Ensuring that your website ranks well on Google is essential. If you rank well (for the right things), you receive an abundance of visitors and therefore more sales and enquiries. Of course, it isn’t as easy as it sounds and often you’ll need the help of an expert. BUT there are some things you can do as a small business owner without having to pay an SEO expert. Let’s get started.   google-my-business-dashboard

1) Set up a Google My Business Page

Google My Business puts your business info on Search, Maps and Google Plus so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using. It’s THE tool to use to make sure your business information is consistent when a potential customer searches for you and I wrote an article a while back about exactly why you should be using Google My Business. If you want the quick reasons read on…

Why is Google My Business important for small business SEO?

It let’s you optimise how the details of your business appear online when people search for it, making it easier for customers to find out more specific details about your business. Like opening hours, what customers say about you and directions – all from from the Google search results page. It also helps optimise how your business appears on Google Maps and on mobile devices too.

How do I get started?

Head on over to the Google My Business page and sign in. It doesn’t take long to create a Google My Business account and get up and running.   reviews

2) Get your best clients to leave you Google Reviews

It’s important to find ways to make your small business stand out in Google’s search results and another way to do this is through customer reviews. Because Google now use their “Knowledge Graph” to better optimise the search experience of the billions of us that use it, data about your business can be displayed in a block at the side of the search results (check out the image above when you search for “authentic style”). Not everyone will be Googling your company name though, but more likely services that you offer. If you’re a local business then getting reviews is critical because Google’s Knowledge Graph now also displays a block in amongst the search results with details of the businesses closest and most relevant to you (see below when you search for “website design dorset”). reviews-in-listings As you can see, if you’ve got good reviews, you stand out against your competitors and you’re much more likely to get clicks through to your website.

How do I get started?

Once you’ve got your Google My Business account set up, leave it a week for Google to pick it up and then Google your company name. You should now see a block over to the right appear when you search for your company name. Within this there is a “write review” button that you can direct your customers to so they can leave you reviews.   photos

3) Add photos to your Google My Business page

Without doubt the easiest of the tips in this SEO article. Once you’ve got your Google My Business page in place, add some photos to it!

Why are photos important for SEO?

Put simply, they make you stand out. Going back to the example of how our own business is displayed by the Google Knowledge Graph, by adding photos, we’ve made it even more appealing for someone to click on our listing to see the members of our team, our office and more.

How do I get started?

Within your Google My Business dashboard there’s a “Manage Photos” button. Use that to add your logo and photos. Job done!   search-console

4) Set up Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) was formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, but the name changed back in 2015.

Why is Google Search Console important for SEO?

It’s important for SEO because it has quite a few key features that Google Analytics does not. It lets you:

  • Customise your website’s search appearance – if you find that you want to change which pages of your website appear in your “sitelinks”, you can do that with Google Search Console.
  • You can monitor your search traffic – Google Search Console goes further than Google Analytics as it lets you actually see what key phrases people are using to find your site, their click through rates and more. You can also see who is linking to your website, see the average position of certain pages on Google and much more.
  • See what pages of your website Google has indexed – this is useful if you want to remove a page for any reason, and you can even find out the most frequent keywords used in your content. Useful for checking if your pages are optimised correctly.
  • Crawl errors – if the Googlebot has experienced issues indexing your site, you’ll be alerted to them so you (or your web developer) can fix them.
  • And there are many more features you can discover by exploring Google Search Console.
How do I get started?

All you need to do is Google Search Console and sign in. The first step is to “verify ownership” of your website and there are several different methods, some of which you can do easily without your web developer. Once you’ve done that it’ll take a little time for data to show, but come back in a day or so and you can start exploring. You can learn more in this article: Everything you need to know about Google Search Console.   recycle

5) Get into the habit of recycling content for multiple channels

Content is king in 2016. It’s no longer enough to pick a few key phrases and add some text to your homepage and hope to rank well.

Why is recycling content important for SEO?

Regularly publishing content (just like this) on your blog is critical when it comes to showing Google you are an authority in your industry. The mistake that most small business owners make is that they immediately discount content creation as a good form of marketing because it’s time consuming. What do I write on our Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus pages? What should we include in this week’s email newsletter? The answer? Recycle the content you create on your website’s blog!

How do I get started?

Start off by publishing a valuable, informative news piece on your website. Next, share it on your company Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus pages. Then create an email newsletter to send to your list about it, linking to the full article. If you get into this mindset of recycling this kind of content, you’ll save time and get into a consistent routine of writing content and then distributing it across multiple channels. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m actually using this article to form the basis of a presentation at a networking group I attend. Practice what you preach they say!

6) Bonus tip: Use this SEO extension for Chrome to find out what your competitors are ranking for

I recently stumbled upon a really useful tool for small business SEO that takes less than a minute to install. It’s called SEO Site Tools. Try visiting a few of your competitor’s websites and click the icon in your Google Chrome browser (see below). It will show you in a roundabout way what key phrases your competitors are targeting – pretty handy right?

Always remember…

Improving your SEO isn’t easy and it takes time. You won’t see results overnight, but if you follow my tips above and commit to consistently creating and publishing useful, valuable, content on your blog, you will succeed in making your small business website SEO friendly. Of course there will come a time when you may need expert help to kick your SEO efforts up a notch, but for now, I hope the tips above give you a good foundation to get started without hiring an SEO expert.

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