Think SEO is all technical work that you can’t do as a business owner? I’m here to tell you the non-techie SEO tips for small business owners that can make a difference to your online search presence.
We live in an age where everything is do-it-yourself.
The delights of YouTube how-to videos and blog posts have empowered us to do ourselves what we wouldn’t have been able to do twenty, ten, or even five years ago.
This is especially true when it comes to online marketing and advertising.
You don’t need a computing degree to run ad campaigns on Facebook. I’ll be the first to admit this, and it’s my part of my job!
Needless to say, this kind of task may come with its challenges for non-techie business owners but no matter how stuck you get, do a quick search on YouTube or Google and you’ll usually uncover a tutorial with the answer.
Except for when it comes to SEO.
SEO for small business is an entirely different beast.
I will argue that for you to really see magnificent presence in search engines, you do need a digital marketing professional who knows SEO on your team.
That’s because a large part of optimising your website for search engines is technical (i.e. performing small business SEO Audits to make sure your site can be crawled and indexed by Google, that your site architecture and structure is as good as it can be, and other technical optimisations).
But this is not a sales pitch, it’s all about non-technical SEO tips for small business that can make a difference to how well your website ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs).
With that said, let’s talk about the elements of SEO that you can control with limited technical knowledge.
What is ‘non-techie’ SEO?
Firstly, we’re talking about the digital marketing space, so you could argue that everything is ‘techie’.
What I mean by non-techie SEO tips for small business, is that your everyday person could probably manage these tips without needing knowledge of coding or advanced SEO tactics, like structured data, for example.
If you read that last part and thought ‘I have no idea what structured data is’ then good news, you are exactly the type of person I’m talking about!
Why SEO matters for small businesses
As a small business owner, you want your website to show up at the top of the first page of Google results when a potential customer searches for a product or service you offer.
It seems like such a simple want.
But it’s the same ‘want’ that your competitors and others in your industry, like bloggers and publishers, have too.
Google has the job of indexing over 60 billion web pages (as of September 2019).
It uses this index to assess and rank web pages when a user performs a Google search.
That’s a lot of data to be assessing and ranking.
SEO is everything we do to signal to Google that our web pages should be ranked above our competitors, or bloggers, or media sites.
If we don’t pay attention to SEO, the likelihood is our website may rank for our own brand name but it won’t rank for the huge range of phrases potential customers use when researching a product or service.
That’s a lot of missed opportunities to be discovered by new customers.
Plus, it’s been found that SEO has a 14.6% conversion rate compared to 1.7% for traditional outbound methods.
So, if you’re not ranking on page one when potential customers do a relevant Google search, you’re not just losing the opportunity to be discovered but losing out on visitors that are more likely to become actual customers.
On a more positive note, SEO is one of the most accessible channels for small businesses to tap into without having a huge advertising budget.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest – all of these social media channels make their money from businesses advertising to reach their audiences.
Nowadays, you simply have to pay-to-play in the social media space.
Social media algorithms severely limit your organic reach.
Without paying for advertising space in the form of Boosted Posts, Lead Ads and so on, your business won’t be seen by more than 2% of your followers.
Organic search, on the other hand, is an essentially free channel to reach your audience on, with the exception of any costs for hiring SEO guidance and hands-on support for copywriting etc.
Advertising is an option on Google, yes, but it’s not a necessity to be seen.
Do SEO well and you can be visible when it matters most – when potential customers are actively looking for what you have to offer.
Non-techie SEO tips for small business
Tip 1: Make your website about your customer before you
Sounds kind of backwards, right?
It’s your business website.
A person has clicked on to your website and therefore they must want to know about you and what you do.
Like reading an online brochure.
Visitors rarely come to your website via Google search because they want to read all about you; your accolades and glowing reviews, the services you sell etc.
They are looking for information that will help them.
They want to know you understand what they are looking for, straight away.
They want to find the answers to their questions, even if they’re not planning on buying from anybody for another six months.
Google searchers are problem-solving.
Your website must solve, or make clear how you will solve, their problem.
If it doesn’t, they’ll exit and keep looking through those search results until they find the website that does this.
How to check
Take a look at your website today.
Do you have pages created specifically to answer the frequently asked questions you get from customers? A general FAQs page doesn’t count, by the way.
If you are an interior design consultant, you might receive questions like:
“What are the design trends of 2019?”
“I want to renovate and sell my house, how can I appeal to the most buyers?”
“How do I pair different materials in the same room?”
So your business website should address these questions with dedicated pages or blog posts.
The more helpful, problem-solving content you have on your site, the more likely you are to rank well in search results for the phrases your potential customers are using.
While we’re on the topic of speaking the customer’s language, let me ask you this. How many times can you count the words ‘we’ ‘I’ ‘us’ ‘our’ on your home page before you even scroll down the page?
If it’s more than once, it’s too many times.
Position your small business as the solution to your customer’s problem.
We use exceptional interior design to make your home an oasis.
You might say:
Make your home an oasis with exceptional interior design.
