small business SEO

The ultimate guide to
small business SEO

Ultimate guide to small business SEO

June 27th, 2017 – 23 Comments

SEO isn’t just for large companies. As a small business or local business, there is actually a lot you can do to achieve local goals yourself. Many of these things relate to focus. In this ultimate guide for local and small business SEO, we’ll tell you about finding your niche, optimizing pages and social media efforts.

Way back in 2014 we promised you in our post on local SEO that we’d be writing a bit more about local and small businesses. Considering that local SEO is basically the optimization process for the local results in search engines, we can say that local SEO is often closely related to small business SEO. This is why we decided to discuss both in this article.

In this article, you’ll find a variety of related topics:

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show your opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress plugin Info

As long as Google’s local search result pages continue to grow and improve, we’re not done with this subject. But in the meantime, we’d like to present you our ultimate guide to local and small business SEO. Let’s start at the beginning of your SEO process.

Finding your shop’s niche

Especially for local or small businesses, determining your niche is very important. When you know your niche, you can emphasize what makes your products or brand unique, therefore improving your odds to rank well for them. If you have a clear niche, you can locally compete with large national brands in spite of their multi-million advertisement budgets.

Find out who your customers are and what words they use to describe your product, because people will use the same terms to find your website. Using these terms, often made into long-tail keywords, can really help you optimize your local business SEO. Make your keywords as specific as possible.  Once you’ve done all this, don’t forget to monitor your niche as it evolves with the growth of your company.

Find your shop’s niche

Low budget branding

We have mentioned this over and over: branding is very important for SEO. Branding deals with things like your logo and your tagline. How do they represent your company without further context? What do your logo and tagline reveal about your values and your field of expertise? It’s all about recognition.

Read more: ‘Low budget branding tips for small businesses’ »

A tip for branding: share your expertise! You can do that in blog posts and on social media. We’ll talk about this some more, further down this guide.

Start writing great content

Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Many small business owners put products and contact details on their website and that’s basically it. But there is so much more to tell and share!

Focus on making an awesome first impression on your potential customer. Write about your business, your business goals, how great your products are and things like that. You can also discuss market developments or local events that relate to your business. These are just a few tips for your local SEO content strategy.

When writing your content, be realistic about the chances of that content to rank. If you are in a highly competitive market, content works very well as a marketing tool and/or as input for social media. But it will probably not get you that number one spot in Google, and that’s fine. Manage your expectations.

Picking the right keywords to optimize for is very important. Usually, it’s a good idea to pick mid-tail keywords, including the local area you are focusing on. It really doesn’t matter if you add this content to your site as a page or blog post. Just make sure that you write about things that people want to talk about or that make people talk about your business in a positive way.

Keep reading: ‘Improve your small business SEO today’ »

Share your content on social media

Did you know you can actually sell your products on social media itself? While that’s very cool, in most cases social media are used for brand awareness or to lead potential customers to a sale. Using social media as a small business is all about promoting your brand, your company, and your products to establish a certain image and to get the right traffic to your company website. Social media, used in the right way, can contribute to small business SEO.

I tend to compare social media to a marketplace where all the stand owners know each other and customers browse among the products. At some point, someone will tell other visitors where to go to for a product: “The cheese over there is delicious”, “you should really check the fruit over there”. This is what real life social media are like. So make sure people start talking about you. And start talking about yourself online, to make others start talking to you on social platforms. Lastly, actively engage in social media conversations, to let people know you are listening.

Use Social Media to increase your sales

Local ranking factors that help your small business SEO

There are many things that influence your local rankings, but there is one very obvious one: your address details (NAP). Make sure to add these in the right formatting (in code), using details. You can use our Local SEO plugin for that. Furthermore, ask your web developer to dig into AMP, like Joost mentions in this Ask Yoast about AMP for small businesses. Besides that, it may help to add your city, and perhaps your state, in the title of your pages for easier recognition as well.

