When managing a small business in Plano, TX it can be easy to get lost in the competition. SEO can be your greatest weapon or greatest weakness if you’re not actively working in a general direction. Luckily for local businesses, a few well-executed SEO tips for small businesses can change the entire outlook on the SEO status of your website.
This is the beginning where most things start (other than technical SEO audits). Keywords are the guide to your success. Every small business in Plano should have a very good idea of what their ideal target audience would be typing in Google search to find what they’re offering. If not, follow these simple steps to do the basic minimum on your keyword research.
- Make a list of 20 words and search terms that describe your services and/or products.
- Add your city (Plano) to the end of each keyword to target users searching Plano specifically.
- Keep in mind long tail keywords (3 words or more) convert better than shorter search terms.
- Type them into Google and see if your competition appears in these searches. This will confirm whether those keywords are fairly accurate and worth keeping on your list.
- Use a keyword tool to generate more options.
- Prioritize your list based on a) relevance b) competition and c) monthly search volume
The most important factor in prioritizing your keyword list is relevance. The keywords you target should represent business value. They should be the words that potential clients type into Google to find what you’re looking for in the short term (ideally) or the long term (also valuable).
This can be tricky without a keyword tool that quantifies the difficulty in ranking for that keyword. The basic concept behind this is that you want to be able to get results within a reasonable period. If you have a brand-new domain, it will be harder for you to compete for the biggest keywords in your market. That doesn’t mean you can’t though! You just need to prioritize your list according to what’s realistic and attainable within the timeframe you’d like to see results.
The volume of a keyword doesn’t always mean it’s the deciding factor for a decision. For instance, let’s say you’re a plastic surgeon and there are 0-10 searches a month for “rhinoplasty in Plano”. While this may only result in a few potential clients a month, when a user converts into a client it can pay for a whole year of SEO!
On the flip side, if you ranked for “nip tuck” with 50K searches, those users may all be looking for the TV show and not for plastic surgery. Add this to the fact that the city isn’t at the end and it should be clear how vague and broad this search term is compared to a longer phrase with the city in it.
Demonstrate basic on-page optimization
If you can get the bare essentials down, you’ve taken a step in the right direction. Basic on-page optimization includes the following:
- Keyword in the title (h1 tags)
- Keyword in the first 100 words of the page
- Keywords in the URL
- Keyword in the image alt tag
- Keyword synonyms in subtitles and scattered throughout the page
- Complete meta description filled out
All your pages should demonstrate these basic on-page optimization signals to have a chance at competing in the search results.
Create landing and location pages
A landing page is a page that is specifically created for a specific keyword topic. They guide users searching this keyword group to a specific action such as call, submitting a form or leaving contact information.
An example of a landing page is our guide to HVAC SEO. This page is specifically written for HVAC contractors who want to know all there is about doing SEO for HVAC websites. Throughout the content, there is a call-to-action that’s repeated for users to “schedule a strategy session” so we can go over the opportunities they have in their service area.
Part of HVAC SEO includes publishing location pages. Since most HVAC companies service multiple cities, they need a page that will show up for searches that have a city attached to the keyword.
For example, Austin Bryant Consulting is located in Plano but also services Allen and Frisco (and everywhere in N. America!). We need pages specifically for the cities where we don’t have an address. This provides a greater likelihood of showing up in the search results for terms like “SEO company Allen TX” or “SEO services Frisco”.
Location pages and landing pages are ways to create highly optimized pages for search terms that are valuable to your business.
Publish a blog and post regularly
A blog has multiple purposes. One is to provide relevant information your current clients are looking for as a resource. Another purpose is publishing content for potential clients that are trying to learn about your product or service. Optimizing your blog posts with local content, questions people are asking, and information people are searching for creates more entry points for people to find your website.
Did you know that a website that publishes 16 times a month will generate 350% more traffic than a website that only publishes twice a month?
A consistent publishing schedule allows you to build a themed resource. When done correctly, this demonstrates significant depth in the keyword topics you’re targeting.
A consistent publishing schedule also shows Google that your site is constantly being updated. If there’s one thing we know about Google for sure, it’s that it loves fresh, updated content. Obviously, the weight “freshness” holds in terms of rankings depends on the topic, but generally speaking, Google would rather show an updated page over one that was written 10 years ago.
Backlinks are one of the largest ranking factors when it comes to appearing at the top of search engines. Google, along with the other big search engines, has become very good at analyzing the relevance and authority of backlinks so it’s important to stick to a strategy that appears as natural as possible.
