A strong SEO campaign can be a game-changer for small and local businesses looking to achieve higher rankings. As many as 46% of all Google searches are local, so tailoring your strategy to capture those searches will drive more traffic to your site. 

SEO marketing for a small business is different than for its Goliath counterparts. Rather than going after the keywords with the highest search volumes. You’ll want to target a few long-tail keywords that have a higher ROI and concentrate your efforts on producing relevant, optimized content.

Though the journey might seem overwhelming, we’re here to offer 12 SEO tips for small businesses to drown out the noise and give you a straightforward action plan.

Without further ado, allow us to present our comprehensive small business SEO guide without further ado

1. Identify Target Keywords

It’s projected that companies will spend $566 billion USD on online advertising in 2022. Since ad prices are steep and climbing steeper still, focusing your efforts on your organic traffic is vital to long-term success.

The best approach to identifying target keywords involves the proper mindset and diligent research. Crafting a strong keyword strategy is the way to compete meaningfully with larger brands.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend starting with no more than a handful of keywords to focus on. Keep your strategy lean and targeted for the best results. 

Here are three simple steps to identifying target keywords:

  1. Brainstorming: Start the ideation process by thinking about your target audience’s questions. What are their pain points? How does your brand offer solutions?
  2. Vetting: Verify that the keywords you’ve come up with are valuable by vetting them with Google Ads Keyword Planner. The trick is not to think like a large company and target the high search volume keywords. Those are extremely competitive and won’t yield results. Instead, aim for lower-volume, long-tail keywords for the best use of resources (for example, “SEO for small business” is more specific and less competitive than “SEO”).
  3. Targeting: Instead of aiming for many keywords and spreading your marketing efforts thin, shoot for a less-is-more approach. Focus on targeting quality keywords instead of quantity. 

Armed with your target keywords, you’re ready to face your competitors.

2. Conduct a Competitor Analysis

Before conducting a thoughtful competitor analysis, you’ll need to identify your competitors. For SEO, your top competitors are considered the first five to 10 positions of Google results using your target keywords. These may or may not be different from your local competitors.

When analyzing your competitors, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What’s the intent of the keywords being searched?
  • How can we match that intent?
  • What’s the word count of the competitors’ web pages?
  • How many links do competitor pages have?
  • How can we go after similar links?
  • How many pages do they have indexed?
  • Are they ranking for long-tail keywords you can target?

Steer clear of relying on just one tool when it comes to this process for accuracy, but Google PageSpeed Insights is a great place to start. Run competitor pages through this tool to find out how well their site performs and discover if they’re missing valuable keywords you could use in your strategy. 

3. Fix Technical Issues

You put lots of hours and resources into your website, and it looks great on the outside. It has interesting graphics, striking fonts and colors, and meaningful branding. Despite these perks, if there are problems underneath the hood, those will be reflected in your rankings.

Before you dive too deep into content campaigns, invest in your foundation. 

Here are some of the most common technical issues small businesses run into:

  • Mobile usability
  • Page speed
  • Duplicate content
  • Broken links

A solid website structure allows search engines to index your site properly. A technical SEO audit will identify areas that need improvement, and Big Leap’s team of experts can help with that. 

4. Make Sure Metadata Is Aligned with Keywords

Having effective metadata is a great way to boost your local ranking and works well in a small business SEO strategy. Successful ranking requires multiple components, and metadata is an essential cog in the machine.

Metadata includes your page title and descriptions, so adding powerful target keywords to those sections can make it easier for search engines to locate your site when pulling up results for those keywords.

Here are a few instrumental metadata tips to increase rankings:

  • Keep page titles between 30 and 60 characters.
  • Keep meta descriptions between 70 and 160 characters.
  • Ensure each title and description is unique.
  • Summarize content accurately.
  • Write to add value to humans (don’t only try and cater to algorithms).

