Search Engine Optimization Tips For Small Businesses ~ MD Internet Marketing Solutions

Search Engine Optimization Tips For Small Businesses

What Does It Take To Rank In 2017?

We get this question all the time. In reality, there are a lot of variables that come into play, and what it will take to get your site highly visible in search results will vary depending on your location and niche. However, there are a few things that you MUST do to establish a foot print on the web and give your site an edge.

How To Get Good Rankings With Local SEO

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SEO has been around a long time, and what SEO involves has changed dramatically over the years. It is still one of the best ways to get more traffic to your site, and ultimately grow your business.

When most people think of SEO, the first thing that comes to mind is backlinks. While backlinks are still the driving force of the web, there are a lot of other factors the search engine bots take into consideration now as well. They are looking at engagement on your posts, dwell time on your site, page load time and many other factors.

Tony Messer wrote an article on Pickaweb last week where he explains and gives an exhaustive list of what it takes to get started with small business local seo:

Local Listings – How To Setup and Optimise

Before you do anything, you need to set up your main local listings. These are Google My Business, Bing Place for Business and Yahoo Local.

These are really important and you don’t need any special skills to do this. The only thing you need to do is to make sure you optimise your listing – filling all the details available, not just the basics like address and map. Include a full description using keywords that people are likely to search on.

Also add photos and videos – nothing flash, you just need to put in a little more effort than your competitors.

Start Getting Local Reviews

We recently did some analysis of top performing local websites and one of the key differences between the Best in Class and the Industry Average was the number of Google Reviews.

Check the local search results and you’ll see what I mean. The top sites get more reviews. It’s as simple as that.

And even simpler is getting reviews. You just need to ask and direct people to your Google listing. Even better is that you probably have loads of customers who would be happy to leave a 5 star review for you.

But don’t go crazy getting 100 reviews in a week – that looks unnatural and risks getting your site penalized by Google.

Steady as she goes is the way to think. Just get in the habit of getting reviews and if you add several each month then you will be absolutely fine.

Name, Address And Phone (NAP) Citations

There are loads of reputable local listing websites that you can list your website in. Google trusts these sites and getting listed is super easy.

They allow you to list your business with your Name, Address and Phone (hence NAP) details. The majority offer a free listing and there will usually be an enhanced, chargeable service. The main thing is to get listed and get a link back to your site.

As with reviews, nice and steady. Just pick up a few NAP Citations each month – 10 or 20 will be fine and you’ll see your rankings improve.

Read Tony’s Full Article “The Definitive Guide To Local SEO

Tony gives a ton of great information in that article. We really love his infographic that he has on the page and highly suggest that if you are attempting SEO on  your own that you check it out and follow it! Everything he recommends in his post, we recommend, and implement for everyone of our customers as well. Mr. Messer, if you see this – well done on the article!

We must add that depending on your niche and location, a lot more may be required to get, and maintain good rankings in search results. If your business is located in a major city, or very competitive, there will be a lot more involved. In this case one of the best things you can do is really dive deep into your site as to how it functions and is structured. This can be very “geeky” and too technical for some business owners.

Using Schema On Your Website

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Search Optimization With Schema

One of the components that we see gaining strength in search results is the use of Schema, or Structured Data. Aleyda Solis wrote an article on Search Engine Land that give a good explanation of why your company should be using Schema:

Structured data usage & optimization

Google SERPs haven’t been the traditional “10 blue links” for a long time, thanks to universal search results’ images, videos and local packs; however, the evolution took the next step with the launch and ongoing expansion of features like rich snippets, rich cards, knowledge panels and answer boxes. These features, according to SERP monitors like Mozcast and RankRanger, are now included in a non-trivial percentage of search results.

This shift means that attracting more clicks and visits through SEO efforts is now achieved not only through ranking well in organic listings but also by maximizing your site’s page visibility through these SERP features. In many cases, obtaining these display enhancements is a matter of correctly implementing structured data, as well as formatting and targeting your content to answer queries, where even modifiers can generate a change.

It has become critical to understand which of your popular and relevant queries can provide you more visibility through these various SERP features. By understanding which content has the opportunity to gain an enhanced display in SERPs, you can optimize that content accordingly with structured data and relevant formatting. You can identify these opportunities with search competition and keywords tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs and the Moz Keyword Explorer.

Once you identify which of your content you should format and optimize with structured data, you can use Google’s search gallery examples as a reference to do it and verify its implementation with the Structured Data Testing tool (as well as the Google Search Console’s Structured Data and Rich Cards reports).

Continue Reading Aleyda’s Article “5 must-do technical SEO audit items in 2017

She produced a great article with a lot of technical information that will make most people’s head spin that aren’t in the industry. However, she does give good reasons why your site should be using Schema. We would like to add that in our tests, adding Schema and structured data in the form of JSON-LD to your site can make a significant difference in how well your site ranks in search. This is because you are talking directly to the bot and telling it what your site is about without the bot having to try and figure out your site by the page content.

Summing It Up

SEO, rankings and getting visitors to your site has changed over the years, and continues to evolve. It is doable for some small business’ to take on their own search engine optimization, but will take a considerable amount of time from their daily schedule that could be spent instead focusing on daily operations. It will also involve a bit of a learning curve as well. Don’t let it scare you if you don’t have the budget to hire an outside firm. It is important to start creating a “foot print” on the web for your brand to compete in today’s online landscape.

As usual, if it’s too much for you to handle, or you don’t have the time, you can always contact us to handle your local seo at MDIMSolutions. You can also connect with our CEO on LinkedIn.

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