SEO for small business: 9 things you can do to rank #1 on Google
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is a process implemented to increase the quantity and quality of traffic on a website.
There are two types of SEO:
On-Site SEO: focusing on improving the content, user experience, and technology used on the website.
Off-Site SEO: growing Domain authority by increasing the number of links pointing to your website (also called ‘backlinks’).
This can all be summarised by looking at the 3 key pillars of Modern SEO:
As a small business, there are a few strategies you can implement to improve your SEO. Here are 9 things we recommend you do if you want to rank #1 on Google.
Tips to improve your SEO
1. Set up your tools
The two most important tools to start with are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. They will give you valuable data and knowledge about how people find you on the web and how they interact with your website. Google Search Console is a must-have if you'd like to improve your SEO. You will find valuable information around the keywords that people use before seeing you on Google's Results as well as understand how Google sees your website and if there are any issues.
TIP #1 Set up Google Search Console.
2. Do your research
By knowing exactly what people look for on search engines, you will know how your business can answer their needs. It is sometimes just a question of specific terms to use. With the correct keywords, you will have better visibility and increase the quantity but also the quality of your traffic.
Check your current keywords to see the most searched terms in Google (you can use Google Search Console to determine which keywords you currently rank for). Let’s use the example of a 'care software' website.
You can easily see that people who type ‘care software’ also type ‘care software for medical’ or ‘care software download’. If this relates to your business, these are the terms you should add to your website’s content to improve your ranking and quantity of visitors.
Check ‘Searches related to’ and ‘People also ask’ within Google's Results page. This helps you know the terms and subjects that should be covered in the content of your website to bring more visitors.
Use Answer the Public by inputting your keywords. They give good recommendations about the content you could cover in your website or blog.
TIP #2 Find the top 5 keywords you think matter most for your business. This will help you get a good idea of what people are actually searching for.
3. Write rich and relevant content
Your objective is to create rich and meaningful content. Google hates thin content that does not bring a real addition to the web. The better your content is, the higher are the chances that your rank increases on search engines.
If you do not like writing, find someone who does or hire a copywriter. The copywriter’s job is to help you boost visitors’ interest with powerful content. Just make sure that this person is also well trained for SEO specific web redaction.
What is considered by Google as relevant content?
Unique: the information you bring must never be plagiarised or your webpage will be considered duplicate and you will be strongly penalised.
Long: Google's algorithm tends to prefer texts of 2,000 words or more. Long-form blog posts tend to rank more easily than shorter ones. They are considered to have more high-quality information.
Relevant: it must be something that applies to your business.
Visually appealing: do not hesitate in making it easy to read by working on a nice format with bold titles, bullet points, listicles, …
Structured: the copy must be SEO fit. This means it should have a title, a meta description, an H1 and multiple H2/H3.
Questions and answers format: you can follow the same structure as ‘People also ask’. This will help Google easily understand what you are talking about.
Descriptive URL: use real words and avoid making it too long so that the URL is easy to read and remember.
Mobile responsive: it won't come as a surprise if I tell you that people use their phone more and more to browse the internet. You will need to make sure that your website content (pages and text) are highly optimised for this format.
Internal links: they help users go from one page of your website to another. It creates a journey, guides users, and keeps them longer on your website.
Shareable: make sure it is optimised for social media networks.
Let’s use the example of an aged care and disability support services company called Focus Care to explain how to analyse your content.
Here, we are taking the example of a landing page which provides more information around one of their services. We can quickly see that whilst the content could be longer, they are using the right format and making sure that the content is easy to read.
Another important point is that you should always rank #1 when typing your brand/business terms.
For example, when typing “Focus Home Care” on Google, the landing page appears first. This is good! You must make sure it is the same as your brand.
You might sometimes notice other websites ranking higher than you for your business/brand term. Those websites are probably mentioning your business and having a lot of information that Google might consider being better than what is on your own website!
That is why you should always make sure you have rich content about your activity on your website: photos, logo, the right keywords and some accurate data. You have to work well on your ‘homepage’ and the ‘about us’ page to make sure you cover all information about your business.
TIP #3 Increase the length of your top 3 blog posts and make them easy to read.
4. Be locally visible: Create a Google My Business account or optimise it
Google adapts your search results based on your location and what it knows about you. The best way to be part of this location game is to set up and optimise your Google My Business.
If it does not already exist, create your location and fill all of the required points.
If it already exists, make sure to optimise your GMB listing: add photos (your logo, the team, the services or products you offer), add descriptions of your services, add working hours, etc… even if you do not have a physical store/company, you can still give information about your virtual location and availability.
If you have multiple locations: make sure you add a location name to each of them, for example, “Focus Care Sydney”. This really improves the user experience.
TIP #4 Create your Google My Business account or optimise your existing one.
5. Compress your images
Images can sometimes be really heavy and, as a result, increase the loading time of your website. To improve your page speed loading time, you must compress your images.
When checking your website PageSpeed, make sure to focus on the mobile version. Google only assesses the mobile version of your website and will only consider mobile PageSpeed too.
If you do not have a fast website on mobile, it will strongly affect your Google ranking. Make sure to always check the mobile-friendliness of your website as this is Google’s reference.
Every time you make a change on your website, jump to the mobile version on your phone to check if it is optimised as well.
TIP #5 Check the PageSpeed of your most valuable pages
6. Have zero broken pages
Broken pages (aka 404 pages) are very frustrating for both users and Google.
They increase your bounce rate.
They lead you to a loss of SEO authority.
They make you drop in rankings.
They give Google the image of an unhealthy website.
