7 Essential SEO Tips for Small Businesses

search engine optimizationWhen it comes to marketing in the current economy, small businesses need all the help they can get. They don’t have the ad budgets, the personnel or the time that the bigger competition has. But none of those factors really matter to search engines, and SEO is a great way to both level the playing field and steal marketshare.

Here are a few tips that small businesses can use to improve their SEO and user experience.

1. Turn everything into content

Content is still King. Search engines still love unique content, and the more useful content there is on your website, the more opportunities you give searchers to find your products and services. Rob Snell gave a fabulous presentation at PUBCON South, and one of the main takeaways was how to turn everything on an e-commerce site into content. Here are some ways to “free” extra content on your site. Here were some of his tips:

  • Record everything and transcribe it all into text. Interviews, conversations, product DVD’s, personal opinions, etc.
  • Turn support emails into FAQ pages on your site
  • Turn PDF’s into HTML pages (although PDF files can rank on their own)
  • Start generating videos of everything

2. Make it personal

Small businesses have a major advantage that most bigger businesses don’t:  A personal voice. By making your voice heard, you’re showcasing your authority in your market, and adding trust. Buyers love hearing recommendations or reviews, and are more influenced to buy from those vs. product feature and benefit pages. Consumers use search engines to research products, and other than the lowest price, they’re looking for recommendations. Give them some! If you have a catalog, make a buyers guide in addition to product listings. Show you’re an expert and turn your knowledge into personalized business. Teaching is a great way to make sales.

3. Optimize for local search

Odds are that your small business can take advantage of local search. 63% of consumers use search engines to research information about local companies. Start with Thomas’ excellent guide on local SEO tips that range from claiming your profile to adding media to submitting to content aggregators.

4. Improve your site’s speed

Small business sites can be notoriously slow. Site speed is usually one of the last things that small business owners care about. But now that Google has introduced speed into the ranking algorithm, it’s time to seriously start checking out how fast your site loads. But more importantly, when you improve your site’s speed, you’re also improving your customer’s experience. Don’t make users wait to buy your products! You can use tools like Web Page Analyzerand the Firefox extension YSlow! to see what’s taking your pages so long to load. If you’re using a blog or shopping cart software, search for caching plugins for your software.

5. Refine internal linking

Internal links can add value to your site considerably, but many small businesses don’t understand that you have to develop a linking mindset in order to really capitalize on it. It takes extra time to research old post links and include them in your articles, but the benefits are great. Sites like Copyblogger do an excellent job of referencing older posts in their articles. Not only does this strategy help with SEO, it also adds to the user experience, giving them more Think long and hard about your site’s linking architecture. Is your navigation schema getting to all of your content? Aside from adding sitemaps, related products and posts keep both visitors and search engines happy. Popular posts lists are also great for making sure your best content is getting seen and linked to.

6. Create content for people

If you’re generating content specifically for search engines, you’re missing a major chunk of your market. Humans don’t like to be bamboozled, and when they come to a page on your site that was obviously made for a search engine, they’ll leave in a hurry and never come back. Plus, only humans can link to your site. If you want to get more inbound links and retain customers, you need to write for customers. The goal to higher search results is still to get more people to your site. After all, search engines can’t buy anything from you.

7. Don’t fret about getting nofollow links

It’s easy to get carried away with only trying to get incoming links without the dreaded nofollow. But really, a link is still a link. If that link can bring in a potential customer, then you want it. If you’re only looking for specific types of incoming links, than odds are you’re missing lots of the low-hanging backlink fruit and worrying about the wrong things.

Who knows how long the nofollow link will be around? If you’re smart, you worry about what’s most important: creating great content. You can’t control how Google ranks things in the future. Focus on things you can control, like creating a killer experience for your customers. In the end, if you focus on giving your customers and visitors great content, many aspects of SEO will take care of itself. Great content attracts great links, especially when you promote it and leverage social SEO channels of distribution. If it’s good for your potential customers, odds are it’s good for SEO too.

