Search Engine Optimisation: How can small businesses improve their Google rankings
Most small business owners have recognised the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO) and its ability to increase revenues and gain a competitive advantage. As a result, improving Google rankings has become a key priority for many business owners.
Seeing your competitors taking the number one spot on Google searches can be frustrating, especially when you’re increasing efforts to promote yourself online. If you’ve ever questioned what you can do to improve your online presence, then this is the article for you.
We’ll discuss the ins and outs of small business SEO, the top SEO trends for 2021, and how to improve Google rankings.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation and is all about utilising best practices to help your business become more visible via search engines like Google. Having greater exposure on search engines can help increase traffic to your website and help you earn better leads.
What if my business is offline?
Those with offline businesses may, understandably, think that SEO does not apply to them. However, there are numerous offline SEO tactics for businesses that do not operate online.
Get more Google reviews
Google reviews are an excellent way to build your reputation online, even if you don’t have a website or social media. In addition, a Google My Business account is an incredibly effective tool for local SEO, helping you stand out from other similar businesses in your area.
Join a chamber of commerce
Joining a chamber of commerce is an effective way to help your business become more well known. Your company will usually be added to a business directory and can allow you to network with other companies through their events or feature your business in their newsletter.
Invest in billboard advertisement
Advertising your company on a billboard can help lead to increased brand searches, helping Google recognise that you are a search worthy business.
Go beyond Google
When devising an SEO strategy, it can be all too easy to place all your focus onto Google when there are various search engines and sources out there from Amazon, Youtube, Bing, and Yahoo.
Optimising your website for Google only means you are placing all your eggs in one basket, significantly limiting your business growth.
In recent years, Bing has seen market share growth for over 20% of searches. So, whilst Google remains the primary search source, it makes sense to factor in these other search engines.
Other search engines do not have as complex an algorithm as Google, so it’s crucial to include relevant keywords in your meta descriptions to help them understand what your website is about. Google no longer factors in meta keywords following years of keyword stuffing and irrelevant terms from users.
When it comes to on-page keywords, Google Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), meaning you can use related keywords when looking to rank for a particular search term. With Bing, however, you will need to use the exact keywords, so it’s essential to use various exact match and long-tail keywords in your content.
SEO trends for 2021
SEO best practices are constantly evolving, so it’s essential to always stay on top of the latest trends to ensure your website remains as visible as possible on search engines.
Prominent websites get more traffic
Google favours trusted websites with more rapport. If you’re a new business, it will take time to build up a strong level of trust with search engines. A primary way to increase your website prominence is through building backlinks, also known as incoming links. These links are where other websites link back to your own, helping to develop your domain authority. Building backlinks acts as a signal to Google that you are a trusted site worth linking to.
There are various ways to build backlinks to your website. An excellent way is to provide informative, quality content that others will want to link to as an authoritative source. With Google’s algorithm now tailored towards lengthy and detailed content, it’s crucial to consider expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT) when writing content.
Core web vitals
User experience (UX) has become an essential element of SEO. Core web vitals are aspects of a website that Google believes to be the most important in terms of UX. Key elements to consider when building your website are page load times and mobile usability. For example, 47% of users expect a webpage to load in less than two seconds. Therefore, any time longer than this increases the likelihood that users will bounce from your website.
Up to 70% of website traffic now comes from mobile devices. Therefore, businesses must ensure that their website is fully optimised for mobile to help increase conversions.
Website designers are now adopting a mobile-first approach, planning layouts for small screens due to increased mobile usage.
Check that your layout on mobile is straightforward, ensuring buttons are well sized and evenly spaced to allow for easing pressing. It’s also essential to think about large text, simplified menus and intuitive search features.
Understanding search intent
Over the years, Google’s algorithm has advanced to determine the intentions behind user searches. Based on the search type, Google will decide if people are looking to make a purchase, discover information, or make an enquiry. As a result, the types of content Google will display will vary from search to search. For example, it may choose to display e-commerce sites, news pieces or ‘best of’ lists depending on their search.
Localisation is more advanced
Google often has access to your exact location, so it is now getting better at displaying results relevant to your local area. If you Google ‘Chinese takeaway’, you will likely automatically receive results for takeaways within your town or city. As a result, small businesses must be fully optimised for local SEO to help keep above their local competitors.
How to improve your SEO
Forming an SEO strategy will differ depending on whether you are an online business, such as an e-commerce store or a local business that primarily operates offline.
SEO for Online businesses
Online businesses must conduct a thorough competitor search to discover which of their pages receive the most traffic and what brings them backlinks from other businesses within your industry. Taking a look at your competition can help you see where your own website is falling short and what needs to be re-optimised.
It’s also crucial to conduct an SEO audit, which can help identify what areas of your website need improvement. Again, online tools can help you do this, or you could seek expertise from a digital marketing/SEO agency.
SEO recommendations from a site audit can be as simple as amending duplicate titles and meta descriptions to assessing crawl depth, URL structures and page load times.
Businesses Local SEO
As mentioned previously, offline businesses should still partake in SEO methods, whether it’s setting up a Google My Business Account to uploading regular blogs on your websites. The more information you put online, the easier it is for people to discover who you are.
Think about what action you want the user to take when they have landed on your website. From filling out a form to giving you a call to taking advantage of a promotion, it’s crucial to have a clear call to action.
Do whatever you can to promote your website, whether it’s partnering with other local businesses, bloggers or influencers. Other people sharing your business, places your brand in front of more eyes and can significantly widen your reach.
Best SEO tools
When conducting SEO audits and gaining SEO recommendations for your website, there are a number of online tools you can turn to, helping you keep on top of SEO trends.
SEMRush is a popular SEO tool, helping you track rankings and leverage various keywords to help you gain a competitive advantage. There is also helpful content, social media and advertising tools, keeping you on top of your digital marketing strategy.
Ahrefs is another brilliant SEO tool, helping you analyse website backlinks, keyword rankings and monitor general SEO elements. Many users turn to Ahrefs to keep a close eye on their competition.
Moz regularly keeps on top of Google algorithm changes to give you the latest SEO advice. There are also helpful training videos for those looking to sharpen their SEO knowledge.
The most important thing to remember when devising an SEO strategy as a small business is that you will not reap the rewards of your SEO efforts overnight. SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy that you must consistently work at to gain further leads and increased profits.
Think your website could benefit from an SEO audit? Give Soar Online a call today on 0345 207 3727 for specialist marketing advice and a digital strategy tailored to your business.