Search Engine Ranking Basics: SEO Tips For Small Business Owners

Many small business owners are concerned about their search engine ranking.

To survive as a small business means you need people to find you.

A website provides the ultimate frontline to making that happen.

By earning the best search engine ranking you can, you improve your odds of getting found.

Earning a great search ranking isn’t an automatic thing, though.

Nor is it permanent.

Optimizing is a continuous process as search engine ranking often changes due to many factors both public and secret.

Google isn’t going to give away all the factors to their algorithm to avoid allowing people to game the system.

Plus, as other brands do a better job with their search engine ranking, your relative position to them will change too.

However, if you continue to work at it with some learned skills, you can keep your brand ranked as high as possible regularly.

Today I’ve got some basic tips that will help your search engine ranking stay ahead.

Search Engine Ranking Is Limited By Obvious Factors

It would be foolish to expect to rank in the first slot of the first page every time.

On average, there are 7 web pages listed on Google’s first page for any search.

I bet there are more than 7 brands in your industry that you’re competing in the search engine ranking with.

Plus, each of those brands has more than 1 page on their website.

That leaves hundreds if not thousands of possible pages you’ll be competing for the best spots with.

Consistently, your content is likely to get knocked around between pages depending on how each of the competing pages is doing on that given day.

Likewise, Google’s factors change how the algorithm ranks you often.

Minor tweaks to the algorithm happen often, and major ones come multiple times a year.

These changes result in a fluctuation in your brand’s search engine rank.

Often only a minor change of a few spots either direction, some changes can cause you to drop several pages in search.

So, it’s a safe thing to say that your results from any SEO efforts may vary.

With that in mind, it’s important to remember that an expectation of page one will leave you often disappointed.

However, it doesn’t mean that page one is impossible.

With the right amount of work, consistency, and high-quality content, you can expect to continue to improve your search engine ranking over time, bringing you ever closer to the coveted number 1 spot.

Improve Your Search Engine Ranking Simply

Nothing about optimizing for search is ever easy.

However, it can be incredibly simple if you learn what matters.

Most small business owners don’t have a problem with consistent effort if they understand what they’re doing and why.

That’s exactly the kind of mentality that it’s going to take to improve your search engine ranking.

SEO is, as a matter of practice, a constant effort that goes into making your website content easier to find in search.

It’s not a one-and-done activity.

SEO isn’t a one-and-done activity. It takes constant, continual effort. Click To Tweet

But the strategies are simple to understand and simple to do.

Provided you don’t look for the easy way to rank one, these strategies will constantly keep you among the top rankings for your keyword.

They’re successful in the short-term but, unlike black hat strategies, they have lasting results.

Ultimately that’s what makes them so powerful.

Now, if you’re ready, it’s time to buckle down.

Here’s what you need to know if you want to improve your search engine ranking now.

Search Engine Ranking Serves Why As Much As What

There was a time where SEO was all about the keywords.

Algorithms had little more to go on than the number of times you mentioned the search query in question.

This resulted in marketers stuffing as many keywords into their content as possible in the hopes of improving their search engine ranking.

The idea was that Google would see those keywords and decide the content was relevant.

However, the content became garbage, disjointed by an overabundance of keywords that made little-to-no sense within the context of the content.

That practice is no longer rewarded by Google, instead nearly guaranteeing that your content will get dropped well to the bottom of the search engine ranking.

Google prefers to see around 1 keyword for every 200 words, or about a .5% density.

They’d rather focus on whether you give the searcher what they need.

But if you’re going to do that, you need to understand the “why” behind the search query.

Why is someone searching for this information?

What do they want to achieve?

When someone looks for the best concrete drill, they don’t just want to know what it is.

Chances are they are looking to put a hole in the concrete.

They not only expect to find information on the drill they want to buy, but also articles that rank those drills, information on shopping for one, and possibly instructions on how to drill into concrete properly.

If your content answers the question as completely, your search engine ranking will improve.

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Local Search Engine Ranking Is More Beneficial

Do yourself a favor.

Google “pizza parlors near me” and see what comes up.

Right there, towards the top of the page – if not at the top – is a map with a few pizza joints in your area.

There are usually 3 listed with pins for more on the map.

Now stop and think about what I told you about the number of organic spaces on page one.

Can you get into the top 5 consistently?

Chances are it’s going to be a fight.

But if you were to focus on local searches, you’d show up in the top 5.

That’s because that map shows up in the top 5.

It’s not likely that numbers 1-3 on local search – unless they’re a major corporate chain – are listed in the top 5 organic searches.

