It is believed that there are literally hundreds of ranking factors for the Google algorithm. Being in the SEO world every day, I have to decide on which tools to use for audits to determine what is right or wrong with different businesses and their approach to SEO. Typically any small business web presence is going to have issues, which is why some businesses do well by scaring people with audits that show all of the things that businesses are doing wrong. Small businesses have to spend wisely, so they can’t necessarily address every need perfectly. The important thing for a small business to do is to spend their dollars on the things that matter most and will most impact the bottom line. I wanted to lay out some of the more important factors involved in small businesses improving their online presence. This way you can focus on what matters.
Inbound links are still one of the top ranking factors. With SEO everything is relative so a small business doesn’t have to have a link profile that competes with the strongest sites in the world, but they do need to be able to compete with others in their market. Links are one of the areas that I see many SEO companies fail and many small businesses misunderstand and think they should be ranking when they aren’t even in the same ballpark as competitors. Building links should be a key component of how SEO time is spent for success.
Every link matters and every relationship the business can create online in a reputable way will help fuel the business’s presence in search. Whether it is links from the local chamber or from articles on nationally recognized news or blog sites, links are the fuel for ranking and most small businesses don’t have good link profiles and need help.
Another common mistake that many businesses have is content issues. Either thin content that doesn’t address the topic at hand, or no content at all for a topic they deem important. In general, a majority of your pages should have more than 250 words on them. If a product or service is important to your business, you should have a page of content devoted to it. Create content that addresses the topic and also why someone should choose you as the solution for their problem. Be thorough but digestible. Break your content up into clear paragraphs with headers that explain what is in each paragraph. People want all of the content to be there, but they want it to be very easy to find the two sentences that are most important to them. I recommend small businesses at least aim to get over 400 words. The average number one ranked page in Google is over 2,000 words. With a good SEO plan, we can break down content length needs by specific search phrases, but if you want to attach it in general, you should aim for nice and thorough.
Google My Business (GMB)
Your Google My Business page, which can be found at business.google.com, is crucial for small businesses these days. If you don’t own your listing, you should claim it right away. This is another way that you can control pretty easily that can move the dial. Though your links to your website still play a roll in your GMB strength, getting it “aimed” properly will really help your presence. Once you have claimed your listing, you really need to fill it all out as completely as possible. Add your products or services, your business description, images, and anything they ask for. I always say “Feed the Google Beast” and tell them and searchers everything you can about your business. You should also be posting at least once a week with more info about what you do and offer. All of that information gives Google more relevance about what your business offers. You also want to bake in the process of asking for reviews. Reviews are another big ranking factor. Just like links, the number and frequency that you get reviews will help push you up the rankings.
Speed and Technical Factors
Technology is always improving and so are the methods to speed up your site. You always want to be aware of how fast your site performs. Your Google Analytics will tell you, but so will tools like gtmetrix.com and Google Page Speed Insights. There are WordPress plugins that can help speed up your site, or sometimes a better hosting plan, but you want to work with your developer to keep speeds up. Again, everything is relative, but you should check your speed against others competing for the same keywords. If you are significantly behind, you have some work to do. You also need to worry about issues like duplicate content (copying other site content or your own content across pages) and issues preventing Google from seeing pages on your site, such as noindexing, etc. These are more advanced issues, but can sometimes be solved easily and open the ranking floodgates for you.
The title tag is a very basic and simple part of SEO, but still is often done incorrectly. Though the value of the title tag has probably decreased a bit over the years, especially in terms of the exact wording, it is still the most succinct way you can tell Google about what each of your pages is about. If you are a locally targeted business, you want to make sure you tag all of your pages with your geographic target market and the product or service the page is discussing. Though this is truly basic stuff, there are rules for how long your title tag should be and doing it right. I have seen properly implementing title tags take sites from nowhere in the rankings to the first page. It is often overlooked and still can move the needle for a small business. This should be day 1 work for an SEO and I often see companies not implement them at all even after years of an SEO plan.
If you don’t want to have to worry about doing all of this yourself and just want a trusted company that has successfully done it right for over a decade, give us a call and get started on a real SEO plan.