small business SEO

The ultimate guide to
small business SEO

Ultimate guide to small business SEO

SEO isn’t just for big business. As a small company or a local business there is actually a lot you can do yourself to get good results from search. This ultimate guide for local and small business SEO will help you get the most out of search by finding your niche, optimizing your pages and using social media.

Way back in 2014 we promised you in our post on local SEO that we’d write more about local and small businesses. As local SEO is basically about optimizing for local search engine results, it’s fair to say that local SEO and small business SEO are closely-related, which is why we’ll cover both in this article.

We’ll discuss a variety of related topics in this article:

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’ll never be done with this subject. But in the meantime, here’s our ultimate guide to local and small business SEO. Let’s start at the beginning of your SEO process.

Finding your niche

Determining your niche is vital for local or small businesses. When you know your niche, you can emphasize what makes your brand or products unique, therefore improving your chances to rank well for them. If you have a clear niche, you can compete locally with large national brands – despite their multi-million dollar advertising budgets.

Find out who your customers are and which words they use to describe your product or service, because people will use the same terms to find your website. These terms can really help you optimize your local business SEO when you turn them into long-tail keywords and these keywords should be as specific as possible. Once you’ve done all of this, remember to regularly assess your niche as it evolves with the growth of your company.

Find your shop’s niche

Low budget branding

We have talked about this time and again: branding is very important for SEO. Branding means stuff like your logo and tagline. Do they represent your company without further explanation? 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’ »

Here’s a tip for branding: share your expertise! You can do that in blog posts and on social media. We’ll talk more about this later on.

Start writing great content

Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Too many small business owners just put their products and contact details on their website and leave it at that. 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 could also discuss market developments or 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 getting that content to rank in search. If you are in a highly competitive market, content works very well as a marketing tool and as input for social media, but it probably won’t get you that number one spot in Google, and that’s OK. 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 targeting. 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 things 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

While you can actually sell your products on social media platforms, in most cases we recommend using social media for brand awareness or to lead potential customers to your website for a sale. Using social media as a small business is all about promoting your brand, your company, and your products to establish your image and to get the right traffic to your company website. When used in this way, social media can really help small business SEO.

I like to compare social media to a market where all the stall owners know each other and customers browse 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 out the fruit over there”, that kind of thing. 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 or NAP, which stands for Name, Address, Phone number. Be sure to add these in the correct formatting (in code), using details – our Local SEO plugin can help with that. Also, ask your web developer to look into AMP, as Joost says in this Ask Yoast article on AMP for small businesses. As well as this, 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, and include your website link on your listing too. This is the only way for Google to understand the relationship between them. Add these details – for example 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

Add 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 likely to click through to your website from either of these two platforms. Make sure you monitor and maintain these reviews.

If you get a negative review for any reason, react by responding and solving your customer’s problem. Then, once you have, ask them to change their review afterwards. In other words, turn that dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador!

It’s easy to make use of these reviews and ratings. If you need some tips, find out more in this article:

Read on: ‘Get local reviews and ratings’ »

Links from related small businesses

Social ‘proof’, like the ratings and reviews mentioned above, should be backed up with a few links from local directories, such as:

  1. Yelp
  2. SuperPages
  5. Bestoftheweb

You should get a listing on these sites, for the obvious reason that this means you also get a link to your website. If you can get some links from other related local websites in that directory, that will also help your site’s findability. Note that links from other local websites should be from sites 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 definitely also ask those businesses for a link. Google spiders the web link by link, so if your business is linked to from a website in the same field of business, that link is extra valuable to you.

Near me searches

When talking 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 Lego near me”). So you’ll have to think outside the 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 most appropriate keywords. Also, it always helps if you are active 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 links from 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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