The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students

SEO for small business: Focus on these three things first!

SEO Graphic with arrows linking SEO to Keywords, Traffic, Backlinks, Ranking, Search, and Optimization.
A round Open Sign hanging in the window. SEO helps customers find your business.

You’re a small business that started with a dream, grew into a concept, equity got behind it, both financial and belief, and now the open sign up, welcoming customers. The first few months have a flurry of interest, reinforcing your belief that the risk was worth it. How do you keep customer traffic sustained? How do customers find you? Where does the customer find the list of their top 5 choices? The yellow pages are long gone, and print ads are starting to fade. As a small business, your focus needs to be on Google, particularly SEO.

But when do I have time? is often a small business owner’s response. Now is the best time, don’t wait. Tackle SEO in stages. Let’s break down the top three priorities:

  1. Keyword Search
  2. Streamline Website for Search Engine Results (SERP)
  3. Optimize your on-page SEO with Meta Tags

The user should be the primary focus of SEO. Who is your target audience? Know that answer and build a SEO strategy with the user in mind. That approach aligns the goal of your website with what Google is seeking. Design your website to provide answers for the user. Make the content easy to follow and smoothly guides them to their answers. Google’s primary goal is to connect users with the information they seek. Ranking the results with the top links based on what the user searched for. And it starts with the words or phrases a user would use in a Google search that would lead them to your business.

1. Keyword search

Keyword search is the base of SEO because that is where it starts. Keywords or phrases are the terms people use to search online. What are the words that describe what you have to offer? Embed these words in your website, blog posts, and social media content. As a small business, your keywords should help you champion your unique offerings and stand out in your niche. Online tools that can help with keyword searches. Pull together results that show the top words people are searching for related to your business.

SEMRUSH:  Is a comprehensive tool set to support digital marketing, including SEO and Keyword research tools.

It is a subscription-based tool, but each plan offers a free trial to see if the plan is right for you.

Semrush is a comprehensive set of tools supporting SEO and digital marketing.  Here the Keyword research Overview showing results for searching running shoes.  Breaks down results by Volume, Global Volume, Interest, Results on SERP.  Keyword Variation results, Keyword Questions, Related Keywords.
Starting page for Google's Keyword Planner where you enter associated keywords to search.  Keywords are important for SEO, as they are the terms users will use to find your business.

Google’s Keyword Planner is free to use, but a Google account is needed to access it. On the Discover new keywords page, enter keywords to search. Keywords Planner will create a result chart with the associated keywords and list them in order by the top average monthly searches.

The results also incorporate Google Ads. There is a column showing competition and two columns showing bidding results, top-of-page bidding low and high. This additional information is helps show how Google Ads could improve search results.

Google's Keyword Planner search results.  Listing results in columns: Keyword by relevance, average monthly searches, three month change, year over year change, competition, Top of page bid (low range), and top of page bid (high range).  Sub window with option to refine keywords.  Listing suggested words associated to category. Fine tuning keywords and phrases based on results will improve SEO.
Google’s Keyword Planner results for meal delivery, fresh food and meals on wheels.

Yoast SEO for everyone graphic.  Image shows an illustration of a person helping another person climb up a Google Search.  Illustrating how Yoast helps improve SEO.

Yoast’s Keyword Research Guide is a third resource for working on keywords and a SEO strategy.

The guide breaks down keyword research into ten easy steps.

10 steps for keyword research and improved SEO

  • Start with SEO goals
  • Build a list of keywords people might search for
  • Research your list of keywords
  • Use your research to find other ways to track your keywords with less competition
  • Analyze the competition of your keywords
  • Look at the reason someone may be searching for each keyword
  • Determine which keywords are important to your SEO strategy
  • Optimize your landing pages for keywords
  • Evaluate whether the keyword strategy is working and how to improve it
  • Refresh your keywords and content regularly for healthy SEO

2. Streamline Website for Search Engine Results (SERP):

Google controls approximately 92% of the search engine market, and there are approximately 5.6 billion searches per day. Think of your search behavior. We tend to pick one of the top 3 suggestions. Streamlining a website’s SERPs helps ensure the page is easy for Google to search. This enables Google to index the content better, resulting in a higher page rating. Google can help promote a small business if the site has structured data organized, tagged, and linked correctly. The more logical the flow of the page, the easier it will be for google to navigate.

Bar graph of the Top Search Engines in 2022.  Google leads at 92%, followed by Bing 3.3%, Yahoo 1.3 %, YANDEX .97%, Baidu .84%, ending with DuckDuckGo .71%.  Google has a commanding lead.  Best to associate SEO that is optimized for Google.

3. Optimize your on-page SEO with Meta Tags:

Graphic of a computer with META on the screen, closed in by brackets. Meta tags support SEO so your site is not overlooked by Google.

The purpose behind meta tags and SEO is so that Google recognizes your site’s pages and content. Adding Meta tags to page headers provides information about the website, and search engines use the code to determine how relevant it is to the keyword searched.

Google wants to find your website. Google will ‘crawl’ the web regularly, looking for links to review, update, and index. After Google indexes information, Google’s algorithm ranks the results based on search requests and frequency. If links are inactive or broken on your site, Google will essentially not ‘crawl’ or review the site, resulting in lower rankings, if ranked at all. Google updates its algorithm regularly to improve the user experience. If your site is a WordPress website, the Yoast plugin will evaluate the content on your site pages to improve SEO, including evaluation of meta tags and links, and suggest repairs so Google will find the content.

Another way to boost Google results with Google Ads. Below is an example of how Ads influences the top four rankings when a user searches ‘food delivery.’

Top Google Results when searching Food Delivery.  Top four are: Hello Fresh at top, followed by Chefs Plate, Uber Eats Official Site, closing with Door Dash - Find comfort food near me.  SEO and Google Ads help to move a site up higher in ranking.
Example of Google Search for food delivery – listing top Four, all with associated Google ADs.

Summary of SEO for Small Business

Spending time on SEO helps ensure that the business ranks highly among searchers when potential customers seek your services. SEO is critical for businesses trying to attract local clientele and grow a broader audience, as it helps your site show up in the search rankings, drive traffic, and build a customer base. SEO doesn’t need a team of people on it, but it does require a strategy. It’s best to approach it from your website with the user in mind. Focus on what they would enter if they ‘google’ your services.

Looking across the table with a laptop in the foreground and a male writing on a box.  Only see the person's torso and hands.  SEO helps support small business. It is the extra set hands needed for success.

Those who own and run a small business need to wear many hats. The goal behind SEO is to get your website working for the business and let it help drive traffic. It is important to look at it from the user’s experience.

What keywords will they use to search for your business? Will their experience on your website smoothly lead them to the information they seek? And do your site pages have tags so Google can find them?

SEO will take time. Take it in stages, but it is worth the focus – plan to review periodically to keep it current. Putting effort into SEO will help grow and support your small business.

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Category: Advanced Tactics, SEO

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