6 Simple SEO Tips for Small Businesses to Rank Higher on Google
Have you ever typed your local business into Google and struggled to see your company website listed anywhere?
Showing up near the top or even on the first page on Google is no easy task for any small business. If you’re a landscaper in, say, Kent, Washington, there’s at least a dozen other prominent landscaping companies in the Kent area, all competing for Google’s attention.
Not everyone can be in the top three for “landscape design kent wa”—yet you can be sure that the landscapers who are will snag a majority of the local market share.
This is where SEO, or “search-engine optimization,” comes in. SEO is all about improving your company’s online presence to “optimize” your rankings on search engines like Google.
Here we’re going to show you how to improve your on-page SEO for your small business (and help move your website up the Google Search rankings)!
And if at any point you find any of these simple SEO tips for your website a little daunting—don’t worry, our Convert team is here to help!
NiceJob provides effective, SEO-built websites for service businesses guaranteed to increase your website’s lead-generation rate by 10% within three months or it’s free. That way you can spend your time where it matters without having to become an SEO expert.
How Do You Do SEO for Small Business?
First, you need to create a Google My Business account. Authenticate it by asking Google to either call your business phone number or send you a postcard with a verification code.
A Google My Business account will help your business show up on Google’s “local snack-pack”—a snippet of the top local business listings from Google My Business displayed via Google Maps on search engines.
Second, you’ll want to collect a lot of positive online reviews of your business from customers.
Getting reviews on Facebook and Google helps your business rank in the local snack-pack and encourages clicks to your Google My Business listing—and more clicks in turn will further boost those rankings.
NiceJob’s review-marketing platform is the easiest way to gather customer reviews so you can start piling up those five-star ratings.
But what about the organic rankings?
Local Snack-Pack vs. Organic Rankings
Here’s a snippet of my search for the query “landscape design kent wa.”
You’ll likely recognize this search-engine results page (i.e., SERP). At the top is the local snack-pack containing three local listings from Google My Business and below it are the classic organic results.
According to one study, the organic results attract as much as 40% of all clicks on a SERP, with the rest divided between the local listings and paid advertisements.
Organic listings are a big deal for local-business SEO. They still capture the largest overall share of SERP clicks.
A website will bolster your local-listing rankings but it isn’t necessary. However, a website is necessary for organic results. In fact, it’s your website—or rather, unique webpages from your site—that actually gets ranked.
If you want to crack the top three in the organic results, you have to make sure you implement best practices for onpage SEO.
What Is Onpage SEO vs. Offpage SEO?
SEO is often divided into two classes: onpage SEO and offpage SEO.
Onpage SEO refers to any optimizations you can make on your website. It’s known as “onpage” because you’re making the optimizations directly on your small-business website pages.
Offpage SEO is the opposite. It’s what you can do to improve your overall presence on SERPs beyond website edits. This can include things like updating the settings on your Google My Business listing or accumulating customer reviews.
Of all the factors that impact ranking in the local snack-pack, geographical proximity to the person searching is the largest one. There isn’t much that offpage SEO can do for you here beyond verifying your company’s physical location and service area in Google My Business.
And with only a few exceptions, like online customer reviews, onpage SEO is the biggest driving force behind SEO-marketing for small business.
Is SEO Worth it for Small Business?
At this point you might be wondering, is SEO worth it? How can SEO really benefit me?
The fact is, SEO for a small-business website is entirely worth the effort and it could net you a much larger share of the potential revenue up for grabs in your area.
It’s a long-term investment compared to paid advertising, but one that yields better cost-efficiency over time.
By leveraging best practices of small-business SEO, you can kickstart sales and really see your business grow.
The key is to focus on onpage SEO once you’ve covered your offpage basics, such as your Google My Business listing. It’s difficult to rank in the local snack-pack without geographical proximity to potential customers.
But with proper onpage-SEO techniques, you can rank in the organic results for not just a whole city but even whole counties and regions.
Benefits of SEO for Small Business
Let’s consider the following situation:
We already know that approximately 40% of all clicks on a SERP go to organic results, and about 60% of those clicks go to the top three.
