Budgeting Small Business SEO
July 1, 2018
Not every company has the money to spend on hiring a search engine optimization team or putting out all the latest ads and marketing concepts. Small businesses, especially, don’t have the resources to beat out big brand competition when it comes to making Google’s top rankings. The good news? You don’t have to. In recent years, the Google algorithm has changed to help users find businesses and services closer to home; this means that you don’t need to beat out all the national chains in your industry, just the ones located around town. However, it still leaves small businesses with a need to improve search ranking and get noticed.
Worried that your small business won’t survive in an internet-based economy? Here are some tips on how to SEO-proof your website on a budget:
1. Get Involved with Your Community Online: It’s not enough to help fundraise and attend local charity events, as a business you need to make your presence known online as well as around town. One of the ways to do this is through local citations. When somebody visits your town and needs a plumber, they’re going to search for “Plumbers in San Diego”, and this will prompt a list of local plumbers to appear on the page. When Google scans the net for this list, it uses the most referenced and most commonly updated and accurate websites to rank first.
Google is a user-friendly tool, which works for the searcher. This means that if you want your site to rank first, you need to make it a recognized name that Google will want to offer to its searchers. How do you do this? By making your name a common one across local platforms. Make sure you’re registered with Google businesses, Yelp, and any community sites which list local businesses. Work together with other businesses to share links and advertising through each other’s sites as a means of creating more backlinks and citations. All of this will add up and make you appear more desirable to Google.
2. Get Mobile-friendly: If you haven’t yet jumped on the mobile-friendly bandwagon, now’s the time. Another Google algorithm, which changed the way local businesses are viewed, is the mobile-first index, which ranks businesses by mobile-friendly browsing. To make your site relevant and mobile optimized, remove slow loading videos and images, set input widths to 100%, remember to word wrap, and watch out for buttons which might work on a PC but not a tablet or mobile phone.
With so many internet users now browsing from smart phones, smart televisions, tablets, and more, it’s important to stay fresh on mobile browsing methods to keep your site at the top of its game. This goes for both local and national searches but is especially important for small businesses that might go unnoticed otherwise. This is a great way to make a big change without spending big bucks on your website.
3. Help the Bots: Google bots need to access your site to improve your ranking during searches. If the crawlers are unable to get in an access every page of your site, they’ll assume that a human user will have similar problems, or that you’re hiding information. A sitemap can help improve this crawling and increase site traffic for human users as well. This is a cheap and effective SEO hack, and if you’re using WordPress or similar, premade templates, the good news is that a sitemap is built in. If not, you can find a sitemap generator online to help you get setup with no muss and no fuss.
4. Don’t Neglect Your Keywords: Perhaps one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve search engine optimization is through keyword placement. The key is to not overstuff or make the keywords seem fake or forced, otherwise Google will penalize you instead of improving your rank. Using keywords which will help your community find your website will improve where Google ranks you among your peers. For example, if you run a deli called “Jacque’s” in Brooklyn, you can use keywords like, “Brooklyn deli”, “Jacque’s deli Brooklyn”, Jacque’s deli in Brooklyn” throughout blog updates, your landing page, and other web content.
You can also use these keywords in social media posts, or when you share information with peers and news outlets, or through online advertising. The idea is that the more your site references these keywords, the more likely it is that an individual searching, “Brooklyn deli” will find yours above others. If you use your keyword too much, isn’t grammatically correct, or it seems forced, however, Google will notice, and it could hinder more than it helps.
5. Use Imagery: Finally, don’t forget that we as humans are a visual bunch. Images go a long way to improve the popularity of a website and may even be the defining factor for choosing one site over another. This is especially true for sites offering services or products to their customers. If you sell homemade quilts, for example, having photos of the quilts for sale, or example of past work, will improve your chances of turning up traffic.
It isn’t just for the user-friendly atmosphere, however; images on your website also make it more aesthetically appealing. Bright colors, a catchy font, and visuals are an inexpensive way to set yourself apart from similar businesses in your area without overspending.
Keep an eye on future Google algorithm changes and focus on small, cheap changes you can make to improve your site. Stay genuine and on topic, and Google will always favor you above sites which appear fake or forced.