what is a SERP

Small Business SEO – 30 SEO tips you can implement in 30 days

Improving the visibility of your small business in search engines is a key advertising strategy in 2017 and beyond. The majority of people now simply go straight to Google or another search engine when they have a requirement. Organic search allows you to be found without the associated costs of paid search or other advertising platforms. And with these 30 Small Business SEO Tips you can make huge improvements

Yet, SEO can be quite the rabbit hole. There is just so much information out there. Most of it is not relevant and not all of it is accurate. Strategies that go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines can seem tempting but will often do more harm than good.

In this post, we are going to outline a series of small business SEO tips that you can put into action today. There is a process to SEO, so we will provide these tips in order so you can work through them in a structured manner and improve your visibility as you go.

We will also happily answer any questions in the comments below or on our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

 

But… Can You Do SEO Yourself?

It’s a worthwhile question. Elements of SEO can be complex. But for most small businesses, this is not the case. Getting a handle on the basics will often get you most of the way. I am a big believer in the 80/20 rule and it’s likely that 20% of the SEO will get you 80% of the results.

You may run into problems when it comes to some of the more difficult elements like link and authority building, but there is almost certainly improvements you can make. That said, if you need an expert or simply want to focus on running your business and doing what you do best, then drop us a line and let us help you learn about the variety of SEO packages for small businesses that are out there.

 

Small Business SEO Tips

 

Right, that’s enough SEO waffle from me. Let’s get to work improving your SEO with 30 tips you action one day at a time!

 

Research & Preparation

 

I know you are keen to dive in and start the hardcore optimisation, but knowledge is power and the first tip is to do your research. But not any old research. The resources below represent all you need to know to get started doing your own SEO, so you can stop reading endless blogs and searching for the secret answer that is always just one more blog post or SEO tool subscription away. If you are already well read in SEO and are just looking for the tips, feel free to skip ahead!

i. SEO SWOT Analysis – Download our free SEO SWOT Analysis template to understand where to best focus your efforts.

ii. Google Webmaster Guidelines: essential reading. Any SEO work done on your site is your responsibility whether you do it or use an agency. Understanding what Google wants and following those guidelines will ensure you work with the search engine to deliver a website experience your customers and the search engine will love.

iii. Moz Beginners Guide to SEO – this is a good overview. It covers SEO from top to bottom and has some specifics regarding on-page SEO elements. Worth your time.

iv. The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors – this table of factors published by Search Engine Land covers content, architecture, HTML, trust, links, personal & social.

v. The Art of SEO – This is the SEO Bible. The only comprehensive SEO book you will ever need and really the only SEO book worth reading. It’s big. It’s badass. Think of it as a reference guide covering everything you could ever want to know about SEO.

vi. Ultimate Guide to Link Building – The late Eric Ward is probably the most famous link builder in SEO land and has worked with the likes of Amazon and eBay. Eric preaches white hat, sustainable link building strategies and this book will ensure your link building philosophy is on point, which is super important.

If you can spend some time reviewing all of these resources, you will be well informed when it comes to optimising your website. The Art of SEO and Ultimate Guide to Link Building books should sit on your desk for whenever you need inspiration.

 

Basic Set-Up

 

To ensure search engines can understand your site, you will want to sign up with the tools provided by the search engines. These tools provide diagnostic data – directly from the horse’s mouth. And you can use the reports here to improve your optimisation.

 

1. Register with Google Search Console

Search Console (previously webmaster tools) is a free service that helps you monitor the health of your website. From how well the search engine can access and crawl your site to how many pages are indexed. Search Console will also make recommendations for basic improvements to the HTML of your website.

Google Search Console

SEO Tip: Explore all sections in Google Search Console and implement any suggested changes + resolve any issue.

 

2. Register with Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing also has a set of webmaster tools. It is something of a copycat set-up to Google, but that’s not to say it is without value. Any diagnostic information from search engines is worth its weight in SEO gold.

SEO Tip: Set-up your site and implement the suggestions.

