Hello, fellow small business owner. You have no doubt come to this article looking for some advice about small business SEO services. As a veteran of the industry, I will explain most of the different services and the ones most essential for you to rank at the top of Google.
I didn’t write this article to make sure you understood all small business SEO services. The reality of the situation is that it will take way too long, and you are better suited to grow your business rather than worry about the technical details. The real reason is to give you basic knowledge so that you can make sure you are getting what you paid for and understand a little better what the SEO’s are doing. Wrapped with a bit of knowledge, people won’t take advantage of you and will probably update you better.
What you will find in this post is a fair amount of SEO action steps that your small business needs. The SEO services will give you the best bang for the buck and are also easier to check up on. I have listed a few websites that can help you but that list is not complete. I will be posting another article about small business SEO services tools that will have a lot more informational tools and how they can be used so check that out when you are done reading this post.
Let’s get started.
Preliminary Small Business SEO Services
Google Tag Manager
I recommend all websites have tag manager installed because it allows non-developers to be able to add code to the site. This flexibility is vital if you don’t want to pay a ton of money for simple changes. You can also control the timing of installation as you don’t have to wait for anyone.
With that said, we have to check if the tag installation works properly. Once that is complete, lets either add some core events to it or make sure they are working. Two significant recommendations are Hotjar (visual representation of user action) and scroll traction (how far did visitor go down the page).
These will tell us if we have any user issues to be addressed. We also have Google analytics installed via GTM, so let us talk about that next.
We need to make sure you have Google analytics installed on all pages of your website. If done the GTM way it will be, but if a developer manually added it to the website code; It may not be on some pages. Another significant error I see has the analytics code installed twice. Multiple Analytics codes mess with the stats on the project and reduce bounce rate among other things.
When reviewing the implementation, we must be sure that you have Goals and Conversions set up correctly. The necessary foundation of analytics is to tell you if your website is working correctly, and this can’t happen without goals!
Finally, I check to make sure you have some dashboards set up that will be auto-generated and emailed on a weekly or monthly basis. It will help stay on top of things if you don’t have to log in all the time to check the basic stats.
Google Search Console
GSC needs to be set up correctly to get the proper analytics. The most significant error I see is with https and www. If you have gone from an unsecured site to a secure site, you must also change the Search Console. You must also tell google if you prefer the www when people type your URL in the browser.
After this, I always check if a manual action has been handed down by Google.
Did you submit your sitemap to Google? While Google will generally find most of your pages, a sitemap helps to control what Google decides to crawl regularly.
After completion of these tasks, I focus my attention on any crawl errors that you may see. My opinion on crawl errors is that not having them shows Google you are serious about your website.
Bing Webmaster Tools
I don’t do much with Bing, but it still should be set up correctly, and you can get some traffic there. No reason not to spend a little time in the beginning if it might help. Bing helps small business SEO services because it is another independent listing that is verified. the more places your business is listed the more authoritative your website becomes.
When a website audit gets completed can be up for debate amongst SEO’s, but the need is not. I have put it here because for me it is required to understand the site and you are not making any changes to the website in the stage. I look more at the technical things in an audit to see if we have issues that stand out.
The tool of choice is Screaming Frog, but as a business owner, you can look at a more comfortable option online. I have an in-depth article on audits I will link to rather than rehashing that.
There are a few options available for you to look at rankings. You can get a tool that will do it for you regularly. You can also go to Search Console and see what Google says your rankings are. If you go incognito in your browser, you can locally know where you rank as well. The key to checking your rankings is to set the baseline to make sure things are improving. I don’t think it is all about how you rank, but as a general trend, you should see positive movement.
We need to know the top 3 to 5 competitors of your business. It may not be the ones at the top of Google either. When I am doing SEO on a site, I will always check the competitors that outrank you to see what they are doing better than us. Competition research is looking at the primary 3 to 5 competitors and checking their rankings, keywords, and traffic to give us other ideas of success. Many times it happens to be those companies you are competing within Google but not always. They may be targeting keywords that we have not thought about or have set up their navigation in a way that is helping conversions. Finally, we will also benchmark your competitors and their rankings. We want to see if there are any changes and how they affected the website.
