As a small business owner, you’ve heard that SEO is important. You may be wondering what SEO, in particular on-page SEO, is exactly and what small business owners can do themselves to help with SEO on their website. We reached out to Online Marketing Strategist, Liz Jostes of Eli Rose Social Media, LLC, for some expert advice and suggestions. Read more below!
1. As a small business owner, I’ve heard that SEO is very important for my business. My budget is limited and I can’t afford to pay someone thousands of dollars a month. What are some things small business owners can do themselves to help with SEO on their website?
SEO has many facets to it, which is one reason why it can feel a bit intimidating to a small business owner to learn about. However, the flip side to this is that there are plenty of things you can do without being a seasoned SEO expert, to start improving the SEO for your business.
To start, it’s a great idea to revisit the existing content on the pages of your website. Is the content on your pages pretty brief? If so, expand on what you’ve said to make those pages more useful to your website visitors.
Are you using descriptive words when discussing your business and what your services or products are? If not, add in some keywords to your copy in a naturally-sounding way. Google wants to serve up content that’s most useful to searchers, so longer pieces of descriptive content are going to win out.
Next, consider adding a blog to your small business website. The way I describe blogging and SEO is that each new link that’s published to the internet, is a new fishing line tossed into the sea of Google. Also, each new blog post is a new chance to rank on a new keyword phrase that’s relevant to your small business.
Lastly, there are a few other smaller website SEO items like making sure your website is mobile-optimized, loads pretty fast, and that you have your SSL certificate (meaning, your website address shows as https:// instead of http://) that are all ranking factors. These are things your website developer can assist with modifying, if needed.
2. What is On-Page SEO?
To maximize your SEO efforts for your small business, you’re going to want to implement both on-page and off-page SEO. On-page SEO includes the tactics you employ on your website pages, blog posts, and online catalog product listings to rank well organically. Main elements to on-page SEO include: adding custom title tags and meta descriptions to each website page, blog post, and product listing on your site, adding ALT tags to all images, using headings, links between pages of your site, strong keyword use in your content, and implementing an XML sitemap
3. What is Off-Page SEO?
All of the SEO tactics you employ off of your website fall into the off-page SEO category. This would include things like social media profiles, establishing your Google My Business listing and making regular posts to it, being (legitimately) linked to from other websites, and directory listings.
4. Why is On-Page SEO important?
On-page SEO steps like adding title tags and meta descriptions to your pages are what help “match” your website pages to searches people type into Google. So if you’ve written a blog post for your small business about 5 ways to save money on remodeling your kitchen in Austin, TX, and you search engine optimize (SEO) that blog post around the keyword phrase “ways to save money on remodeling your kitchen in Austin, TX”, you’re going to greatly increase your chances of having that blog post listed in the top search results for people researching ways to save money remodeling their Austin home. Think of your on-page SEO as the missing link between the content on your website, and what people are searching for on Google.
5. What are the best On-Page SEO techniques?
On-page SEO techniques to implement on every page of your site include:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- ALT tags (on images)
- Permalinks (the specific link to your blog posts or pages)
- Original, useful, keyword-rich content
- Linking between pages or blog posts on your site
- Using headings
Before you begin choosing a keyword phrase to use on a page you are optimizing for search engines, you can keep it easy and free, and do your SEO keyword research on Google.com. Start by typing in a keyword phrase you think you want to use to represent the content on the page you are working on. Take a look at what the top 10 results are from that search. Notice what phrases Google autosuggests as you type in the phrase you think you want to use. Check out a handful of keyword phrase variations and look at what top 10 results are returned for each (does the content of your page better align with one of the phrases?).
Also, take a look at the number of searches for each phrase. You can find that in grey text just below the search field at the top of the Google search results page. You do need to know that a title tag maxes out at 60-65 characters, so definitely try to keep your targeted keyword phrase within that range. A meta description should be at least 150 characters, and Google now says there’s no maximum length for meta descriptions.
6. Can local (brick and mortar) businesses benefit from On-Page SEO?
Of course! You don’t have to be a regional or national company for people in your town to be Googling for businesses like yours. In fact, websites have become an expected marketing asset in the eyes of the average consumer. Just like customers expect a business to have a Facebook Page, they also expect them to have a website, even if it’s just a basic site. A website adds to your business’ credibility by having one. Plus, most businesses do have a website, so if you don’t, you’re really putting yourself at a disadvantage with your competitors. So if you have a website – or are going to have one created – you’re going to want to optimize it for organic search so that you can compete with those same competitors when it comes to Google search results, too.
7. I hired someone to do SEO for my business and they wanted to keep charging me a monthly fee. Why is that?
Since there are many facets to SEO, there are on-going SEO activities that you could choose to hire out after you’ve had all the pages on your site SEO-ed. For example, you could hire someone to upload photos and make posts to your Google My Business listing, and monitor directory listings that you have for customer reviews that come in. You could hire someone to write blog posts for you, or monitor your organic rankings in search results once every quarter, and then adjust your on-page SEO as a result. Your monthly SEO costs are going to greatly depend on how much ongoing SEO efforts you want to put in to your small business, and how much of those SEO tactics you want to do yourself.
Liz Jostes is an online marketing strategist and small business owner. She co-founded and owns Eli Rose Social Media, LLC, where she’s focused on helping small business owners establish and grow their presence online through social media, SEO, content, and social advertising. She is social media, Facebook advertising, and SEO-certified.