing your website and tracking data. As important as it is to create SEO content, it’s just as valuable for the company to track your website and its keywords to assess what works, as well as identifying anything that isn’t succeeding as planned.
This can be as easy as asking what tools the company uses in the early consultation stages, from freely available websites to personalized software. By the company telling you its tools, you can usually look it up yourself to better understand why these SEO tools are being used. The best SEO services tend to have their own set of programs and tools on-hand that they can explain to you, and these tools may also be used to prove the success and improvement of your website over the course of their work.
On a much more practical end, something you should feel comfortable discussing with teams is the budget you plan on providing them with, and how they plan to allocate your funds. This can often just go toward paying the company and team members working to help your business, but sometimes they can also go toward creating online advertisements for better off-site SEO support.
Either way, the last thing that you and your small business SEO service want is an unclear financial plan. In the early stages, your SEO company should be able to give you estimates on everything from the amount of time they’ll be taking to the amount of money needed, and you should feel free and open to discuss this with them to make sure of any changes to their payment that may happen over the course of your contract. In a perfect world, the money they’re charging you should generate more revenue that you spend. This is called marketing ROI.
Reviews & Testimonials
As easy as it would be to just check the most popular small business SEO services, the best way you can tell if they’re able to support your business is through reviews and testimonials. Many sites will include these on their own website, but client reviews can also be viewed on sites like Clutch and The Manifest for further accuracy.
If you can find reviews of a company elsewhere online, you can usually verify an SEO service’s capabilities much more reliably, since external reviews are primarily written to prevent business owners from encountering scams or dishonest SEO services. Reviews are hardly the only way to gauge a digital marketing service’s strengths, but they can absolutely help you be sure on how experienced and beneficial they’re going to be.
Do You Need a Small Business SEO Service?
If you have any intention of improving your business’s online presence, working with an SEO service will almost certainly improve your business. SEO is an incredibly hard thing to improve without the right kinds of support and experience, and these types of services can let you work with experts that can help you build small business SEO strategies, and even guide you through the process.
Search engines and online marketplaces are incredibly important for nearly every business, as the internet is the first place most people go to when they wish to look for small businesses offering what they need. It’s far too easy to fall behind your peers and competitors in this space. Investing in a small business SEO service will help you build, implement, and benefit from an SEO strategy that will get as many eyes on your businesses as possible.
With how seriously digital marketing should be treated, you deserve a small business SEO service that can provide your company with everything it needs. Let us know if we can help.