Many small business owners looking to improve their online presence in Google search results find it daunting for many reasons. One of the biggest challenges facing small business owners is finding the time to work on their search presence. If you are like most small business owners, you wear many hats, including that of SEO analyst, content marketer, and technical SEO expert.
The second challenge small business owners face is lack of expertise. It takes time to learn which SEO tactics work and which do not. Small business owners spend an inordinate amount of time poring through SEO blogs, trying to figure out which tactics they can affordably implement.
Fortunately, we speak to hundreds of agency owners each year and have deep conversations with them regarding their best SEO strategies. Although we received a wide variety of answers, three of those answers stood out above the rest. We encourage you to implement these three strategies to help you save time and produce low cost results that are effective for SMBs.
Leveraging Searcher Intent
Every small business owner understands the importance of ranking on the first page of Google search results. It is even more important to show up in the first three or four search results as those garner the majority of the total search traffic.
To separate yourself from your competition, we advise that you understand user intent as it relates to your small business. Searchers will come to a website for one of two reasons.
Some are looking to solve a problem and some are looking for a specific service. To help searchers looking to solve a problem, your best bet is to create world class content that is truly helpful.
Google rewards websites with great content by showing their content in search results. For example, a dry cleaner could create a video showing searchers how to remove difficult and unique clothing stains.
The second class of searchers are looking for specific products and services. These users find your website primarily through keyboard and voice search. We will show you how to optimize your website for both keyboard and voice search. Keyboard searches are characterized by short phrases that may or may not be grammatically correct.
For example, if a searcher is looking for a dry cleaning service in Oklahoma City, they may type, "Oklahoma City cleaners" or "Cleaners Oklahoma City." To find out which keywords searchers use to find a website, we advise you to use tools such as Google's Keyword Planner or jump into your Search Console account to see which phrases people typed in to reach your website.
We also recommend that you check the metadata of your competitors' websites to see which phrases they included in their title and description tags.
Optimizing for voice search is much more intuitive. Searchers using Siri, Google Home, and Alexa to conduct voice search typically utilize conversational language to find what they're looking for. In our cleaner example above, a typical voice search could be "Find a dry cleaner near me" or "Which dry cleaners are open now?"
We recommend that you create an FAQ page to answer common questions posed by voice searchers. Our second recommendation would be to create blog posts that go into greater detail for more complex questions.
Optimize for AI
With the introduction of Google's RankBrain in 2015, Google now uses machine learning to help provide increasingly relevant search results. It may sound daunting to optimize your website for artificial intelligence that seemingly learns on a daily basis.
Although RankBrain crunches vast amounts of data daily, its goal is quite simple: to provide users with the best possible search experience. With that in mind, here are our top four tips to beat RankBrain at its own game.
- Create content: RankBrain consumes vast amounts of content daily. We will show you how to make content that appeals to RankBrain in the last section of this blog.
- Keyword research: As mentioned above, it is absolutely critical to fully understand how searchers arrive at your site, and keyword research is the basis for all-star content creation.
- Link building: Links from other websites tell Google which content users find most useful. Think of links from other sites to your blog posts as votes. We recommend that you hire an agency to help you find quality links to promote your content. Skilled agencies will typically reach out to influencers, bloggers, and other websites interested in the content you're producing. This is one area that most small business owners will find difficult to handle without the aid of a professional.
Create (Much) Longer Blog Posts
Having reviewed literally thousands of SMB blogs, we can tell you with a high degree of confidence that most of them are creating short blog posts that provide cursory information to readers.
Short blog posts are no longer valued by Google and have been replaced by 2,000- to 2,500-word behemoths. Writing long blog posts may seem too time-consuming given a typical small business owner's workload.
We strongly advise that you find the time as data shows that a minimum of 2,000 words is needed to rank on page one of Google search results.If that means you write the blog post in several installments, we would rather have you do that than create several smaller posts.
These posts should provide step-by-step instructions explaining to your blog readers how to solve a difficult problem they're confronting.
For blog topic ideas, we suggest that you talk to your team, specifically the fulfillment and sales teams who speak to your clients every day. They know the kind of questions your clients ask. Take that information and write a blog post that explains in detail how to solve their problem. Many small business owners are worried that they're giving away valuable information for free.
Our conviction is that any business lost will be more than made up for by building authentic authority with Google and your readership. Readers who need help for free today may come back tomorrow to read other blog posts and eventually build the trust needed to give your sales team a call.
Use the strategies outlined above to turbocharge your SEO efforts for the remainder of 2019 and into 2020. We firmly believe that if you faithfully implement the strategies above, you will see a sustained improvement in your search marketing efforts. We greatly appreciate the time you took today to improve your business.
Author: Adam Stetzer
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