Search Engine Optimization – Small Business SEO Checklist

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) isn’t something that should happen as an afterthought. If you are planning a blog post, a new page on your small business website or other content such as an event, new product or service, it is important to consider SEO right at the start. If you do so then your post, page or listing will be more relevant, in demand and it will get more traffic, visitors and shares. What is there to lose? Here’s a Small Business SEO Checklist to make this easy for you and to help you stay on track with some of the simple SEO tactics that can help your post, page or listing get found:

Small Business SEO Checklist

1. First determine what your blog post is going to be about and draft some pertinent keywords – i.e. words that your clients might use to search for your content and that describe what your post is all about. Go with your gut instinct and think about the words your customers use when asking you about this topic.Google suggestions - Small Business SEO Checklist

2. Use Google Trends to determine whether people are searching for these words or phrases. Google suggestions is also a great way to determine if this is a good topic, just start entering your word or phrase in Google and see how it completes it in the search dropdown that shows up. The suggestions that show up first are the most popular searches relating to your keyword. If you want to go really deep you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to determine the competition and value of your intended words or phrases (which isn’t ideal as it’s based on data from paid advertising and not overall search), or even better, a tool like Keyword Explorer from MOZ.

Another even easier way to determine the competition for a key word / phrase is to Google it and see how many results there are.

Your goal in this step is to determine phrases or words that have a high volume but low competition.

3. After doing the research in 2 above, determine a) your focus keyword / phrase, and b) secondary keywords that apply (use these in the text when writing your content). Craft your text and content around these.

4. To make it more likely that your page or post will be found when people search for it, the word / phrase that you have identified as your focus keyword / phrase should be used in the:

  • Title of your post
  • META title
  • META Description
  • Focus keyword
  • Alt Tags of your images
  • Text of your page – but not repetitively – you are writing for people not search engines! A good rule of thumb is 3 – 6 times for a 300 – 600 word post or page
  • In your headers and subheadings
  • URL

Yoast is a great tool to help you with this, if you are using WordPress I highly recommend it.

5. The META on your site might be the first impression anyone sees of your small business so take a little extra time to craft it well. When entering your META follow the META tag rules below- if you are using Yoast this plugin will help you with this:

Your META title (in purple in the image below) should be less than 56 characters, META description (below the URL in grey on the below)  should be less than 156 and it should compel people to click.

META Tags - Small Business SEO Checklist

The focus keyword phrase we’ve used in this post is Small Business SEO Checklist FYI!

SEO is Important

Small Business SEO ChecklistI meet a lot of people who think SEO is too technical so they simply avoid doing it but it doesn’t have to be and ignoring means you are losing out on lots of potential visits and shares. I hope that this simple Small Business SEO Checklist will encourage you to add SEO to your posts and pages. Doing so could be huge for your site and your business!

Related posts:

What is SEO

The importance of optimizing your website

Google Reviews – How To Get More Reviews for Your Business

Good Google reviews are super important. When people Google your business the first thing they are likely to see is your Google My Business listing. If you have lots of great reviews that helps to get people through your door to do business with you, and it helps with your website positioning.

I was asked recently how to get good reviews and how to get rid of bad ones. Unfortunately you can’t just delete bad reviews. Trying to get them removed can be arduous too, so the best way is simply to get more good reviews!

Here are a few ideas and suggestions to make the process easier for your customers (and for you too!) – these will work for Google but you can adapt and use them for Yelp reviews, and Facebook too.

Google Reviews – How To Get MoreGoogle Reviews

1. Many people don’t know how to give a review on Google. Prepare a one sheet handout giving them detailed directions showing them how to submit a review for your business. Email these to your customers or give them to them at the checkout (depending on the type of business you operate).

2. If you collect email addresses for your current customers (recent customer in the last 2 years only!) you should send a follow up email those that buy from you. Thank them for their business, ask for a review and give them directions as outlined above. You could also send this to your newsletter subscribers encouraging them to review your biz. Be careful though, because of the Canadian Anti Spam legislation you can’t simply email everyone and anyone.

3. Run a monthly promo: each review is entered into a draw each month. At the end of the month draw one and send them something good like a gift card or a voucher they can use next time they do business with you.

4. Make sure your staff know how important it is to get good reviews and incorporate asking for reviews into your business processes.

5. Seek out those who give good reviews and make sure to thank them. If you ignore them then they’re certainly not going to give you more!

6. Add an ask for a review on your invoices / receipts.

7. Showcase reviews on your website and on your social feeds too.

8. Depending on your business model you can add a call to action button on your website encouraging people to review you.

10. When you set up your My Business listing Google probably sent you a ‘Review us on Google’ sticker. Display this prominently.

Of course getting good reviews starts with having great customer service. The better your service the more likely your reviews will be great too!

Related articles:

Listing Your Business on Google

Tips for Staying CASL Compliant

Listing Your Business on Google

Is your business listed on Google?

Listing your business on Google is a great way to help you get discovered and it also goes a long way to validate your business. In Canada most of us use Google to search the Internet so having a presence there iListing your business on Googles vital.

