A woman approached me as I was preparing for my lessons for the day. I was in Kairi, a rural village in Kenya, teaching some basic business skills classes to members of a microfinance group.
She introduced herself as Alice.
In our class the day before, I taught a lesson on managing money in a small business. I used a fictional business owner named Alice to illustrate the importance of keeping business money and personal money separate.
Alice was her real name, and she told me that today she is a “new Alice” after my lesson. She continued, “No more will I be the old Alice who is not wise with her money!”
And that’s why I’ve made it an initiative of ours to support microfinance projects this year. Our goal is to help provide opportunities for small business owners, especially in underserved areas.
We’re working through Kiva, a top-rated charity who bridges the gap between people and entrepreneurs around the world. Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.”
After six months of working on this project, this is our first Kiva Impact Report.
Empowering Entrepreneurs Globally
The best thing about microfinance is that it isn’t about donating free money to people. These are small loans designed to enable an entrepreneur to grow their business. This allows small business owners to not only provide for their families, but many of them also create jobs in their communities.
In our efforts this year, we’ve supported microloans for people like:
Osterman in Columbia (pictured above) – As a farmer, he used the loan to hire local laborers to help him build drainage canals for better irrigation for his crops. His loan is currently 13% repaid.
Shoyra in Tajikistan (below, left) – Her loan was used to buy a sewing machine and start a new business sewing women’s clothing. Her loan is currently 21% repaid.
Wilmer in Ecuador (below, right) – He owns a taxi, and his loan helped him do maintenance and change the tires on his taxi. He also got additional business training to go with the loan. His loan is already 73% repaid.
Each of these entrepreneurs has dreams, not unlike my own, to grow a business so they can better support their families. Many are working to improve their homes and pay for education for their children (something often taken for granted in a country where we have free public education).
Every one of these microloans gets them one step closer to fulfilling their goals and dreams.
Using Kiva as a Tool To Support Microfinance
The best way I can describe what Kiva does is that it’s kind of like a Kickstarter for microloans to entrepreneurs in poverty-stricken areas around the world. (Kiva is actually older, but I know the reference would make sense.)
Their website allows you to search for borrowers by region, business sector, and/or other attributes you may want to target.
Each borrower has a profile page telling you about the loan, the story of the borrower, why the loan is special, and several other details. A loan can be for any amount, and lenders can chip in for as little as $25.
The idea is that many of us can throw in what we can to fund that entrepreneur. Together we fund the loan, and repayments are distributed back to each of us when the borrower makes their payments each month.
When that money is repaid, we can then turn it around and lend it to another entrepreneur. That means $100 initial investment can end up having a far greater impact over time as it continues to get reinvested.
Business Supporting Business
At the beginning of 2019, we started allocating $100 from each new qualified small business client who started working with us towards a microloan. So for each business client starting a new website development project or using us for our ongoing SEO services, we would make the contribution toward a business through Kiva.
As a growing business, our heart is to leverage some of our profits to support other growing businesses around the world.
Once we’ve selected an entrepreneur to fund through Kiva, we also notify the new client about what we’ve done in honor of them. Some have also joined our team on Kiva to further support a borrower (the same one, or another one they find on their own).
Focus on Poverty-Stricken Areas
While there is need everywhere, our focus so far has been on places where the communities are under-served, families are often displaced, and where poverty means that there simply isn’t an opportunity to provide the basics.
So far this year, out of 12 loans funded by Team Fistbump, all 12 are in different countries across South/Central America, Africa, and Asia.
While we may fund additional loans in countries we’ve already supported, our goal is to spread the love as much as we can around the world.
The Importance of Social Responsibility (and Gratitude)
There are two main reasons this is an important initiative for us this year, social responsibility and gratitude.
First, we’re driven by a desire to care for our fellow human being. This desire is rooted in our faith in God, and the Bible’s call for us to help those who have a need. As I’ve been out on missions trips around the world, I see lots of need.
So we’re using what we have to help others… not with a handout, but a hand-up.
Second, it’s about gratitude. As the founder of Fistbump Media, I’ve directly experienced what running a small business can do to provide for my family. I have a great deal of respect for others around the world who are chasing their dreams with a desire to provide well for their families.
And we’re grateful to all of the clients who have been there for us. So this is one way we can say thank you and pay forward what we’ve been given.
Our Kiva Impact Report for the First Half of 2019
In the first six months of 2019, we’ve added 8 new small business clients who have met the qualifying threshold. So that’s $800 that we’ve invested into loans so far.
With a few other small loans from team members and clients, plus a little repayment money reinvested in new loans, our total impact is $1,000 worth of microloans.
We expect the impact to grow more rapidly through the rest of the year as we continue to reinvest repayments and bring on more new small business clients. Additionally, we’d love to invite you to join the team and help us help even more people…
Final Thoughts (and an Invitation)
The impact so far has been exciting to watch! I look forward to every opportunity I get to send over another $100, or reinvest repayments from existing loans. It reminds me of conversations I’ve had with business owners on some of my missions trips when they share what kind of impact the loans have for them. It’s life-changing.