You’ve probably never noticed that before.

Here are a few neat facts:

If you take the time to understand that, you’ll see the benefit of local search.

This is especially true for small businesses, whose search engine ranking will improve on local search.

Guarantee yourself a visible spot in your community and the search engine ranking.

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Google MyBusiness Is Key To Search Engine Rankings

Speaking of local search engine rankings, let’s dig into one of the necessary elements.

To be successful here, you’ve got to start with your Google My Business Profile.

Claim yours and begin to flesh it out.

Fill out all the information, leaving nothing empty – especially the address and phone number.

Make sure you include as much relevant information as possible.

Do your best to include pictures and videos where you can.

Oh, and don’t forget to verify it.

As you select the category you list your business in, take your time and be careful.

Choosing incorrect ones won’t help you get found by the right people.

Then you can get advanced.

Start using all the GMB features to the fullest, especially when it comes to customer interaction through reviews and questions.

The My Business Q&A section is a great place to answer some of the most common questions your target market has.

Don’t look for it on the admin end, however, as it’s a basic user feature.

While you’re answering questions, spend time answering your customer reviews, too.

Nothing tells your audience how much you care about their feedback as listening to their concerns does.

By remaining active with your local audience, you’ll see the success of the local search.

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Inbound Links Can Boost Search Engine Rankings

If you’ve consumed any of my SEO advice in the past, you know I’m not a huge fan of telling people to create backlinks.

Often, the practice gets incorrectly handled, creating inbound links from low-ranking and low-credibility – aka low authority – websites.

These links are also considered low-quality and damage your search engine ranking.

However, there is a massive correlation between high-quality inbound link quantity and search engine ranking.

There’s a simple reason for that: people won’t use your content as an example if it’s not quality.

The more authority a site that links to you has, the better your search engine ranking will be.

But if you plan to build those inbound links, you’ll need a strategy.

It should include two factors:

  1. Know who you’re going to reach out to and ask for a link in their content.
  2. Know where you can create backlinks without getting penalized by Google.

Figuring out who you’ll try to ask for backlinks can be simple.

You’ve likely developed some relationships with influencers in your industry (if you haven’t, get on that).

Those people are the best candidates to reach out to.

Websites that you can create backlinks on, however, may not be as obvious.

Easy choices, like Quora and Alignable, won’t have the same impact as something specific to your industry.

Chances are, however, that you haven’t thought about some of the larger industry-news-related websites.

Leaving backlinks with relevant information in the comments sections can be a huge benefit.

Remember that it shouldn’t feel like spam.

Combine your link with a long-form reply that adds to the conversation.

Make your link worth visiting to boost your search engine ranking.

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Search Engine Rankings Get Better With Reviews

You know exactly how important reviews are to your business.

Something that can make or break your brand, customer reviews affect the purchasing decisions for 93% of consumers.

But did you know that customer reviews – especially on Google – have an impact on your search engine rankings?

Straight from the horse’s mouth, Google lets people know that customer reviews, as well as the way you respond to them, affect search engine rankings.

When you have a high number of reviews, Google even includes your review score with your search result.

Reviews signal trust to the consumer, which is also a factor that Google uses to rank your site.

It stands to reason, then, that you need to earn customer reviews as often as possible.

Thankfully, doing so is often as easy as sending an email.

Your Google My Business admin dashboard has a link that you can send to your customers after an interaction to leave a review for your company.

Don’t be afraid of a negative review, either.

Responding to them promptly and assuring that you’re doing everything you can to make the situation right helps to counteract those negative reviews.

Plus, the feedback you get – especially from negative reviews – allows you to get better.

Just make sure you know what to do with a review when it comes in.

Otherwise, you might misstep and cause the situation to go critical.

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Your Search Engine Ranking Can Be Consistently Improved

The work to build a better search engine ranking isn’t something that should ever stop.

It’s a continual process that continues to create excellent results when tactics are applied correctly.

For those willing to put in the work, especially in the areas we went over, the results will speak for themselves.

Bet that your improved search engine ranking will get you found by more of the right people, increasing the number of website visitors, leads, and sales that your brand sees.

Compared to the results, improving your search engine rankings hardly takes any work at all.

But you’ve got to have the patience to see it work and, more importantly, you’ve got to have the diligence to keep working before you’ve seen the results.

That’s the only way you’re going to get the search engine rankings and results you’re looking for.

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Search Engine Ranking Basics: SEO Tips For Small Business Owners

by Michael McNew Read in 8 min