As marketing professionals we’re used to hearing the terms search engine optimization and SEO thrown around loosely. There are hundreds, if not thousands of companies who guarantee they can get your website on the first page of Google. Any digital marketing specialist will tell you these promises are more like myths in the real world.
SEO tactics have come a long way over the years, mainly due to Google and other search engines regularly updating their algorithms. Even though it is more difficult to influence search rankings these days, there is still hope for many businesses. Companies who have a smaller target audience and target location have an advantage when it comes to ranking organically for their product or service. Google’s newest algorithm takes into account geographic locations, which gives local and small businesses a fighting chance to compete. Check out our tips to help small businesses to get started with successful SEO practices:
1. Start with the basics: First and foremost, take care of the tasks that are the most important from a local standpoint. Claim your business on Google, include your address on every page of your website and start acquiring reviews. Another strategy is to include your location and a keyword you want to rank for in different tags and titles. Doing all these things will significantly help your website rank higher locally.
2. Acquire inbound links from other local businesses: Network with surrounding companies and make an effort to getting your information sourced on their websites. Google and other search engines recognize these links and will raise your relevancy in the area you’re located. The more inbound links you have from quality websites, the higher relevancy Google will reward you with.
3. Keep it simple: I can’t stress this aspect enough. Too many times I see or encounter a small business owner who believes they need a website that will blow viewers out of their seat, yet a majority of the time this is simply not the case. Let’s map out an example to get a better understanding of what I mean. Say you own a local family owned restaurant in Green Bay, Wisconsin, that specializes in pizza and ice cream. Your business has been thriving in the community for a number of years and you have built up loyal customers. There are only a few aspects of your website that consumers are going to be interested in: menu, location and contact information. Think about it. What else do your customers really need to be persuaded to come to your restaurant? Sure enticing imagery can play a strong role, but the examples I just mentioned are what website visitors are going to be looking for first and foremost. Don’t feel like you always need to overdo it.
4. Don’t worry about being perfect from a technical perspective: If you’ve ever used an SEO tool that runs a page analysis, you’ve encountered the green checks and red x’s. The checks represent the technical aspects you have correct and the X’s point out what areas you need to fix. This is another area people spend too much time trying to correct. While Google does want you to make an effort to fix these issues, they should not be the bulk of your focus, especially for websites that only target local consumers. Just because your meta description for a page is two characters longer than what is recommended doesn’t mean search engines are going to drop you in the organic rankings. You will see more success if you focus on the intent of the user and the content they want to see when they arrive on your website.
Although the tactics outlined above are fairly broad, they are areas companies overlook when building and maintaining their websites. People tend to treat search engine optimization like it’s a big scary monster that cannot be defeated. From a local standpoint, it is much easier to rank organically, as long as you focus on the things that really matter.
What are some website optimization strategies you use?