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Local SEO Tips for Small Business Owners

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Stephanie Davis

While word of mouth and referrals are common ways people learn about a new business, one of the quickest ways to find a business today is by entering information into Google.

A drawing of all of the elements necessary to improve SEO rankings.

Today people want solutions and answers quickly, so if your business isn’t popping up in the first page of search results, chances are your small business will remain hidden online, which can lead to fewer sales and decreased revenue. For your business to rise to the top of search results, it’s important to adopt search engine optimization strategies (SEO) to your website. While SEO can feel intimidating, there are very basic steps you can take to get started.

SEO 101 for Small Business Owners

While you could have the best product, or restaurant, in the area, and maybe a beautifully designed website to back you up, nobody will ever find it without the right SEO practices in place. The short version of how Google works is this: somebody will enter a query in the search bar (ex: where is the best place for deep dish in Chicago or who is in the cast of Friends), and Google will pull the pages the best answer those questions. Google looks for a variety of items when choosing the pages including the type of content on the whole website, what is on the page with the answer, if there is enough information (usually external links) to support the brand, and the right use of keywords, like actually mentioning pizza or Jennifer Aniston, for the example above.

SEO Best Practices

While there are best practices to follow with SEO, it’s important not to get too caught up in the best practices, because in some cases following the rules too closely can have negative impacts. For example, two of the factors important in a good SEO ranking is to use links and keywords. However, using too many links, both internal to your business website and external to outside sources and overusing keywords can make SEO ranking decrease. Keyword stuffing is a tactic you’ll want to avoid, which is essentially just throwing in as many of your keywords as you can, even if it doesn’t pertain to the topic being discussed.

While there are multiple search engines, Google gets the most hype and has the rules that website creators follow and respect. Some of the things you want to include in your website that follows Google Webmaster Guidelines are:

  • Make pages primarily for users, not search engines,
  • Don’t deceive users,
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine ranking,
  • Focus on what makes your website unique.

What is Local SEO?

As a small business owner, another level of SEO involves local SEO, which means ranking in the specific town/area that your small business is located. Local SEO is important to focus on if your small business has a brick and mortar location. For example, if you own a coffee shop in Orlando, you’ll want to optimize your website and include mentions of Orlando so you come up in searches. Part of this optimization includes having your physical address(es) on your website. Additionally, if your address is featured on directory sites like Yellow Pages or Yelp, those placements will also help your business show up in a local search.

Bottom Line

While SEO doesn’t have to take up all of your time, it’s an area that you are going to want to focus on semi-frequently to continue to rank well. Additionally, SEO dives much deeper than what we covered, so you’ll want to do some more research. One great resource is the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz.

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