To find out if your business is listed on Google, simply Google the name of your business. If the right results show up on the right hand side of the page then you’re listed thanks to Google. Checking this before setting up a new one helps avoid the headache of duplicate listings.

Note that if you’ve ever set up a Google + page then you likely have a Google business listing and you may have 2 since Google also set up a bunch for every business it could find.

Listing your business on Google / claiming Your Google Listing

Once you’ve determined whether you have a page or not, go here to create your listing OR click on ‘Claim this listing’ (you’ll find this below your phone number on the results to the right of your screen when you Google your business name).

Google My Business listingGoogle will step you through a process to verify your name address and location. Make sure all of the details are correct then click on the check box to verify that you are authorized and that you agree to the terms of service. Google will then call you with an automated message giving you the four digit code you need to complete the verification process.

Note that this will set up your business listing AND your Google+ page as well as Google maps.*

Once you are set up you should add more detail about your business along with photos, and your logo to brand your presence.

*It is important to differentiate between Google+ which is Google’s attempt at a social network and Google My Business which is a directory. You should have both and they should be linked so when you are setting them up remember to login and use your Google account when stepping through the process (the one you use for Adwords and Analytics too!).

Why you should have a Google Business Listing

1. Gets your business discovered online locally – and this is huge
2. It shows the world that you are for real!
3. Provides valuable links from Google back to your website
4. Helps your customers quickly and easily find you both online and off

If you need some help with this get in touch.

Facebook Ads – Don’t Spend More Than You Need To

Don’t get an unexpectedly big credit card bill after your Facebook ads have appeared. Here are a few important things we’ve been reminded of this week when setting up Facebook ads for clients. You should bear these in mind too if you are setting up Facebook ads yourself.

Be aware when setting up your Facebook Ads!

1. The Facebook default ad budget is set to $11 per day or $350 over the lifetime of the ad. This field defaults back each time you shift from daily to lifetime so if you plan to spend less it’s very important to make sure you keep an eye on this  field and enter the actual amount you want to spend. The minimum budget is supposed to be $1 per day (as long as that is 2 times your cost per click) but it’s actually quite hard to meet those requirements with certain types of ads.

2. Facebook defaults ad duration so that your ads are set to show for one month. Again make sure that your ads are scheduled correctly and not defaulting. If you run ads more more than a few days at a time people get densitized and are less likely to notice them anyway.

3. The default setting for when you are charged for ads is set to impressions. This means that you pay each time the ad appears whether someone sees it or not. Your money might be better spent paying for post engagement, so choose that drop down option instead, that way you only pay when someone acts on your ad.

4. Bid Amount defaults to the ‘Automatic’ option and lets Facebook set the bid for you. Instead choose to do this manually. You will notice that the default bid is set to 10 times (approx) the suggested bid. Enter a more reasonable one.

Facebook Ads Budget

Facebook ads are highly targeted and can be a great way to help you grow your following, extend the reach of your posts or drive traffic to your website. Take time to set up your ads properly and keep an eye on all options to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to.

Staying Sane in the Digital World – SEO Edition

As small business owners, getting found online has to be a priority. There are over 100 billion Google searches every month. We know that people are looking for our businesses online and yet so many sites are still launched with no thought to search engine optimisation and marketing.

Staying Sane in the Digital World – SEO Edition

To get more targeted visitors to your site, SEO has to be in your playbook. Here’s where to start.

  1. Who is your audience and what are your goals of your site – Do you want people to buy items from your store, book an appointment, or perhaps fill your contact form. It’s good to know this up front and take this into consideration when crafting your navigation and META  tags.
  2. Be selective when it comes to the words you use – SEO tactics that worked 5 years ago can be bad now (like keyword stuffing).  It’s hard to rank for narrow term words (like social media for example – you’re competing with over a billion other results) so choose longer ones that your specific audience are more likely to use.  Include location, your niche services, or other terms that differentiate your offering.
  3. Ask to your customers which words they would use to Google you (write them down!). Keyword tools will help you further determine if these are the right words given volume and competition.
  4. Google’s alogorithms change regularly and it is good check in with your site a few times a year to see how you are doing on to make any changes that might be required. Google Search Console is a great tool to diagnose any issues.
  5. Your site should work on mobile devices – more people search using their phone or tablet so plan to make your site responsive as soon as you can.
  6. Content – dynamic websites sites that share valuable content tend to rank higher. Add new content regularly – a blog is a great way to do this.
  7. The more links back to your site the better but these have to be from trusted sites that are pertinent to your industry or location. Internal links are valuable too – make sure these are logical and make sense to the reader.
  8. SEO is one online marketing strategy and should line up with your over digital plan. Words you use in META tags should be similar to the words you use in your social feeds. This is especially true when posting to sites that show up in Google search, like Twitter or Google+.
  9. Track the traffic to your site. Google Analytics is free to install and helps you to tell how much traffic you are getting, where it is coming from, which pages people read and how long they stay.
  10. If you don’t know what you are doing then it’s best to work with someone who does. SEO can be a minefield and there are lots of people out there who will promise you the world (first page ranking guaranteed!). Take that with a pinch of salt. SEO is a long term commitment and a tricky discipline to get right.