And while we’ll continue to invest as the opportunities arise, you can join us in this work too! It’s super easy…
Blogging is just writing some stuff, right? Wrong. Blogging is the foundation of a great content strategy. And with it being THAT (yes, THAT) important, getting the blog layout right is crucial. The layout can be the deciding factor for a reader to take your B2C (or B2B) relationship to the next level.
Your business may not be your blog, but your blog is definitely your business. So you’ll want to make sure that your posts are sending the right message, and fulfilling their purpose.
In this article, we’ll break down four major components of a successful blog layout that will catch attention, guide the reader’s eye, create an effortless read, and have a lasting benefit to both parties. The four components are:
Summary and CTA (call-to-action)
1 – Headline
Your title is your first impression. In fact, it may be the most important part of the blog layout. Will they or won’t they continue further?
You want your title to be eye-catching and informative. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer quantifies that by looking at word balance, scannability, and sentiment.
CoSchedule suggests that the word balance should fall into these four categories:
Common words – These should account for 20-30% of your headline and are the building blocks of your title.
Uncommon words – These are the words that create the substance in your title, and should only take up 10-20%. They are extremely important for content.
Emotional words – 10-15% of your words should create an emotional response, this increases CTR (click-thru rate).
Power words – These words are the cherry on top. They show readers can trust you and prompts them to take action.
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer also rates scannability by taking length, first and last words, keywords and even gives you a web search preview. These can be great tools to help you see what your reader will see and adjust accordingly.
2 – Images
How can you use imagery to lock the reader’s eyes and keep them scrolling? There are a few ways to do this:
Use an infographic. Users are looking for information, why not give them a little snippet of your topic and dive deeper “below the fold” in the blog/article?
People. People can create an emotional connection and give a headstart on how your post is going to make you feel. People will also be drawn to where the eyes are looking in the picture so make sure you have something important in their eye line.
Show them how it’s done. Insert a screenshot of the actionable step you are looking for. If they see how it is done or how easy it is they will be more likely to do it themselves.
You want to make sure your images are strategic so stay away from random pictures of inanimate objects and use visuals that will inform them, create an emotional connection, and bring their eyes to your main points. Just be careful, use images that are approved for public use. ProBlogger has some great guidance on how to find and use images legally.
3 – Body
How many times have you gone to an article and skimmed just to find the information you need and left because you just saw a wall of words? Probably a lot, and your readers are no different. Let’s look at two helpful elements for the body of your blog layout:
TLDR; (too long, didn’t read)
From your subtitle to your images, there are a few ways to use this to your advantage.
Your subtitle should be a one to two sentence summary of your post.
Under your image, you can bullet point your main points so they know what they will find before they scroll.
Bold headlines and important sentences to create clean and concise readability.
Add some pattern interrupt to the page with larger type and an option to share.
Summarize the article with your call to action so even if they don’t read the whole article they will opt-in to learn more.
We discussed images and how they can draw the reader in your blog layout. These next visual elements keep the eyes moving down the page smoothly to increase session duration and engagement.
Bolding elements like headlines, bullets, and keywords can neatly break up text and help you reiterate the importance of the text.
Bullets segment individual ideas so the “skimmers” know where to stop and find information vs. seeing a wall of text and bouncing.
White Space is crucial for readability. I am going to be really cliche here, but less really is more with this one. By that, I mean less hustle and bustle going on as you scroll will benefit you more than trying to fit every bit of information to fill spaces on the page. Just don’t go too hard on the white space or your page will look incomplete.
4 – Summary and CTA
If you laid it all out in the beginning and your formatting is well done, you shouldn’t need a summary because they will have already gotten what they needed from your article throughout.
What you do want is a quick call to action whether you want to get them excited to see you in their inbox, or follow you on social, you want to make it clear, concise, and easy to do.
Limit your social icons to three, send them over to your site via a link to increase your referral traffic, or get them to opt-in to your emails. You can use these call to actions to increase different metrics but that is a whole different topic!
Final Thoughts on Blog Layout
The most important thing to think about when putting together your blog post is the reader experience. And that means thinking about the structure, and not just the words on the page. Providing a great user experience will improve engagement levels on your site, which is exactly what you want.
With blog layout and technical structure being so important, you may also want to scan your site for any technical issues. Use our (completely) free webpage audit tool to see how well you score. This doesn’t scan the layout, but it will give you a good idea of the technical strengths and weaknesses of your page.
Now, over to you… what are some of the best practices you’ve seen in blog posts that you read? What are some key takeaways that you can use to improve your blog layout right now?
You own a small business and you have a million things on your plate. Read on to learn everything you need to know about SEO in our ultimate SEO kickstart guide.
When Scott Paxton entered a competition to see who could get their new website to the front of Google the fastest, he decided to look at what his competitors were doing.
What he learned can help you take charge of where your business ranks in the top search engine result pages (SERPs).
You want to rank first for your industry on Google…but you don’t have the time or money to spend hours trying out different strategies…how do you get great SERP results without blowing your whole budget?
This guide will walk you through how to use SEO for small business. Stop wondering why you aren’t ranking as high as you want and get a free site audit now!