 

3. Claim or Create a Google My Business Listing

Google My Business is the digital representation of your physical business. Ensuring your business information is 100% correct on Google My Business is essential. Google your business. Claim your listing if not already done so. Create a listing if one does not exist.

https://www.google.co.uk/business/

SEO Tip: Put some real time and effort into this. Nice pictures. The right business categories. This is the digital representation of your business within Google’s own infrastructure and has massive implications for Local Business SEO, so give it the attention it deserves.

 

Keyword Research

 

The foundation of all successful SEO strategies is understanding the search keywords that your potential customers are using.

 

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Understanding the search terms your customers use is key to correctly optimising your website and digital presence around the web. For some businesses this can be simple – plumber, electrician etc. However, customers will often search in more detail and you should brainstorm around your business category and services. Typically, even simple keyword research will provide you with guidance on structuring and optimising your website.

There are some tools linked below that can help you review how and what people search for, but a good old-fashioned brainstorm is a solid starting point. Then Google the terms and see what variations Google suggests in the search box and at the bottom of the search results page. Keep revising your search terms and building your keyword list.

Some tools that can help here are:

– Google Keyword Planner (part of AdWords)
https://moz.com/explorer/
https://ubersuggest.io/
http://keywordtool.io/

SEO Tip: Beyond the tools, Google’s own suggestions in the search box and below the results themselves can really help you to flesh out your results.

 

seo birmingham

 

5. Organise Keywords into Logical Groups

It is highly unlikely that your homepage can rank every keyword you want to target. And even if it did, can one page be relevant for all of those terms and give the prospective customer exactly what they need? Unlikely.

Organise your keywords into logical groups and this will help you know what pages you need and what terms to optimise each page for.

Plumber
Plumbing
Plumbing Company

Emergency Plumber
Emergency Plumbing
247 Plumbing

Bathroom plumbing
Bathroom plumber
Bathroom plumbing company

You get the picture. Organise your keywords into groups and you can ensure you sensibly include keywords on the right pages. Remember, our goal here is to help the search engine understand what you do, so need to overdo things.

SEO Tip: Start with keyword groups of around 3 to 7 variations on a theme. You don’t need to get every single variation on a term to improve your position, so focus on the popular ones.

 

6. Target Long-Tail Keywords

The obvious search terms may not always be as useful as they first seem. If you sell shoes then the huge volume for the term “shoes” may seem desirable. However, that is just way too vague a term to convert. More nuanced terms like “red Nike marathon running shoes Birmingham” are far more targeted and suggest a person much closer to making a purchase.

Strategically, you are also far more likely to rank for more specific search terms. So, whilst long tail is often low volume, there is also a huge variety of terms to consider, and those variations add up.

SEO Tip: Combine longer-tail search terms with your business location to target local customers.

 

7. Review the Search Landscape

Once you have compiled a list of keywords, search them. Review the results. What does it look like? Do you see competitors? Commercial results? Ads? Or something else? If you see similar businesses and ads then it is likely these keywords are strongly commercial (which is what you are looking for in most cases).

If you see articles or informational results, you may need to consider what kind of content you are creating to rank for these terms. Informational results indicate that informational content is required. Commercial results indicate commercial content is required.

SEO Tip: Grade your keywords so you know which ones truly map to the services you provide.

 

8. Use a Spreadsheet for Keyword Research

Before too long, you will end up with a huge list of search terms and it can be hard to know what to do with them and certainly how to prioritise them. Using a spreadsheet allows you to go beyond just listing the keywords and to better understand the opportunity and value of each search term.

As a starting point, the following fields can be useful:

  • Keyword – the search term
  • Group – the logical group
  • Geography – the locations you wish to rank for
  • Targeted page – the page we will optimise for this term
  • Usage on page – is this in use (and how many times)
  • Search volume – volume for the keyword
  • Current rank – where you are currently listed for this term
  • Difficulty – the difficulty (requires a tool like Moz.com)
  • Opportunity – how does it look out there? Is there an opportunity?
  • Business value – how important is this keyword to your business
  • PPC cost per click – this can be a good indication of the value of these clicks
  • Priority (1-10)

We tend to gather all of this data and determine a priority. We will then typically order each group of keywords so the higher priority ones are higher in the list (each group listed in priority). Then, when it comes to optimising content, you can make sure you focus on the keywords that represent the best overall opportunity to your business.

