SEO Guide for small business owners : 13 strategies & tips

Written by Fraser McCulloch.

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This guide outlines the key SEO strategies you need to grow traffic from Google.

Without traffic, you won’t generate enquiries or sales.

Small business statistics

The latest statistics show that there are 5.9 million businesses in the UK.

  • 0 employees – freelance, self employed – 4.457 million
  • 1-9 employees – micro business – 1.155 million
  • 10-49 employees – small business – 0.211 million

If you add all 3 categories up, 98.7% of all UK businesses are small businesses or less.

Likewise in the USA, 99.9% of all US businesses are small businesses.

Going by these numbers, most of you reading will be a micro-business, freelancer or self-employed serving prospects and customers at a local level.

I fall into the self-employed category and if I relied on local customers I would not have a business.

I serve businesses and agencies in all English speaking countries of the world.

Search Engines and Local SEO

With around 7 billion daily searches and nearly half of all searches are made making search engines a vital source of traffic for website owners.

Business websites need leads

You either sell physical products or generate leads, enquiries or phone calls.

The platform that powers your website will more than likely be WordPress or Shopify; if you sell online.

I did work for a client who insisted someone else built his website.

The website has a speed score of 4; it’s been poorly built using a bad template and this poor user experience will cost him time and money to rebuild and very difficult to rank high in the search engines.

Speed Test checklist

  • Liase with your web designer or developer.
  • Ask to see the theme or template they intend to use
  • Run the theme through GTMetrics or Pagespeed Insights.
  • The mobile speed score should be at least 80%

Technical SEO Tips

You would be aware of some basic technical aspects of SEO.

Mobile first ranking factor

Google base the pages they rank on the mobile version of web pages.

Therefore pages need to load fast and contain important information in the browser before scrolling.

When your pages are being designed you should be able to see the following information above the bottom of the browser.

  • Title of page or product
  • A benefit
  • A call to action 
  • A phone number link if calls are important.

Use keyword research to find the search questions customers have

I have a client who is an accountant that generates over 400 visits per month from one web page.

I researched some of the topics that people searched for

Then my freelance writer wrote a guide providing in-depth answers.

Download SEO Guide for small business owners

Use the Buyer Journey as a strategy

As a business, your focus should be on the buyer and their journey to making decisions to hire you or buy your products.

The buyer journey is a time tested marketing strategy; target people at the 4 different stages and produce a content strategy to reach those people.

  1. Problem searches
  2. Product/Service information searches
  3. Alternative searches
  4. Purchase decision searches.

Write blog post with answers 

Latest studies show that  72% of business to business companies have a blog.

And that blog is the centre of their digital marketing efforts.

And typically decision-makers read 13 pieces of content during their buying decision process.

The easiest type of blog posts to write are “how-to” articles

  • If you are a roofing company, write an article target search terms such as “how to clear leaves from the gutter”.
  • If you are a recruitment company, write about how to prepare for an interview.

You can use keyword research to find the questions customers type into the search engines or have a process in place to collect questions that customers ask in person or via email.

Google Search Console to target long tail keywords

For those businesses with an existing website, you can analyse Google Search Console to identify and target the long-tail keywords that prospective customers search.

A laundry client has a service page about duvets.

This page also ranks for “how to wash a king size duvet“.

The client could create brand new pages specifically target this question and helping their potential customers.

Download SEO Guide for small business owners

Target PPC keywords competitors use

Using tools such as Ahrefs or SEMRush you can see the keywords competitors are targeting in the paid advertising campaigns.

You can run a Google Adwords campaign with a small budget, see how effective the campaign is in generating leads, enquiries or sales and then creating web pages around those paid keywords and topics.

Increase Conversion Rate with these seo tips

If you want to increase your customer conversions and enquiries you need to provide a strong, relevant call to action in key areas of your website.

  • A telephone number
  • A contact us form
  • An offer to subscribe to something of benefit eg: a guide, whitepaper, discount code, free consultation

PPP – Proximity, prominence, relevance

Google is really smart at figuring out where you can be located and displaying the most relevant local business results.

Here’s an example of proximity.

If you search for laundrettes and you are located in the bottom left of the map, this business will be in position 5 of the local search results.

However, if you are located in the centre of the map, the business will be in position number 1.

You can boost your local awareness with a blend of local signals which I’ll detail in the next sections.

Make your business prominent in the areas that you serve with links to local business directories and local websites.

Make your pages relevant by including the title of your home page with your company name, type of business and location eg:

Local Business Listing and Citations

Citations are mentions of your business online and are a resource that Google use to verify that your business is real.

Your business details should be mentioned in :

  • Your Facebook Page
  • Google Maps
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp and other local business directories.

Example of a citation

Here’s an example of a local laundrette mentioned on Facebook, Cylcex and a dry cleaning directory.

Match NAP on citations with name, address, postcode on website

NAP is an abbreviation for name, address and postcode.

This is the basic information you need to provide local directories and citation sources so that Google can match this information with your business.

In addition, you should include the exact same details on the footer of your website and your contact us form.

Download SEO Guide for small business owners

Claim Google My Businesss account

Google My Business is a tool provided by Google that enables a local service business to manage its presence across its search engine and maps.

You provide Google with your NAP details as well as opening hours, business type, photographs and latest news and updates.

To claim your Google My Business account, click here or watch this video guide.

Once you’ve claimed your account, download the app and proactively use it by posting news, updates, offers and product or service information.

Customer reviews

Google and other social networks provide tools that allow your customers to leave testimonials and reviews of your services, products or company.

Reviews are a strong local SEO factor that can help with your credibility, local visibility and rankings.

So how do earn customer reviews ?

Follow these 3 easy steps.

  • Log into your GMB Account
  • Click the get more reviews link
  • Share the link via email to your list.

There are other sources you can earn customer reviews such a Facebook, Yelp etc

Link building

Whilst citations, mentioned above, can sometimes contain links to your website, primarily they are mentions.

Links are like votes from other websites.

The more relevant, industry-specific links you earn from other websites the more Google trust you and the higher you’ll rank.

So how does a local business earn links ?

  • Business and industry associations
  • People or businesses you already know; if you’re a restaurant that uses a local laundrette, ask them.
  • Sponsor a local team
  • Write guest posts
  • Contribute to a local charity or good cause.
  • Local newspaper feature
  • Local radio or podcast

Use an seo expert

When you are running a business you simply don’t have the time to research and do all these SEO activities yourself.

That’s why you need an expert; web designers have some of these skills but an SEO expert is a specialist in improving online awareness, rankings, traffic and conversion rates.

An SEO can help you devise an online marketing strategy or implement tactics to help you grasp the online opportunity and reach your goals.

Download SEO Guide for small business owners