Guest contribution from Dana at Talk About Creative, a boutique digital agency in Brisbane. Dana’s focus is on creating SEO strategies for small business.

Small Business SEO in 2016

Small business SEO changes with every new search engine algorithm update, but the good news for little biz owners is that the core of your SEO strategy remains the same – if you do it right! Small Business SEO has always been about quality over quantity. Focusing on high quality SEO in 2016 is still the way to go! So how do you produce quality for your customers in 2016?

What does quality content look like these days?

Search engines are more interested in how you satisfy your customers than how well you place keywords in content. As the algorithms get more and more complex (and AI starts to take over search ranking), it’s vital to really understand your topic and give an authoritative and useful answer. Long content still wins but length isn’t everything. In every blog entry that you write you should:

Empathise with the Googler

What are they looking for when they search? What are the core questions they’re looking to have answered?

Give the right answers. Once you know what they want, you need provide the answer in a way that offers insights that aren’t offered anywhere else. Maybe your answer will be more comprehensive. Maybe your answer will have examples or videos that make it easier for them to digest. Small business SEO isn’t just about dazzling search engines, it’s about knowing your customers, their behaviour and their pain points.

Make it an enjoyable read

Metrics like “time on site” matter. If users click through and take a quick skim of your content and then move on, you’re going to fall out of rankings pretty fast. Use human language, demonstrate how you understand their pain, be funny or lyrical. Make the read a delight and they’ll stick around longer.

Click through matters

There are plenty of ways to increase your click through from search results. Engaging and empathetic page meta titles, kickass call-to-action driven meta descriptions, brand name in meta title (for returning visitors and brand awareness). If a lower ranked search result gets all the clicks, it won’t take long for it to creep up on you!

Reduce the bounce

So they come through to your site and read your content. Winning, right? Nope. If they then click away without moving around your site, you’re wasting valuable traffic (remember traffic is a business cost – may as well get the most from it) and you’re demonstrating to Google that you’re not keeping visitors engaged. Bounce rates vary depending on the kind of business you’re running and blogs that answer a question well can increase bounce rate dramatically (they get the answer they were looking for an leave.) Reducing bounce rate is a tricky process. You will need to experiment with calls to action to funnel the visitors through to other blogs or to your sales page. Think about the person reading the blog – what other problems are they likely to have? Do you have some content that solves those problems too? Do you have a product? Integrate other website or blog content into each post to keep funnelling them around your site.

User experience isn’t just UX

User experience isn’t actually UX. UX might be what the SEO industry uses to talk about the metrics that measure user happiness but it isn’t just about measuring metrics. Real user experience is about serving your potential customers with content in the format they prefer. It’s about making it simple for them to enjoy using your site. If your product is visual, you should be giving them amazing images, videos, infographics – think about their needs and tailor content to suit. Create content with your imagination and measure with analytics. Not the other way around.

Get personal-isation

How do you rank number one for all your content without actually doing SEO? It’s called Google Personalisation. When your social media fans click through to read your content, you gain affinity with them. So next time they search for something you’ve written about, you will appear higher in search results. Do it enough times and you’ll always be number one in their results.

The old favourites for little biz search results

Search engines are still computers. They’re smarter than ever but they still rely on certain signals to help them understand the complexities of language. Humans are becoming smarter searchers and demand more accurate results from each search. So it’s still important to bring these together in a way that satisfies everyone!

  • Use your network to build awareness of your brand online. This includes providing guest content for your fellow business owners and creating content that they want to link to. Links still matter – well, high quality ones do anyway. A good litmus test for the quality of a link is whether you could expect it to drive click through to your website. If not, the referrer either has no profile or no trust.
  • Keywords might be more complex and longer (two word phrases are being replaced with wordy questions) but you should still be using them. Including them in your text, meta titles, descriptions and headers will make it simpler for search engines to understand your content. Don’t just focus on the exact phrase you’re going after, focus on the group of words associated with that phrase; synonyms, adjectives, related words. If you’re writing naturally and with authority, that should come without too much effort.
  • Keep your website clean and nice. Keep content up to date. Keep an eye on your metrics. Clean up 404s and other “dead links”. Trim it down where you can. 301 redirect expired content like events and job ads. Make it quick to load and easy to use on a mobile device. Use Search Console to monitor issues and jump on them straight away.

Small business SEO has changed but it’s really stayed largely the same. It’s about tweaking your practices to stay on top of the ever-evolving complexities of search engines. Be amazing and the rest will fall into place.