SEO Tip: We have a keyword research spreadsheet template we use for client jobs – drop us a line via the contact page and we will be happy to share that with you.

 

9. Test Your Keywords With PPC

This may seem a strange suggestion for a set of SEO tips, but it is very easy to overestimate the value of a given keyword. By running a short term PPC campaign, you can test the water and determine if clicks for that keyword will lead to the actions you hope for (sales, leads etc).

SEO Tip: Buy 100 clicks for a given keyword and review results. Ideally, you will need conversion tracking configured here and linked to Google AdWords so you can grade the commercial viability of a search term.

 

Website SEO

 

Once we have our keywords grouped, we can review and optimise our website. You have complete control here, so your website SEO offers the best overall opportunity to improve your rankings.

 

10. Website Pages

Armed with your grouped list of keywords, do you have all the pages you need on your site? Using our example of a plumber offering bathroom, kitchen and emergency call-out services, we will need pages for all of these areas:

www.example.com
www.example.com/emergency-plumbing/
www.example.com/bathroom-plumbing/
www.example.com/kitchen-plumbing/

SEO Tip: Having a relevant page for each term allows you improve results for the keywords relevant to that page/service and to directly speak to the intent beyond the user search.

 

11. Website Structure

Building on the pages you have on your website is how you structure those pages. A good structure can help search engines understand your website. A useful memory aid here is to think of your website as a filing cabinet. We have the cabinet (site), draws within the cabinet (sections), files within the draw (subsections) and individual documents (pages).

So where your business may have services, products and locations, we can organise these documents within the overall structure of the site.

Plumber
– locations
– – Birmingham
– – Sutton Coldfield
– services
– – kitchen
– – bathroom
– – emergency
– contact

Then you can start to create nicely organised and descriptive URLs.

www.example.com
www.example.com/services/
www.example.com/services/plumbing/
www.example.com/services/plumbing/emergency-plumber/
www.example.com/services/plumbing/bathroom-plumber/
www.example.com/services/electrical/
www.example.com/services/electrical/wiring/
www.example.com/services/electrical/lighting/
www.example.com/products/
www.example.com/products/shoes/
www.example.com/products/dresses/
www.example.com/locations/
www.example.com/locations/birmingham/
www.example.com/locations/london/

This seems complicated, but really we are just getting organised. A search engine is a machine learning system, so organisation will help the system understand your site and what you do.

SEO Tip: Think of the entities that you have within your business: services, products, locations etc. These should then become the main sections of your website.

 

12. Manually Crawl Your Site

You can get a big picture view of your site using crawling software like Screaming Frog. The free version will crawl up to 500 pages, which is enough for most small business websites. If you have more than 500 pages then it is well worth the licence fee.

The software examines your site and provides details on a page-by-page basis. You can then review the major on-page SEO elements and ensure everything lines up tab-by-tab.

URLs
Page Titles
Meta Description
Header Tags (H1, H2)

Work through these four main tabs to make sure your URLs, page titles, meta descriptions and H1 tags are sensibly optimised.

SEO Tip: You can export all the crawl data (or individual tabs) out to a spreadsheet and work on improving your page titles and meta descriptions there. These can then be applied to your site via your content management system (CMS).

 

13. Check Indexed Content

Screaming Frog will give you an idea of the number of HTML pages on your site. You should have a rough idea but this will confirm. You can then double check how many pages you have indexed in Google Search Console.

You can also get a quick and dirty index count by typing your URL and the site command.

site bowlerhat.co.uk

You want this to make sense – if you have a website with 10 pages then you want to see 10 pages indexed. If you see only a single page indexed or hundreds, something does not add up and you likely have technical issues that will need further investigation.

SEO Tip:

  • If the total number of HTML pages roughly matches the number of indexed pages then move on.
  • If you have fewer pages indexed than you have on your site, investigate why a number of pages are not indexed.
  • If you have more indexed pages than you have on your site, investigate what these pages are and whether they need removing.