Now that we have checked your competitors let’s try to make a list of keywords for your site. We generally want log tail keywords versus head terms. An example of this would be “car” as a head term and “Ford Mustang Shelby GT dealership” as a long-tail term. The head term “car” can be used to search for many things like a research paper or looking at a collectible. The long tail term usually implies someone has researched and now has narrowed their choice and might be purchasing. This portion of the preliminary stages can’t be covered entirely, so I wrote a separate article about it here. The seed list is those original words that you think your potential clients would put into Google as a search term. We also can get ideas for initial keywords from those brands that compete with you. The key is fleshing out the searchers intent and finding those words they would use when wanting to purchase what you sell.
Now that we have started a seed list, we look at expanding that through various tools and techniques. If your site has a history, we will be able to farm some keywords from GSC as well. If we have an extensive list of 1000 or so keywords, we will check the words for competition and volume. I generally will use a tool for this like Semscoop, Serpstat, or Longtail Pro. For a free tool to check just keyword volume, you can go to https://searchvolume.io/. Tools do a better job in preliminary analysis of competition, but you can also manually check each search term if you want.
From this research, we will pick out the best combination of higher search volume with lower competition. These will then be the keywords we will use for ranking your site and pages.
I then will check my most important pages to make sure we aren’t doing something stupid like keyword stuffing. Another quick search is making sure your homepage ranks highly for your brand. For instance, put in Coke and make sure coca-cola is ranking first. Keywords are super relevant as they form the basis for all on-page and off-page SEO efforts.
That concludes the preliminary research on your new SEO campaign. All of this and we still haven’t done any changes to your website. It may seem like a lot, but your baseline is far more critical for future growth than most realize. We want to be able to track everything to know both positives and negatives. Without knowing were everything sits at this current spot in time, we don’t know what could have moved the needle. Now let’s get into actual changes on the site!
On-Page Small Business SEO Services
The site architecture is vital for a couple of reasons. First, an excellent site architecture makes it easier for Google to crawl your site and find all of the essential pages. Second, a good architecture allows website visitors to find the pages they are searching for faster. The faster a searcher can find the information they are looking for, the better for rankings and also them purchasing from you.
The most critical item in your architecture is the navigation at the top of the page. Does it only have six or so categories? Any more than seven confuses organic searchers, and they bounce away to Google. Are your critical pages within two clicks of the home page? By having those pages close to the strongest page your site has, Google will understand their importance. Using your best categories in the navigation will help them rank as well.
Next item to use is breadcrumbs. These are the “home << category << special page” links that appear at the top of sites. These links help explain your architecture to both Google and searchers. Make sure these make sense though don’t have weird terms in them.
Ideally, you would like to have all of your pages within four clicks of the home page. If you can do this, most searchers will find your site to be easy to go through.
I would also recommend an HTML sitemap as well as the XML sitemap for Google. Put a link in the footer with the HTML sitemap to navigate through.
As the last small piece of advice, make sure any redirected pages go to a relevant page. If you have a page about sneakers that have sold out, don’t redirect the user to dresses. It makes shoppers intensely irritated.
Technical SMB SEO Services
Always check GSC for crawl errors that stand out. Check whatever tool you used above for the site analysis for crawl errors as well. Sometimes you won’t realize that you have a 404 or a page has broken.
The htaccess file can be a tough one for business owners to check. I don’t recommend doing anything with it but make sure your SEO checks it for any errors.
Are there any errors in the robots.txt file that will hurt indexing? Do you have your sitemap listed here as well?
I usually focus heavily on the website and/or page speed of the critical pages — there are two main reasons to prioritize page speed. Google has said page speed is a ranking factor when comparing you to competitors. Second is -really commonsense you want your website to load fast, so your user doesn’t have to wait around. User Experience studies say you lose a vast majority of your visitors if you load longer than three seconds.
