8 Foundational SEO Tips to Help Your Small Business Show Up in Search Results
As a small business owner, you probably already know that SEO, or search engine optimization is key for Google and other web search engines to rank your website at the top of search results for the services you provide.
But do you know what an SEO specialist does to make that happen?
Years ago that meant a small business owner or SEO specialist could get to the top of SERPs by filling pages of a website with keywords and keyword phrases in an attempt to match Google search queries.
Today, search engines look for websites and content that match their user's intent. That means your website needs to be optimized for both search engines and people.
If you're a small business owner doing your own SEO or the SEO company you are currently working with is not getting you the results you're looking for, it's time to partner with a true small business SEO agency.
Partnering with High Level Marketing, a small business SEO agency means having dedicated small business SEO specialists that go beyond basic, technical SEO to understand how web search engines perform and optimize your website, Google Business Profile, and blogs.
Climb with Clarity
Having a marketing partner who understands your business, your goals, and your competition means more time to focus on growing your business. And with our exclusive live lead dashboard, you'll never have to worry about what we're doing to help your business grow. You'll see the results we're getting PLUS, you'll be able to track and manage leads 24/7.
If you want to learn more about foundational SEO and get some great SEO tips for small businesses, keep reading. But if you're ready to invest in a small business SEO strategy that will grow your small business, get started with our FREE SEO Analysis.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of monitoring and updating your website in an effort to get certain pages ranked at the top of local, organic search results.
Trillions of Google searches are performed every day and each search query can have thousands, even millions, of pages of published digital content fighting for the coveted top organic positions. It is the sole role of the Google search engine is to deliver quality content that best matches the intent of the search queries. Think of Google as the world’s busiest librarian for the world’s biggest library.
How do Google search engines work?
To deliver the most relevant information available, search engines use bots to crawl, index, and organize every piece of digital content. When you perform a search query, the search engine uses automated systems and algorithms to analyze the words in your query, the content quality of pages, the expertise of the content sources, your language, and your location. The results are ordered by most relevant to least.
SEO specialists, like the ones at High Level Marketing, look at your entire digital footprint and build a small business SEO strategy to get your website the most organic visibility, help you rank, increase search traffic, and get you more online business, using a variety of tactics including website optimization, backlinking, Google Business Profile optimization, and UX.
Why your small business needs professional website SEO
Website SEO is the process of organizing your website content and optimizing it with the proper markup to ensure web search engines crawl it and each page is indexed. This ongoing process includes, but is not limited to, keyword research, writing and editing content that supports a keyword strategy, adding internal and external links to increase trust, and recommending quality content to help build authority. It also includes monitoring online competitors, measuring performance, and making strategy adjustments as needed.
If you're a small business owner that wants to reach the top of Google search results and drive more search traffic to their website, SEO optimization is a full-time job and one best left to the experts. However, if you have the time and want to start with some technical website SEO, here are eight small business SEO tips you can do now to improve your small business website rankings.
8 Foundational SEO Tips to Get Your Small Business Website Ranked
SEO Tip 1- Optimize website page titles
A page title, or title tag, is an HTML element that accurately and concisely describes the page’s content. They are the second most important SEO element after content. A good title tag is about 50-60 characters and includes the right keywords. It is typically displayed as the clickable headline in the Google search results. It is not the headline displayed on the actual website page. However, in some cases, it makes sense to repeat the same headline in both places.
Why page titles are important for SEO
The title tag helps search engines and users understand the value of your page. The title tag determines your display title on the Google search results page. They are written for both search engines and for people. This is what a user will read and decide whether or not to click on your page. Make it relevant and inviting.
The title tag is also displayed in the browser tabs. Meaning, if a person has multiple tabs open, your title tag is what they will read to find your page among all the pages they have open. Make sure all of your website pages have optimized title tags.
SEO Tip 2- Create and optimize meta descriptions
Meta descriptions will show up below the title and URL of your page in search engine results. Meta descriptions, like header tags, don’t directly influence rankings but are crucial to helping you generate more clicks. These descriptions summarize each page’s content and reinforce the message of each page title. You can think of them as your web pages’ advertising copy for web search engines.
How to write a meta description
Keep your meta descriptions 1-2 sentences long and between 140-160 characters to remain visible within their space in Google. Use persuasive language and remember, your ultimate goal is to provide value to searchers and drive clicks.
SEO Tip 3- Optimize website header tags
Header tags are essentially used to communicate the content hierarchy on a website page. If you’ve worked with a web design agency, you’ve probably heard of an h1, h2, h3, etc. The most important headline on the page is an h1 tag. Headlines that provide supporting information use an h2 tag and nice to know information usually uses an h3 tag.