14. Build Content for People, Not Search Engines

Search engines don’t buy your products or services. People do. Yet all too often, content is bent out of shape to make it better for search engines. Well, I have news for you folks – 1999 called and wants its SEO back. Write content for real people. Weave in your marketing copy. Think of keywords and work them in where possible. People first. Search engines follow.

The easiest way to do this is to read your own website. Really read it. As if you were there for the very first time. If it makes life easier, copy the text into a plain text document and really read it. Often, this process alone can reveal huge improvements. Improving engagement on your site can improve your SEO results, so make sure your content is every bit as good as possible.

SEO Tip: This one is important – if you can’t write engaging sales copy then consider using a marketing company or freelance writer who can help.

 

15. Optimise Your Navigation

One of the many signals that Google uses to understand your website is the internal navigation. Your site’s nav should help the search engine understand the context of a given page. Ideally, the navigation aligns with the structure of the site.

Consider a site with three services:

Home
Services
– plumbing
– electrical
– building
Contact

Then the navigation here would simplify follow that model. Possibly using a two-tier (drop-down) menu for the services element.

SEO Tip: Don’t forget to also carefully interlink your content. Where you have a product or service, link to it from your blog posts using natural search terms in a way that makes sense within the context of the article.

 

16. Optimise for Clicks

Your search engine listings are very much adverts for your business. So, it is important to ensure that the copy is enticing and persuades users to take the next step and click through to your site. Get your marketing head on and write your page titles and meta descriptions like you were writing adverts and watch your click-through rates (and rankings) improve.

Crawl your site in Screaming Frog
Review all your page titles
Review all your meta descriptions
Rewrite them to optimise for click-through rates

SEO Tip: There is often a temptation to over-optimise page titles and ignore meta descriptions, but these are crucial in driving users to your site. Optimise them sensibly and focus on increasing clicks to drive users from the search results to your site.

 

17. Branding the Search Results

Whilst you are reviewing your page titles, determine if you can add your business name or brand to the page titles or meta descriptions. I quite like having the brand at the end of the page title, but depending on the length of your titles this may not work for you.

SEO Services | Bowler Hat
Technical SEO Audits | Bowler Hat

If you have complicated or long page titles, you can add your brand to the meta description. I tend to feel this has less visual impact, but it is an option.

Review the page titles tab in Screaming Frog. You can export just your page titles and/or meta descriptions and work in those spreadsheets to keep everything organised.

SEO Tip: A key consideration in marketing is awareness. Every time your listing is shown, that is an ad impression, and an opportunity to drive brand awareness. Use that opportunity to get your name out there.

 

18. Fetch & Render

Within Google Search Console exists a tool that allows you to fetch and render your pages. This allows you to see how the search engine perceives your pages. This is important, as many of the whizz-bang effects offered by website design themes and frameworks can effectively hide your content from a search engine. And if a search can’t see what is on the page (render) then it can’t categorise and rank it correctly.

SEO Tip: Utilise the fetch and render tool for all important pages and contrast what a user sees and what the search engine sees to ensure all site elements are understood by the search engine.

 

19. Optimise Your Images

Images are often a neglected element of search engine optimisation. For some businesses, image search or image results blended into the standard search engine results offer an opportunity to drive awareness and traffic. But even for businesses where image search is not so relevant, images offer a way to provide additional context on the page.

Image optimisation is pretty simple stuff:

Optimise image names
Add sensible alt text for all images
Add your branding into your images should they appear within image results
Consider context and where the image appears on the page

You don’t want to do anything daft here and cram images with keywords, but rather be descriptive and use images to add context. If you have a 24/7 emergency plumbing service then have an image showing a plumber turning up to an emergency in the dark of night.

Page: emergency-plumbing.html
Image name: emergency-plumber.jpg
Alt text: emergency plumber called out at 3 AM to fix a burst pipe

There is nothing spammy there. It’s simply descriptive and adds context.

If you sell products then the opportunity is often amplified and where many products tend to have random names (hgx76xy.jpg and generic alt text (or none at all).

SEO Tip: Optimise your images to improve your on-page optimisation and increase the likelihood of driving traffic from Google image search results.

 

20. Don’t Over-Optimise

Seriously, don’t overdo it. Search engines are smart. Use your keywords where it makes sense to use them. Ideally, your URLs, navigation, page titles, H1 tags, and meta descriptions will all align and this should make it crystal clear what a given page is about.

