Small Business SEO and You

Consumers rely heavily on online searches to get the information they need, whether they search on a mobile phone, tablet or computer. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) has all but taken over the small business owner’s marketing plan these days. Even with all the buzz about SEO over the last few years, some are still confused about how SEO should be used for marketing their company.

Consider this article your very basic primer for low-budget SEO marketing.

A Common Misconception

Some believe that all SEO marketing is a shady attempt at fooling search engines to gain more web traffic. This simply isn’t true. Those that try to abuse the system usually don’t succeed for long, and are met with stiff penalties. (Remember hearing about the J. C. Penney fiasco?) Plus, sites like Google are constantly adjusting search algorithms to ensure users are getting the most relevant results.

The bottom line is that when SEO is used and not abused, small business owners and consumers both win.

Start with the Basics

You can hire a reputable SEO consultant to do an audit of your site and perform keyword research for you. This is probably the most thorough option, but it’s also the most expensive. If you’re building a small business website from the ground up and need to stick to a budget, consider creating content that is valuable to two types of people: those who are already reading your site, and those who are looking for a business like yours through an Internet search.

For the second kind of person, the searcher, think about what kinds of information they’ll type into that little search box, and try to make a match by using those words on your small business website.

  • Your Company Name: Some will look you up because they’ve already heard about you. If you don’t show up in a search for your own company name, you’ve got problems! Also, whenever possible, a company’s name should in the web address or URL. For example, Small Business Bonfire can be found at SmallBusinessBonfire.com.
  • Your Company Type: Include words related to what you do in your website’s content. For example, an imaginary business called Mandy’s Flower Shop might want to use terms like florist, floral design, flowers and gift shop throughout their website.
  • Location: People also add cities, states and other location items to their search phrases for better results. So including location-specific terms with the name of your business and your company type terms are also helpful. For example: Mandy’s Flower Shop in Indianapolis and Indianapolis florist might be good terms to use on our imaginary website.
  • Resolution to a Problem or a Need: People are always searching for ways to solve problems and fulfill needs. A year ago, I had two bats flying around my living room. The first thing I did (after screaming, of course) was search for bat extraction in Indianapolis. For service providers, it’s good to include the services you provide with a location term to grab some of that search traffic.

An Important Note: Keyword stuffing is tempting to some, but you should never sacrifice the quality of your web content when including keywords or search terms in your content. Everything on your site should read naturally and be beneficial to the reader. 

More Small Business SEO Resources

There are thousands of small business SEO resources out there, but finding the information you need for your small business can be a little like searching for a needle in a haystack. Here are a few of the best small business SEO resources to get you started:

Image credit: sachyn

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Emily Suess
Emily Suess is a full-time technical marketing writer in the software industry and a part-time freelance copywriter. To learn more about marketing your small business online, check out her copywriting blog, Say It With Me.

7 comments

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    • I think that’s the key right there, Dave. The SEO experts are digging deep into SEO (as they should be!), and so many small business owners think that can and should just jump right in. But like every other marketing method you use in your business, you need to start at the beginning, do your research, and actually apply the experts’ recommendations to your specific situation. I think Emily did a great job telling us how we (the everyday small business owner) can get started with SEO.

  1. SEO is becoming more and more critical for small business owners on a local and national scale. What a lot of these businesses don’t understand is that you can’t just “SEO” a website it’s an ongoing process in order to see results.

    • Brandon, that is a great point. SEO is an ongoing activity that really never ends. At the Bonfire, we are constantly doing various SEO activities like internal/external links, optimizing content and improving our users’ experience.

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