Back in 1998, when Google was just a small startup company in beta mode, there were only 10,000 search queries made per day. Fast forward just two decades to 2019, and a whopping 5.5 billion Google searches are now made daily — establishing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a crucial component of every successful business, big or small.
As it turns out, the opportunities for small businesses in particular to profit from SEO are huge: 35% of product searches start on Google, and every year, somewhere between 16% and 20% of Google searches are new. This means the terms have never been searched before, creating endless advantages for smaller companies to create SEO strategies that fill that void.
But for the smaller and mid-sized companies that don’t have the budget or resources to host extensive SEO or community management departments, it’s virtually impossible to keep up with Google’s SEO strategies — especially when they are constantly changing their search algorithm (500 to 600 times per year).
While the topics of Search Engine Optimization and Marketing can seem a bit overwhelming to small business owners, they don’t have to be. Here are four simple SEO strategies that small business owners can easily implement to keep up with the competition and bring in new business:
1. Pay-Per-Click Search Advertising
Any business that isn’t taking advantage of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is very likely losing out on considerable website traffic and revenue. By using Google Ads with Google Analytics, business owners can easily track how their ads are performing. Additionally, they’ll see the web traffic and results that are (or aren’t) coming in from each ad, helping set business goals and know where they can better invest their marketing budgets. Bing Ads also shouldn’t be forgotten here: Because its popularity is lower than that of Google, many SEO strategists tend to skip the site entirely. But the fact is, businesses who skip out on Bing are also skipping out on its 1.3 billion monthly visitors. As a bonus, the SEO competition is lower on Bing, making it easier to get higher rankings on the site.
Small businesses should also take into account that when it comes to PPC, mobile is key: 65% of clicks on paid Google search results come from mobile devices. This means that business owners should pay special attention to creating mobile ads, as well as taking care to ensure that their websites are mobile-friendly so their new leads can have a user-friendly experience that makes them want to buy something, rather than leave the site due to slow or ineffective user experience.
2. Take Advantage of Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are perhaps one of the most underrated aspects of Search Engine Marketing or SEM. When turning to SEO/SEM tactics, many business owners naturally want to include the most relevant and industry-specific short keywords in their ads.
The problem with this strategy is that these keywords tend to be the most competitive, and many brands have already spent years building up their SEO strategies to rank highly — meaning that your business isn’t likely to overtake theirs in search engine rankings anytime soon.
So what’s the bright side? Long-tail keywords lead to narrower search queries — for example, instead of placing low in a search for “Chicago pizza,” you could place higher in a search for “best pizza places in Chicago.” These narrow search queries are less competitive, making it easier to rank higher in both organic and paid search results. Plus, long-tail search queries are becoming more common, and more successful: Over a third of Google search queries are four or more words long, and organic Google results with three to four words in the title drive higher click-through rates than organic results with just one or two words in the title.
3. Make Use of Local Directories and Maps
Taking steps to ensure your business is listed in online directories is key to helping your business show up in local searches more often. As it turns out, getting your business listed may also be key to bringing in new business: 34% of “near me” searches done via desktop and tablets result in in-store visits, and 50% of “near me” Google searches done via mobile also result in a store visit. For businesses with brick-and-mortar locations looking to increase in-store visitors, getting your business up on local listings is an easy way to do so.
For example, the easiest (and cheapest) step any company can take to show up faster in local directories and in map searches is simply by adding or claiming your business on Google Business. It’s completely free and can be completed in two simple steps. Another easy step to take is simply posting signs in your store or verbally encouraging customers to leave reviews about your business since businesses with a minimum of four Google reviews automatically are placed higher in SEO rankings. Completing these simple steps will help your business show up higher on search engine results and in local map searches, making your company that much easier to find.
4. Increase Content Marketing Efforts
These days, Google is trying to level the playing field within SEO results by placing a much heavier emphasis on Content Marketing. Google’s algorithm basically rewards websites that produce a consistent, quality content by ranking them higher in search results.
Last year, a major algorithm update from Google saw a renewed focus on a concept called E.A.T., which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. When companies combine all three of these concepts within their websites, they are bound to rank much higher in Google’s search results.
Companies can improve their level of Expertise by getting featured in news articles or on other industry websites. Authoritativeness can be demonstrated by user reviews, press releases, and backlinks within the aforementioned news articles or industry sites. Backlinks are more important than ever when it comes to SEO — meaning that other experts and businesses should be linking to your website within their own content or social media pages, giving your company that extra boost of authority.
The last pillar, Trustworthiness, is built by producing high-quality website content such as blogs or FAQ pages that provide useful answers and guides to industry-specific topics. For example, if you are a plumbing business, introducing a blog page filled with advice, how-to guides and common questions would probably help you rank above your other local plumbing competition.
Search Engine Marketing is a tough business, and rankings don’t magically appear overnight. However, you don’t need to be an SEO expert to help give your small business a boost. If you follow the above four strategies, you’ll be sure to see new results before you know it.
Read more: Is SEO the Future of Successful Apps?