Get Found on Google: A SEO Guide for Small Businesses

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Get Found on Google: A SEO Guide for Small Businesses

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about increasing your website’s visibility in search engines for certain content, being able to rank for that content and attracting visitors to your website. This type of traffic is known as organic traffic, as opposed to paid traffic from advertising.

Why do SEO?

Small businesses should focus on organic search traffic because it delivers free, recurring and high converting traffic to websites. It’s a marketing channel you own that isn’t affected by iOS changes, Facebook algorithms or pixels.

According to SEMrush, in a study of 13 eCommerce markets, organic traffic was the dominant source of website traffic.

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Courtesy: SEMrush

What do you need to do?

There are three critical components of SEO that work together to decide which sites rank where on a Search Results Page. These are:

  1. Relevance – this is referred to as On-Page SEO and is all about content matching: is your website’s content relevant to the search query?
  2. Authority – this is referred to as Off-Page SEO and is mostly about backlinks: do other websites link to your website, is your website an authority in the industry or on the topic? Does your content get shared or liked on social channels?
  3. Performance and Security – this is referred to as Technical SEO: does your website load quickly, provide a good user experience and is it secure – particularly on mobile devices?

Each of these components affect your website’s ability to rank on search engines and can have a negative impact on your ROI when running Google Ads if they’re not addressed.

1. Relevance or On-Page SEO (Keyword Optimised Content)

Making sure your website content includes the search terms people are using on search engines is a critical way to attract visitors to your website – and not just any visitors, visitors who are actively searching for your products or services.

That’s why optimising your content around particular keyword phrases is so important. As Google says, “The most basic signal that information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as the search query.

1.1 Keyword Research

From an SEO perspective, the first step is to do some keyword research. You’ll be able to identify phrases people are searching for and these will give you ideas to create content.

When you optimise your web pages around those exact search queries, you can begin to rank your website pages for those terms as well.

I would recommend listing each piece of content (e.g., your homepage, category/collections pages, product pages, etc.) in a spreadsheet and undertaking basic keyword research to identify a primary and secondary keyword phrase for each. It’s important that you identify a multi-word keyword phrase, rather than a single word keyword. A keyword phrase should ideally be between 3 and 5 words. These are often referred to as long tail keywords and will make it easier for your content to rank.

I recommend using Google’s Keyword Planner to identify good, long tail keywords. To use Keyword Planner, you need a free Google Ads account.

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When doing this research, also consider where potential visitors might be on their journey. Think of their search intent:

  1. Are they researching a solution to a problem or need?
  2. Have they identified some solutions and are considering which one to go with?
  3. Or have they decided what the solution is and are now looking for pricing, suppliers, terms, etc.
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Courtesy: RMIT

Based on visitor intent, you might want to consider using certain keyword phrases to attract certain traffic to certain pages. For example, you might use a high commercial intent word for a shop or pricing page, such as ‘Buy Men’s Clothing and Accessories’ or ‘silver jewellery wholesale pricing’, whereas for someone researching a problem/solution you could use ’10 Reasons Your Electricity Bill is High’ as a blog post keyword to attract traffic to your site when they’re still in the ‘Awareness’ stage of the funnel.

1.2 Optimising Content

Once you have a list of keywords for each piece of content and have identified them as relevant search terms, it’s time to write content around them. Using the primary keyword as your guide, you need to write quality content for each page, post, product category and each product page.

There are best practices you should follow regarding where your primary keywords are placed on your web pages. Have a look at this simple example showing where to place your keywords to give search engines the best opportunity to understand what your page and website are about.

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Where to Place A Keyword on A Webpage

2. Off Page SEO – Backlinks

So, we’ve talked about On-Page SEO, now we are going to talk about Off-Page SEO, specifically backlinks.

Backlinks are important because they tell search engines how popular your content is, or how authoritative your content is for a given search phrase. This is because search engines want to deliver only the best results for a search query. Think of backlinks as something akin to peer reviewed academic publications – how do we know which academic papers are authoritative? By the peer reviews, how many other academic publications refer to the papers and how authoritative these other publications are (for example, Harvard School of Medicine versus Joe’s Blog).

Authority in the SEO world is all about the Domain Authority (DA). The more links you have from high DA sites, the more authority you build for your own site.

Here are some ways to build backlinks to your site.

2.1 Industry Authorities

These could include links from a member’s page of an Industry Association, a certification organisation, a Chamber of Commerce, a manufacturer, a local business group, etc. These sites are likely to be high DA sites and authorities in their area of expertise.

2.2 Citation Sites

Citation sites are business directories that list businesses in a local area or within a certain industry type. Some well-known citation sites would include TrueLocal, LocalSearch, or Yelp – most of them have high Domain Authority. They enable businesses to be listed, but also to be able to provide links back to the business website.

Here’s a link to 50 Citation Sites whereyou can submit your business. If you work from home and need to hide your physical address, you can do that with these citation sites.

2.3 Google Business Profile

At its very core Google Business Profile is the ultimate citation site. Because it lists your business very visibly in the Google Business Profile section of a search results page, you are likely to attract organic traffic. It will also boost your other SEO results in several ways:

  • You must verify your business with Google – which helps raise your visibility/profile.
  • It enables you to have more than one search result on a search results page – the Google Business Profile result, and the organic search result (and an ad result if you were also doing advertising).

Here’s a useful article by Hootsuite on getting started with Google Business Profile.

2.4 Social Pages

Make sure you have links from your social accounts to your website.

2.5 Guest Blogs

Guest blogs are an excellent way to build links from high-authority websites. By writing a blog post on another site, you can have links back to your products or services, and back to your home page. The best way to find appropriate sites to write a blog post for is to search for ‘write for us’ and then the industry/topic until you find one that is appropriate.

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Search for guest blog opportunities

3. Technical SEO – Performance

Even though website performance is critical to attract and convert website visitors, many website owners don’t have any understanding of their website’s performance. This is often because website owners visit their websites regularly, so the site is cached in their browser. Therefore, it seems fast. However, by using tools such as Google Lighthouse or GTMetrix.com, you can test the performance of your website for users in different locations and on different networks and devices.

Slow websites will result in higher ‘bounce’ rates, meaning you’re losing website visitors before they even engage with your site, or at best, providing a suboptimal experience for your visitors.

3.1 Large Images

Large images are one of the main reasons websites load slowly. Try to ensure your images are sized correctly. Using a tool such as Tiny JPG or any other compression tool will enable you to compress large images and replace them on the website to improve performance. This is particularly important for images loading initially such as large hero images or slider images. I recommend trying to keep any large images below 100Kbytes if possible.

3.2 Slideshows or Video

Try to use a single ‘hero image’ with a headline and a call to action as your core message. If you use a slideshow or video, make sure they’re optimised. This means either a very short video loop or slider images that are properly sized.

3.3 Lots of files loading

JavaScript, font files and CSS files are all important to your website’s functionality and look, but they’re often not optimised and slow websites down, particularly on the initial load. I would strongly recommend using caching on your website (best to speak to your developer or hosting provider about this) and possibly use a Content Delivery Network such as Cloudflare.

Keep learning about SEO

To learn more about Search Engine Optimisation, I would recommend:

  1. Signing up for the Digital Solutions program
  2. Attending an SEO workshop or webinar

Ricky Clark is an eCommerce Marketing expert and one of our Digital Solutions advisors. Learn more about the program and how it can help your business here.

Looking to improve your SEO strategy? Book in for a free 15-minute consultation with Ricky here.

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