How a website ranks on Google is essential for its business. Good SEO practices make your site visible, bring in more traffic, and increase your opportunities to convert visitors into customers. In addition to that, SEO affects brand awareness and establishes a website’s authority and trustworthiness.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that well-known brands tend to occupy the top places in search results.
However, that is not set in stone. If you own a small business and you want to promote your online presence, this guide is the right thing for you. Find out how tweaking your website to accommodate Google’s algorithm requirements can get you noticed.
Rest assured that the SERPs can be turned in your favor by implementing the best strategies of small business SEO to bring your website the virtual attention it deserves.
1. Find the Right Keywords
Keywords are instrumental for SEO. However, the tides have turned regarding the ways keywords work nowadays.
Whereas singular keywords used to be the way to go, in today’s competitive online market, you need to think outside the box. Not only that, but you have to work long and hard to remain on top of your keyword game.
Out with the Short-Tail Keywords
Single keywords are becoming a thing of the past. Not only do they have serious competition, but they are notoriously vague.
That means that using the term “clothes” as a keyword for your online boutique will lead searchers to well-established brands such as Urban Outfitters or Kohl’s instead of your online shop.
Also, when you type “clothes” on Google, the SERP will provide all sorts of results — clothes shops, clothes images, and “clothes” dictionary entry, among others. That is because short-tail keywords are unspecific.
In with the Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords have an immediate impact on SERPs. Research suggests that 70% of online searches are made using long-tail keywords. Customers are more likely to find you on their results page if your keywords match what they are searching for.
Long-tail keywords are more successful in relating search intent. Also, they are 2.5 times more efficient in conversion rates. For instance, “second-hand clothes” or “best clothes shops in Atlanta” clearly state what the searcher is looking for and that they are more likely to make a purchase. Therefore, the ambiguity of the above “clothes” example is eliminated.
Hone in on the Perfect Keywords
Now you know that implementing long-tail keywords is crucial for your business. But how do you know if you’ve chosen the right ones?
The answer is — research, research, research.
First and foremost — brainstorm. Write down an extensive list of possible candidates. Put anything that comes to mind down and make sure that it all revolves perfectly around what you have to offer.
Next, use Google to your advantage. Type all of the keywords you’ve come up within the search engine and see where it brings you. This way, you will be able to gather information on your competition.
Another great idea is to use one of the available keyword research tools. They can help you come up with viable keywords as well as give an overview of how high your chosen keywords rank in the result pages.
Tools worth mentioning are:
- Keyword Explorer
- Google Keyword Planner
After having finished your research, now it’s time to narrow down. The best tip is to avoid high-ranking keywords that famous brands have a monopoly on in the SERPs. You want to go for those that will help you stand out. So use some that rank slightly lower, but not too low — that will have a negative impact on your visibility.
For instance, instead of going for a general term like “divorce,” aim for more specific keywords like “separation,” “annulment,” or “divorce papers.”
Search engine algorithms inspect the frequency of your keywords on your website, in the title, and in your metadata. Thus, the keyword you’re looking to rank for should appear in all of those. However, never stuff your content with keywords. Remember to be moderate.
Also, make sure to include your main keyword in your URL, page title, headings and subheadings, meta description, and the opening paragraph. That will give a clear signal to the search engines what your page is about.
2. Quality Content Is Key
It’s needless to say that quality content has no substitute in terms of influencing SERPs. No matter how much you concentrate on the technicalities of SEO, nothing tops excellent content.
Content is what searchers are looking for. If you are able to write content that answers their queries, Google will recognize it. That will bring you points for providing a good user experience and enhance your website’s usability.
In addition, quality content establishes authority, expertise, and relevance — all of which are held in high regard by search engines. If a user bookmarks your website on Chrome, it signals Google that it is relevant, and your ranking goes up.
Be on your content A-game by:
- regularly updating it
- meeting the audience’s expectations
- avoiding mistakes
- including valuable links
- using keywords
Also, research suggests that content should have around 2000–2500 words to provide enough detail and keep the reader engaged without being too time-consuming.
Note that dwell time — the time that people spend on your webpage — is also important for ranking.
3. The Relevance of Metadata
Think of metadata as a tool for making first impressions. Make sure it is appealing and straightforward.
Your meta title should be natural, concise, and descriptive enough to provoke interest and provide an accurate portrayal of what you are offering. But bear in mind — although it should contain keywords, it has to be more than just a tedious series of them.
The meta description is, in essence, a window screen for your website. It catches people’s attention and makes it irresistible to click on the page. Make sure to include action words in your meta description. Words like “buy,” “download,” and “subscribe” prompt the reader to do what you want and are handy in increasing the number of conversions on your website.
In addition, pay attention to the length of the meta description. The optimal length is up to 160 characters, particularly if you are just starting out. However, for high-ranking websites, anything up to 320 characters is acceptable.
4. Focus on Link Building
Both external and internal links have a massive impact on how your website ranks in the SERPs. Not only do links improve your rating, but they also do that for the page you linked out to.
Make the most of outbound links to authority sites to boost your rankings. They give relevance, interest, and in-depth knowledge to the reader which guarantees positive user experience.