Things not to do:

There is no need to use broken language to work search terms into your copy.
Don’t stuff the page with keywords
Don’t use your keywords more than is natural to do so
Don’t hide text or links in an effort to get more keywords on the page

Things to do:

Review page titles
Review meta descriptions
Review your page copy

SEO Tip: Work your keywords into the page titles, meta descriptions and page copy, but don’t overdo it or you may do more harm than good.

Note: For those of you hungry for more information on how to optimise your website, I recently wrote a detailed overview of the intersection of website design and SEO for my Search Engine Land Column that goes into far more granular detail.

 

Local SEO

 

SEO for local businesses is a whole subcategory known as Local SEO (makes sense right?). Whilst there are many commonalities with traditional SEO, there are some specific tactics required for local businesses.

 

21. Business Listings

In local SEO terminology, business listings are known as citations. A citation is simply a mention of your business on a relevant site. Sometimes that mention will include a link. Sometimes it won’t.

The trick here is to identify the sites where your business should be listed. So in the UK, we are talking about the major business directories like Yell.com and Thompson. We are also talking about any sites that are relevant to your location or your business area. If you are a builder and there is a directory of building services then you want to be listed. If you are in Birmingham and there is a list of all businesses in Birmingham, you want to be listed.

There are some lists of citation sources, but often the best way to find relevant sites is to start Googling around your business area and location. You will soon compile a list which you can use as your starting point. You may also find you already have a listing, so be sure to update and optimise any existing ones (rather than duplicating them).

SEO Tip: When optimising citations, use the correct category and a description of your business that sensibly includes your main keywords (services and location typically).

 

22. NAP Consistency

NAP is shorthand for Name, Address and Phone number. It should really be NAP+W as the website address is also important here. All this really means is that your name and address should be consistent across the web.

As an example, our business has several potential name variations:

BowlerHat
Bowler Hat
BowlerHat Solutions
BowlerHat Internet Services
BowlerHat Internet Services Ltd
Bowler Hat Solutions
Bowler Hat Internet Services
Bowler Hat Internet Services Ltd

This is a combination of a legacy URL (solutions), the official business name, and the abbreviated name we really go by (Bowler Hat). Our logo also has no gap between the Bowler and Hat so that has further created an issue here.

So with eight variations, there are these eight different businesses? Is our authority splintered across these listings? Whilst this seems almost daft, getting your name, address and phone number consistent across the web is super important for strong local search engine rankings.

We take an in-depth look at NAP consistency here.

 

23. Location Pages

If your business has multiple locations then a page for each of these locations is strongly recommended. Customers will interact with a specific location and having a page that specifically covers that location is essential in developing strong Local SEO visibility.

Typical content for these includes:

  • address
  • local phone number
  • services provided at this location (with links to service pages ideally)
  • location specific team members
  • case studies & portfolio items specific to this location
  • reviews and testimonials specific to this location
  • location specific social media channels

These pages should be well structured within the overall site to clearly indicate:

www.example.com
www.example.com/locations/
www.example.com/location-a/
www.example.com/location-b/

The goal here is to create organic search landing pages that strongly demonstrate why a potential customer would engage with your business. These pages will then rank in the local search results and organically doubling your visibility on the search engine result pages.

SEO Tip: create pages for each physical location and align these with your local SEO campaign & Google My Business listing. The Yoast WordPress SEO plugin can help create these pages with ease!

 

24. Areas Covered

In many cases, a local business will only have one physical location but may cover many areas.  In this instance, pages can be created that demonstrate work conducted at that location. These pages will differ somewhat to location pages in that there is not a physical office in each location. The focus should be on personalising these pages around the specific location so often focusing more on work done and customer testimonials.

Typical content for these pages is similar to the location pages detailed above, yet the weighting would be more towards the work conducted:

  • local address
  • local phone number
  • services provided at this location (with links to service pages ideally)
  • location specific team members
  • case studies & portfolio items specific to this location
  • reviews and testimonials specific to this location
  • location specific social media channels

These pages should be well structured within the overall site to clearly indicate:

www.example.com
www.example.com/areas-covered/
www.example.com/areas-covered/location-a/
www.example.com/areas-covered/location-b/

These pages will typically not rank in the local search results as they are not tied to a specific address, but rather they will rank in the organic results.

