Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical for any business’s success in the online marketplace. By improving their website’s visibility in search engine results, small business owners can attract more potential customers and increase website traffic.
Implementing effective SEO strategies can be challenging, but staying competitive in today’s digital landscape is essential. In this guide, I will discuss 8 effective DIY SEO strategies that small business owners can implement to improve their rankings on Google.
From conducting keyword research to utilizing social media, these strategies are designed to help small businesses leverage SEO to drive growth.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the visibility and ranking of a website or webpage in search engine results pages (SERPs). You can achieve this through various techniques such as keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, local citations, and social media management.
The ultimate goal of SEO is to attract more organic traffic to a website, leading to increased engagement, conversions, and revenue.
With over 30 billion web pages on Google, implementing effective SEO strategies is essential for small businesses to stand out and succeed in the digital marketplace.
Is SEO worth for small businesses?
SEO is the best investment any small business can make. It helps small businesses increase their visibility and attract more potential customers.
With more and more consumers finding products and services online, optimizing websites for search engines is crucial to remain competitive.
While it may require an initial investment, the long-term benefits of SEO can outweigh the costs. By ranking higher in SERPs, small businesses can reach a wider audience, build brand awareness and establish themselves as an authoritative and trusted source in their industry.
How do I set up SEO for my small business? 8 DIY SEO strategies
1. Understand your SEO baseline
The first step in the process is to understand how your website is performing. Start with Google Search Console. It is a handy tool to know how your organic search rankings.
When you log in to GSC, choose the domain of your website. Then click the “Performance” drop-down and select “Search Results”.
This window will show various information related to your website, including:
- Total Clicks
- Total Impressions (how many times your website appeared on search queries)
- Average Click-Through Rate.
- Average Position.
After that, remember to compare yourself to competitors. You can use an SEO tool to do this. In Ahrefs, you can type in your domain in site explorer. Then click “Organic Competitors” on the left sidebar to see your top competitors.
Then run a detailed analysis for each competitor to understand their performance on search engines.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
Understanding the fundamentals of related keywords
Keyword research is the process of discovering the keywords and phrases that people commonly use in relevant search queries.
It is essential to understand that the selected SEO keywords should be relevant to your business, products, or services and align with your website’s content.
Selecting the right keywords impacts the visibility of your website in SERPs and directs the right audience to your website.
Tools for keyword research
Various tools are available for keyword research. From my experience, the best SEO software for small business is Ahrefs and Semrush.
These tools provide details on keyword search volume, keyword difficulty, and bid range and suggest other similar or relevant keywords that you find helpful.
Keyword research tools are essential in finding target keywords, increasing the visibility of your website, and bringing in traffic.
Types of keywords to target
Targeting different types of keywords also plays an essential role in boosting SEO. Broad, medium, and long-tail keywords are the three primary keywords types to target.
Broad or head keywords often have more search volumes and wider meanings. Medium-tail keywords are longer keywords that attract a larger pool of targeted audiences.
In contrast, long-tail keywords are the most specific, have more detailed meanings, and have the least competition. When you start with SEO, targeting these keywords is the best strategy as it helps you rank faster.
Targeting and analyzing all these keyword types can benefit your search engine optimization process in the long run.
3. Optimize On-Page elements
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing specific web pages. It is crucial if you want to rank high on Google. On-page SEO focuses on four main pillars: content optimization, topical authority, meta descriptions & titles, and image optimization.
Content optimization is the process of optimizing your website’s content, including headings, subheadings, text, and more. Quality content is essential for increasing user experience and keeping the audience engaged, leading to better SEO.
Content optimization involves creating high-quality content that incorporates keywords naturally and provides value to your target audience. Consistency is key in content optimization. Ensure your content is regularly updated to deliver value to your users and aligned with your target audience’s search intent.
However, blindly adding keywords doesn’t make your pages rank. Keyword stuffing no longer works. You need to know precisely what keywords and how many of them you want to insert in a web page.
To accomplish this, I recommend using Surfer SEO. The tool eliminates all the guesswork and provides a robust content editor that helps you write ranking content on Google.
Topical authority is a measure of the expertise and credibility of a website on a particular subject. Essentially, topical authority refers to the level of trust and reliability that Google has on that website.
To establish topical authority, you need to create high-quality, authoritative content that is relevant and informative to your target audience. By consistently producing relevant content and targeting specific keywords, your website can establish itself as an authoritative source on its particular topic.