That means almost 25% of all clicks will go to those three webpages at the top for all organic results.
Returning to our example of “landscape design kent wa” and accounting for all of its close variations (e.g., “landscaping design kent wa” and “landscape designer kent wa”), we can roughly approximate from data that such terms will produce around 50 hits per month.
Let’s dig deeper, shall we? Ok, we have 50 clicks with 12 (≈25%) of them dedicated to the top three organic results.
Assuming an average onsite conversion rate of 3% and an average value of a landscape design (including materials and labor) at $30,000—that’s $120,000 in revenue for a year split between only three companies in an area with no less than a dozen competitors.
- 12 hits/month * 12 months = 144 hits a year
- 144 hits/year * 3% = ≈4 potential jobs/year
- 4 potential jobs valued at $30,000 each = $120,000 potential revenue split between the top three organic results
And no other competitors get a dime of that share if they’re not ranking in the top three of organic search results.
That potential revenue directly stems from search-engine results for just a few variations of one type of a particular search query (“landscape design kent wa”)—all mostly thanks to onpage SEO.
Onpage SEO for small business benefits your company by exposing you to new customers, increasing your website traffic and, most importantly, driving sales through the roof.
So, exactly what things go into effective onpage SEO for small businesses?
Small Business SEO Guide
At NiceJob, we provide SEO websites for small businesses so you can rest assured that your search rankings will be taken care of.
We call them Convert websites because they convert search-engine users into website visitors and website visitors into leads.
All Convert websites are built to onpage-SEO best practices. But we’re revealing our secrets to give you a mini-guide of SEO tips for small business: metadata, HTML markup, page speed and more.
These onpage-SEO tips for local businesses are implemented into every Convert website and can be used by any business to increase their Google rankings and dominate their service regions.
6 Small-Business SEO Tips
- Optimize Your Metadata
- Add Image Alt Attributes and File Names
- Mark Up the HTML of Content Headers
- Create an Intuitive Site Architecture and Navigation
- Build Internal Links for Users and Search Engines
- Enhance Your Small-Business Website for Page Speed
1. Optimize Your Metadata
Metadata often means “data about data” (hence why it’s so meta!). In the context of SEO, we’re talking about data that defines information of what your page is about.
Typical examples of metadata include a metatitle and metadescription. You can see them in action in the below screenshot:
The metatitle is the title of a webpage that Google displays on SERPs. It’s the part of a search-engine ranking that functions and looks like a hyperlink.
Metadescriptions are the descriptive sentences about a webpage that appear underneath a metatitle.
Every webpage should have both an optimized metatitle and metadescription.
Metatitles should include target keyterms as they impact rankings. Keyterms in metadescriptions don’t directly impact rankings, but they’ll influence click-through rates that in turn do factor into search rankings.
And missing metadescriptions are a wasted opportunity to customize your webpage’s description in a way that will compel Google to display it.
Metadata can be any length, but Google often clips the display of metatitles to 50-60 characters and the display of metadescripticons to 155-160 characters, so keep that in mind.
There’s no ranking penalty for too-short or too-long metatitles or metadescriptions, but metadata within the above ranges strongly correlate to higher-average search rankings.
Examples of Metatitles
Say you’re a local window-cleaning company called Bob’s Sparkling Windows.
You’ll probably want to write your metatitles like this:
- Bob’s Sparkling Windows | Toronto Window Cleaners & Gutters
- Etobicoke Gutter & Window Cleaning | Bob’s Sparkling Windows
These metatitles include keyterms to target your audience on search engines, identify your brand name and make use of ampersands and horizontal lines for space efficiency (since Google technically gauges metadata length by pixels instead of characters).
2. Add Image Alt Attributes and File Names
Images on a webpage greatly affect search rankings because they provide context to Google about what surrounds the image and what a webpage as a whole is about.
But an image without any metadata of its own won’t do you any good.
That’s why you need to ensure you add alt attributes to all onpage images and check that image file names aren’t gibberish when you upload them.
Let’s look at a basic HTML markup of a webpage image: <img src="file.name.png" alt="Description of image.">. The items enclosed in quotes are the file name and the alt attribute.