When done well, location pages can be combined with areas covered pages to serve multiple physical locations and several areas at each location:

www.example.com
www.example.com/locations/
www.example.com/locations/birmingham/
www.example.com/locations/birmingham/sutton-coldfield/
www.example.com/locations/birmingham/moseley/

SEO Tip: create unique pages that detail work done in a given area to target smaller areas such as towns within a given area.

 

25. Content Philosophy

Search engines want to return the best and most relevant result. There are many external signals but the one you have complete control over is your website and the content on the page. Review all competitor pages. Ensure yours is better. Get customers and other people in the business to feedback.

A sensible approach here can be to look at what questions your customers have and use that to flesh out your content. What does a prospective customer need to make a decision? What are your competitors good at? Conduct a SWOT analysis for each competitor and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Then ensure you strike at the weaknesses and at least match them on their strengths. The fact is that most small business websites have very weak content so a focus on being the best will improve search engine visibility for a wide range of terms.

Some content ideas include:

  • reviews
  • testimonials
  • case studies
  • videos
  • product and service details
  • FAQs

Really think this one through and ensure your content helps the customer in making a decision to use your business over the competition.

SEO Tip: ensure your content is more comprehensive than that of your competitors for improved results.

 

Performance Optimisation & Monitoring

 

Fast sites are happy sites with happy users. Google loves happy search engine users. And there is a range of tools out there to monitor website performance.

 

26. Page Speed & Mobile-Friendly Test

Google has a tool that tests your page speed, how mobile friendly your website is and provides a detailed report that you can use to optimise your site (for speed and ease of use). Usability is a ranking factor and this is more diagnostic information direct from the world’s biggest search engine.

https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/

We now live in a multi-device mobile first world. Most small businesses will see the first contact from prospects on mobile phones. Ensure your site is built with mobile in mind. For a comprehensive overview of how to truly optimise for mobile beyond just responsive design check out my recent Search Engine Land column: Mobile Optimisation as a competitive advantage.

SEO Tip: The testmysite tool provides an output that you can use to review how mobile friendly your site is, hosting and website performance along with a series of optimisation suggestions. Use this tool to fine-tune the performance of your website.

 

27. Monitor Your Website Performance

Page speed relies on many factors with the way the site is built, optimised for performance and the hosting being key factors. So testing for speed is something that should be done on a continuous basis to ensure your site is always available and always responding. A recent statistic from Google research details that for every additional second it takes a page to load, conversions can fall by 20% – so ensure your site is blistering fast 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

  • Review site speed in Google Analytics: Behaviour > Page Speed
  • Monitor messages from search console re uptime and availability
  • Utilise page speed testing tools: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  • Consider using a third party continuous testing tool like www.pingdom.com

SEO Tip: most small business sites perform poorly so a fast site can be a competitive advantage. Do the optimisation and keep monitoring to have the drop on the competition.

 

Link Building and Authority

 

Search engine visibility is still strongly dependent upon having a strong link profile. This becomes more of a factor in more lucrative and competitive markets.

 

28. Small Business Link Building Strategy

Link building should generally be the last job as you want to squeeze as much performance as possible from all other optimisation strategies – so, before you dive in, make sure you have your site well optimised, have created best of class content and have got your local SEO ducks in a row.

Then when it comes to building links that will improve your SEO, you will want to concentrate on two key factors:

  1. Digital PR – tools like HARO will allow you to help journalists looking for expert input for articles. Usually, input given here will provide a backlink to your website.
  2. Guest Posts – many sites will allow you to make a guest post which is relevant to their audience. This can generate improved exposure and credibility along with a backlink.

You can further improve this strategy by creating useful content on your website and linking to that content in your digital PR and guest post contributions. This allows you to use relevant anchor text to point to articles on your site. These articles should expand upon on a point in the linking article and should add value to the linking page.

