Optimizing Your Website: What Every Small Business Should Know
If you want to grow your small to medium-size business, you need to rank well in online search results. As many as 90% of customers check online reviews before making a purchase,¹ and 98% of web users choose a business that is on the first page of their search result.²
To most Internet users, if you aren’t there, you don’t exist.
Yet in 2012, only 42% of small businesses had a website,³ and today many businesses are unable to build trust with online customers because their websites are incomplete, with limited information and unruly designs.
The following guide is designed to help time and resource-constrained businesses make simple and impactful changes to their search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Our recommendations will cover the key ingredients needed to improve a site’s quality in the eyes of humans and web crawlers.
Optimize Local Listings
Search engines such as Google and Bing use top-secret computer algorithms to analyze and rank websites by notions of importance and relevance. Unlike most advertising, including paid search ads, you can’t pay your way to a top ranking. This guide will take you through the process of improving your site’s visibility in the “natural search” landscape.
Post essential information on every page
To rank well in local search results and attract customers, your site needs to immediately and effectively answer the following questions:
Who are you?
What service(s) do you provide?
Where are you located?
When are you open?
How can you be contacted?
To help users easily answer those questions, make sure the following information is available on every page:
Hours of operation
Map and service areas
Business license number (if applicable)
Social Media Buttons
Social media buttons (a strong social media presence can give your business added credibility, to both customers and search engines)
Placing this information in your footer or a sidebar is a great way to make sure it’s easily accessible without dominating every page. Your header should contain your logo, business name, and at least one method for customers to contact you.
Put Yourself On The Map
Put yourself on the map
Many web users search for local stores on map platforms like Google Maps. To gain traction with these customers, you need to get included in Google’s local results.
For your business to qualify, it must have:4
A staffed, physical address (not a P.O. Box or virtual office)
A local area code phone number (not a toll-free or vanity number)
Face-to-face interactions with customers, either at the business (like a doctor’s office) or the customer’s location (like an electrician)
Some of the most important Google local ranking factors include:5
Citation quality and consistency
Your business category
Proximity to searched location
Traditional SEO factors
Target the right keywords
Keywords are a critical part of SEO strategy. Keywords are the words or phrases relevant to your business that help search engines and readers know what your site is about.
Keywords tell a lot about a user’s intent, so separate your pages accordingly to give each customer the information they are looking for. For example, someone searching for “Joe’s Pizza menu” has a very different intent than someone searching “Joe’s Pizza jobs,” and should be guided to a separate page.