First of all, let’s start with this shocking statistic: roughly half of all small businesses don’t have a website. In today’s world, that’s insane. Businesses that don’t have a website are missing out on potential customers; over 3.5 billion searches are conducted on Google each day. Chances are, there’s somebody out there searching for your business or service. So, for those business that don’t have a website – your first step should be developing an online presence.
If you’re one of the smart small businesses that does have a website, however, then one of your main focuses should be drawing people to the site. After all – a website with no visitors, no matter how visually attractive and functional, is just a waste of resources.
So, how do you draw in visitors searching on search engines? Through SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization, in its most base sense, is a set of strategies and tactics used by webmasters to help increase visitors to a website by making the website more appealing to search engines.
Big name brands devote thousands upon thousands of dollars per year to SEO and, as such, generally dominate search engine results pages (SERPs). For small businesses, competing with big brands may seem like a losing battle. Fret not if you’re a small business owner, however, because that’s not necessarily the case.
Below are a few quick, relatively easy fixes that can help increase your small business’ website traffic:
#1 – Audit Yourself
The first step in any SEO process is auditing what you currently have. Before anything, ensure you have Google Analyticsand Google Webmaster Tools properly set up for your website.
Go through your website and read each and every page. Follow every link and write down any blatant errors (broken pages or images, poor grammar, out-of-date information) that you experience. Start with those problems first.
Then head over to Google Analytics and take a look at some of your more-trafficked pages. See what pages have high organic traffic. See what pages have low bounce rates and longer average time on page. Navigate back to your site and take a look at those pages to see if you can tell why visitors prefer those pages. Maybe there’s better images or captivating content. Maybe there’s a clear call-to-action. Through a trial-and-error process, discover what users find useful and friendly, and then replicate those qualities across your website.
Then, take a look at Google Webmaster Tools. See what search queries are sending people to your site. Are people coming to your site for a service or product you no longer offer? Have more people been searching for a certain product or service? Compare this with the data taken from Analytics and use that to develop an optimized content strategy.
#2 – Build a Local Presence
Say you run a surf shop in a touristy beachside town. Your target market is likely twofold: local surfers and seasonal visitors on vacation. While the locals may know of your shop, it’s unlikely that the the tourists will. However, one of the first things those tourists will do is pull out their smartphone and search for surf shops in the area.
If your website isn’t optimized for local business, your shop might not show up at all. Set up social media profiles if you don’t have them. If you do have social media profiles, make sure you have them all listing your correct address. List your business on Yelp, Foursquare, Bing Places, Google+ Local, Citysearch and every other location-based listing service out there.
For more in-depth information on local search presence, check out these tips for improving your local search rankings.
#3 – Revisit Your Keyword Strategy
Many small businesses make the mistake of only focusing on high-volume, short-tail keywords and try to pack those keywords in as often as possible on their websites – a recipe for disaster when it comes to improving organic search rankings. While it’s a nice feather in your cap for your small business to rank well for a high-volume keyword, chances are it won’t lead to a high conversion rate.
Let’s head back to the surf shop. It’s safe to assume that you’re not focusing on marketing to a potato farmer in Idaho. However, say that potato farmer had a nephew who lived in your shop’s town. Now say that nephew had an upcoming birthday, and really wanted a stand-up paddleboard – a product you happen to sell. When looking for his product, that farmer is going to fire up his old, trusty computer and search for “stand-up paddleboards in [insert town name]”, not “surfboards” or “surf shops”.
Instead of devoting all of your time to improving your rank for high-volume queries, adapt your strategy to focus on long-tail keywords – longer search queries that have a high chance of conversion. Create pages dedicated to the exact services you offer. Make sure these pages have strong calls-to-action that urge visitors to buy online, call for more details or visit your store.
#4 – Develop an internal linking strategy
When search engines scan the web for new sites, they “crawl” through links. Whenever they finish scanning a page, they check the page for any links and then follow each of them to see if they lead to pages that haven’t been scanned yet. If so, the process starts over for that page.
Because of this, it is incredibly important that you have a great internal linking strategy. Pages on your website should link to other pages on your website with similar or relevant information.
Think of your entire website as a city, and each web page as a single building. The links are streets that get you from one building to another. The more streets, the easier your city is to navigate. However, exercise caution with your internal linking. There’s a fine line between optimization and overkill, as referenced in the next, and final, tip.
#5 – Be Human
SEO is a technical game on the surface, but ask any SEO and they’ll tell you – the most important thing to remember is to be human. It’s because of this that SEO’s have tough jobs; they have to remember to balance the human element with the technical aspect. Create a website that people want to visit, complete with relevant content, and you should begin to see marked improvement in your traffic.