Search engine optimization is necessary for every business that wants to reach a wider audience. Optimizing sites of small businesses could be more difficult because they will be competing with larger, more established names in their industry. These 10 tips help improve the online visibility of small businesses, increasing conversions and ROI.

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1. Keep website structure simple and navigable

Use a simple and clean structure for small business websites, and select a CMS that is search-engine friendly. This helps search engine crawlers index and rank pages. It also makes the site more attractive and navigable for visitors, encouraging them to stay and click through the pages. Make sure to add a site map and avoid splash or welcome pages.

2. Optimize for a specific location.

Part of SEO for small businesses is optimizing for local results. Local search optimization is very important in the SEO scene because it brings businesses closer to a more relevant market. Targeting people in their vicinity increases their chances of conversion, because the people clicking on their sites are more likely to visit their brick and mortar locations. Keep your focus on that niche’s local market.

3. Make a list of keywords the site could potentially rank for.

Think of what terms people will use to find a specific industry provider. Ask other people and see if any of the answers overlap. This will give you an initial idea of popular keywords used for that type of business. It will also give you a primary list to work with when you do research and analytics later. Next, make an enquiry using these terms and note the search results. See if these sites are similar to the one you are optimizing, and find out what elements make these sites successful.

4. Create relevant and compelling content.

Writing content that centers on specific keywords is good, but search engine crawlers are getting more advanced. They index and rank pages with updated and informative content. Keep the keyword density at a minimum to avoid being tagged as spam. Quality content also engages the target audience and convinces them to become customers.

5. Always register with major search engines.

Check if you can register a website with Google by sending a postcard and waiting for them to call for verification. Google does this in the United States, Canada, most of Europe and some parts of Asia. If the business or the website is not from any of these locations, find out what the major search engines in that country are and register with them.

6. Claim listings on major international directories and portals.

Part of doing local SEO is to have a strong presence in online directories. Sites like Foursquare, Yelp, CitySearch, Yellow Pages and Urban Spoon may be popular sources of business listings in your country. Claiming free business listings from these sites only takes minutes, but the visibility it gives websites lasts a long time with good reviews and regular updates.

7. Encourage positive reviews from visitors.

Small businesses should promote their listings to their customers and encourage them to share their positive experience on these sites. Positive reviews build good reputation and influence their rankings on search engines. Read the existing reviews on these pages and find ways to get other people to share their positive experience.

8. Engage the audience through social media.

Direct communication with the target market helps small businesses address their audience fast. It creates a more personal connection with the customers while communicating their brand message well. Build strong social media presence and widen networks using sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

9. Consistent branding goes a long way.

brandingKeep your information consistent throughout all platforms. Use the same name format, address, and contact details on search engine registrations, business listings, content, and social media profiles. This promotes brand recall better and prevents confusion among the target market.

10. Use professional SEO services

Professional SEO companies have complete tools, knowledge and work force to optimize small business sites. Leave the optimization to the pros.

Happy selling agency partners! In our next blog we’ll cover the new Apple Maps offering and what that means for SEOs.

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