As an example, you may have an article about 5 plumbing jobs you can do yourself. You could then link to this with terms like “DIY Plumbing Jobs”, “plumbing jobs you can do yourself”. This allows you to get a branded link to your homepage and a link to a relevant piece of content on your website and typically further improves your results.

There are some caveats here and quality is important, so I cover this in far more detail in another Search Engine Land post,  Organic Traffic and Link Building for Small Businesses.

SEO Tip: Use Digital PR & Guest Posts to build safe, branded links to your small business website. Further optimise this site by creating relevant content articles and linking to those in your contributions.

 

Analytics, Measurement and Conversion Rate Optimisation

 

Getting your SEO dialled in for your Small Business Website will improve traffic yet we must understand those users to truly maximise results. This is where Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimisation comes into play.

 

29. Install Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Google Tag Manager is the modern way to manage tags on your website. This can simplify deploying and managing all the tags needed for digital marketing (analytics, facebook etc) but it can also speed up your site. Fast site = happy users = happy search engine.

https://www.google.com/analytics/tag-manager/

SEO Tip: Use Google Tag Manager to simplify adding tags to your website and improve page loading times to improve SEO.

 

30. Install Google Analytics

With Google Tag Manager (GTM) installed you will want to install Google Analytics (or move your analytics installation from the hardcode to Tag Manager.

SEO Tip: Install Google Analytics under Google Tag Manager for fast, flexible analytics data.

 

Bonus Tip!

31. Add Conversion Tracking to Forms & Phone Numbers

This is super important but all too often ignored. Google Analytics allows you to link site visitors with actions such as form submissions and phone numbers dialled. Adding conversion tracking like this allows us to understand which pages and traffic sources drive leads and sales. In an ideal world having some level of PPC also helps here as we can see exactly what keywords convert clicks to customers and then feed that intelligence back into our organic search campaigns.

There are many ways to achieve this and the specifics will depend upon your set up – drop a comment below if you are struggling and we will feedback.

SEO Tip: Use conversion tracking on forms. Use a tool like Mediahawk to track phone numbers. Use a tool like Inspectlet or Hotjar to get a far improved picture of how users interact with your pages.

 

Summary

 

SEO is not voodoo, and in 2017 it is certainly not a series of dirty tricks. Optimising your site is a case of getting many factors aligned and working together. Keywords. URLs and page names. Navigation. Page optimisation. Page copy. Areas covered. If all of these factors are perfectly aligned then we help the search engine understand what you do and where you do it.

When it comes down to it, a search engine is just a tool that connects a question with an answer. For the results to be strong, the search engine has to be completely confident in what you do and where you do it.

Marcus Miller
marcus@bowlerhat.co.uk

Marcus is our Digital Strategist. He’s been working in the industry for nearly 20 years and wears many (bowler) hats as a highly technical developer and SEO, and even has a fancy computer science degree to prove it.

18 Comments
  • nuBranch
    Posted at 16:44h, 09 June Reply

    Hi Marcus,

    Great article covering almost all of the SEO activity required for small business SEO. Although some elements of SEO can be complex, it’s true that for the most part, these activities can be done by anyone.

    Unfortunately, most clients I work with are either totally overwhelmed by the technical aspects of SEO, or simply do not have the time to do it themselves. A dentist, lawyer, or plumber are too busy running their business to bother with tracking their Google analytics, let alone keyword research.

    But for someone with some time and inclination, I believe your list will set them on the right track to better SEO!

    Cheers!

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 08:38h, 12 June Reply

      Hey – absolutely agree. For many folks it can be overwhelming and a real time suck. In part I wanted to try and break it down into manageable chunks and create a logical procedure that folks could follow. I would always recommend using a pro if you can as you will get better results in less time. But, for new businesses or those that need to improve their SEO without generating yet another bill – hopefully this helps. 🙂

  • Ewan Kennedy
    Posted at 16:51h, 09 June Reply

    Hi Marcus, this is an invaluable, concise guide for small business owners, packed with clear actionable tips. Hadn’t heard of HARO so checked it out and signed up. Cheers.

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 08:35h, 12 June Reply

      Hey Ewan – thanks for the feedback. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • Andy Kuiper
    Posted at 17:08h, 09 June Reply

    FANTASTIC step-by-step guide to SEO – all good fundamentals and smb’s would be wise to follow this guide to a T.

