Starting an SEO strategy isn’t as hard as most people believe it to be. It’s no walk in the park, sure, but today’s technology has definitely made it more efficient and more accessible—especially for small businesses and fresh startups. In fact, sound advice for small business SEO strategies and beginner SEO basics are quite rampant right now.
You just need to know where to look.
To get you started, we’ve compiled a 7-item must-have checklist for business owners and marketers new to SEO. Check it out!
1. Setup Google Search Console
If you want to win at SEO, you need to work with the most popular search engines. Take Google, for example, named the “most popular search engine” by Hubspot. With over 70% of the search market share, Google is arguably the go-to engine for most internet searches.
It therefore makes sense that you should use the tools Google itself provides—which is why we recommend setting up “Google Search Console.” It’s an incredibly intuitive management tool that website owners can use, free of charge. It provides valuable data regarding your Google SERP rankings and other important things of note, like which keywords and/or pages give you the most clicks.
Google Search Console also acts as a communication channel with Google, where you can get notified about website errors and manual penalties.
2. Setup Google Analytics
Yet another tool from Google that is completely free to use, Google Analytics does exactly what its name implies; it is an analytics tool that analyzes how people find and interact with your website. Once you install it, you’ll get incredibly detailed and intuitive analyses regarding your page’s organic traffic flow, SERP rank, click-through rates, bounce rates, and more. All this is incredibly beneficial for a small business SEO strategy.
For a more comprehensive and intuitive reading—and to optimize both tools at once—it’s best If you connect Google Analytics with Google Search Console. This will give you access to highly detailed search results and information that could turbo-charge your SEO strategy.
3. WordPress Users, Install Yoast
If you’re using WordPress to host your website, install Yoast. Yet another tool that is both useful and incredibly user-friendly, Yoast is a plugin that automatically updates the major and minor elements of your webpage in order to fully optimize it for organic searches. These elements include your titles, meta titles, meta descriptions, slugs, and the like. Yoast also handles your tags (both canonical and noindex) and sitemaps.
4. Create Your Sitemap
Speaking of which, it’s very important that you create a sitemap for your page. Search engines refer to a website’s sitemap when they crawl and index a page in order to find the meat of the pages’ content. This “meat” is what they use to determine what keywords or search queries your site should return for. They also use sitemaps as a means to categorize different pages.
As mentioned earlier, Yoast automatically generates your sitemap for you if you’re a WordPress user. If not, there are tons of free sitemap generators available online.
5. Find Your Primary Keywords
Keywords play a huge role in SEO strategy. These will dictate whether or not your website gets listed as a result for any search query related to you, your brand, your products/services, your niche, and so on. Some major keyword research is in order though, as main/primary keywords are usually highly competitive.
For example, some very common primary keywords related to the concept of “Search Engine Marketing,” would be things like “SEM tips,” “free SEM tools,” and “search engine marketing tips.” This means that a lot of businesses will most likely be bidding for these keywords, drastically increasing the price.
If you’re new to the game, try finding primary keywords that strike a happy balance: do get a lot of promising traffic but aren’t extremely competitive.
6. Include your Primary Keywords in Your URLs
Search engines see your URL before they see your website. By including your main keyword in your URL, you improve your chances of ranking for that chosen keyword. Search engines like Google see which keyword you’re using in your website and immediately know what that page is about. This speeds up the crawling and indexing process dramatically.
For instance, a URL that reads www.mywebsite.com/facial-care instantly tells Google that the page contains products or information related to facial care. On the other hand, a URL that goes www.mywebsite.com/product-category03 doesn’t tell Google anything. See the difference?
7. Use “Google Suggest” to Find Long Tail Keywords
Unlike main or primary keywords, long tail keywords—or long-tailed keyword variations—don’t have much competition. That’s because they’re all written in different ways that are dependent on how the person writes/thinks/constructs sentences, etc.
In fact, 15% of Google searches are new and have never been searched before due to how drastic the variation can be.
Because of this, it’s important that you optimize your content for possible long tail keywords that you can then bid on. This way, your website still has a chance of returning when someone runs a search using variations of your primary keyword.
The best way to find these long tail keywords? Google’s autocomplete feature. You can type in your primary keyword (like “SEM tips”) and then wait for Google’s autocomplete feature to suggest the most-searched variations, like “top SEM tips 2019,” “best SEM ideas for beginners,” or “SEM tips current trends 2019.”
These seven tips are guaranteed to kick-start your small business SEO strategies into high-gear—regardless of your experience and/or existing background in search engine marketing.
However, always keep in mind that SEO is constantly changing and evolving. What are considered to be small business SEO best practices now probably won’t even be relevant five or ten years down the line. The point is, no one can say for sure. The best we can do with the information, data, and trends we have now is implement them to the best of our ability.