As a small business owner, you probably already know that your website plays an important role in your digital marketing strategy. Beyond sharing important information about your business—like where you’re located and how customers can benefit from your services—your website content can also be optimized to help increase both traffic and leads via SEO. What is SEO? SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” SEO is the process of optimizing your small business’ website to boost traffic from search engines, like Google, to increase overall awareness and leads. While that might sound technical or intimidating, there are a number of relatively small steps you can take to boost your site’s SEO and, in turn, increase business. Small business SEO is easy enough to tackle on your own, and we’ve got all the actions outlined for you. How Can SEO Help Your Small Business? Small businesses need to spend some time on SEO strategy in order to ensure customers can find them. If your site isn’t easy to find, your overall business could suffer. It’s just as important to have some small business SEO tactics in place as it is to have a high-quality website. Thankfully, SEO is generally free to implement—you just need to invest some time to learn and implement it. How Much Should I Invest in SEO? While search engine optimization for small business itself is free, the biggest investment will be the time and effort you put in to make these changes. However, you can invest more budget into SEO to account for the time and effort invested or to hire someone to take the load off your plate. How much you invest should be determined based on your revenue and overall competition. If you operate in a competitive market, hiring a professional may help yield results faster. Your SEO investment should tie directly back into your business plan objectives. While SEO for small business websites is important no matter what, if your strategy isn’t linked to hard numbers and goals, it will be difficult to measure the ROI and overall success of the effort. More on how to measure the ROI of SEO later. How to Structure Your Website Site structure is an important ranking factor. If your website isn’t easy to navigate and prospects can’t find what they’re looking for easily, they will leave the site. This increases your bounce rate and indicates to search engines that your site usability is poor, causing your authority and rankings to suffer. How can you ensure your site is easy to navigate? Try using it yourself! Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and imagine you’re exploring your site for the first time. Is information easy to access? Are actions easy to complete, like cart checkout or filling out a contact form? Beyond that, here are some other site structure elements to optimize: Easy-to-use Menus Your header and footer menus should clearly list your most important pages. This likely includes the homepage, contact page, and key service pages, like a shop page for ecommerce or a service page for service-based businesses. Clear Headings How often do you read a full webpage? Most of the time, you’re probably skimming, and when you’re skimming, you’re likely using the headings that break up the content throughout the page. That’s why it’s important that your page titles and headings are clear. The page title should accurately reflect the content on the page, like “Remodelers in Los Angeles, California.” Optimized Metadata All web pages have metadata, which includes information that both users and search engines see. Specifically, title tags and meta descriptions are visible—so they should be optimized. Title tags show up in search results and also in the tab of your browser. Meta descriptions show up below the title tag in search results. Metadata helps search engines pull up relevant results and helps users know more about each site on the search results page. Internal Links Internal linking means hyperlinking to other pages on your site. This is different from linking to external sites, which we’ll cover later on. Internal links help get users where they need to go in order to complete desired actions, like checking out or booking a call. They also help search engines determine which pages are most important on your site, based on how much they’re linked. So be sure to include internal links throughout your content. Site Speed Having a website that loads quickly is important because, if it loads too slowly, users will simply click off. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to see how fast your site loads on both mobile and desktop, along with any potential problems. While these are more technical issues that may require a web developer, it’s good to be aware of your overall site speed and any issues, so you can fix them sooner rather than later. Faulty Webpages Make sure all of your pages load properly to avoid broken links. You should also check for any duplicate content. Both broken links and duplicate content confuse users and search engines alike and can impact your rankings. Keyword Research Keywords are how people find you when searching for your services. If you run a clothing boutique in Topeka, KS, someone might find you by searching “boutiques near Topeka,” for example. Your site should be optimized for your priority keywords. You can find these keywords by following these steps: Think about what terms would use when looking for a business like yours. Write them down and do some searching to see what comes up to ensure they’re all relevant. Use tools like Ahrefs or Semrush Keyword Overview to see other ways people search for businesses like yours and how difficult it might be to rank for any particular keyword. Build a plan based on your findings and start working keywords into your site content. Incorporating Keywords Into Your Web Content Where should keywords show up? They should flow relatively naturally with the rest of your site content. A great place to start is in your metadata. Your priority keywords should be incorporated in both title tags and meta descriptions, as well as in headings and throughout the site content. Many content management systems include SEO tools, particularly for keyword optimization. WordPress has the Yoast plugin, which checks if your designated keyword shows up in your metadata (amongst many, many other functionalities) and Wix has a Semrush integration with a keyword insights dashboard. Schema Markup Schema essentially tells search engines pertinent information about your business, like your hours, location, contact information, and more. Important stuff! This information then shows up in a knowledge panel, the information box that shows up on Google when you search for businesses by name. While it doesn’t directly impact your rankings, schema can improve your small business’ overall site visibility by giving search engines this relevant information. There are many different types of schema, but these are a few types that are most relevant to small businesses: Organization - location, contact information, logo Local business - full address, phone number, hours, menu Product - product type, cost, dimensions Schema is HTML code, which might seem intimidating, but there are likely plugins available for your site to help you implement schema if you can’t add it yourself. WordPress and Wix both have free and premium tools to add schema to your website. Backlinks Backlinks are links to your site from external websites. Backlinks help your small business website build authority because it indicates that other websites trust yours. Local listings are one of the easiest ways to get backlinks. In addition to listing websites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau, you should submit your business information to local directories, like your local chamber of commerce. Local SEO Local SEO is relevant to your small business if you only operate in your local area. Optimizing your small business website for local SEO will help you show up for localized searches, like if someone is looking for a “plumber in Denver, CO.” Here are some steps you can take to optimize for local SEO: Create a Google My Business profile. Create profiles on sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor. Ensure all social media profiles have your address and contact information. Request online reviews from customers Learn more about local SEO here. Measuring Results With so many ways to optimize for small business SEO, how do you know what’s working? SEO takes time to yield results, primarily because search engine algorithms are complicated and take time to register changes. We recommend waiting at least three months after your first go at SEO before checking results. Some metrics that are easy to track through your website and Google Search Console include rankings, organic site traffic, and conversions. You can track other important metrics like domain authority and backlinks through Moz, another SEO tool with many free offerings. You can also track how customers found you. You can include a little survey when they’re checking out, filling out a contact form, or paying an invoice. If you start to see more customers say that they found you through Google or local directories, that’s a key indication your small business SEO strategy is working. Getting Started on Small Business SEO Feeling ready to tackle SEO and boost your online presence? With a little time and effort, small business SEO is an excellent way to help your bottom line, and anyone can do it!