Are you an independent brand looking to learn about SEO? If you don’t know where to start (or think you do but need a helping hand), this small business SEO checklist will tell you all you need to know.
SEO is complex. There are no two ways around it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the basics and implement optimisation into your digital marketing strategy.
A good SEO strategy can take small businesses from a side hustle to a full time gig. A one woman band to a product range that sells out in minutes.
Whether you’re a jewellery brand, life coach or queen of ceramics, this guide is packed with small business SEO tips guaranteed to grow your organic traffic.
So what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation, is a mandatory stem of any digital marketing strategy. Without it – you simply won’t show up online.
SEO not only allows brands to gain site visibility, it also brings in heaps of potential paying customers. When executed successfully, SEO works as a self-referral method, working in the background to bring in business whilst you get back to the nitty gritty.
In a nutshell, the practice of SEO involves:
- Optimising your website to rank highly in search engine result pages (SERPs)
- Getting other websites to link to your own (backlinking)
- Producing high-quality content on a regular basis
- Ensuring your site runs smoothly and has a clear customer journey
If this all sounds a little too much and you’re thinking ‘I need help!’, get in touch today and find out about my affordable small business SEO packages that include an initial audit, ongoing strategy and a monthly SEO retainer.
Small business SEO: the basics
Learning SEO in a day is like learning to build a house. It’s more than just bricks and mortar.
Which is why more often than not, brands invest in a small business SEO consultant who can point out the various areas you specifically need to focus on to improve your site visibility.
With that being said, there are some easy steps you can take to implement some basic SEO strategies.
1. Can Google see your website?
Is your website indexed? In human talk this means – can Google see your site?
To do this go to the ‘coverage’ section of Google Search Console (sign up if you haven’t already). You’ll be able to see how many pages are valid. This should be as many as are live on your website.
Not indexed? Then you need to submit your sitemap to Google. To do that check out this guide.
2. You must be mobile-friendly
How often do you use your phone to search for something? I’m guessing it’s a lot. In fact, over 50% of Google searches are completed on mobile.
In this day and age, your website must be mobile-friendly. Thankfully you can take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to preview your site and check its score.
Make any changes required including formatting, image sizing and menu adjustments – you might need to do some website development to tick this box.
3. Remove broken links
No one likes things that don’t work – particularly on the internet. But as always, what’s broken can be fixed.
Use a broken link checker to scan your website for any 404 pages. These could be external links to resources that no longer exist, old URLs you no longer have live, or simply a misspelling.
Broken links tell Google that your site is looking a little rusty, so make sure to do this regularly. Replace all dead links with fresh resources to show search engines you’re up to date.
4. Make sure you have meta titles and descriptions
Have a quick Google of your brand name. Do you come up? If so, what does it say? This all-important information is your meta title and description – something that is often overlooked.
Each page and post on your website needs a unique title and description. Otherwise, Google is simply pulling random information.
The title needs to include your top keyword first, then your brand name. The description is where you want to entice the searcher to increase the click-through-rate – the percentage of clicks you receive per search.
You can preview your meta information using this tool.
Make sure they’re not too long (over 60 characters per title and 160 for a description), definitely not boring and include a keyword in a naturally written sentence.
5. Don’t let your images slow you down
If you’ve got images on your website then you’ve likely got some work to do. Every image adds a millisecond or two of loading time to your site.
To avoid slow loading pages, make sure you are reducing the file size of your images before you upload them. Or check out plugins such as ShortPixel that optimise your images for free.
Another great tip for images
Give your images a file name that includes a keyword. And don’t forget ‘alt tag’ or ‘alt description’. This is the information you see when an image doesn’t load – and it helps visually impaired visitors too. Write a short, literal description of your image and you might just see in Google Image search.
6. Optimise your current website copy
Are you using headers? Do you include keywords in your copy? Do you have more than 250 words on each page?
If you said no to any of the above then stop right here. Your website copy is the optimum place to boost your SEO.
I could write a whole guide on how to craft the perfect website copy – that is my profession after all – but to get you started, make sure to follow the below pointers:
- Include one H1 on each page which includes a target keyword
- Break up page content with H2 and H3 (in that order)
- Disperse semantics and synonyms related to your copy throughout
- BUT don’t keyword stuff – it’s more important to write naturally
- Include catchy call to actions such as ‘tell me more’ and ‘talk to me’
- Proofread your copy and read it again! Spelling and grammar mistakes are a number one turn off
If the thought of rewriting your web content makes your eye twitch, find out more about how website copywriting could be the answer to your SEO prayers.
7. Get easy backlinks from directories
Once you’ve got a strong home base, it’s time to turn your attention to the rest of the web.
Backlinks (also known as external links) work like votes for your website. The more you have, the more Google thinks ‘hmm, this site is super popular, it must be trustworthy’.
Thankfully, SEO platforms have devised a scoring system from 1-100 to help us measure this called ‘domain authority’. The higher your number, the more authoritative you seem.
Now you can’t just stick your links on any page. Only spam-free, reputable platforms will make a difference to your domain authority. So aim for links on a site with a score of at least 25.
The easiest way to start is by putting your website link on your social media profiles and local directories such as Yahoo.
Whether you’re a local business or e-commerce only, local links can work wonders, attracting customers who like to support their area.
8. Add testimonials and reviews
How often do you buy a product or service without checking it’s worked for other people? I’m guessing rarely.
From spontaneous Amazon purchases to thought out investments, humans naturally look to others for confirmation before handing over their hard-earned cash.
To make sure your customers go from intrigue to confirmed sale, you have to display your 5-star reviews across your website – and Google will pick up on it.
If you’ve just started out and haven’t got a testimonial, why not gift a few products in exchange for some honest feedback?
To sum it all up
But to really crush your SEO, you’ll need to implement a full, ongoing strategy. This involves bi-weekly keyword rank checking, SEO article writing, securing backlinks, monitoring your digital competitors and continuous website optimisation.
As someone who runs their own business – you’d be forgiven for not having the time!
That’s why investing in a small business SEO package is an affordable solution. Working with a freelancer is a much cheaper option than hiring an SEO agency – plus you’ll receive a dedicated service from someone who really knows their stuff.
As well as offering monthly small business SEO services, I also provide an initial SEO audit to measure your current performance. This provides an actionable list of quick wins you can implement to see immediate results.
If you’d like to see your traffic – and conversions – skyrocket, get in touch and let’s boom your online business together.