With all the tasks entrepreneurs have managing a small business, it’s easy to overlook Search Engine Optimization, aka SEO. This is especially true if you run a local-based small business. However, in this day and age, you cannot afford to skip SEO in your business’s marketing strategy. Search Engines and especially Google today are yesterday’s Yellow Pages. Subsequently, not paying attention to your website’s position on Google will leave your small business struggling to survive.
Your users are already out there searching for your business. Now it’s up to you to make sure they can actually find it. If you’re starting an online business, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. Today you have to include SEO in your online business strategy, whether you’re operating with 100% remote customers or you also have a local brick and mortar presence. Here are the top SEO trends your small business can use in 2019.
1. Create a Blog
Blogs aren’t going away – they are here to stay and are you easiest way to update your website and stay current with your clients. As a small business, you might think nobody cares about your blog. That’s simply not true. Small publications and businesses are creating small blogs every day. Frankly put, if you’re trying to be seen as an expert in your industry or online niche, you need a blog (WordPress Blog is always great place start.)
Not only is a blog a great part of any online content strategy, but it’s also a powerful SEO tool. Having a fresh stream of new content on your website shows Google that you’re up to date and active. It’s also an additional place to use your website’s keywords and keyword phrases, thus attracting additional users.
2. Make a Facebook Page
While Facebook has shifted in its reputation recently, there is still plenty of reasons to use it yourself to rank on search engines. Google treats all social media platforms like any other type of web page, but Facebook gets authoritative consideration since it’s one of the top websites used around the globe with a high DA (Domain Authority).
You might be able to rank highly with your Facebook page, but you’ll need to pay attention to a few things. First, ground yourself in your local community if that applies to you. Next, make sure you’re using plenty of relevant keywords on your Facebook page in your titles and descriptions, and finally, post frequently. Don’t let your efforts go stale.
3. Use Voice Search Keywords
With the Home Automation market forecast to grow to over 53 billion dollars by 2022, voice search should not be over-looked in your SEO considerations. As of 2018, 40% of adults used voice search at least once per day. That’s a large percentage, and it’s only growing.
What does this mean for SEO? It means short keywords are becoming overtaken by long-form, complete question keyword-phrases and sentences. You’ll want to think of how people speak to these voice devices. Questions like “Hey Google, what’s the best local coffee shop?” or “Alexa, who is the oldest web site design company in Houston, Texas?” are becoming mainstream. The more you can include these sentences within the copy of your website, the better you’ll be positioning yourself for future clients.
4. Network to Build Links
Link building isn’t just for big-name websites. When you build links with other companies in your industry, you are networking with other leaders in your industry. This is an SEO technique known as passing link juice. You are basically telling Google, this is a site that has quality, relevant information. It is like a vote for the site. In return, when someone includes a link to your site from their site, they too are voting for your site; they are passing SEO Link Juice to your domain. Keep in mind, you should try to get links from those industry related companies that have a high domain authority first. Too many low domain authority inbound links can actually harm your site’s authority. Many SEO Experts think too many outbound links versus inbound links will negatively affect your site. Google does not publish their algorithm so we can’t say for sure, but it would make sense that if a site has 400 outbound links and no inbound links, that would cause Goolge to lower a domain’s authority against site in a similar industry.
Generally speaking, the more links you have from authoritative websites to your own business website, the higher your domain authority will become and the better the chance your website has to rank higher than your competition. Think of this as someone vouching for you to Google with a link. A great way to find links is simply by searching for mentions of your business name and seeing if any websites listed you but forgot to link back. Asking them to do so might be all you need to do. Also SEMRush has great link-building tools.
5. Use Video
Don’t be afraid to use the latest form of marketing media: VIDEO. Video can help your search engine authority. Not only are more people watching video than ever before, but your website is 53 times more likely to appear on Google’s first page if it contains video. Because video is a mostly untapped resource, you won’t face nearly as much competition as you do when you promote your written content.
You don’t need to invest in a production crew, but start to familiarize yourself with this new form of media. How can you produce quality videos for your audience? You can create how-to videos, tutorials, or even just entertaining videos. Anything that’s relevant to your audience. When creating videos, remember that you want to upload them to YouTube, the world’s second largest search engine — and it’s owned by Google! This will increase your publicity and open you to a larger audience of people searching for videos. With so many people preferring video over written content, this is a goldmine of SEO opportunity.
6. Focus on Speed
How focused are you on the speed of your website? If you’re not paying attention to your page load time, this might be getting in the way of your page ranking well against your competition. Google prioritizes websites that are proven to load faster, so this isn’t an area you can overlook. You’ve likely experienced the frustration of visiting a website only to have it load slowly. Most probably headed somewhere else right away. This is the same thing your users are doing.
You can start by checking your Google Page Insights results to see how well your website stacks up. From there, you can make the right changes to see what you can do to improve your load time. Even a few seconds of load time can make a huge difference in your user experience and your search engine results.
7. Rank for Featured Snippets
When you Google something, you see a snippet box pop up at the top of the search results page below the ads, and above the organic listings. This is called a featured snippet, and it’s possible to get your own content to appear in this search result box. These snippets stand out to users, and they’re more likely to get clicks.
It’s much easier to rank for featured snippets if you go for a paragraph list. Format your paragraph with the keyword as a question. These are the questions most likely to be searched on Google. For instance, you might start your paragraph with “How do I find the best web design company near me?” and then continue on with your content.
Getting a Featured Snippet on Google is not easy, but if you do, you should be in position to take it to your competition! Here is a good article on MOZ to read about Featured Snippets.
8. Ensure Online Security
Finally, in this age of growing cyber attacks, you need to focus on securing your website. You can do this in a number of ways, the most basic method being to simply switch to an HTTPS address by installing an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer). Google rolled out an initiative a year ago to place these HTTPS websites above non-secure websites in their search engine results. Even if you are not running an e-commerce website and taking credit cards, YOU MUST SECURE YOUR WEBSITE WITH AN SSL CERTIFICATE!
Most web hosting companies today offer free SSL certificates from “Let’s Encrypt“, but you’ll may want an upgraded to a paid SSL Certificate if users are performing transactions on your website. Otherwise, talk to your host to see if they can install an SSL certificate for your small business website today. Cyber security isn’t just for big-name businesses.
SEO for Small Businesses
SEO is big business, but it’s not reserved for the biggest names online. SEO is the first marketing tool all online businesses of any size should use to reach more customers.
Are you ready to optimize your SEO for 2019? Follow these 8 items above and you’ll be seeing your page views increase over time. From the small steps to the big changes, every little thing counts. Remember this, there is no magic cookie with SEO, the more of everything you do, the better your chances are you will rank in the Top 10 for your best keyword phrases.
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About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.