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  1. Glen very useful post. I love visiting this site to know latest happening in online marketing field. I still don’t understand the concept of nofollow links. Any tips or weblink which could be useful..?

  2. Nice article I will defiantly look into my internal linking, might be missing a trick or 2 there.
    speaking from experience points 1 and 3 are solid easy fixes.

    If anyone wants a great tool to help with point 4, take a look at Yslow a site speed performance tool from Yahoo. its a Firebug add on so will need that too.

  3. I think getting your website optimized for local search is probably the most important in my opinion because you are getting in front of the people in your geographic area

  4. Local search (because there's still so much low hanging fruit), turning everything into content, and improving your site's speed are to me the top 3. In this business, you've got to get the content first. Then when you get the content, you get the visits. Then when you get the visits, then you get the women.

  5. Helpful list. Thanks for the SEO tips!

  6. Good post. But more incoming links would harm page ranks right?

  7. These are some brilliant yet practical tips which most of the small businesses don't think over, Anyone can start from one mindset that is creation of regular content for the people without getting the language encrypted with SEO influenced words.The 4 points to diversify the content are just awesome.
    Thanks for sharing the tips Glen.

  8. A great post as usual Glen. Consistent good content & reputable back links are the key to success for any small business owner. Look forward to more of such SEO related tips…

  9. Avatar ActionMarketing says

    Great article… SEO is hard to grasp sometimes… Getting other small business advice go to

  10. Avatar wildnetseo says

    Your Blog and Article is so informative for all SEM professional World. I like it and appreciate it. Now a days Loading speed play a important role in ranking point of view.

    I read your blog and implemented on my own site SEO India

  11. Thanks for the great tips. I am doing quite a lot of these but there are a few new ones for me to work on,

  12. Hi Glen! I really enjoyed this post. It is sometimes painful to have to look for old posts to link to – but also presents a good opportunity to search Google for the post and see what else comes up with those keywords! ^Kristina

  13. I really like your point number 7, reference the no-follow links. I think people get too caught up with this, so it is good to hear someone put some sense to it!

    Great content as always guys.


    • Relevant links are good whether they are nofollow or not. Glad to hear we're not the only marketers that think that. 🙂

  14. Very inspiring. I like point 1. turn everything into content. Thanks.

  15. I've always been curious about the internal linking process. I have read that you do not want to link away from your landing page because this weakens the PageRank of that page. Is this true, or is it a wives tale?

    • If you link out a lot, then it may have the effect you describe. But linking to a small number of relevant resources that support the topic of the page is good for users and search.

  16. Love this short lists of useful tips you can turn into actions easily.
    I got a question I have hotel video reviews from customers where shall I place them if I trun them into text?

  17. Avatar Herry Raval says

    Small businesses have a major advantage that most bigger businesses don’t: This is perfect sentence as well also Small Business have make many way to get major advantage of inspiring bigger business.

  18. I never would have thought about turning service emails into a FAQs page, that's a really good idea.

    After you turn everything into text and html, would you recommend still having the video or PDF available? Don't PDFs and videos also add weight to your search ranking?

  19. Thank you for tip 7. Just yesterday I was getting all frustrated about nofollow links and blogs that use them and even downloaded the nofollow add-on for Firefox. Actually discovered that not a whole lot of people use the nofollow setting. Your tip is a relief from what could be a frustrating experience. I want to participate in conversations in a meaningful way, but also wouldn't mind if people would visit my blog as well.

  20. Nice post! Yest it is really helpful for small business.
    We should also take care about everything is working.

  21. I like your simple list. You explain it in very easy to understand terms.

    Everyone needs to remember why people created links in the first place. The idea of creating links just for seo is silly. Real people click on real links. Real people is what everyone wants on their website.

  22. Great point here about turning everything into content. This really works over time to build not only the authority of your site but to show your unique expertise. It's a win/ win

  23. Avatar Snelso78 says

    For someone who hopes to start his own business one day this article was a good way to help me think of ways to make that happen. I feel that a search ability of a website for a company is a big factor in an age where the fast flowing of the internet age.