Creating topic clusters, where you focus on long-tail keywords and subtopics around a broad topic, is a practical approach to establishing topical authority. Here’s an example of topic clusters in the knitting niche.
In addition, build a site structure and internal links for your pages. By linking relevant content internally, you are more likely to gain trust from Google on a specific topic.
Improving meta descriptions and meta titles
Meta descriptions and meta titles are two essential on-page elements that affect your website’s click-through rate (CTR) on SERPs.
The meta title is the headline in the search results, while the meta description is the brief description below the title tag.
Optimizing these elements involves creating appealing and informative descriptions and titles that accurately represent your page’s content, including relevant keywords.
Aim to keep the title tag under 60 characters and the meta description under 155 characters, and avoid duplicating these tags across multiple pages of your website.
Optimizing images can significantly improve your website’s user experience and enhance its SEO.
Ensure that your images are of high quality, optimized for the web, and include descriptive alt tags for accessibility and to help search engines understand their content.
Compressing images, optimizing the file size, and incorporating image captions can also improve site speed and user engagement.
4. Utilize Off-Page SEO Techniques
Off-page SEO is vital in search engine optimization by utilizing techniques outside your website to enhance your online visibility.
Importance of external links
Link building, one of the off-page optimization techniques, involves getting backlinks from other reputable or authoritative websites to your website. Backlinks signal to search engines that other sites recognize your content as credible and valuable, making your content more visible and improving the search engine ranking.
A case study from Backlinko shows that pages with the highest quality backlinks tend to rank high on Google.
Create a content outreach strategy
Content outreach is another off-page technique for promoting your website and attracting more traffic. This technique involves creating and sharing high-quality content on various platforms to reach a broader audience.
Social media and guest blogging are excellent ways to disseminate content, build relationships in your niche industry, and establish your brand.
Small businesses can build brand awareness, attract quality traffic, and increase revenue by repurposing content, communicating with key influencers, and consistently sharing through different channels.
Build Local Citations
Citations are one of the vital factors of Local SEO. They are mentions of your business online, usually on other business directories or listing websites. Many local businesses use local citations to improve their brand visibility, drive more visitors, and increase rankings on search engine results pages.
Joining directories or listing websites relevant to your business is a great way to start. Business directories like Google My Business, Yelp, and YellowPages.com are excellent sources of local citations, and having your business listed can increase your visibility on local search results.
5. Improve Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to optimizing technical aspects of a website to improve its performance and ranking. It requires expert knowledge of website architecture, site speed, mobile-friendliness, website security, and structured data.
Technical SEO is crucial because your website may not perform well on search engines without being technically sound, even with high-quality content.
Link your webpages correctly
To optimize website architecture, ensure that website pages are linked correctly. Creating a simple navigation system and incorporating an XML sitemap may be necessary.
Additionally, you can use technical SEO to ensure your website is mobile-friendly, improving the user experience. Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in search results, as they are preferential to search engine algorithms.
Improve site speed
Website speed is also essential in technical SEO. Slow websites have higher bounce rates, hurt user experience, and negatively impact ranking. Therefore, optimizing images, minimizing code and plugins, and reducing server response times are essential factors in improving website speed.
Secure your website
Ensuring website security is critical in maximizing website performance. Google and other search engines favor encrypted sites over unencrypted ones. Protecting visitors’ data will build trust and encourages them to return regularly.
Structure your data
Finally, structured data optimization, such as schema markup implementation, enables search engines to understand your website’s content and highlight it as search snippets. It is essential for showing rich results, knowledge graphs, and other features used in modern SEO.
6. Leverage Social Media
Social media is integral to modern life and essential to any successful digital marketing strategy. Social media offers a platform to connect with potential and existing customers, build brand recognition and loyalty, and increase website traffic.
Here are the three main pillars you should focus on when developing a social media SEO strategy.
Identifying relevant social media platforms for your business
The first step in leveraging social media is identifying relevant social media platforms for your business.
Different platforms cater to different audiences and niches. For example, Instagram might suit a business focused on visuals, while LinkedIn offers a more professional ambiance.
Finding and using the platforms where your target audience is most active will heighten your inclusivity.
Developing a social media content strategy
Developing a social media content strategy is critical as it ensures your posts are consistent and aligned with your business goals.
A robust social media strategy should focus on relevant topics that appeal to your audience, a tone of voice for your posts, and a detailed publishing schedule. A content calendar can help plan, create, and schedule posts, minimizing the chances of lulls in posting.
Tracking your effectiveness through social analytics
Tracking your effectiveness through social analytics is another crucial element of social media strategy.