After this, I will usually check that the site has no malware and not hacked in any way. A couple of simple sites to check your email or website is http://isithacked.com and https://haveibeenpwned.com
Next, we need to see how many pages are indexed and if any are not indexed. I will always start with a Google search of site:website-here. This site search function will tell you how many pages Google has indexed. You should have a rough idea of how many pages are in your site, and you would want to compare that number. Here is a place that will also tell you how many are indexed -> https://pingler.com/seo-tools/tools/google-indexed-pages-checker/
Once completed go back to Search Console and navigate to “Coverage>Excluded>Excluded by noindex tag” to see if it says you have pages that are no index and make sure they aren’t crucial for ranking.
A Canonical tag is a way of telling search engines what page is the master or original page. It helps avoid duplication of content on your site. All I would recommend you doing is checking with this to make sure you have no significant issues -> https://seositecheckup.com/tools/url-canonicalization-test
Broken links won’t necessarily hurt your rankings directly, but if you have too many of them, visitors will bounce off your site and go elsewhere. That can harm rankings. I suggest going here https://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/ and finding those broken pages and then proceed to fix them!
A Technical SEO audit can be vast and last days when correctly done. This article was more of a primer but should give you a little background to understand some of the tasks. Always ask to see the audit and what the fixes should be.
A lot of people would argue that content creation is not part of SEO, but I disagree to a certain extent. Most content that gets written needs to serve a purpose, and it is the SEO’s job to find that purpose via keywords and rankings. For instance, let’s take a look at a blog post. The SEO should come up with some keywords to rank for, the headers, title, and meta description used in the article. On top of this, a quick competitor audit may also show what length will be needed and any other core attributes.
I also feel like the SEO specialist will want to help optimize the images for naming and speed, which will both help rankings.
Let’s say that you want to handle the SEO for individual articles as the small business owner. A simple way to optimize for rank is to use one keyword per page! Create everything with just that keyword in mind, and you should be ok.
A common problem with all the content online is something called thin content. It is when you write about a subject but don’t write much about it thus it being lightweight (LOL). This content doesn’t help anyone and really shouldn’t be there so Google won’t rank it. Do a check of your content and make sure it is good long-form content that genuinely helps people.
While auditing thin content, make sure you have no duplicate page content on your site. That includes not copying content from other websites and putting it on yours. An easy way of checking duplicate content is -> siteliner.com or copyscape.com
One of the best creation techniques is taking something that you have already created and using it in different forms online. For instance, a long article could become a video or infographic. You have already spent the time and money to get that piece of content website worthy don’t stop there. People consume content online in many different ways, so meet them in a way they can enjoy it.
Generally speaking, every page should be optimized to rank for one keyword phrase. Google will then determine what other keywords they might want to rank it for but don’t start a page by trying to rank for 15 keywords. Take that one main keyword and design the URL with that keyword in it. Like -> mywebsite.com/keyword-here
The key to small business SEO services on-page in my book is having a great title and meta description. You want your main keyword in both, but you also want people to be interested in the page based on those attributes. Google shows the title and meta description on the search page.
Proper optimizing also includes making sure your image names, file names, and alt tags have keywords were appropriate.
Next, you want to make sure your H1, which tells Google what your page is about, has your main keyword in it. If you have other headers on the page, you will want to add semantic terms that relate to your main keyword as well.
Finally, make sure your page links to other pages in your site and if possible to an authority site as well. Internal links tell Google which pages are most important to you and helps user experience as well. People may want to look around your whole site and proper internal linking helps guide them.
Off-Page Small Business SEO Services
An essential aspect of localized SEO is making sure every instance of your name, address, and phone are the same. NAP – as we call it stands for Name, Address & Phone. You want Google not to be confused in any way where your location is and what areas you serve.
Local Business directories also serve as a way to show Google you are a real business and what you do. These directories can also drive people to your store, so make sure you are in as many significant directories as you can be. A part of the small business SEO services is having a large directory of sites for your company to get listed.
Google My Business (GMB) is at the heart of local for Google and should be considered a must. You must first claim your GMB, and then you will be allowed to fill everything out. A complete GMB helps Google understand your business as well as potential clients who see it. The knowledge graph you see on the side of a Google search page comes from the information you have submitted in your GMB.