Google My Business

Make sure you use the exact same NAP details on both your website and your Google My Business listing. This is the only way for Google to understand the relationship between them. Add these details for instance in your footer and of course, on your contact page. Google My Business really is your friend if you want to rank in your specific geographical area, so get your details right!

Improve local SEO with Google My Business

Adding ratings and reviews

Google My Business, like Facebook, allows others to leave a review of your company. If your company has a good rating, people will be more inclined to click to your website from any of these two websites. Be sure to monitor and maintain these reviews.

If you get a negative review for some reason, react by solving your customer’s problem. Ask them to change their review afterwards. In other words, turn that dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador!

It’s not that hard to get involved in these reviews and ratings. Find more information on that in the article below.

Read on: ‘Get local reviews and ratings’ »

Social ‘proof’, like the ratings and reviews mentioned above, should be backed by a sufficient amount of links from local directories like:

  1. Yelp
  2. SuperPages
  5. Yahoo
  6. Bestoftheweb
  7. etc.

You should be mentioned on these pages, for the obvious reason that this means your website is linked. If you manage to get some links from the related local websites in that directory, that will also help your site’s findability. Note that the last category of links has to be from websites that are in a related profession. It’s of no use to have your bakery website linked from an accountant’s website. 

Want to optimize your WooCommerce shop for local shopping? You need Local SEO for WooCommerce! »

Local SEO for WooCommerce Info

If your small business is closely related to other businesses that are not located in the same area, you should definitively also ask these businesses for a link. Google spiders the web link by link. If your business is linked from a website that is in the same field of business, that link is extra valuable to you.

Near me searches

When speaking about local rankings, we also have to mention near me searches. These are searches and search suggestions that include words like “near me”, “closest”, “open” and “nearby”. Optimizing for these searches is similar to optimizing for local, but applies for global brands as well (“buy legos near me”). So you’ll have to think a bit outside of your usual box – there’s probably more to optimize for. Google really focuses on search terms like these, as you can read here:

Is that a Possum near me?

In conclusion

As we’ve seen, there are many things you can do as a small business to improve your site and rank better. You should start by focusing on your niche and emphasizing your uniqueness. Think about how you present your brand: logos and tag lines are important to give your customers an idea of who you are as a business.

You can increase your visibility by creating great content on your site, optimized for the right keywords. Also, it always helps if you present yourself actively on social media. There are several factors related to local SEO that help small businesses. Make sure Google My Business has the right details, keep track of your ratings and reviews, and try to get linked by related small businesses. Finally, try to optimize for ‘ near me’ searches.

Read more: ‘5 questions: Talking local SEO with David Mihm’ »

23 Responses to Ultimate guide to small business SEO

  1. Navneet Singh
    By Navneet Singh on 3 July, 2017

    When optimizing for local or small business, NAP is really important but optimizing for near me queries is really a smart approach and I tried this for my clients. It really worked well for them and all of them are happy and getting good business

  2. novinwebsite
    By novinwebsite on 3 July, 2017

    Thanks again for the article. Keep writing.

  3. Bedeosky
    By Bedeosky on 29 June, 2017

    Yoast makes you rank on google search … making your business prosper, Thank you yoast

  4. Sandra
    By Sandra on 29 June, 2017

    Yoast Helped me a Great way m indeed my Blog is Ranking higher in search engines , i tried few seo plugins , but Yoast is till the best.
    Thanks a lot to Team Yoast

  5. Lrers
    By Lrers on 29 June, 2017

    Thanks for telling me my local seo.

  6. Desmond Parenteau Edmonton SEO
    By Desmond Parenteau Edmonton SEO on 29 June, 2017

    Your comment on content is also of growing importance since direct marketing is less effective than it was. Today’s consumer is more likely to stick around and make a purchase if they receive a value (information/education) about a product or service. For those of us in SEO, it is important to address this lest we have an unhappy client who increases his traffic ten fold but not his conversions.
    Sidenote: I’ve found it useful to geotag some of the images on a website looking to rank locally. It seems to improve the chances of getting a position in the “maps.”