Social analytics includes measurements like post engagement, reach, and conversions, providing insight into what’s working and what’s not. Analytics help understand your campaigns’ performance, making it easy to improve your strategy in real-time.
An effective social media strategy should involve the following:
- Testing new content formats.
- Tracking performance.
- Experiment with new features on the chosen platforms.
- Measuring the results.
7. Monitor Your Progress
SEO monitoring is a necessary process that any small business SEO shouldn’t ignore. Evaluating your SEO performance gives you a clear direction of where you are going in your small business SEO strategy.
Use analytical tools to track progress
Using analytical tools to track progress is the most effective way to monitor your website’s performance. Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console help track important metrics such as website traffic, bounce rates, click-through rates, and insights on which pages perform well.
Regularly running reports on these analytical tools offer helpful insights, such as identifying website improvements, top-performing pages, and potential problem areas needing attention.
Adjust SEO strategies based on progress reports
Making changes to your SEO strategy when necessary is also essential to comprehensively optimize your website’s performance. Relevant changes can include modifying website content, identifying poor-performing pages, and adjusting keyword targeting to improve traffic, engagement, and ranking.
Additionally, making website content evergreen through updating web copies frequently and introducing fresh content to keep up with niche movements will keep your website ranking high on SERPs.
Stay up-to-date with the latest SEO best practices
Search engines are continually updating algorithms to reflect user intent and browsing trends. Keeping track of these changes is fundamental to existing long-term success in SEO. Regularly reviewing and fine-tuning your SEO strategies optimizes your website’s performance.
8. Be patient and set high goals
Patience is also a key requirement in SEO. Depending on your business type & size, competition, and keyword difficulty, your website’s SEO ranking progress will vary from a few months to a year or more.
Results take time, and a lot of effort could go unnoticed at first. Therefore, you should have realistic expectations and maintain a long-term commitment to your SEO efforts.
Moreover, most readers spend their time on the first page of Google when they look for something. Thus, strive to rank on the 1st page, as it is the only way to get the most out of your SEO efforts.
How much should a small business spend on SEO?
The cost of DIY SEO for small businesses can vary depending on various factors, including the amount of time and expertise required to optimize the website.
While there are no standard costs, the main expenses will be purchasing required tools like SEO software, SEO plugins, and content management systems. These tools vary but can cost a few hundred dollars monthly.
Additionally, some small business owners may consider hiring an SEO consultant to guide them in the SEO strategy and answer questions as they arise, which could range from $100 to $150 per hour.
Small businesses must consider that SEO requires consistent optimization efforts over several months or even years. The budget allocated towards content creation, advertising, and promotions also impacts overall SEO strategy results.
To sum up, search engine optimization plays a critical role in any small business’s overall digital marketing strategy. By effectively utilizing various optimization techniques, monitoring progress, and setting realistic goals, small businesses can significantly improve their website’s search engine ranking, generate more traffic, and drive engagement and revenue.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO, you can follow the strategies outlined in this guide to create an effective SEO plan that aligns with your unique goals, budget, and resource availability.
By staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends, remaining patient, and consistently optimizing their website, you can position your business to compete in the digital marketplace and drive ongoing success effectively.
Can I do SEO on my own?
Yes, absolutely! You can follow the tactics I laid out in this article to start your SEO journey.
Can you do SEO yourself for free?
Yes, you can do some basic small business SEO using free tools. But to maximize your SEO efforts, I highly suggest using paid SEO platforms.
How do I make SEO from scratch?
Here’s the step-by-step guide you need to make SEO from scratch:
- Create an exciting and useful website.
- Learn some SEO basics.
- Provide value to your readers through your content.
- Build trust with your readers.
- Provide a substantial amount of content in your niche.
- Use links wisely.
Is it hard to do your own SEO?
No, it’s not. You can learn SEO by yourself. Check out our articles to learn more about SEO.
How to do SEO for beginners?
To save you time, I will summarize the DIY SEO tactics that any beginner can use:
- Understand your performance.
- Find keywords for your niche.
- Optimize your content for SEO using SEO tools.
- Build high-quality backlinks for your website.
- Optimize your website for Technical SEO (page titles, SEO titles, meta descriptions, etc.)
- Leverage social media.
- Monitor your progress consistently.
- Be patient and set high goals.
Is paying someone to do SEO worth it?
In my experience, it’s not worth it for beginners since you can learn most of these things yourself. As your business grows, you can start outsourcing SEO and focus more on your core business.
Featured image source: Image by Freepik