Small businesses face many challenges with their digital marketing. They generally have smaller budgets, fewer resources, and weaker brand recognition.
One of the best ways small businesses can compete with larger brands is by generating more organic traffic. According to BrightEdge, more than half of web traffic and up to 40% of total revenue comes from organic search.
However, that involves an understanding of SEO marketing. According to our State of Small Business Marketing guide, this is one area where most small businesses admit they’re challenged.
The following post will explain how SEO works and provide simple tactics for small businesses to utilize this strategy without busting their budget.
How SEO marketing for small businesses impacts page rankings
Before understanding how to optimize for search engines, it’s important to understand what SEO is and how it works. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the main tactic that marketers use to make their web pages visible to search engines like Google and Bing. Pages with stronger SEO will appear higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Search engines are constantly making updates to their ranking and SEO algorithms in an attempt to provide the user with the most useful content first. In 2018, there were at least 15 suspected algorithm changes. Some of these changes are minor, but others can have a major impact on keyword ranking and traffic.
For instance, a Google Core Update in March 2019 caused a big drop in organic traffic for many reputable media and publishing outlets like The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times.
Why website rankings matter for small business marketing
To be successful with organic traffic, small businesses really need to try to rank on the first page of a SERP. There’s a saying popular with SEOs that the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google. It basically goes to show that most people will only look at the results on page one and either click on one of those links or search for something else.
In fact, the click-through rate on Google SERPs decreases exponentially with positioning. Links that appear in the first position have a 30% click rate. The number drops to 10% for links in the third position and falls closer to 2% towards the bottom of the first page.
Source: Smart Insights
Some larger brands will likely pay for Google ads to offset any shortcomings with their SEO strategy. For organic traffic, however, Google doesn’t pay attention to budget or resources in its rankings. The best way small businesses can beat the bigger fish in organic traffic is to have better SEO.
4 steps to improve your SEO marketing for small businesses with a limited budget.
Fortunately for small business owners, you don’t need to have a major budget or large team to be successful with SEO. You just need to understand a few basic best practices and put them to action.
Here are four simple steps you can take today to improve the SEO of your small business.
1. Go beyond keywords.
Back in the early days of SEO, marketers would stuff their content with dozens of keywords in hopes that Google would see the frequency and boost the page ranking. The result was often disjointed text that was difficult to read and not beneficial for the user.
Today, Google will penalize content that includes too many keywords. Ideally, your content should have been 2 and 5% keyword density, which means you’re mentioning it no more than five times for every 100 words you publish.
However, you need to understand more about why people are searching for specific keywords. Search engines are focusing more on user intent and will return websites that they feel best match what a person wants to do when they search for a specific topic. For instance, if you search for the term “best restaurants in Seattle,” you will get results for specific restaurants, as well as articles that rank local restaurants by various criteria.
The bottom line: You need to focus on creating quality content that answers questions and provides relevant and useful information the people who land on your page expect to see.
2. Create a Google My Business profile.
The number of online searches using the term “near me” have jumped by as much as 900% over the past two years. If you’re using your online presence to drive people to your physical business location, it’s imperative that you set up a Google My Business profile.
The process is free and it only takes a few minutes, but it adds authority to your business and provides more information that’s helpful to users. At the very least, you should include your name, address, and phone number. Take a look at all of the information made available by Monday Night Garage on its Google My Business profile.
The best thing about creating a Google My Business profile is that you don’t need to be an expert SEO to do it. You just need to know your company’s information and follow Google’s instructions, and you’ll have your profile set up in no time.
3. Encourage customers to leave reviews.
You’re probably already aware of the power of positive reviews for your small business. After all, 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses before becoming customers. You might not have realized that these reviews also impact your SEO performance.
According to Moz, Google considers customer reviews as one of its main factors in determining search ranking positions. In fact, reviews are valued as much as 15% in local pack search results, like the example here:
You can see the top three results underneath the map in this search term all include review scores. These reviews send a positive signal to Google that your business is trusted and provides a good customer experience.
It’s important to remember that, while you want all of your reviews to be positive, a negative review here or there won’t hurt your SEO as long as you reply to it in a timely manner.
4. Create backlinks from other sites.
Link building is a major factor of off-site SEO that big brands might spend a large portion of their digital marketing budget to master. While having those extra funds to hire agencies and vendors helps, you can do some of the same things on your own.
It might take a little bit of time, but you can start an outreach program to contact relevant organizations to develop reputable backlinks to your page. The higher the domain authority of the page linking to you, the better the backlink in the eyes of Google. For instance, if your business is a Cajun restaurant, you could reach out to a local newspaper or media outlet about including your business in an article about the best places to spend Mardi Gras.
You can also drive some traffic back to your site by creating listings for your business on other directory sites like Yelp and YP.com.
Don’t forget about combining email marketing with your SEO.
Emails won’t help improve your Google SERP position. However, the engagement from those emails could send positive indicators to search engines that will in the long run.
The most immediate impact will be additional traffic to your site, which shows search engines that your pages are active and popular. If people spend time there without immediately leaving, it’ll also improve your bounce rates. Finally, the more people click around on your site, the more it shows Google that users are trusting your pages to learn more information about specific topics.
Remember, the goal of SEO marketing is to get people to discover your website and take actions when they’re there. It’s the same goal as your email marketing.
Small businesses are sometimes backed into a corner when competing against bigger brands. They often don’t have the money and resources for advanced digital marketing campaigns and paid methods. The best way for small businesses to even the playing field is with a strong SEO strategy. To best optimize websites for search engines, small businesses need to focus on best practices, including:
- Creating great content that provides value for the user and gives them what they expect and hope to receive.
- Updating a Google My Business profile with basic information like business name, address, and phone number.
- Encouraging users to leave reviews or ratings about your business on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other online sources.
- Building an email campaign aimed at improving engagement to your website.
You can track your SEO results in Google Analytics, which integrates with your Campaign Monitor dashboard. It can take several months to notice an impact from your tactics, but, if you follow these steps, you’ll begin to see an increase in your overall traffic and revenue.
Are you looking to create a great website along with your email campaigns to promote your small business? Campaign Monitor offers seamless integrations with some of the most popular apps right on your main dashboard. Check out our app store to see how you can make your digital marketing even stronger.