There are more than 30 link-building methods that we could talk about here. As a small business owner, it would probably be best to come up with some incredible content assets that people will naturally link to because it’s worth sharing.
An example of this could be an infographic checklist on something that’s super applicable to people’s lives or businesses. Here’s an example of an infographic for 30 different shot recipes that earned almost 400+ backlinks on one website it’s posted on.
When it comes to establishing a link-building strategy, it’s important to know what will work in your industry and what won’t. If you owned a bar and were looking to boost your online visibility, creating an infographic with shot recipes could be an excellent content asset for your website.
For local businesses where the competition isn’t as high, you can start with our next SEO tip and build citations.
Citations are mentions of your business. The most effective type of citation is an unstructured, linked citation. This means another website mentions your business name and links to your website.
A structured, linked citation is when the website has assigned a way for anyone to obtain the link. An example is Yelp, Yellow Pages, or any local directory that allows users to fill out their info and link to their website.
Local citations are excellent for building a local presence. The best way to go about your citation building is to get citations from three categories:
- Popular directories (national directories like Yellow Pages, Manta, etc.)
- Niche directories (Industry specific directories like Homestars, Houzz, etc.)
- City-specific directories (Plano Moms, Plano chamber of commerce, etc.)
You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. Tracking the results of your efforts is necessary to understand how to get better. One of the first steps is to set up your website with two powerful and free pieces of tracking software: Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is the equivalent of being able to open the hood up to your car. It gives you an idea of what going on with your website in almost every technical sense. You can see every click on every page from every keyword. You can see all of the backlinks, the reports on page speed and whether your site has any penalties.
One of the first things to do when you register your site on Search Console is to submit the sitemap of your site. This will ensure your pages are indexed on Google’s search engine so they can appear in searches.
This software also comes free and is among the most powerful tracking tools in the world. You will need to go through the registration process to obtain a tracking code. Once you have the code, insert it into the header so it can track data on all your pages. Wondering what to look for once you have all of this data coming in?
Evaluate important SEO KPIs
Tracking what users do on your site is vital to understanding the effectiveness of your traffic. Here are the basic performance indicators to look for in your Google Analytics reports:
- Traffic by channel: This report tells you where the website traffic came from. Usually, you’ll see volume from organic results, paid traffic (if you’re running a campaign), social media, email and referrals (from other websites that link to yours).
- Bounce rate: This is a measure of how many people land on your page and click back to where they came from. High bounce rates can indicate poor content, poor page experience or that your keywords are not the target audience you want.
- Time spent on page: It’s usually a positive engagement signal when users spend more time on your pages.
- Pages per session: Higher values indicate positive engagement. Lower values could also indicate the need for better internal linking to guide users to more related pages.
- Conversions: You can set up goals for your users such as making a sale, sending a form or clicking to call. When this goal is completed it will show up as a conversion goal. This is another excellent method of gauging the effectiveness of your traffic.
Analyze your competition periodically
It’s difficult to dominate every single keyword in the number one position. There will always be others that slide ahead of your website for different search terms. It’s important to be aware of what your competitors are doing to earn valuable traffic to maintain your competitive edge.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to get an overview of their website with an analytic tool. Some of the bigger companies that offer this service are Ahrefs, SEMrush and Moz. By simply entering a domain in one of these tools, you can see what new backlinks they’ve acquired, what new keywords they’re ranking for and whether the overall search volume from ranking keywords has increased on their website.
Always follow an SEO strategy
When you have a goal, you have a direction. This is the first step in every SEO strategy for every business. Even if you have a tight budget and must do it yourself, taking the first steps towards basic optimization can carry you quite a far distance. Make sure you establish a basic SEO strategy so that you can take steps towards your goal, no matter how slowly.
When you’re not sure about something, ask a professional. Virtually EVERY SEO company will take the time to break a few things down for you and can answer questions you need to get you going. At Austin Bryant Consulting, we understand that there will eventually come a point where you need a helping hand in taking more digital real estate in the search results.
If you have any questions or are interested in a strategy session to find out what your opportunities are, we’re always here to help!Call us now and schedule your first strategy session!
Christian Carere heads the SEO team here at Austin Bryant Consulting. After building an SEO agency in Toronto (Digital Ducats Inc.) Christian was hired by founder Keith Hunn who has created a full-service digital marketing agency in Plano, TX. Christian has been published on Search Engine Watch, Venngage, Small Biz Daily, Grasshopper, Data Box, Socialnomics, and Mention.