As a small business owner or manager, you have a hundred different things on your plate, and often the content of your website can take a back seat. It’s easy to think that if the basic necessary information is there - opening hours, your address, and a phone number - you’ve done enough to be found, right?
Wrong. Sure, people will find you if they come directly to your website, but that will usually mean that they are existing customers. By not investing a bit of extra time and effort in your small business website, you're ignoring the potential to reach so many more customers if its content is enhanced for "Search Engine Optimisation" or SEO. This means that it ranks highly on internet search results in the most popular search engines like Google. When research shows that people use online searches to find local businesses (in fact, 72% of consumers who perform a local search will then visit a store within five miles) SEO is very important for small businesses as well as large, global organisations.
So how can you improve your website content to get more business? Here are a few of the best ways.
Make sure you’re a locally listed business
This is the most important tip for capturing those local customers mentioned in that statistic above; your potential customers need to know you’re there! There are a few ways to make sure your online presence is reaching local people, including listings in directories like Tripadvisor and Yelp, as well as geo-targeted advertising on Google, and even mentioning local attractions on your ‘Contact’ or ‘Find Us’ page. Google will use this content to show you to users looking for nearby businesses. This video shows you how to add your business to Google.
Use keywords and format your content
Many business owners will be aware that appearing high up in search results for keywords in their industry is important, but not everyone knows how to do that well. Studying competitors is a good start to see what works, and spending some time to see which phrases the best-ranking players are using and what kind of content they have on their website. Consider not only short, competitive keywords but long-tail variations of them as well, as you are then more likely to rank higher for those terms. Try to think like your customers and consider what phrases they might use to search for a solution to the problem that your business can solve.
Having your content properly laid out with heading styles can also have a positive effect. While experts have long debated the effectiveness of headers, they will at least make your content is easier to navigate, and some case studies have attributed huge gains in search rankings to proper heading use. This article goes through a number of the most basic SEO principles that all small businesses should be aware of.
Put out regular, readable content
Modern websites cannot be projects that you complete and then forget about, as they need to be regularly updated with fresh content so search engines like Google know that they're still "active" websites and businesses. Make sure to produce regular new content - blogs, new product pages, or news articles are a good way to do this - and keep older pages updated when information or products are outdated. When writing content, adopt a natural voice and be certain not to ‘stuff’ keywords in where they don’t fit, as Google’s advanced algorithms will see through this.
Even polishing up and republishing old blog posts can have a huge impact if done well, as proven when Backlinko used this tactic to drive 260% more traffic. Take a look at the performance of old posts and see if there’s room to improve, even if it’s just updating the images or adding another tip you’ve since learned.
Give people what they want
This cannot be stressed enough, by myself or Google: the best way to rank well and attract visitors is to create useful, shareable content that helps, entertains, or informs people. Not only will you climb the search results through generating more links and shares, but you’ll reach a wider audience through this interaction too! Whether it’s a DIY plumbing guide or a list of local coffee shops your team loves, give your readers something they can actively use or learn from and they’ll be more likely to share this content AND remember your business in future. Google also likes to see people staying on websites so make it easy for readers to stay on your website by linking to other useful pages associated with the blog post or page they are on.
Stay on top of SEO best practices
Lastly, keep informed of big changes and developments in the SEO world. While it’s unlikely that any of the above tips will become frowned-upon ‘black hat’ tactics in Google’s eyes, they could nevertheless fall out of favour as new algorithms or ways of searching are developed. In a few years, we may all be finding businesses through augmented reality maps or voice search, so it pays to be in the know. Use sites like MOZ and Yoast to keep up to date with the latest changes that affect SEO but remember these basic principles. With that in mind, go forth and optimise!