Can you actually become a competitive player in your niche without benefiting from a solid online presence? Of course not! In order to develop and run a thriving business, owners should rely on effective, verified on-page and off-page SEO (search engine optimization) tactics to bring their small-scale company on page 1 in Google, Yahoo and Bing. While this may seem like a very ambitious goal, you should know that it is perfectly attainable. You don’t need to hire an army of pricy consultants; all you have to do is follow the 12 simple local search engine optimization tips for small businesses leading to a superior visibility, improved conversion rates and more money in your pockets.
1) Google Authorship
Why is Google Authorship so important? Google allows readers to check out author information in Google Web Search and also in Google News. If you plan promote your online business by publishing articles and blogs on a regular basis, it is highly recommended to use Google Authorship to make a name for yourself. You just have to create your very own Google+ Profile and upload a representative profile photo. Google authorship gives you the chance to build credibility and trust to form a solid connection with your audience.
2) Link Building Strategies
Link building strategies represent the most effective off-page SEO strategies that you could rely on. Google ranks and indexes pages based on various selection criteria. Three of them are popularity, relevancy and authority. To occupy a better position in search engine results, your page should be endorsed by respectable sources with a high page rank. The old PageRank algorithm developed by Larry Page (Google’s co-founder) interpreted external links as popularity votes. From a search engine optimization standpoint, external links are more important than internal links. In other words, what others say about your business is much more important than what you may say about it.
Do not try to buy links. This black hat strategy will attract penalties from search engines. Only rely on high-quality links that can actually support your SEO efforts. Use the “link:” operator to see who is linking to your page and how.
3) Quality Content
Undoubtedly, high-quality content is your most powerful asset when it comes to promoting your small business in online environments. Here’s the most important rule that you should follow: create content for human readers, not for machines. In other words, don’t overstuff your texts with keywords in an attempt to make your page rank higher in search engine results. Make sure the text reads naturally and contains relevant, pertinent, 100% original information. Duplicate content is still a major no-no. Write engaging content pieces based on:
a) The particularities of your niche
b) What your readers/potential clients want and need to hear from you
c) Your vision, mission and purpose in business
4) Stop Counting on Keywords Meta Tags
Google advises webmasters to focus on on-page and off-page SEO techniques that are actually productive, rather than wasting time and energy to create keywords meta tags that have a negligible contribution from a search engine optimization standpoint. These elements have served fraudulent purposes for a long period of time. Tags were stuffed with more or less relevant keywords to manipulate search engine results. Since September 2009, the real utility of keywords meta tags has become a thing of the past. Moreover, by analyzing your keywords meta tags your competitors can discover your secret optimization strategies, so this is another great reason why you should ditch these useless components as soon as possible.
5) Learn to Add Optimized Rich Snippets
Rich snippets represent the text lines that appear under each search result. They are extremely important because they give readers an insight into your business activity and enable them to separate first-class webpages from unworthy sources. Google indicates the most important steps that you should follow to create flawless rich snippets:
a) Select your favorite markup format (RDFa, Microdata, microformats)
b) Mark up your original web content (rich snippets can be created for 7 categories of web content: People, Recipes, Organizations and businesses, Music, Reviews, Events, Products)
c) Select the specific elements that you plan to markup and use Google’s guidelines to obtain the desirable results
6) The URL of Your Website Is Extremely Important
Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is an essential element that should be a part of your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Its structure should be concise and representative. It should individualize your business, enabling your prospects to find your company with a few clicks and gain an insight into your field of activity, line of products and unique attributes that separate you from your main competitors. The URL should include readable, relevant words instead of comprising ID numbers that cannot be interpreted by human readers.
7) The Right Image Is Worth More than One Thousand Words
The right images can provide more than enough SEO juice, enabling you to attain your unique optimization goals. There are a few good and bad practices that you should analyze before posting images on your website
a) Write accurate, concise image descriptions (mynewaudicar.jpg instead of IMG00533.JPG, for instance)
b) Create your sitemap and include images
c) Make sure all your images have flawless alt attributes
d) Count on descriptive, concise, and readable external anchor texts
e) Make sure images are relevant to your content and properly positioned on your website
Don’ts That You Should Factor In
- Do not embed the most relevant website information in the images displayed on your page
- Do not use alt attributes that are overstuffed with keywords
- Do not post blurry, indecent or irrelevant images
- Don’t forget to protect your intellectual property
8) Create Excellent Page Titles
The creation of exceptional page titles is another important part of your SEO strategy. To get the best results, follow a few simple rules:
a) Create descriptive, short and concise page titles
b) Do a keyword analysis to identify the search terms that your prospects are using to find companies like yours
c) Do not rely on keyword stuffing
d) Brand your page titles by including the name of your company but make sure they read naturally
e) Stay far away from boilerplate titles and make sure every single page has a representative, unique, and properly optimized title.
9) Write Meta Descriptions Like a Pro
Well-written Meta descriptions will reward your optimization efforts and help you occupy a better position in search engine results. First-hand meta descriptions are:
- Written with your readers in mind
- Logical, simple, concise and provide meaningful information
- Built around trafficked keywords
- Written to accentuate the most important features and benefits of your company
- Created to include a compelling call to action
- Written in everyday language and are not overly technical.
10) Pay Attention to Your Page Load Time
Speed up your site to keep potential clients on your page for the longest period of time. A website that takes ages to load will inevitably lead to elevated bounce rates, making your prospects abandon your website and check out your competitors’ offers. Webmasters usually rely on sprites (amalgamated images of webpage icons) to improve page load times. If you need help with this task, which often requires technical skills, don’t hesitate to contact a Search Engine Optimization expert and ask for his or her advice on the matter.
11) Go Mobile
Most of your customers are mobile. Are you? Does your website have what it takes to satisfy their needs and demands? Mobilize your website to attract a larger segment of buyers. Clients use their mobile gadgets to:
- Purchase goods online
- Check out online reviews
- Identify different store locations
- Search for coupons
- Compare features and prices
A mobile-friendly website enables you to:
- Diversity your clientele
- Improve your conversion rates
- Get and stay one step ahead of your most powerful competitors.
12) Rely on Updated Content to Boost Your Website’s Performance
Update your content regularly to occupy a superior position in search engine results. Regularly updated content transforms your website into a reliable source of information and enables you to make your readers come back for more. Frequent changes will also give you the chance to evaluate and perfect your SEO strategies, allowing you to make smart decisions. Therefore, analyze data, implement changes and measure their impact on your website traffic.
Creating and implementing search engine optimization strategies is usually a lengthy trial-and-error process. If you don’t have the time, the skills or the patience to experiment and constantly improve your tactics, consult a Search Engine Optimization expert and let a respectable team of professionals do the heavy lifting.