Note how the focus in the second title is on the customer first.
Tip 2: Don’t put all your services on a single page
Listing every single service or product on one website page is one of the biggest mistakes I come across in small business sites.
This is a problem because the page has no clear focus.
It makes it hard for Google to see your page as quality for a variety of different keywords and phrases because there are so many being used on a single page.
Let’s say somebody searches for ‘physiotherapy for back pain’.
Your website has a single page titled ‘Services’ that talks about physiotherapy services for back pain but also talks about elbow pain and knee pain and sports injuries.
Your competitor, on the other hand, has a Service page that talks solely about physiotherapy for back pain in a good amount of detail.
Which do you think Google will regard as the most relevant?
Yep, your competitor’s page.
So make sure each service you offer has its own website page and use each page to go into detail about why your offer this service or product, what outcome a customer will get after buying and so on.
Tip 3: Set up a Google My Business account
Google My Business is free.
It’s essential for any local small business but should be used by all businesses.
If you have a physical location, a Google My Business account is how you get a location pin and listing on Google Maps.
It’s not overly difficult to set up, you can simply create your account and enter your business details to begin with.
As time goes by, you might want to start taking advantage of Google My Business a little more, to help with SEO.
Things like Google Reviews, posts, offers and Services listings are all great and can impact your rankings.
Tip 4: Learn SEO best practice for writing and publishing blogs
-For the most part, publishing pages to your website that answer your potential customers’ questions is best done by writing blog posts.
The last thing I want you to do is to spend time writing blog posts that have little chance of ranking and actually being seen.
It’s not as simple as write and post.
Writing for SEO has a few guidelines, some of which you could consider ‘techie’ but others are very straightforward.
In the meantime, here are a few of the guidelines that are non-techie:
- Aim for 600 words or more – it’s hard to write anything that’s considered really high-quality information without hitting or exceeding this word count. The more comprehensive your post, the higher chance it will rank well.
- Break your text up with headers. You want one main header – usually your blog title. Then for each new section or point that you want to make add a header and then sub-headers within this.
- Try to include the main words your audience will use in their search, in the blog title and a couple of the section headers, as well as naturally throughout the blog text.
- Don’t forget to include images! Images are important to break up your text and make it readable for your audience, especially if it’s a long post.
- When you upload your text to your web page, format the headers you’ve included in the following way: the main title should be a ‘H1 or Header 1’, any section headers ‘H2 or Header 2’ and any sub-headers within these sections ‘H3 or Header 3’.
- When you upload your blog images, you should have an option somewhere to add what’s called ‘alt text’. This is how Google knows what is in the image. Always include ‘alt text’ for an image.
- When you add your ‘alt text’, describe the image as though you were describing it to a blind person in a single sentence i.e. graphic of an interior designer inside a living room’. Try to include the main words you are targeting in at least one image alt text.
- Know a business owner with the same customer type as you? Share the blog with them and ask if they’ll link to it from a blog on a relevant topic and you can reciprocate with their blog post.
There’s a bit more to blogging for SEO but these basic best practices are a great start if you’re not keen on hiring an SEO writer or consultant.
Tip 5: Get familiar with your basic website analytics
Please don’t be intimidated by the mention of ‘website analytics’.
Google Analytics is another free software that tells you how your website is performing. It’s something all websites should use.
The software has a lot of data and information included but you just need to be familiar with the basics.
Depending on the platform your website is built on (Squarespace, Wix, WordPress etc.), you may need to be a little bit techie to install Google Analytics on your site in the first place.
If you’re not comfortable with that, hire a freelancer to do the installation and set up for you as a one-time task.
Once you have access though, all you need to do is login and view one single page: the ‘Home’ page.
This will tell you things like:
- How many people visited your website
- How long they stayed on the website
- How they found your website
- Which pages they viewed most
All of these pieces of information tell you what a user’s experience was like on your website.
Are people only staying on your website for 30 seconds?
Do they only view one page?
This kind of detail is important because part of how Google ranks websites is by signals from the visitors who come to your site.
If people are clicking to your site but exiting quickly and heading back to Google to do another search, it sends a negative signal that your site wasn’t what they were looking for or is low quality.
Part of great SEO is making sure when people arrive on your site, they stick around because their experience is good.
With one eye on this kind of data, you can identify opportunities to review and improve your website.
Fired up to improve your small business SEO?
You got this!
SEO can be overwhelming for small business owners with little to no technical expertise.
That doesn’t mean you can’t implement a few best practices that will add up to better SEO efforts.
Put these 5 non-techie tips for small business SEO into play and you’re on the road attracting more organic search traffic to your business.
On a final note, if this blog post has you thinking you probably need to pay more attention to your SEO, read this post about why small business SEO should start with an audit.
About the author
Aimee Binstead is an online marketing freelancer based in Perth, Western Australia. She truly believes that time is our biggest asset and something we don't get to claim at the end of the tax year.
She spends her working hours supporting small business owners and the rest of her time exploring Australia in a campervan, watching sunsets, or jetting overseas for adventures.
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