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Search engine optimization (SEO) is, of course, pretty much an existential marketing consideration at this point: Without it, you’re sunk. That said, a great many owners find associated strategies to be confusing and complicated, and inevitably highly technical. But worry not: There are simple yet effective SEO techniques that dependably produce more traffic for smaller and/or new businesses.
Create product-specific landing pages
A common mistake is consolidating all of a company’s products or services onto a single web page, but this means missing a vital opportunity to optimize product- or service-specific landing pages for target keywords.
Take a Los Angeles-based family law firm, for example. Many firms list all their services (divorce, child support, child custody law, etc.) on one page. But those terms, independently, carry a ton of search volume, and so will be better optimized for individual web pages and targeted content.
So, consider all your services or products, then use keyword research tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to determine the organic search volume for each. Once you have determined a keyword target for each page, optimize content for it, which includes using a keyword(s) in the page title, subheadings and body content.
The power of guest posts
Another simple and effective way to generate more traffic is through guest posting —partnering with other publications, websites or blogs and writing or otherwise publishing content on their site.
Reach out to peers or websites whose work interests you, and ask if they accept guest posts. You might have to present a few topics for approval and be sure to adhere to each site’s guidelines (though many will accept content with no strings attached).
Posting in this way can help earn backlinks to your website, which boosts its domain authority, and in turn SEO. That said, backlinks are rarely guaranteed, so also focus on the benefits of earning referral traffic via another website’s audience and on the promotion of your content on their marketing channels.
Optimize local Google and directory listings
This strategy is particularly useful for small businesses targeting a specific geographic area (whether city, county or state), because people often use a variety of search engines to find services or businesses near home.
The most obvious one is Google, of course, which has its own online listing platform: Google Business Profile. Start by creating your Profile, then select your category, and be sure to include business hours and contact information, along with high-quality photos. Keep in mind, too, that the more 5-star customer reviews you earn, the better rankings you’ll have in Google Maps.
Other online directories like Bing Places for Business, Yelp, The Real Yellow Pages (aka YP), Better Business Bureau, Foursquare and MerchantCircle can be used to attract local customers. Also consider industry-specific directories (such as Avvo for lawyers and Angi for home services).
Generate effective content
One of the best ways to increase traffic for a small business is by posting engaging and SEO-friendly content. Even if you don’t have a large market, you’ll command virtually unlimited reach if there’s content on board that people are actively searching for.
For example, say you own a small beauty supply boutique. Local reach used to be pretty much limited to foot traffic and traditional media, but now a vast audience can be reached with informative content on topics such as summer skin care, the best face oils for dry skin and preferred organic makeup brands.
Once again, a good way to begin would be to use a keyword research tool to generate topic ideas relevant to your business and audience, then craft material accordingly (keeping in mind that non-writers can always use ChatGPT or other AI solutions). Include links to your products or service pages to attract even more attention.
Leverage search-driven platforms
Google isn’t the only search engine in the game, to be sure: There are many others —including Pinterest, LinkedIn, Bing and YouTube — that use search-driven algorithms to connect users with brands.
Pinterest can be especially effective for fashion and beauty brands, small retailers, artists, designers and marketing service providers. Similarly, YouTube and LinkedIn allow users to search for topics or content creators. On YouTube, someone might search for “useful marketing tips” and get directed to a marketing agency’s channel, while on LinkedIn a potential client might search for “business coach.”
On all these platforms, small businesses can once again gain leverage by offering valuable and audience-relevant content. Each will have its own “SEO best practices” that you can apply to help content rank higher (see YouTube SEO, Pinterest SEO, and LinkedIn SEO).