Every business needs to be popular within its target market, this is the only way to generate leads and traffic to its website. But, this is easier said than done, especially in this age of online marketing where visibility is largely determined by search engine rankings. So how can small businesses achieve this kind of visibility? The answer lies in having an SEO strategy in place. What is SEO? SEO is the process of increasing online visibility of a website or web pages in search engine’s unpaid results. It involves creativity and technical know-how in improving brand awareness, rankings, and traffic in search engines. Marketing statistics show that SEO is of utmost importance for the success of any business. One research found out that a great number of consumers (72%) visit a business within their locality after doing an online search. From a different research, 28% of searches led to purchases from a nearby business. These statistics just go to show how a small business can benefit by ranking high on search engines. Implementing SEO Strategy for Small Businesses While SEO can be a bit complicated, it’s possible to implement a more targeted and cost-effective strategy with a small budget. Such a strategy should focus on the main factors of SEO; Keyword Search Content Optimization Link Building Local SEO Keyword Search Keywords are phrases or words that your customers are most likely to search for in search engines. As a small business owner, it’s upon you to ensure that your website is optimized for these keywords. Any photo, video, or article can be scaled down into a number of words or phrases that gives it a chance of being found when searched; those are keywords. You will have to figure out which keyword combination will attract sufficient traffic. A good approach is studying what your completion is doing to remain relevant for such searches; this could be both on-site and off-site efforts. To start off, use Google Keyword Planner to find out which keywords are ranking high for your products or services. The tool also comes in handy in narrowing down the phrases not only by volume but how their search trends change with time. This will enable you to tailor your content to fit these keywords. It will also help you to go for the phrases that are likely to have a longer ‘shelf life’. Keywords searches are not limited to what is popular; there are some long-tail phrases that people could be searching and ending up with little or no results. Your business can capitalize on this pool of prospective customers by optimizing content for such keywords. Content Optimization One tip that you are sure to encounter in your SEO efforts is that ‘content is king’. The reasoning behind this is how search algorithms work; they rank quality and relevant web pages higher. Great content also goes beyond search visibility. While your keywords could land visitors in your site, it’s the content that keeps them interested. Strive to ensure that your web pages are populated by unique, factual and easy-to-digest information Content should be made up of 2 to 4 line-paragraphs Use infographics, images, and videos as part of web content. Go for relevant ‘how to…’ tutorials in both written and video formats. These are more search-friendly. The above tips will bring you out as an expert in your field – which is a big factor for conversions to happen. Link Building Link building as an SEO strategy is a two-pronged approach; internal and external links. With internal links, you are able to distribute equity to pages that may otherwise have low rankings. This can be done by using anchor text to direct search engine bots to old and unique content that may not be available from your competitors. Internal links also help in directing visitors to other useful content within your site. External links, on the other hand, are as a result of great content and off-site marketing of your website. Let friends and complementary businesses know about your website; if they are satisfied with your work, they will link to your web pages. Expert-level content will also see other writers link their content to yours. The don’ts of links: Guest blogging for links; paying for links; excessive link exchanges; use of automated services to generate links; use of links as part of your Terms of Service. Local SEO As earlier noted, a small business needs to first attract the local community before setting sights on out-of-town customers. Optimizing your site for those who live or are near your business is known as local SEO. One of the best approaches for this kind of optimization is by listing on Google My Business. By doing this, your business will be visible on Google Maps, Google+ and Google search. Apart from being visible, your business will reap the benefits of reviews; potential customers can view these from your business listing on their phones without the need of visiting your website. Unlike traditional search results if a business is searched with a map listing, local business features above the other search results. The platform also allows you to include several categories; this increases your visibility for possible relevant searches. For every category that you choose to go with, you can add several images to further enhance your online appeal. While most people are likely to use Google, there is a possibility that others will opt for Bing, which ranks second on search engines popularity. With that in mind, you can increase your local SEO by listing your business on Bing Places for Businesses. This portal is also free and offers similar services to Google’s. Conclusion From the above strategies, it’s clear that even on a limited budget, small businesses can optimize their websites for high rankings while increasing their conversion rates at the same time. Avoid underhand practices which can lead to penalties from the search engine companies. Of importance is preferring quality over quantity in your SEO strategies; go with high-quality content for all your pages. You should also keep an eye on what your competitors are doing as well as keeping up with different SEO trends.