How to Grow Your Small Business With SEO in 2024

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Over the years, with each Google update, the world’s number-one search engine has become increasingly smarter, further underlining the importance of solid SEO knowledge for digital-age businesses serious about ranking well.

Mastering SEO can be particularly challenging for small businesses, yet it remains one of the most effective methods for online promotion.

In this article, we share simple but powerful SEO tips that any small business, be it a boutique clothing store, local coffee shop, or freelancer, can implement to improve its online visibility and attract more customers. When these SEO tips are implemented, they make for a strong strategy to build an audience and promote your business online.

Key Takeaways

  • SEO is a critical component of driving organic web traffic to enhance the online visibility of a business, therefore increasing the number of visitors and potential customers.
  • You can improve SEO for a small business with the help of tools like Semrush, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).
  • Through keyword research, a small business owner can learn the most relevant search terms for their business, which would boost the SEO ranking of their content online.
  • On-page SEO-optimized content includes page URL, page title, meta description, headings, and image alt texts.
  • Local SEO techniques and link building further increase the online presence of your small business.

What is SEO and Why is it Important to Drive Traffic to Your Small Business Site?

SEO is the process of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine, such as Google. A well-run small business SEO campaign can drive more organic search traffic to your website than traffic from paid search ads.

So, numerous components result in good organic visibility: proper content on the page, adequate keyword targeting, and backlinks are among the leading few. The technical aspects that improve the user experience, such as a site’s speed and mobile optimization, are also crucial for SEO.

Learning and implementing SEO is not a one-time process. The online world is changing rapidly, and so are SEO strategies. Therefore, it’s crucial to stay informed and adjust your tactics.

Whether you decide to hire a professional or just do it yourself, remember that the three key features of success in SEO are consistency, patience, and continuous pursuit of new knowledge in this area. 

How SEO Works for Your Website and Content?

To improve your website’s SEO, you’ll need to conduct keyword research and acquire inbound links to boost your content’s ranking and your site’s visibility. Results usually come on the search engine results page (SERP) after a search engine crawls and indexes a web page. It can take several months for the SEO effort to have a significant impact.

Rankings for Search Engines

Search engines use this to determine where to place a particular web page in the SERP. Rankings begin at position number 1 through the final number of search engine results for the query. Over time, a web page’s search engine ranking might change due to content age, competition in the SERP, or algorithm changes by the search engine itself.

Search Visibility

A website’s search visibility is the estimated percentage of clicks that the website gets from its organic search rankings for one or more queries. Low search visibility means the website’s domain name is not seen for many relevant search queries, and with high search visibility, the opposite will be true. Both shoulder the responsibility to deliver the primary objectives of SEO: relevant traffic and domain authority.

Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses

Semrush Small Business Tools
Semrush Small Business Tools

One of the many beauties of SEO is that anybody can do it, including solo entrepreneurs and small business owners. It’s way more accessible than you would have thought, so instead of costing something in the magnitude of a print ad or a sponsored post, investing the time and effort in learning a few SEO basics and perhaps a few keyword research tools is likely to pay your business back with a far better return over the long run.

SEO is an ongoing process, and here are a few reasons you should consider leveraging organic search for your business:

Small business owner woman writing costumer address on box. SME business startup and online market concept.

Organic search drives 53.3% of all web traffic, and SEO is the 2nd most effective channel for acquiring customers in 2022. Why is this? Potential customers are looking for an answer, and you can answer what they’re looking for by being one of the top results.

Every small local business needs to be on page one (i.e., in the top 10 search results) of Google to be seen by customers. Moving to page one can almost double your click-through rate versus the number two spot. But then, taking that Featured Snippet — an enhanced SERP feature to answer questions quickly — you can steal the jump over number one and maybe get a second way for customers to click on your website.

The search volume is there, and through ranking for given search terms, you can pull in the exact right customer. Additionally, with your website on the front page, you make your brand visible and show that you are a reputable resource.

It Can Be Done on a Budget

One of the best things about SEO is that it can be inexpensive and a great strategy to build in the long run. Sure, you can hire a specialist or bring an SEO-oriented role into your business, but to start, you can do and learn much of this yourself.

There are a lot of free resources and tools that you can use to optimize your website and content. For instance, with Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, you may search up to 10 daily keywords for free to optimize your content.

SEO is a long-term strategy and investment in your business. Yes, things keep changing all the time, but the core processes and strategies associated with SEO should stand for years to come and possibly only require a few minor tweaks here and there. If done right, this will probably be your best long-term business marketing solution, not just for right now but also for providing continuous returns on investment.

It Is Measurable

A man using macbook air and checking his Google Search Console data.

One thing about traditional marketing that can be very frustrating is how abstract your return on investment can be. Billboards have a certain average number of views based on traffic patterns, and commercials gauge overall views based on rating systems. However, SEO is entirely quantifiable, and it can easily be integrated with any paid digital strategy. 