After the creation of your website, if you change a page’s URL but do not create a redirect from the old page to the new page, you will lose all of the SEO authority you have built over time. If you change the URL structure (even just one letter), it will appear as a completely new page. So all of the work that you have done (for example optimising a blog post) will be completely lost.
To avoid losing SEO authority, you must make sure that you always redirect to your new page, this is called ‘301 redirect’ (otherwise you get a ‘404 page’).
TIP #6 Check on Google Search Console to find out the number of 404 pages you have.
Once you have the list of broken pages, you can create 301 redirects or talk to your web developer who can show you how to do this. The aim is to convert all 404 pages into 301 redirects. Make sure to create redirects to the closest version of the broken page rather than setting up many redirects to the homepage.
7. Add structured data
This is the most technical point yet it can be very simply explained.
Google and other search engines have created what is called ‘Structured data schema’. HTML is the way to code, but on top of it, there is a list of codes such as markups that explain what you are selling/talking about. This creates little cute shortcuts on search engines and helps increase your click-through-rate.
Adding structured data such as rich snippets is a good way to organize your content differently and make it visible for users even before clicking on the link. It looks nice and well organised, it gives relevant information, so people want to know more, they click on your link. This is how structured data increases your click-through-rate.
Most structured data can be easily added to your website using a plugin. We are huge fans of Structure Data here at DIGITAL BOHEMIAN as we've seen make instances where they've really helped boost our client's visibility on search engines.
The most powerful type is in our experience, FAQ Structured Data. It works as a questions/answers format but also by indicating search engines in the code ‘hey this is a question’ and ‘hey here is the answer’.
Here is the example of Allianz great FAQ structured data:
Allianz FAQ’s structured markup gives rich information and is well implemented which is why it is showing up in first position on Google for the search terms ‘home insurance’. This is a great example that by creating rich Question/Answer content + adding FAQ structured data, your website can take up a lot more real estate on Google's SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
TIP #7 Add FAQ content and structured data.
Great tool: FAQ Schema Generator
Once you have filled in your question and answer, you can simply copy-paste in the code of the page, and it works like magic!
8. Reduce bounce rate
It can be frustrating to visit a page and not knowing what to do next or where to click to continue your journey further. This is one of the reasons why a website can have a high bounce rate. To avoid this, it is important to have internal links.
The idea is to have a 'spiderweb-like' website using lots of 'connectors'. After all, why do we call it the web? Because everything needs to be linked to make it work well.
Having a good spiderweb-like website will also help Google discover other important pages on the website by following the links going from one page to another.
To reduce your bounce rate:
Every page you have should include a ‘next step’ link.
Your product pages and blog posts must have internal links to other related products or blog posts.
A healthy bounce rate is around 30% or less.
TIP #8 Add internal links to your top 2 landing pages and your top 2 blog posts.
9. Get natural backlinks
Backlinks are usually part of the 'Off-Site SEO' Strategy. Getting natural backlinks means getting more people talking about you online and using links from their website to yours. This is probably the most time consuming and challenging part of a good SEO strategy but backlinks should be a key focus as they will help boost the performance of a website very quickly.
There are multiple ways to get backlinks and their challenging nature has brought many businesses to outsource their acquisition. But you'll need to be careful as Google might understand your aim and quickly penalize you. So in order to do things well and start simple, here are some natural backlinks you can acquire:
Partners: if one of your partners is mentioning you on their website, ask them to add a link to your website.
Events: if you organise an event or if you are part of an event, make sure there is a link to your website.
Directories: there should be accuracy in your Name, Address, Phone number and Site URL across the different directories
Wikipedia: create your page if you have a big enough business. This is not going to give you straight SEO authority, but it is always great to have another website talk about your business.
PR agency: the more links to your website you can have, the better it is. So working with PR agencies helps you make sure all press releases are also linking to your website.
TIP #9 Google your brand and check for missing backlinks.
Recap of the key points to follow
Have you well noted the 9 things you can to rank #1 on Google? Here is a quick recap:
Set up Google Search Console
Define the 5 keywords that matter most for your business
Increase the length of your top 3 blog posts + make it easy-to-read
Create your Google My Business account or optimise it
Check PageSpeed of your most valuable pages
Check in Google Search Console the number of 404 pages
Add FAQ content + structured data
Add internal links on Top 2 landing pages + Top 2 blog posts
Google your brand and check for any missing backlinks
Keep in mind that in order to achieve results, SEO is a long-term game. However, it is clearly worth the time as it will bring a lot of return on your investment.
If you prefer to have really short-term results, you can try Google Ads while you implement little by little all of our SEO tips. At one point you should obtain similar results. Natural SEO is a long term game but a rewarding one.
Are you SEO ready?
Now that you have all of the tips to start practicing SEO, here are some questions to help you begin this process.
What is your #1 keyword?
Is your #1 keyword above the fold (do I need to scroll to find more content?)?
Which non-branded keywords are bringing the most traffic?
Do you have optimised titles and descriptions?
How many pages do you have indexed?
Is your content visible for Google?
Do you think like Google (aka mobile first)?
Is your website secure?
How many seconds does it take to load your website (on mobile and 3G)?
How many links do you have pointing to your business?
The 3 things you should do TODAY
We understand that this is a lot of information and you might already be quite overwhelmed. So we have resumed in 3 key points what you should start with right now.
Go ahead with these first actions, it is a good way to commence your SEO journey!
Set up Google Search Console
Create engaging Titles & Descriptions using your top 5 keywords
Get a Google My Business listing
Despite our recommendations, you can’t keep up with SEO? Contact us and you won’t have to lift a finger! We’ll project manage the implementation of any recommended changes ourselves.