5. Audit Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile

Auditing your GMB profile can reveal SEO problems currently hampering your rankings and performance. These issues include:

  • Duplicate listings
  • Local ranking identifiers existing outside of your listing
  • NAP errors

This type of audit can give you more visibility into your performance metrics and help identify how well your site ranks compared to competitors. Some questions you can ask yourself to start determining your position are:

Are you using the right categories?

  • Are you using enough quality images?
  • Is there NAP consistency? 
  • Is your site using GMB posts?
  • Are you focused on gathering reviews?

Big Leap can perform a GMB audit on your site, providing actionable insights to help with your rankings. Our team can help you optimize and improve your Google Business Profile, starting with our thorough auditing process.

6. Add Schema Markup

Leveraging the advantages of schema markup is a smart move for small businesses. It’s a powerful SEO technique that displays your brand on local SERPs, which bridges the gap between your website and search engine results. 

Schema is structured data markup code. When you add it to the HTML code of your page, it amplifies search engine understanding of your website’s content.

With schema markup, search engines have a better grasp of key components of your business. Schema information might include (but aren’t limited to): 

  • Company name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Ratings 
  • Business hours
  • Service area

Adding schema markup allows search engines to crawl and index your site easily. That boosts your exposure, makes your site more identifiable, and captures rich snippets.

7. Actively Gather Reviews

In today’s online marketplace, people are conditioned to read reviews before making a purchase. In fact, local reviews factor into local search rankings.

Encouraging your customers to leave reviews on major review sites can increase your conversions. In fact, 63% of customers are more likely to purchase from a site with user reviews and they consider them nearly 12 times as trustworthy as a brand’s description. 

8. Build Backlinks

The number one Google result has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions two through 10. Backlinks are, in fact, the backbone of a solid SEO strategy. The link-building process isn’t simple, leaving small and local businesses wondering if it’s worth it. While small businesses need to manage their resources smartly, building backlinks is a worthwhile investment. 

Finding quality backlinks is far more important than the number of links. Some of the best ways to obtain backlinks are to partner with other businesses in your area and agree to a link exchange, sponsor local groups, and get involved in your community. 

9. Don’t Rely on SEO Alone

While SEO is a valuable tool for small businesses, it shouldn’t be the only one you leverage in your overall marketing strategy. Digital marketing is a vast world full of disciplines that can elevate your business, including: 

Partnering with a team of digital marketing experts allows you to leverage knowledge and experience. Cut through the noise and figure out which marketing channels are worth your time with Big Leap.

10. Create Engaging CTAs

The best CTAs are well-paced and unique. Many brands fall into the trap of vague and unengaging CTAs, which is a missed opportunity. Instead of something generic, such as “get a demo,” opt for a more inspired interpretation.

Ask yourself:

  • What are my target audience’s pain points? 
  • How does my brand solve those problems?
  • How does this page or content piece address that?
  • How can I communicate that connection in a concise, individual way?

These are the components of a well-crafted CTA. Try to be specific about how your brand’s offerings alleviate pain points for your audience. Focusing on this aspect of your content will make it pointed and actionable.

11. Produce Relevant Content

Search engines have one goal. They’re trying to answer questions. When your potential customers type their questions into the search bar, you want your content to answer them in the most concise, clear, and interesting way possible. 

The best way to drive more traffic is to create compelling content. That might include articles, videos, or photos. Updating content is also essential to a good SEO strategy. If you want to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, focus on creating quality content.

12. Have Patience

Last but not least, don’t expect overnight results. Your site and content typically take a few months to increase search rankings. SEO is constantly evolving and always changing—you must keep close tabs on the latest tactics. What worked yesterday probably won’t work today, and what works today may be outdated in a few months. 

The key is persistence. Build a solid foundation, execute a thoughtful campaign, and watch your rankings climb. 

Launch Your Small Business SEO Campaign with Big Leap

Big Leap specializes in crafting SEO plans for small and local businesses. While it might seem daunting, executing a solid SEO campaign is much easier with a team of experienced experts in your corner. 

Reach out to us today, and let’s start strategizing.

Jaime Theler