Alt attributes are to images what metadescriptions are to webpages. They are the “alternative text” of an image that web browsers display for visually impaired website visitors in lieu of the image itself, but they also help with onpage SEO.
Examples of Image Metadata
Provide each image with a basic, accurately descriptive, keyword-optimized alt attribute—but don’t “keyword-stuff” (i.e., don’t overdo it with the keywords to try to “game the system”).
Google claims that they also read the URL paths and file names of images to understand them and a webpage’s content better, so try to avoid naming images like <“roughimage17.jpg”> or <“photoXYZ.versionA.jpg”>.
Of course, when NiceJob builds your Convert website, our dedicated Convert web specialists take care of all these technical details for you so you don’t have to worry about them!
3. Mark Up the HTML of Content Headers
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, a programming language used to create webpages.
An HTML tag is a piece of code from a webpage’s HTML that tells a web browser how to display content.
One of the most impactful types of HTML tags are header tags, or, H-tags. You’re likely already familiar with H-tags even if you don’t even realize it. The “H” refers to headers and they function as the headlines for a webpage’s content.
Content headers make a huge difference when it comes to small-business website SEO.
That’s because H-tags guide the user through what they’re reading and Google uses them to determine the meaning of a webpage’s content. As much as possible, all content blocks and unique talking points should have their own keyword-optimized headlines.
By keyword-optimized, we mean making sure the headers have the relevant, search-heavy terms that match the user’s expectations. As Rand Fishkin, a leading authority on SEO, observed in his post about keyword targeting, “rank correlations suggest that a topically relevant H1 is associated with higher rankings.”
Think of H-tags like headers and subheaders in a newspaper article, where H1 is a webpage’s main header, H2s are the most high-level subheader, H3s are the next highest-level subheader and so on.
Understandably, H1s are the most important type of H-tags. There’s no penalty for having more than one H1, but there should only be one since multiple H1s within a single webpage weaken the SEO strength of each one.
Whenever Google says there’s no penalty, what they really mean is that their algorithms are still capable of reading the content in multiple H1s and the webpage the H1s are on still qualifies to appear on their search engine.
If a topic is worthy of its own H1, then it should probably have its own unique webpage, for the same reason that newspaper articles only have one main headline each.
Examples of H-Tags for a Small-Business Website to Improve SEO
- <h1>Carpet Cleaning in Vancouver</h1>
- <h2>Best Vancouver Carpet Cleaning Services</h2>
- <h2>What You Need to Know About Jane’s Pristine Carpet Cleans</h2>
- <h2>Our Residential Carpet Cleaning Services Come With a Satisfaction Guarantee</h2>
- <h2>Why Choose Jane’s Pristine Carpet Cleans in Vancouver</h2>
- <h3>100%-Satisfaction Guaranteed Clean Carpets</h3>
- <h3>20 Years of Experience Cleaning Carpets in the Lower Mainland</h3>
- <h3>First-Class Customer Service</h3>
- <h3>IICRC-Certified Carpet Cleaners</h3>
4. Create an Intuitive Site Architecture and Navigation
What is a website architecture and what is website navigation?
The difference between website architecture and navigation is that the architecture is the informational skeleton of a website—it determines how webpages are organized. The navigation refers to how users find different pages throughout your site.
In other words, a website architecture is like a map of how all pages on a site connect to each other, and a website navigation is like a map of how users get from one particular webpage to another.
To get the best of your website-SEO efforts, ensure that the navigation is simple and helpful for the user based on the information your website visitor needs to know.
As well, categorizing the architecture will benefit SEO. Search engines analyze a site’s architecture to figure out the relevance and impact of certain content and webpages.
For example, service-based businesses often benefit from having “Services” sections with dedicated pages for each of the services they offer. The same goes for locations. If you serve different key locations, try to have content in your architecture identifying the different cities.
Best Practices for SEO-Friendly Website Architecture and Navigation
- Don’t make people think. A website’s architecture and navigation should be intuitive; users shouldn’t have to guess anything.