Header tags are HTML tags that serve three purposes.
1. Header tags tell a browser what styling to use when displaying that piece of text on a webpage. As part of your branding, your website developer will use a style guide to make each type of headline display the same way across each page using a header tag.
2. Header tags indicate the page context and content hierarchy for web search engines. When properly written with the right keywords and geo terms, they not only help Google understand your what your page is about, they also provide a better page structure- two important factors for getting ranked on SERPs.
3. Header tags provide page structure and visual hierarchy people need to skim and easily understand your content. The more engaging your page is, the more time users will spend on it. Well-written, well-designed, quality content is good for conversions and good for SEO. (If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you’ve probably seen page times and bounce rates as an indicator of page performance.)
SEO Tip 4- Activate and optimize Google Business Profile
Although your Google business profile (formerly Google My Business) is not part of your website, it is very much a foundational SEO tactic. A well-optimized Google business profile that links to a strategic page on your website creates SEO synergy. When the business address and phone number on your website match the address and phone number on your business profile, it sends a big trust signal to Google.
The more complete your small business Google business profile is, including pictures, accurate business categories, hours of operation, and most importantly, positive reviews, the stronger signal you send to Google that your small business is active, trustworthy, and ready to receive referrals.
Use your Google business listing to solicit and receive reviews from consumers for products and services rendered. Consumers and search engines alike consider your online reputation (the number, average rating, and content of reviews) to rank your business.
SEO Tip 5- Create and implement an internal linking strategy
Internal links, or hyperlinks, are links that point from one page to another on your website. Internal links pass the page rank, or SEO value, plus context through the anchor text and its surrounding content. In other words, if you link a strong page to a weaker page the weaker page will benefit from the stronger page’s value, but no more. (Kind of like the status an unpopular kid gets the day he starts hanging out with the cool kids.)
Internal links serve two purposes:
1. Navigational links help search engines understand your website structure. “Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page,” writes Google.
2. Both navigational links and internal links help users to navigate between relevant pages on your website more effortlessly. A better user experience results in a longer time on site, which, in turn, improves your overall search performance.
SEO Tip 6- Create and optimize alt image text.
Alt Image Text, aka “alt tags” or “alt descriptions,” is the text that takes the place of an image on your webpage when your image fails to load or is being accessed by a screen reader.
This written copy serves two SEO purposes:
1. Alt image text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers. Alt image text optimization is an important tactic for meeting ADA compliance and creating a better user experience.
2. Alt image text allows web search engines to crawl better and rank your site.
“Ultimately, image alt text needs to be specific but also representative of the topic of the webpage it's supporting,” writes Hubspot. They outline the following best practices:
- Describe the image and be specific.
- Keep your alt text to fewer than 125 characters.
- Don't start alt text with "picture of..." or "Image of..."
- Use your keywords, but sparingly.
- Don't cram your keyword into every single image's alt text.
SEO Tip 7- Make sure your website is fast and mobile-friendly
We’ve talked a lot about providing a great user experience (UX) and with Google favoring mobile-optimized sites, your site needs to scale effortlessly. Fact is, if your website is slow and clunky on a mobile device, it won’t matter how great your content is. Google won’t recommend it.
Mobile SEO involves ensuring your small business website looks and functions properly on mobile devices of all screen sizes. This means fast load times (< 2 seconds), buttons that are sized for thumbs, pages that don’t shift content around when you scroll up and down, and lots of other things that require developer knowledge. This is one foundational SEO tactic that is definitely best left to a mobile web developer like High Level Marketing.
SEO Tip 8- Set up analytics on your website: GTM, GA, Google Search Console
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are the industry-standard tools for analytics tools for measuring basic website performance. It may take some time to understand the Google Analytics dashboard and which views or reports you’ll want to use, but Google offers free online classes that make it easy and fun. Before you know it, you'll be able to understand key performance metrics, like what pages get the most search traffic, what pages people visit most, what pages get the most engagement or conversions, etc. When you’re investing time and money in a small business SEO strategy, you want to know if it’s paying off.
Google Analytics and Search Console can help small business owners:
- Understand how people use their websites
- See what queries lead to the most conversions
- Identify pages that are performing well
- Identify pages that need improving
- Find holes in conversion funnels
- And more!
Want more SEO tips for small businesses? Check out these articles:
Need help with your foundational SEO?
Partner with High Level Marketing for SEO for Foundational SEO and our local SEO specialists will provide a custom SEO roadmap, ensure that your website is set up according to the latest in SEO best practices, AND they'll optimize your Google Business Profile to improve your local business ranking.