    • Michiel
      By Michiel on 3 July, 2017

      Thanks for the addition, Desmond!

  7. Tijana
    By Tijana on 28 June, 2017

    I love it! Have some clients who are running their small business and they often skip talking about SEO and why it is important, or even how they will benefit from it. Will have to share with them definitely to save me some time explaining each time how paid are just a short time memory and organic are long and so on. :)

    P.S. Smart move Yoast for combining The Ultimate Guide & SEO ;) FOund this that can be very useful for other wanting to get the benefits of ultimate guides ->

  8. David
    By David on 28 June, 2017

    Thanks for the great article. The “near me” is very intriguing…

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 28 June, 2017

      It is, right :) Let me know about your experiences with it!

  9. sravan
    By sravan on 28 June, 2017

    Thank you for your valuable information

  10. Manish negi
    By Manish negi on 28 June, 2017

    Your article is very usefull and now we will use all the points given in your article to optimize our clients, website ranking, like we are trying to improve ranking of for Free SEO service and free website design to help startups, but not getting success to improve in that area.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 28 June, 2017

      There are multiple things that come to mind. “Free” might appear spammy to Google, that alone could backfire. Besides that, there is no real local focus in these keywords, right? I would focus on getting that local customer on your website and only then share the awesome benefit of it being free. And you could obviously set up a specific landing page with that “offer”, but I wouldn’t base my entire SEO strategy around a keyphrase containing “free”. There must be more why your product is awesome :)

  11. Lisander
    By Lisander on 28 June, 2017

    Thanks for this great article Michiel. What do you recommend for a small business which has no physical location, but does focus on a specific area?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 28 June, 2017

      Write related content on your blog, and set up an evergreen/general page targeting the local area, like why you chose that as your service area. Even or especially when it’s a personal story, it will appeal to the local community.

      • Lisander
        By Lisander on 29 June, 2017

        I must admit that this has been a struggle. Creating the time and coming up with ideas etc. But lately I’ve been working gon some ideas using certain keyword tools. So I have a plan to start working on this part of the website.

        I’ll also dive into your evergreen content post, atleast I thought I saw one.

  12. DNN
    By DNN on 28 June, 2017

    Good afternoon,

    I had to stop by and just say thank you for being sooooo dedicated to creating and updating this amazing Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. I was using it a while back and did notice positive search engine optimization results. When I moved web hosts, I could only do so much at once that I’m just now getting around to installing a WordPress blog soon on this site and plan on using it as a means of promoting positive quotes with the Yoast SEO plugin involved. One thing I really like about it is the ability to control the canonical structure through the admin interface. I’m hoping to get the same results or even better when I download and use your Yoast WP plugin soon. Thanks again for being a help to the blogging community and helping others prosper in their online business endeavors. :-)

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 28 June, 2017

      Thank you so much for your kind comment!

      • DNN
        By DNN on 29 June, 2017

        You’re welcome. :-)

  13. Matias
    By Matias on 27 June, 2017

    Hi Michael,

    Do you prefer many long tail articles or few large articles?


    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 28 June, 2017

      I prefer content. Depending on the subject, it can be a long or shorter article (preferably containing over 300 words, like recommended in our plugin). And from an SEO stand, we recommend the cornerstone content way of optimizing your site structure (link to our course). Have you tried that course already, Matias? Will give you some valuable insights in this subject.

  14. Christine
    By Christine on 27 June, 2017

    You have some great articles on your site. Do you have anything about helping SEO for a small grass roots non profit? Would love to see some advice in this arena. Thanks!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 27 June, 2017

      Thanks for the suggestion, Christine! What exactly are you looking for? How to optimize your site yourself with no hired help and technical knowledge? Interesting idea! Let me know, ok :)

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