“SEO is not about search engine optimization, it’s all about user experience optimization!”
— Muhammad Ahmad
With each passing day, attaining search engine visibility is becoming increasingly challenging for small and large businesses alike. The competition isn’t decreasing, so to win the war, knowledge is your most vital weapon. The only feasible way to get ahead is a competent SEO strategy.
SEO implementation needs long-term focus and nurturing in order to thrive. It is the proverbial marathon your business is in for the long haul.
If you are ready to begin planting your SEO seeds but need a bit of guidance on where to place them, look no further.
Here are three of the most important aspects of SEO for small business owners.
1. Ensure Mobile Friendliness
We live in a mobile-first world now, that is inarguable.
By many standards, mobile’s ubiquitous nature has already launched the connected world into that small screen-controlled destiny. Nearly 60 percent of searches are now conducted on mobile devices, Google has deemed mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor and has enacted a mobile-first indexing experiment, and there are already more than two billion smartphone users worldwide.
As far as small business owners are concerned, one of the most effective and cost-efficient strategies to boosting SEO is applying a responsive design to your website.
Using a responsive design allows site owners to conform to Google’s mobile standards while minimizing the production costs required for developing a mobile-specific destination.
Responsive design allows websites to be viewed and optimized on various screen sizes, ensuring that your site is always adjusting correctly.
Adhering to today’s mobile optimization best practices is step one to SEO success.
2. Focus on Local Traffic
Any small business that operates a brick and mortar location needs to be pouring the bulk of its efforts into local SEO. Considering that 75 percent of “local-intent mobile searches” lead to in-store visits within 24 hours, this point is pretty hard to argue; and lends further credence to having a mobile-friendly website.
For this reason (and many others), small businesses need to get their business listed with popular and localized websites such as Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, the Yellow Pages website, Foursquare and other directories.
When listing your brand, be sure to include your name, address and phone number at the absolute minimum. If given the opportunity, include other information such as nearby landmarks, hours of operation, and other important details you know your customers are looking for.
The next most important factor to focus on is reviews from local customers. Since 84 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, this is critical to generating business and becoming more visible in the SERPs by engendering a higher click-through rate.
Moreover, previously published studies have denoted that reviews play a significant role in a business’ inclusion in Google’s carousel results — the results that appear that the top of search pages.
A few great ways to generate local reviews is by asking for them through social media, providing customers with discounts in exchange for an honest review, and catering to customers who left poor reviews in hopes of turning their experience into a positive one.
The main goal in your local efforts is to get your business listed with as many reputable destinations as possible so you can create a significant number of reviews. Great word of mouth means more traffic to your store.
3. Build Beneficial Backlinks
While many would argue that backlinks are losing their potency, a Backlinko study from late 2016 found this notion to be false:
“We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor. . .”
In order to build backlinks that will help your brand prosper in the SERPs it is necessary to start developing content that highlights your expertise on topics related to your niche.
You may not feel like an expert, but people are searching for everything online; how to fix a chair, how to bake the perfect cupcake, how to garden efficiently, etc.
Your goal is to be the solution that these folks are looking for.
Start by doing some keyword research to figure out what people are searching for in your niche. Along with your keywords, use tools like Buzzsumo to establish the highest ranking content and topics for your industry.
Then begin creating comprehensive and in-depth content that targets those keywords, but focuses more so on the intent of the reader; why are they seeking out this material? Google’s hummingbird algorithm has effectively diminished the power of keywords, instead placing emphasis on user intent.
After publishing your piece, promote it across social and begin reaching out to related websites that might be interested in allowing you to guest post for their site to gain a link to your webpage.
A great way to find sites that are potentially interested in highlighting your work is to do some competitive research with tools like SEMrush.
Once you know where your competitors are gaining backlinks from, you can then reach out to those sites and similar ones to try and build relationships that will lead to beneficial backlinks for your brand.
As a small business owner, you need to prioritize your undertakings so as to create maximum impact with as little expenditure as possible. SEO can be an expensive project for both time and money, so it is vital that you understand which tasks will pull in more revenue for your business.
Do you still think backlinks are dwindling in importance? Of these three elements, which is most crucial for your brand?