Bing for Business is about the same as Google my Business and offers you the ability to upload images, videos, and post. While the traffic from Bing isn’t massive, you may get clients from it and helps for your authority.
The most popular review site in the states is probably Yelp, and I would recommend being on there. Not only will people find you, but it also helps to reassure them that you are a real business and value their opinion. Finally, I would also put some effort into your yellow pages business account. The online version is an aggregator of sorts for a lot of other business directories, and it makes sense to be in all of them.
Link building is probably the hardest part of doing Small Business SEO Services because you have no actual control of what happens. You are going to other websites and asking for opportunities. If they are in your niche or think in some way you are a competitor, your chances dwindle to get a link. The key is to have fantastic content that helps an audience that is considered to be a potential client.
The first step in link building starts with content creation. Your content must be amazing and helpful so that other businesses want their audience to read it. Great content is no small task considering the millions of blog posts written every day. There are varying techniques to make sure it is worthy of links, but the scope of this post is not that in-depth. Typically it needs to be original, lengthy, and extremely helpful for others to link to it.
Once the content is in place, it is time to use email outreach to find perspective linkers. The hard part of the outbound email portion is finding great sites and the owners email as well. I use a couple of tools for this called ninjaoutreach.com and findthatlead.com. Both of these sites will help you with finding the emails and also sending them as well.
While an old school tactic, article writing can still work to drive traffic to your site. Nowadays I would recommend only doing it to local directories not the big ones like ezine articles which were penalized by Google. Many times local newspapers are looking for useful articles to publish, and it is excellent local traffic.
Another service your SEO Specialist should provide is getting you some guest posts or guest blogging. Guest Blogging is using another blog that is related to your niche and writing an article for them. The Guest Post will typically include a link to your website and traffic from their blog. Both are helpful, and you also prove your expertise, authority, and Trustworthiness.
While we discussed it earlier, I will bring up again your SEO provider should also be removing the bad backlinks that you may have gotten. At one point that site that linked to you may have been positive, but now it might have been penalized or something, who knows!
I think it also is essential to mention anchor text usage. I usually work with my brand’s name and sprinkle in a few keywords as well. Many people talk about using a certain percentage for each so that there is maximum SEO benefit. I don’t worry about it, and that usually ends up fine because I haven’t over-optimized.
The last topic I wanted to chat about was a critical task. If you’re going to be ranked higher than your competitors, you must reverse engineer competitors links. One of the easiest ways to find links is to see where the competition is getting links. If you get all the same backlinks, then you should be equally ranked as them. Then when you go above and beyond what they do in terms of all the steps I have written about, you will outrank them.
Structured Data for Small Business
Structured data, also known as Schema Markup, was created in 2011 to help Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex understand the content on the web. Schema tells search engines what your page’s topic is. For instance, if you are a local business, then you want to use the business schema to tell Google who you are and what you do. If you are an author, you can use the author Markup to tell Google you write. The recommended kind of Schema is called JSON-LD. JSON-LD is like HTML code that is not seen by your customers, usually just the search engines. Businesses that use Schema Markup can get “rich results” in search. Some of these include reviews, knowledge panel, product information, FAQ, and answer boxes.
Implementing Schema Markup can lead to a 25% higher click-thru rate (Rotten Tomatoes) and a 35% increase in visits for recipes (Food Network).
Chatbots and Voice search is also a big user of the Schema Markup, so it behooves you to make sure you have installed it on every page. In the future, it will become even more critical to your rankings so you might as well be ahead of the curve and make sure your SEO has it appropriately published.
Wow! The end has finally come. Congrats on reading down here and finding out what Small Business SEO Services are available. The services discussed in no way represents all of the SEO services but is a high-level outline to help you. If you make sure everything I have mentioned is in your game plan, you will rank highly in Google. When I wrote this, I set out to try and explain some of the services but also alert you to some SMB SEO Services you might not have known. By reading this, you now have enough information to make sure your SEO is doing the right tasks.