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 08:33h, 12 June Reply

      Hey, thanks Andy.

  • bob shor
    Posted at 18:57h, 09 June Reply

    It would take more than 30 days just to read all the information you are referring to in this post. Very misleading headline, but very good at getting me to click through.

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 08:26h, 12 June Reply

      Hey Bob

      The idea is that one tip could be acted on each day. So whilst you would not get to SEO nirvana in 30 days – you would radically improve things. Sorry if you felt that was a bit too optimistic. It’s a fine line between inspiration and click bait! 🙂

      There is some foundation reading there which is not part of the tips as it is so hard to know what level someone would jump in at. Some tips are a bit longer than others but my idea was if you could devote an hour a day for 30 days you will be in a far better place.

      If I can help with anything give me a shout in the comments here – happy to feedback.

      Cheers
      Marcus

  • Linda Lou
    Posted at 19:38h, 10 June Reply

    Thanks for sharing. This is the most complete overview on how to improve SEO, I have ever seen!

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 08:26h, 12 June Reply

      Hey Linda – thanks, very kind. 🙂

  • John Wood
    Posted at 16:52h, 27 June Reply

    Excellent list of steps any small business owner can take to see an improvement in their search engine rankings. Nice job!

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 07:58h, 28 June Reply

      Thanks John. 🙂

  • Raquel
    Posted at 09:01h, 28 June Reply

    Is there a benefit in hiring a pro to carry out the link outreach, or would you do it in-house?

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 09:04h, 28 June Reply

      It just depends. Do you have experience in link outreach? Do you have the tools that make this a whole bunch easier? Do you have any spare time? I am always a fan of hiring a pro where possible else this gets put on the to do list and never gets progressed. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • DizzyWeb SEO Kelowna
    Posted at 20:53h, 29 June Reply

    Thanks for this great Article Marcus, clearly you spent some time. Anyone new to SEO could benefit by bookmarking this one.
    Points 14 & 16 both regard on page copy/content. This seems to be an area of weakness for many SEOs. This can be a problem if we can’t address why our clients have no additional conversions after we have driven ten times the traffic to their site. Having a few of the basics down can really add to the value given and keep your clients happy. And yes page speed is huge nowadays as you mention in 27… I find that optimizing images (regarding file size) can have a sizable impact on page load times also.

    To Raquel’s question: It is always about the opportunity cost… meaning: A pro is almost always going to execute the tasks faster due to familiarity/knowledge/and repetition so if you can afford to spend the 100’s of hours researching and applying the SEO skills set then, by all means, do it. That said, almost anyone can shingle a house, but can you do it safely and finish it before the rain comes?

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 07:43h, 30 June Reply

      Hey. Glad you enjoyed. 🙂 The pro question is an important one. Especially with SEO. There is just so much info out there and it is easy to overdo things and damage your SEO as it is to make improvements. The analogy for me is any kind of DIY on my house. I am just hopeless. It takes me forever. I make a bad job of things. It looks crappy. I may as well do a few hours of what I am good at and pay someone to come in and sort out these DIY jobs. Play to your strengths. The idea here though was to outline some areas in a sensible order so everyone could make some sensible, procedural changes. Certainly hope it helps some small businesses out there.

  • David
    Posted at 16:31h, 17 July Reply

    Hi Marcus,

    Thanks for the information. Does having seperate websites/domains for the three main products but all having the same name, address and phone number help SEO or hurt SEO?

    Cheers,

    David

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 08:51h, 18 July Reply

      Hey David. If you can give me an example I can give you some more informed feedback here but… as a general rule of thumb you always want to have the least possible amount of websites.

      Some specific advice / reasons with the caveat I have not seen your site:

      • Google My Business – only allows one business at a given address so this could hurt you.
      • Your authority will be split over three sites making it tough for all of them to rank
      • You likely have duplicated elements across the three sites
      • Possibly not the best user experience

      It is highly likely you would benefit from merging the three sites together into one authoritative site that is well structured. Better for users. Better for search engines.

      Hope that helps!
      Marcus

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