woman searching on smartphone
There are many ways to boost a business's SEO, from creating content to improving your website's loading speed. — Getty Images/marchmeena29

Boosting your visibility online through improved search engine optimization (SEO) is a smart move for any small business. After all, 97% of people conduct at least one hunt daily via Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. However, three out of four users don’t bother to scroll beyond the first page of search results.

If you want to rank higher in organic search and direct more traffic to your website, you need to follow a proven plan of attack. To garner effective ideas, we consulted with a trio of professionals, who recommended the following strategies.

[Read: 3 Things You Need to Know About Google Analytics in 2019]

Claim and complete your Google My Business profile

Google controls over 92% of search’s market share, so it makes sense to amplify your presence there. A great way to start is to fill out a free Google My Business (GMB) profile. Doing so will automatically bring up your listing in a local search result, allowing prospective customers to quickly view your company’s name, phone number, address, description, photos and online reviews left by others.

“Google only has a limited tool set for understanding a business’s offerings, so this is the perfect opportunity to feed them that info directly. Businesses with names that don’t necessarily match all their service offerings can benefit even more from fleshed out GMB listings,” explained Joe Goldstein, director of SEO and operations for Contractor Calls.

“Completing a GMB profile makes your company eligible to show up in search results even before you have a website, too. And when GMB profiles show up in local search results, they generally earn more clicks than the organic search results below them,” he added.

Goldstein’s further recommendations:

  • Use the same business name, address and phone number everywhere online.
  • Avoid using tracking numbers. Instead, log into your GMB dashboard to see how many calls were generated directly from click-to-call.
  • Use your home page URL as your website address.
  • Ask your customers for Google reviews, which can up your search rankings.

[Read: 6 Essential Steps to Creating an Effective Email Marketing Campaign]

Creating content as a small business can increase traffic to your website, which has the potential to convert to leads.

Greg Secrist, co-founder of BKA Content

Create lots of useful content

On the web, words matter, and the more said about or by you, the better. That’s why it’s wise to publish plenty of fresh content that appeals to your customer base, which will help with SEO.

“Creating content as a small business can increase traffic to your website, which has the potential to convert to leads,” said Greg Secrist, co-founder of BKA Content. After blogging more often for his own site in 2018 vs. 2017, Secrist saw a 125% increase in company sales.

Extra content doesn’t have to come exclusively from a blog; you can create YouTube videos, generate guest articles for someone else’s blog, website or publication, and launch a podcast, too. The key is for the content to offer value to the user, in the form of expert advice (a blog post by your plumbing service on “the right way to unclog that sink”) or edutainment (a humorous puppet show video by your accounting firm explaining how to claim tax deductions).

“Be sure to refresh or replace older content frequently and optimize your content for SEO by updating your main navigation pages to include the primary keywords you are trying to rank for,” Secrist said.

Optimize for voice search

Any modern approach to search must also take into account voice search via virtual assistants and smart speakers.

“Voice search has created entirely new niches with SEO that require constant vigilance,” said Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics, who noted that nearly 60% of consumers used voice search within the past year to find local business information. “Clearly, local businesses have the most to gain by optimizing their listing for voice search.”

For starters, up your website’s loading speed; pages that too long to load can get you aced out of voice search results. Additionally, create featured snippets-friendly content designed to answer questions about your offerings and business. Also, write content and keywords that sound more natural when spoken aloud by shortening phrases and sentences where you can.

Be sure to optimize and test voice search results for your company across multiple search engines and devices (most virtual assistants — including Alexa, Siri, and Cortana — actually use Bing, while the Google Assistant uses Google), and be patient during the process.

“Often, instead of bringing up a list of results,” Masterson continued, “voice searches may only spit out one or two results, making an acceptable SEO position that much more difficult to obtain.”

[Read: A Quick Guide to Marketing Your Business on YouTube]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published August 26, 2019