SEO is probably the first web marketing strategy that small business owners learn about when they begin building an online presence. So to make your life easier, I've compiled my "top 10" list of SEO tips to help you get better results faster! Read all of these tips now, then print it out and start attacking each item one-by-one over the next few months. Remember: SEO is a process not a result. Let's dive right in!
1. Build your website with SEO friendly WordPress.
This first rule will apply to the vast majority of small business websites, though not all. If you're running a typical small business, you don't need a complicated website -- you need something simple and sustainable. You need a website framework that will be here today and tomorrow. WordPress is the absolute best framework for most small business websites because it's adaptable, easy-to-use, and simple to implement. Unless you have some very specific web technology needs, don't let aggressive web design companies convince you otherwise. Plus, WordPress is extremely SEO friendly.
2. Install the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
If you're using WordPress already, be sure you install the plugin "Wordpress SEO" by Yoast. This plugin will help guide you through the process of getting your WordPress site optimized for SEO purposes. It takes care of all the technical on-site optimization stuff for you, and it's a snap to use. Perhaps most importantly, this plugin will help you get your Google Authorship setup correctly with Google Plus -- very important for highlighting your pages and blog posts in search results pages on Google.
3. Create a list of 10-50 target keyword phrases.
Use a tool like the Google Keyword Planner or Wordtracker's Keyword Research Tool to identify the most important keyword phrases in your marketplace. Most small businesses will have fewer than 50 target keyword phrases in this list, but if you're running an e-commerce store you may have 100 or more to grapple with. This list is really just a starting point for finding your current rankings and planning your blog posts and landing pages.
4. Use rank tracking software to track your rankings.
I like SeoKeywordRanking.com for rank tracking. It's cheap, easy-to-use, and provides automatic reports direct to your email inbox at the time interval of your choice. Tracking your rankings is important because it helps you determine who your top competitors are and helps you identify where you're currently ranking. You'll want to track the 3 most important search engines -- Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
5. Blog at least 1-3 times per week.
The master key to top rankings is publishing lots of great content. Blogging allows you to do exactly that. Ideally, you want your blog to be part of your website -- www.YourDomain.com/blog is where it should live. (This is called a "subfolder" of your website.) Having your blog actually on your website will bring the greatest benefits for SEO.
6. Create an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, and Pinterest.
You cannot ignore social media if you want to be successful with SEO. Today, web surfers interact with content -- Likes, Tweets, Pins, Plus Ones -- all of this voting and sharing plays a key role in how content gets distributed. Lots of evidence suggests that search engines like Google are letting these "social signals" impact search results and search rankings. Don't ignore social media if you expect to be successful with SEO long-term!
7. Create 1 strong landing page for your top 10 keyword phrases.
As you continue blogging, building a social presence, and tracking your rankings, you'll want to start creating high-value landing pages around your most critical keywords. Once you have a clear idea of which keyword phrases matter most to your business and which seem to yield the greatest results, you should build one powerful landing page for each of those keywords. Your landing pages should be at least 1,500 words long. They should provide lots of value and be very evergreen. Include opt-in forms on your landing page to convert visitors into leads faster.
8. Guest blog on other popular websites in your niche.
This tip won't apply to every type of small business, but it will work for many. If your business is about providing advice, consulting, or professional services, you'll want to use Guest Blogging as part of your SEO strategy. Look for very popular blogs in your niche and do some outreach to build relationships that lead to guest blogging opportunities.
9. Never pay for link building.
Link building is an SEO strategy we can all safely put to bed. In this post-Panda and post-Penguin SEO world, manipulative and "manufactured SEO" strategies like link building are a huge waste of your time and money. Just don't do it.
10. Track your top 5 competitors.
SEO is a little bit art and a little bit science. Every niche is different, including your niche! So look at what's working by tracking your top 3-5 competitors who are getting the SEO results you would love to have. Then simply reverse engineer what they're doing and do it better.
I know I titled this post the "Top 10 Small Business SEO Tips" but I don't want to leave these gems off our list:
BONUS TIP #11: Renew your domain for 5+ years.
This is an easy one. Rather than renewing your domain every year, just commit to your long-term success and pay for at least 5 years of domain renewal. You can go and do this today for $50 or less. It's totally worth it. Google tends to prefer domains that aren't going to expire within the next year. (Yes, the search engine robots definitely are looking that up when they crawl your website.)
BONUS TIP #12: Focus on "QRV" (aka "Don't over-optimize.")
Today, more than anything else, SEO is about being valuable, influential, and authoritative. This is exactly what Matt Cutts means when he says "Don't over-optimize" when doing SEO. Focus first on what I call QRV: Quality Relevance, and Value. These three letters are especially important when creating content (or advising your copywriter).
I hope you enjoyed these 10 SEO tips for small business. Now go and get started!
What else would you add to the list? Leave your comment below.