No, it won’t be as easy as running paid ads, and you’ll still need to connect a few dots in the backend of your website to understand how your organic traffic is converting into sales. However, with some Google Analytics knowledge, you can easily set up key events (formerly conversions) based on your business model, such as newsletter subscriptions, order completions, click-to-call, and similar.

With tools like Google Search Console, you can learn more about how people find you on Google Search, what you are ranking for, and where you can do better to leverage your SEO efforts. This tool will even give you insight into the nitty-gritty of the health of your site, which is yet another vital aspect of user engagement.

It Builds Trust

Rankings in the search result, even hitting the front page and claiming number one, depend on the authority you build. You could have the best answer or resource in the world, but if your click-inside experience doesn’t deliver for users, you will have a hard time getting them there.

This is precisely why technical SEO—page speed, backlinks, and all the other authority-builders—is crucial for your online business.

The good thing for you is that it will not only help you rank better and get more exposure, but it will also make it far easier for customers to trust you based on how your website functions. Quick pages, security measures, and automated customer service portals are just a few ways you can do this.

Puts You Ahead of the Competition

Every industry has competition. Just as you would study your competitors’ paid marketing strategies, you should also examine their SEO strategies. SEO platforms such as Semrush allow you to see what keywords your competitors rank for, how many pieces of content they have, and their linking strategy, to name a few.

Once you reduce your focus to the most relevant keywords for your industry, you can strategize to outrank your competitors. In one form or another, that can be done by identifying opportunities in which your competitors fall short. For instance, it might be a keyword that they don’t rank for, and identifying clear opportunities for you to increase your SEO around that word or phrase to grab extra visibility in Google search results.

Everything You Need to Know: SEO Tips for Small Businesses and Solopreneurs

Keyword Research and Optimization

Keywords let search engine algorithms know precisely what your content is about and on which search queries your content should be returned as the best possible answer. As the use of search terms changes and other articles and content get introduced, the set of keywords that optimize your search status can change accordingly. You may be required to use different keywords than you did before.

Optimizing for keywords and phrases is often very difficult to do well. If you are new to SEO, the process usually feels slightly abstract. We have described the process as finding keywords to get your content to appear in search results. But how do you know which keywords are going to do that?

SEO Tools for Keyword Selection

How small businesses or solopreneurs decide to do keyword research may vary, but some may use free tools like Google Search Console and Google Keyword Planner.

Nevertheless, other keyword research tools optimize the keyword planning process. For example, the Keyword Magic Tool by Semrush creates a master list according to your target keyword so that you have all the related keywords at your fingertips.

Backlinks are the links on other people’s websites that direct to your site. Look at it this way: in the SEO world, links are the votes of credit from one web page to another.

Backlinks are similar to votes from one web page to another. Each vote tells search engines, “This content is valuable, credible, and useful.” So, the more “votes” you have, the higher your site could rank in Google and other search engines.

There is nothing new regarding the use of links in a search engine algorithm. The original version of Google’s algorithm was based on backlinks, a concept they called “PageRank.”

Thousands of changes to the algorithm have been made since then, but backlinks have always been an important ranking signal. More than that, backlinks are crucial in driving direct traffic to your site and boosting your online presence. When the users click on these links from other sites, they are directly taken to your content.

With the help of Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool, you can track the backlinks your site gets from other sites. Open the tool, put your domain in the field, and click “Analyze.” To see the latest backlinks to your website, go to the “Backlinks” tab. Then press the “New” button at the top of the table.

It will display the list of backlinks that Semrush discovered in the last 30 days. This is handy when you’d like to note new backlinks after running a link building or public relations campaign as proof that your SEO efforts are paying off.

On-site SEO Strategies for Small Business Websites

On-site SEO is the practice of optimizing web pages and their content to rank higher on search engines.

Some of the common tasks under on-site SEO involve optimizing headings and URLs, title tags, and interlinking. Below, we will discuss several ways to improve your website’s on-site factors.

Use Title Tags

The title tag is an HTML element used to label the name of a webpage. Title tags should be unique, descriptive of what the page is about, optimized with a keyword, and between 50 and 60 characters.

Add Relevant and Optimized Subheadings

Headings provide a hierarchy to a page’s contents and help users and search engines read and understand the content. The H1, the highest-priority heading, is mostly reserved for the page title. The hierarchy goes down with H2, H3, and so on.

Create your headings around the use of relevant and descriptive words. You can optimize with keywords without keyword stuffing. You can use subheadings to break up content following the same best practices above, but avoid repeating keywords or phrases throughout a page.

While internal links greatly help human visitors navigate your site, they’re also critical to search engines’ ability to understand it, index your pages, and provide a higher rank.

At a minimum, every page on your site should link back to its category or subcategory page and the homepage. The more contextual the internal link is, the better.

Recommended reading: Check Backlinko’s Internal Linking Guide

Add Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are short, elaborative summaries to describe the content of a page and to tell web users what they will gain from reading your content as opposed to somebody else’s. Meta descriptions work best when they are around 160 characters long. 

