5 Easy, Free SEO Tips for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business owner with a website that’s been up for a while, you might be wondering how to get more traffic to your site.  You may be wondering if there’s a way to do some SEO work without investing in an agency.  SEO is multi-faceted and complex, but fortunately, there are a few easy things you can DIY to do some basic search engine optimization for your website that will likely lead to an increase in traffic in 2022.  And as we all know, more traffic = more sales!

Local SEO – Take advantage of your Google Business listing

Google My Business is a tool that all business owners should be taking advantage of-it’s free and can drive tons of visitors to your website. Note that you might hear two terms when when reading about this, because Google Business Profiles and Google My Business are two separate things:

Google Business Profile: A local listing with information about a business. Business Profiles show up in Google search on desktop and mobile, and in Google Maps. 

Google My Business: A free tool for managing your Google Business Profile.

Creating a Google Business Profile isn’t too difficult, just follow the steps and make sure all of your information is accurate. Fill out as much as you can as well, because the more information you provide, the more likely it is that Google will reward you by ranking your business higher up in the local search results. You can even take it a step further and send an email blast asking some of your customers to provide a Google review, which will really help your listing and build credibility with potential customers.

Start a blog on your products/services

Blogging isn’t for everyone, but it’s by far the best way to help your website rank for search queries in your industry. If you don’t know where to start, think of why you started your business in the first place. It’s likely got something to do with the fact  that you’re an expert in your field and have lots of valuable knowledge to share. Here are some ideas to get you started with blogging:

  1. Answer some frequently asked questions that you often have to answer about your products or services
  2. Tell your story-how your business started, when and why
  3. Talk about a new product or service you’ve recently launched and how it helps solve your potential clients’ problems
  4. Give your thoughts and opinions on an industry trend or recent event

Although time consuming, blogging is a great way to show your expertise and build up consumer confidence. Sharing your knowledge positions your business as an industry leader and increases the likelihood that consumers will choose you when they are ready to make a purchase.

Get included on “Best of” lists

Just search “Holiday gift guide 2021” or “Best Italian Food Western Massachusetts” and you’ll see numerous articles that are a roundup of products or local services. Depending on what you do or sell, it might be hard to get included on one of these lists if you have a lot of competitors, but it’s worth reaching out to a couple of local publications and asking if they might include your business the next time they write a review. Local newspapers, chamber of commerce, or community bulletins are a great place to start. Do a little research and find out who writes these lists, and connect with them via social media to start building a relationship. This doubles as a great way to start networking with people in your local community, which is another strategy to get your name out there.

Sign up for HARO

HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out.  It’s a free service you can sign up for where you will receive up to three emails a day from journalists looking for quotes, answers to questions, or people to interview for their articles.  These could be anyone from bloggers to reporters for the New York Times!  If you’re featured in their article, it’s free publicity for you and most of the time you should receive a backlink which can help boost traffic to your website.  HARO can get a little overwhelming receiving three emails a day, and admittedly it can be hard to get cited when there are thousands of other people replying to inquiries hoping to get their businesses featured. But like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.  My strategy for HARO is to spend no more than 30 minutes each day scanning the reporter inquiries and responding to any that are relevant.  If you’re interested in pursuing HARO as an SEO strategy, there are many guides on how to write a good reporter pitch.

Audit your website for on-page SEO

The cost of an on-page SEO audit can range anywhere from free to a few thousand dollars depending on the complexity of your website and who you’re working with.  But before you go and hire an agency, here are three easy things you can check and fix yourself:

Make sure your meta data is correct and thoughtfully written.

Meta data includes the page title and description (also called meta title, meta title tags and meta description) for each page of your website. A good meta title will be between 30-60 characters including spaces, and include the primary keyword you want your article to appear for. For example, if you have written an article on how to knit a pair of socks that is aimed at beginner knitters, a good meta title might be “Easy Guide to Knitting Socks for Beginners.” This is a much more attractive title than “How to Knit a Pair of Socks.” The same goes for meta descriptions, just make sure they are between 50-160 character with spaces and accurately describe what your page is about. If you created your website yourself using a builder like Wix, Squarespace etc and aren’t sure where to add titles and descriptions, contact their customer support and they will point you in the right direction.

Make sure all of your images have appropriate alt text.

Alt text is intended to describe an image for accessibility purposes. It can be read aloud to users by screen reader devices and is indexed by search engines. Adding just a few words to each image describing it is good for both humans and Google. If you’re unsure on where to add the alt text to your images, contact your website designer or customer support.

Check to make sure there are no broken links on your site.

Using a free tool like BrokenLinkCheck.com, check to make sure there are no broken links on your website.  If there are, either replace them with a good link or eliminate the text that contains the dead link. If your website contains dead links, it signals to Google that your content may not have been updated in awhile and therefore may not be as relevant as your competitors content, which then leads to their websites ranking above yours.  

Explore other avenues of content creation

A healthy social media presence isn’t directly tied to your SEO, but it does help send signals to Google that your business is active and engaged online. If you create high-quality content, it can sometimes be reused and repurposed across different channels. For example, if you’re creating a YouTube video, you could easily pull some clips out and make them into reels for Instagram or post them on TikTok. As an added bonus, if you grow enough of a following on any of these platforms, you may even be able to monetize your channel!

There are a couple of things to remember about SEO, the two most important being this: What’s good for the user is good for Google, and SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.  If you can commit to spending just a few hours a month working on optimizing your website for search engines, you’ll see that it will pay dividends by increases to your website traffic little by little over time.

I’ve been riding my whole life, and like to take my horse Lilly out on trail rides behind our house – along with our two goats!

-Emily King, owner