Want customers to find you? Then you’ve got to meet them where they are — and where they are is online

Instead of putting all your eggs in a traditional marketing basket, you need to understand the benefits of SEO for a small business.

You’ve probably heard of SEO, but what is it, exactly? And why SEO? 

The acronym stands for “search engine optimization,” and it refers to the tactics you use to make sure your digital content is easy for search engines to crawl and identify as valuable. The more useful and relevant your content is to users, the higher it will rank on a search engine’s results page — think page one of Google versus page 100. 

A higher page rank means more eyes on your company, and more eyes mean more potential customers. 

As the world’s largest search engine, Google uses a highly advanced algorithm to determine which pieces of content are more or less useful for any given search query. Thoroughly understanding the algorithm isn’t exactly possible for most businesses, but these SEO tips for small business websites can help you boost rankings even if you don’t understand the algorithm.

1. Start by making your website mobile-friendly.

In 2018, more than half of all organic online searches were done on mobile devices, which has prompted Google to initiate its mobile-first index. That means Google will rank mobile-friendly websites higher than those that don’t work well on a user’s smartphone, tablet, or other devices.

Being mobile-friendly means your website is easy to view and navigate on any device. Every page’s words, images, and buttons will load rapidly and automatically scale according to the size of the screen. 

If a user has just a tiny bar to scroll the whole screen or if the buttons are too small to easily tap, then making your site friendlier should be item No. 1 on your basic SEO checklist. Consider using tools like Squarespace, Weebly, or another website builder that creates sites that automatically adjust for mobile visitors.

2. Focus mostly on talking to the consumer.

When it comes to what your users are reading, the most important SEO basics are all about what you say. 

Use tools like Keyword Planner to find popular search terms that are relevant to your industry. With Keyword Planner, you can simply search for words or phrases relevant to your industry, and the tool will suggest popular keywords and show the number of times users are searching them. 

From there, you can plug those terms into Google and see what other people are doing with them. What kinds of blog posts are they creating? Are they tweeting or making Facebook posts about them? Use those ideas as a springboard for your own content, like blogs that answer featured questions or that include phrase suggestions from the bottom of search results.

It’s important to include keywords that match your website’s content with what your specific audience would find useful, but it’s not as easy as picking a few phrases and using them dozens of times throughout your content. For example, product and service pages shouldn’t be keyword-stuffed descriptions. The goal shouldn’t be to jam as many keywords into the page as possible but to build a conversation around a handful of the most relevant ones. They should be interesting and informative enough to catch the attention of people who can benefit the product or service. 

Check out The Small Things Blog and The Lean Green Bean for examples of interesting blog posts that are tied to the brand’s business but aren’t obviously chock-full of keywords. 

3. Create a blog and add new content every week.

Sometimes, website pages need to be quite technical or informational — and that’s OK! 

If the rest of the content is written appropriately, readers who will find those details useful will land there naturally. But creating a blog feed where you can write fun, informative content at least once a week to keep customers engaged is a great SEO strategy for a small business. 

Weekly blogging helps build authority for specific pages on your website. If you want to drive more traffic to the lighter, more interesting pages, then create a blog schedule with content that revolves around those pages. 

Each piece of content should include a call to action asking readers to visit your target pages — something like, “For more information on how to create a natural makeup look, check out my blog post from last week.” That CTA should include a link to the page you want them to read.

4. Share your blog posts far and wide.

Let’s say one of the popular terms that your clients search is “top hairstyles this year.” After you identify that term, you could use your own experience on the job to create a quick and easy blog post about the most popular hairstyles among your clients this year. You can offer some insider tips about what it takes to achieve and maintain those styles as well. Write up the blog, post it, and then share it with the world.

Post about your newest blog on all of your social media platforms, and be sure to include the keywords you’ve identified as important (in this case, “top hairstyles this year”) as well as a link to the blog itself. 

Pinterest is another great place to post your content because it’s easy to get backlinks there and for people to share those links. Finally, share it on forums or message boards you’re a part of that include potential customers. Don’t forget the backlinks there, either. Backlinks are a great way to boost your SEO efforts because any time a reputable site links to your website, it makes your website look important and valuable to Google.

The benefits of SEO for small business aren’t just about marketing; they’re about being relevant to the audiences that need them most. A good SEO strategy will help increase your authority on the web, making it easier for great clients to find you and start a long-term relationship.