SEO has proven to be the most cost effective way to increase traffic to a site, which was illustrated by a 2009 Marketing Sherpa study that showed an ROI of nearly 70 percent. Until recently, small businesses struggled with finding effective ways to increase site traffic due to a lack of resources. The investment of SEO consultants or enterprise software could not be justified with these high expenses.
Today, small businesses can generate successful returns on investment with a more cost effective solution. DIY SEO was developed as an affordable, web-based SEO service for small businesses. This Do-It-Yourself application was based on a 6-step list of best practices, which we call the Small Business SEO Six-Pack. These 6 basic steps fall into three categories: plan, act, and measure. Small businesses that tackle the Six-Pack will find more results with a small amount of effort. Let’s get started!
1. Define Keyword Targets
Take your time here! To start choosing keywords, focus on your business’s core product or services. Consider how your target audience would search for them. Next, brainstorm several terms and review the competition in your target market. Ideal keywords should have high search volume and low competition, but this description is rarely found.
Instead, identify keywords with lower competition levels and pick phrases that are realistic targets but still yield enough search volume to pay dividends. Optimization for highly targeted keywords not only helps small businesses seek SEO success, but it ensures site visitors will more likely convert to paid customers.
2. Optimize Website Content for Target Keywords
After choosing your keywords, small businesses can begin to implement their SEO and consider the four principles of small business SEO: on-site optimization, link building, social media and local search.
Make sure you have control of your site’s content if you can. Updating site content with your chosen keywords will improve organic search results for your site. Primary and secondary keywords should be featured prominently on the homepage and specifically in the title tag of the home page.
3. Build Credibility with Inbound Links
Building high quality links and great content is an important tactic for SEO; it builds authority on search engines and helps with organic search rankings. Whether earning inbound links or creating unique content, small businesses should ask other trusted websites to link to their site. Tip: Very few (if any) shortcuts to link building exist; so if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
An effective tip to earn inbound links is create unique and useful site copy. Becoming an authority on a topic your small business deals with is essential for long-term link building. For example, a plumber starts a blog that features plumbing tips. The more high quality content you post to help visitors, the better chance another site owner will stumble upon it and link back to your site.
Listings in directories, both paid and un-paid, is another way to generate inbound links. High-quality directories that offer links to small businesses, such as Yahoo! Directory, require payment but also improve search ranking. Look for directories specifically related to your specialty. Find opportunities to gain free listings, such as current vendors or partners.
Another component of link building is anchor text, which is the clickable text displayed within a hyperlink. Directory sites feature the business name in anchor text and link to the site. Anchor text should include any of your keywords because engines crawl your page links.
4. Get Found Locally
Local customers often make or break small businesses. Several prominent websites list small businesses for free, and businesses should take advantage of this opportunity. The best local resources include Google Local Business Center, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local. Search engines show maps with local search results; we recommend claiming these free listings to increase the likelihood of inclusion in the map.
Small businesses can consider local indexed directories or review sites, such as Yelp and Yellowpages.com, which give small businesses the opportunity to piggyback on the success of others. You can also optimize site content to be found in local search results, such as adding a map, phone number, or business address.
5. Tap the Simplicity and Power of Social Media
As a rule of thumb, small businesses should create and leverage a presence on leading social networks to own the conversation around the business name or brand and engage with customers more directly.
Search engine results pages typically display 10 listings, and a small business site occupies only 1 of those results. Consider involvement on social media sites to “own” more real estate and links will eventually follow. By maintaining a branded presence on leading social media resources, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you can collect and control other authoritative online resources. This participation increases a brand’s overall SEO success.
6. Measure Results and Adjust
Search engines take time to identify and index content from your SEO tactics. After applying SEO improvements, it takes about 2-3 months to find positive ranking momentum and a lift in traffic. Still, if you spend only 2 hours a month on SEO efforts, results will begin to appear.
Along the way, small businesses can track progress and adjust strategies, which will boost their SEO results and ensure efforts are on target. SEO is an ongoing process, and the most effective optimization efforts will gauge success on an ongoing basis. To track success, DIY SEO is a great resource for monitoring keyword rankings, competitors and inbound links.