Consider the Structure of Your URL

This structure of your URL will count toward your page’s relevance to search engines for a query, so it must be descriptive of the content on that page. You can also optimize URLs with keywords in them, so long as they are relevant.

Here’s a good URL structure example:

bizstack.tech/small-business-seo

instead of this URL structure:

bizstack.tech/?p=40230

Add Alt Text to Images

An alt text, or alternative text, describes an image for a web visitor who cannot see it and gives search engines more information about an image.

Your image alt texts should tell what is in an image’s content. Preferably, they are descriptive and specific, under 125 characters, and keyword optimized.

Prioritizing Page Load Speed 

The importance of page speed can be seen in the high bounce rate of slowly loading pages. 47% of web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less, and they tend to leave after three.

Search engines algorithmically downgrade slow sites in page ranking; therefore, a fast page load speed is the surest way to make the search engines notice your site.

Test your important pages’ speed every month. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights for free to diagnose potential page speed issues.

Incorporate a Responsive Design

Responsive design ensures your page will display properly on any screen size, including mobile devices, desktops, and tablets. This will continue to be an important factor as more and more people worldwide use mobile devices for online searches.

Off-site SEO Techniques to Boost SEO Performance

Off-site SEO refers to activities that enhance organic search rankings without physically changing the website. The most common tactics involve link building, guest posting, and social media marketing. 

Off-site SEO tries to promote and advertise your website so that search engines and people perceive it as more authoritative and trustworthy. It’s a must in every successful SEO strategy.

Link building is the process of gaining incoming links to a website. In SEO, these links are referred to as backlinks and are one of the essential elements of SEO. The more backlinks a particular page or domain has, the more authoritative this may seem to Google, especially when these backlinks come from authoritative websites.

Semrush gauges a website’s authority with a metric known as the Authority Score. It measures the quality of a website’s backlinks by their quality, quantity, and organic traffic levels. Additionally, it can tell how natural a site’s whole backlink profile is.

To most small business owners (and SEO professionals), link building is one of the hardest SEO practices. Semrush’s AI-powered assistant, Semrush Copilot, can help you be on top of your link building efforts and site authority.

Once you create a project for your domain on Semrush, Semrush Copilot will notify you of any decreases in authority score, broken pages, unnatural and lost backlinks, and provide fresh link building ideas.

Implement Local SEO into Your Strategy

If you have a physical location where your customers can visit, local SEO is a critical ranking factor.

Submit your business to local listings and internet directories. These include Yelp, Google Business Profile, Yellow Pages, and many more. Then, ensure they are all accurate and that your name, address, and phone number are all listed consistently.

Image credit: Think with Google

Management of Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free, easy-to-use tool that allows you to manage your business’s appearance on Google branded and local searches, as well as Google Maps. Because that is happening off your website, an off-site SEO technique is used to optimize your Google Business Profile.

Person holding black smartphone and looking at a butcher search result on Google Maps, highlighting a local butcher in the area.

Reviews

Reviews will help others trust your business. Indeed, reviews are one of the most important factors for determining the credibility of your website by Google. The reviews on your Google Business Profile are especially important to local SEO. 

Google encourages businesses to reply to reviews, whether good or bad. This demonstrates how much the business values its customers’ feedback.

Social Media

Social media appearance doesn’t directly impact Google rankings. But it’s great for getting more attention. The more people share your content on social media platforms, the more traffic and links you’ll probably get to that specific piece of content. 

And even if you don’t get a link or immediate traffic, you’ll get more attention. And more attention leads to more branded searches and mentions. That’s a win-win for your off-site SEO. If you need a hand with your social media efforts, check out Semrush Social. The app lets you schedule content on multiple platforms, track your social media performance and more.

Engage in Discussions

Another way you can do off-page SEO—while building trust and brand awareness—is by participating in the on-site discussions of different sites, for example, on Quora or other Q&A sites, by answering questions if you have expertise that may interest the members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can SEO really help a small business thrive? 

SEO is a powerful digital marketing channel that should be within any small business’s arsenal. With a relatively low investment, SEO is a means of ensuring a business can be easily found online and earn revenue.

Why is local SEO important for small businesses?

Local SEO is very important, even more so for small businesses, particularly those with a physical location that customers can visit, as it makes businesses easily findable. According to data provided by Google, 28% of people who had local searches resulted in making a purchase. 76% of those using smartphones for local searches visit a business within a day.Infographic showing 76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a physical place within 24 hours, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase – crucial insights for small business SEO strategies in 2024. Source: Google/Purchased Digital Diary.

What tools are available for small businesses to measure and track their SEO performance?

There are plenty of free and paid tools for tracking SEO performance. Google itself has some great free tools for this purpose: Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Business Profile. Semrush is often rated the best SEO tool suite for mastering organic search. It helps you get more site traffic and conversions from search engines.

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