Furthermore, you can get notifications about when your site is mentioned elsewhere by setting a Google Alert. And in case it is mentioned but no link is provided, you can contact the owner and ask them to include one.
Backlinks have a significant influence on Google ranking. Incoming links to your website increase traffic and up your search ranking.
Try Not to Get Trapped
As useful as links are, there are particular things to beware of:
- You should not risk your search engine ranking by purchasing links. Google has made it abundantly clear that being part of a link scheme is considered a violation and will negatively affect your website’s ranking.
- Having too many spammy backlinks has the potential of hurting your ranking. You do want lots of referral traffic but beware if the majority of it comes from spammy blog comments, sites with illegal content, so-called “link farms,” or any other trashy website. In that case, the Google Penguin algorithm will take action against you and lower your ranking. You should learn how to find bad backlinks and how to avoid them.
- Stay on top of broken links — they are detrimental for user satisfaction and SEO ranking alike. The appearance of a “404 Page Not Found” error leaves the impression of an outdated, neglected site. There are tools to check that — Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Google Webmaster Tool, W3C Link Checker, among others.
5. Improve Page Load Speed
How fast your page loads also plays a role in the ranking algorithms.
Users will most likely leave your website if they have to wait too long for a page to load. It is estimated that anything more than three seconds is below par. It would hurt your dwell time, decrease your return visits rate, and reduce the number of clicks — all of which will diminish your SEO ranking.
To prevent that, you should carefully choose your hosting provider. Although opting for a free hosting provider may at first seem like a smart decision, this choice will usually take a toll on the load speed of your website. On the other hand, paying for hosting could bring long-term benefits. For instance, offshore hosting providers like AbeloHost offer exceptional load speeds.
Don’t forget to do proper research before choosing a hosting provider. It’s vital that you search for available options yourself since you are the only one who can make the right decision for your website.
Also, don’t forget to optimize image sizes, lower the number of plug-ins, and minimize redirects on your website.
6. Have a Sound Page Architecture
Having an easy-to-navigate website layout goes into play for SERPs. Google keeps track of user engagement — how efficiently they find what they need, how quickly they click away, whether they go to multiple pages, whether they make repeat visits, etc.
Your page must be user-friendly. That means including a well-designed “Contact us” page and a comprehensive FAQ page. The former breeds trustworthiness in website visitors and can also lead to business opportunities. The latter shouldn’t be overlooked either as people usually search for answers to their queries.
What better place for them than an FAQ page? Essentially, both approaches will bring more traffic and longer dwell time to your website, both of which are relevant to Google.
7. Make the Most of Multimedia
Including multimedia on your website is bound to nail it in the algorithms measuring the quality of a website’s content. Not only that, but it has also shown to increase conversion rates.
Images, graphics, audio, slideshows, and especially videos are visually appealing, engaging, and stimulating. They are more likely to inspire visitors to remember your website and take the action you want them to take.
However, keep in mind that these files may take a toll on your page loading speed. Before uploading any multimedia, you can optimize your files by using a file compression and optimizer tool.
8. Expand to Social Media
Are you aware that Facebook shares, Tweets, Pinterest pins, and other social media data influence SEO rankings?
If not, make sure to jump on the bandwagon. Install social media sharing buttons on your website. That will help people share your content, which positively affects user experience. In turn, it will help you rank higher on Google.
Social networks are the modern way of word-of-mouth advertising. They raise awareness of your brand by getting people to talk about you and share your page.
They also affect purchasing behavior — people tend to buy directly through these channels or by being influenced by social media posts.
Here are some social share button plug-ins you can try:
- WP Social Sharing
9. Optimize for Mobile Devices
For some time now, Google has been prioritizing websites that are optimized for mobile devices by ranking them higher. Since Google is using the mobile-first index, your website has to be mobile friendly. That is not surprising, as a vast majority of web searches are done on mobile devices.
When making a mobile-friendly website, keep the goals of the visitors in mind. They should be able to browse through the content effortlessly, and loading time is the main factor to consider. Moreover, the layout of the site should enable them to find the products and services they need with ease.
10. Mind Your Readability
Readability improves user experience and satisfaction. So it is imperative to ensure your online audience is able to navigate your content easily.
Formatting your page properly allows visitors to skim it quickly and find what they need in a jiffy. You should use headings, bookmarks, bullet points, and short paragraphs to make the most of your content.
A full-blown wall of text is intimidating and discourages the user from browsing your site further. You can use tools to test your content’s readability, including:
- The Readability Test Tool
- Readability statistics in MS Word
To sum up, SEO is a proven strategy that helps you rank your website in the SERPs. In turn, that brings you exposure and promotes your business.
But bear in mind that certain websites demand different SEO strategies. If you own an adult website, for example, it's considerably harder to rank in Google than non-adult businesses. In that case, you’ll need to rely on adult website SEO.
Hopefully, the tips we shared in this article will help you master SEO and improve your website’s ranking. While you will not see the results instantaneously, rest assured that a positive outcome is indeed guaranteed.
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