- Fewer clicks are better than more clicks. Try to get your website visitor to click as few things as possible while still enabling them to get the information they need.
- Format consistency: clear, concise and well-structured formats for labelling URLs (including subfolders, which are the parts of any URL after the domain name) and anchor text (anchor text is the visible text in a link).
- Don’t keyword-stuff anchor text. Google rewards anchor text that explains to the user what they’re going to get if they click on a link/button without appearing spammy. That said, accurately descriptive anchor text should be at least “keyword-friendly.”
5. Build Internal Links for Users and Search Engines
When you add links to your website, there are two types: external and internal links.
External links send users to outside domains (i.e., other websites). Internal links send visitors to another page on your website.
External links benefit the other website more than your own website, so to strengthen the onpage SEO of your small business’s website, using internal links is a good start.
With internal links, there are two categories: contextual and structural links. Optimizing both for your small-business website SEO can go a long way in ranking higher on Google.
Contextual vs. Structural Internal Links
Contextual links are internal links embedded into a webpage’s content. They signal to search engines that the linked page is probably important, and anchor text here helps with SEO for the included keyterms.
The content around the link provides “context” to search-engine algorithms and website users about what to expect.
Structural links appear in the navigation, header and footer. When designing structural links, especially for local-business websites, no webpage should be orphaned; in other words, every webpage should be linked to somewhere in the navigation, header, and/or footer.
Structural links are often taken care of when you design your website’s architecture, so let’s focus on ideas of how to best create contextual links.
Contextual-Linking Example for Small-Business SEO
Let’s consider a local landscaping company. You can display important category pages in blocks as a great way of internal linking. Relevant content surrounds internal links for context:
Based on keyword research for the above example, contextualized descriptions with the following terms were included:
- landscaping services (H2)
- landscape design services (anchor text and H3)
- lawn care services (anchor text and H3)
- landscape garden services (anchor text and H3)
- landscape design
- landscaping design services
- lawn service
- landscape maintenance
- landscaping maintenance services
- flower bed designs
- residential gardens
- landscaping garden services
FAQ pages are also great ways to provide hyperlinks in paragraph tags for terms similar to “landscape design,” “our landscaping services,” “meet the best landscape architects in Norwood County,” “learn more about our services for backyard landscape designs,” etc.
Get creative to find different ways to link to target webpages, as long as it’s contextually relevant and neither stuffy nor forced.
And if you have a Convert website from NiceJob, your dedicated Convert website specialist will take care of all the necessary creativity for your website for maximum SEO potential!
6. Enhance Your Small-Business Website for Page Speed
Last, but certainly not least: page speed.
Page speed refers to how quickly your webpages load across browsers and devices. The faster your website loads, the better your search rankings will be. That’s because Google has consistently increased the impact of page speed as a ranking factor over the years.
It’s totally understandable. How many times have you given up on a webpage on your phone because it was taking too long to load in your browser? For this reason, page speed has grown into one of the top ranking factors for organic results.
So the question remains, how do I make my webpages load as fast as possible?
At NiceJob, we design all Convert websites to specifications that enable webpages to load as fast as possible.
Here’s a little insight into how we do it:
2. Compress all images.
The larger an image’s file size, the longer it takes a web browser to load the image. It’s that simple. At NiceJob, we make sure all of your website images are as technically optimized as possible so your website loads in no time.
3. Defer below-the-fold resource loading (also known as “lazy loading”).
If you instruct a browser to delay loading below-the-fold content (everything on a webpage once you start scrolling down in your browser) until necessary, it prevents “frontloading” so you get the best ranking results possible.
Improve Your Company’s Website SEO with Convert!
Onpage SEO for small-business websites can make or break your local-service company. Whether you’re a landscaper, a window cleaner or a carpet cleaner, you can’t ignore the impact and importance of SEO for small businesses.
NiceJob’s Convert product is an ideal option for small-business owners to receive fully managed websites built for local SEO. We implement all of the SEO tips mentioned in this article for you so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
And at no risk, thanks to our guarantee to increase your onsite conversion rate by at least 10%, you can rest easy knowing that your business is backed by a data-driven website that actually works.