Small Business SEO Guide
This is a comprehensive guide to growing your small to medium sized business. Most of the strategies discussed on this page are tailored towards local businesses, but many of the tips apply to any business. Let’s get started!
Google My Business
Google My Business accounts for about 50% of clicks when the search is local. Ex. Mechanic Near Me. The best part is the top 3 results get a phone button on mobile, and on desktop you’ll get a “Website” and “Directions” button.
Either way you’ll have to wear your reputation in plain sight. People will naturally want to go to the place that does the best job, so they’ll probably pick the location with the overall best combination of high reviews + # of reviews, and distance.
How to Improve Google My Business Rankings
1. Be in Close Proximity to Your Customer
Unfortunately this one is difficult and expensive to fix. Location is a huge factor in who ranks where. The closer you are to your customer, the more likely you’ll show up in their search. Whether you move your business to an area with higher population density or not is up to you, but being physically close to your customers is very helpful in ranking. Before you decide to move though, let’s make sure you’re doing well in all the other areas first.
2. N.A.P Consistency (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Google wants to give their users the best experience possible. If someone thinks Google does not provide reliable information, they’ll start using another search engine. If you’ve ever tried to go to a restaurant you found on Google maps only to find out the business is closed, or not even there you’ll probably be frustrated, and Google wants their users happy.
Google gains confidence that your information is correct by crawling other websites and seeing that everywhere else has consistent information. If your business is on Angie’s list and shows that your business closes at 4:00pm but your website says you close at 4:30pm, then which one is correct? Google loses confidence so you’re less likely to show up.
How to improve N.A.P consistency
Sign up for a directory listing service. There are various to choose from, but you only really need one. These services will post your business information on hundreds of “Business listing” websites like LinkedIn, Angie’s List, Hot Frog, etc… They also keep track of your information to make sure they can keep everything up to date across all the directory sites.
- YEXT is the best if you’re in a hyper competitive industry and need to stack everything in your favor perfectly. Yext is the most expensive service, but it’s very effective, and Yext has exclusive access to listings like on Amazon Alexa. Unfortunately they’re so expensive that I don’t recommend them unless you’ve done everything else and still aren’t ranking. There’s also rumors that they’ll take down your listings if you cancel the membership, but they claim they don’t.
- WhiteSpark is a cheaper listing service that’s still pretty expensive but gets the job done. They come in around $4-5 per listing.
- BrightLocal is the cheapest option, coming in around $2-3 per listing, and is where I’d recommend you start if you’re new or on a budget.
3. Quality & Quantity of Reviews
Search engines are going to take into consideration your reputation as a business. The better the services, the more likely you are to rank higher. The best indicator they have for the quality of business is the number of ratings and the quality of those ratings. You can show your the best business in town by getting a lot of highly rated reviews.
Automate Your Workflow: The best way to ensure lots of positive reviews is to ask for them consistently after your service has been rendered. You can do this yourself with an Email, or you can automate it by using a service like Grade.us
Grade.us is my favorite tool because it will catch unhappy users before they put out a negative review by converting unhappy customers into private feedback form submissions instead of public reviews. This gives you the chance to correct any mistakes before they give out a bad review.
The positive reviews are more than just for search rankings. They help you with building trust. I’m much more likely to work with a business with 5 stars than 2 stars, regardless of whether they show up on top.
4. Google My Business Posts
Google has a feature where you can create mini posts, photos, events, and “calls to action”. These entice people to use your services, but they also indicate that your business is current and active, meaning you’re more likely to rank. This Flower shop in Vegas does a great job with Google Posts, and is probably why she’s #1 in Vegas.
5. Fill out your Information Completely
GMB asks for quite a bit of information, and you should fill out as much as you can. It helps the search engine understand what your business is about because Google can “crawl” the text and interpret it. There’s products and services, Q&A, hours, holidays, photos, and more to fill out.
Here’s an example of a Vegas attorney’s products & services category filled out.
Google Local Services (availability varies)
Google has been slow to roll this out, but it’s extremely effective for the businesses and locations where it’s available. This is basically Pay-Per-Click advertising provided directly by Google. It’s far more effective than even the best PPC campaigns can provide. You’ll get in front of people who are ready to buy your products and services immediately. Just type in “Google Local Services” and fill out the form to see if it’s available.
Writing Content For Your Local Business
Writing content is great for building your business. It establishes you as the authority figure in your industry, builds trust, and helps people find you. Every article is like a mini-employee that works 24/7
Give Local Signals
You want search engines to know where your business is located, and one way to do that is to write about things related to your location. If your business is a Florida Law firm, then write about law in Florida. A Las Vegas florist can write about desert flowers. Get creative and have fun with it. The more regular and relevant content you can write, the better you’ll do.
If you look at extremely competitive industries and look at who’s on top, you’ll notice they have a lot of localized content. Their city name will be mentioned many times throughout their pages, but still maintain a high level of readability. Google is smart enough to know when you’re trying to game their system.
Having the most comprehensive site allows you to become the single resource that a prospect needs for anything related to your business.
Comprehensiveness allows you to answer your prospects questions and build a relationship with them, so that when they’re ready to buy they won’t trust anyone but you. As a digital agency that provides software development and marketing services, I do this by displaying my extensive programming knowledge via my YouTube channel and tutorials.
I also answer questions about what to look for and what to watch out for when seeking out marketing help, or how to make sure your website performs at it’s best. What kinds of questions or concerns do your customers have? How can you alleviate those with content on your site?
If you want to go after the best keywords and topics for your business, then you’ll want to invest some time and money into keyword research. I highly recommend Ahrefs as a tool because it provides incredible insight.
It also allows for competitor research, and it’s only $7 for a 7 day trial. After that it’s really expensive though, so make sure you get a few months worth of research done in a few days. See how I use the tool in this video (either to the side or below.)
When starting out you want to go after keywords that have both low search volume (10-50 searches a month) AND are not very competitive. If you go to the site that ranks at the top, you’ll want to see how much effort they’ve put into their site. If there’s a lot of content and they look like an established business with a good online presence, then find something easier to get. As your site gets more authority you’ll be able to go after the more competitive terms.
BackLinks & Referring domains
The number of websites, and the quality of websites pointing back to yours indicate strength and reputation. Think of a website pointing back to yours as a referral. You want a lot of high quality referrals. An example of a quality referral would be your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club. Usually members can put a link to their site on the Chamber site.
The best way to get good links is to look at where your competitors are getting their links from, and see if you can do the same. See the video above for how to do that.