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SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a strategy used to obtain visibility and keyword rankings in search engines. It is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing and as such is a foundational tactic for businesses of all types and sizes.

Yet many small businesses, often with limited marketing budgets, struggle to implement effective, sustained SEO strategies. Fortunately, there are many tactics that allow businesses to allocate limited resources into areas where they’ll see an impact.

Today, we wanted to discuss some of these simple, low-cost SEO tactics businesses can deploy to get started.

SEO is actually a catch-all term that encompasses numerous factors that require varying levels of expertise and time commitment. These include (but are not limited to):

  • On-Page Website Content/Structure
  • Google My Business Profiles
  • Inbound Linking From Other Websites
  • Citations – Breadth & Consistency Of Online Profiles
  • Reviews
  • Social Media

An easy way to upgrade your SEO strategy is to claim and manage your business’ free media on the web. When consistent information on your business exists across online search, directory, social, nav, and voice platforms, Google views your business as a trusted source of information.

This focus on online profiles is known as Local SEO. It is a particularly important strategy for SMBs, as it ensures your business is targeted in hyperlocal search engine results. Local SEO is crucial when you want your business listings and website links to appear to a prospective customer searching for your products or services with a “near me” search.

With this in mind, let’s dive into some specific, cost effective ways to leverage online presence and local SEO for your SMB.

1. Claim Your Google My Business(GMB)

Google My Business is a free tool provided by Google that allows for your business’s core information to be displayed directly within the Google search results page. This simplifies customers’ search for information by exhibiting your business at the top of the page, both in branded and organic searches. It is particularly effective in the realm of local search and has proven to increase organic exposure.

Google weighs the quality of your GMB profile heavily when determining where your business ranks in search results – in fact, 25% of the ranking factor is based on your GMB alone. Google factors in pieces of your profile such as your proximity to the searcher, the category of your business, and keywords from the search that are within your profile.

Therefore, claiming and fully populating your Google My Business listing helps your business to be visible to a larger audience and pushes your website and content higher in search results. With 84% of Google searches being unbranded, taking control of your GMB  profile increases your company’s chance of being discovered and puts your business in front of more high value customers.

2. Establish Your Yelp Presence

Yelp is an online platform designed to help users browse local businesses of all kinds. The platform predominantly revolves around exchanging business reviews, but it is also a valuable resource for generating leads. Yelp offers free profiles for all businesses, and also extends the option for Enhanced Profiles (EP) at a monthly fee which provides users with several additional features.

Establishing your business’ presence on Yelp gives insights into customer sentiment as well as puts your business in front of a massive base of over 100 million unique monthly users! This is a high impact opportunity to enhance your business’ hyperlocal SEO strategy at little to no cost.

3. Social Media

Google also factors in your business’ social media accounts when considering page ranking. For this reason, it is important to extend your business’ online presence through social media in order to strengthen your search engine performance.

Facebook business pages can ultimately function as a second website for your business. They offer another platform to display your business information including basic hours, address, and phone number as well as more information such as services and pricing. Many internet users look to Facebook as their number one source for information, so foregoing use of the platform could mean a significant demographic missing out on your business.

In addition to Facebook, you might consider running some other social media accounts as well. Social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more are great places to host your organization’s original content to display your thought leadership. Don’t forget to link out to your company’s social profiles within your website, too.

4. Review Monitoring

Another important consideration in your small business’ marketing plan is business reviews. Business reviews account for 15% of Google’s ranking decision for your business – this means that your business is ranked based on the quantity and quality of reviews it has received.

Customers often search for businesses for the purpose of reading reviews alone, so review monitoring should be considered a crucial piece of your SEO strategy. By failing to claim and monitor your online listings, you are likely missing out on many important insights into customer sentiment. GMB and Yelp (among others) are sites that allow users to leave reviews, even if you haven’t claimed or created a profile for your business.

Business reviews are more important than ever, as users are increasingly growing to trust them and factor them into purchase decisions.  As a best practice, all reviews should be responded to by the business owner or designated representative to grow your customers’ trust in your business.

All of these strategies help to get your brand in front of the right people, at the right time, and the right place. Have a question for listing management experts? Reach out to us.

DSG is a digital marketing agency in Malvern, PA.