Is SEO for Small Business Worth It?
You love your business and nothing excites you more than waking up to help it grow every day.
But your website and all its subdomains aren’t popping up on the first page of Google.
As much as you’ve heard about how small business SEO can help bring in new customers, you just don’t want to bother trudging through educational resources on the subject.
One easy place to start is with a SEO score. You’ll get an easy to read SEO report sent right to your inbox.
This is a great place to start if SEO seems like a daunting subject. It will show you everything you could be doing to rank higher for your keywords.
How will it be displayed? Which social media outlets, websites, etc.
Who will you need to hire to produce the content?
Who will make decisions about which content is produced?
Often times marketers fall short of completing the real goal behind SEO. To get more sales. Just ranking higher for certain keywords will undoubtedly bring more traffic to your site, but if you’re attracting the wrong visitors your efforts are in vain.
Research shows that 53% of people will leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. That’s bad news given that the average loading time of a mobile page hovers around 22 seconds.
Complicated graphics or videos can cause your site to lag too much, ultimately losing your potential leads.
→ Broken Links
Make sure every link on your site is functional. Broken links hurt your online reputation and make your whole site look unprofessional.
→ Canonical Link Elements
Canonical link elements tell search engines which page of duplicate content should be shown. You probably have several duplicates of content pages from your own site and don’t even know it.
That’s because duplication can happen due to something as small as opening a new user session. Often times a single instance URL is issued when each visitor comes to your page.
Forgetting to use canonical link elements can result in the wrong page being pushed up the SERPs.
“Would I Do This If Search Engines Didn’t Exist?”
Is the exact question Google says to ask yourself before modifying your site. It’s tempting to cater to search engines because they bring in so many of your customers.
But it’s important to keep in mind that you share the same goal as Google, to better serve your customers.
So look at Google as more of a partner than a landlord. One way to prove to Google your site is trustworthy while still providing tremendous value to the end user is through backlinks.
Backlinks are when other websites link back to your content.
How to Get Backlinks
Before we talk about how to get backlinks, let’s talk about how not to get them.
This is just as vital because black hat tactics like link schemes can result in penalties that will make your site harder to find than Timbuktu with a blindfold on.
Original content reigns supreme within Google and other search engines. Unique opinions and commentary on content from other sources is still considered original.
But content scraped from other sites with nothing of value added to the user experience will earn you a penalty fast.
A great way to get other sites to take notice of your content (and link to it) is to create a resource center.
→ Resource Center
A resource center, like this one, is the perfect way to build backlinks. No one likes being sold to. It’s why we fast forward or skip commercials whenever we can.
But a source for high quality, fresh content that answers your readers’ questions will have them begging for more.
And yes, your resource center should be totally, 100% free. Think of your resource center as a first date with a potential customer.
You want them to see the expertise and skills you have to offer. You don’t try and sell to every visitor right away the same way you wouldn’t propose to every stranger walking into Starbucks after you.
The less sales-oriented your resource page is, the better. This isn’t a buyer’s guide. Don’t try and upsell or link to products. Provide only the information readers are looking for.
It might seem counterintuitive not to focus on sales here, but remember we have a reputation to uphold with Google.
The more time reader’s spend on our pages the higher they’ll rank. A resource page builds your credibility as an expert in your industry.
GET THE LATEST BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE IN YOUR INBOX
Join our mailing list to receive updates for new articles and webinar to build your small business digital marketing strategy.
Thanks for subscribing! Watch your inbox for updates!
How Social Media and Content Marketing Work Together
Social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to content marketing.
It democratizes content creation but it can also be more demanding than your typical marketing strategy.
That’s because not only do you speak to your users on social media, but they speak to you.
→ User-Generated Content
Taking advantage of user-generated content like customers using your branded hashtags is an important part of making your social media campaign a success.
Responding to comments and DMs also go along way in ranking your social media pages higher in SERPs.
→ Keep It Share Worthy
Social media is all about sharing. Sharing something that makes you laugh, cry, or angry is what makes social media so addicting.
It’s not like traditional media that talks at you. It’s your best friend sending you something that made them crack up.
It’s your mom sending you something that made her go, “awww!”
Always ask yourself, “would I share this on my personal profile,” before posting something on your business profiles.
Marketers used to go on nothing more than trial and error. Not anymore. We have more data than ever to base our marketing decisions on.
A website audit report is a good place to start. You’ll get a look at what’s working (and what’s not) with keywords your visitors might be using to find you. You can focus on those subjects and remove irrelevant content that may be holding you back.
Facebook’s targeting metrics are arguably the most advanced of any tech company. You can find everything from keywords your customers are searching for to what their favorite band is.
A pet supply store might target the keyword “black cat” on Halloween, which would probably create a short term surge in traffic.
But most people searching for the term “black cat” are not going to be interested in pet food.
Know who your customer is before trying to connect with them.
One of the best ways to do keyword research is with an in-depth keyword analysis. These are great because you get an instant critique of your keyword usage.
If you’re not ranking well, don’t worry! That’s the whole point of the audit. Improving your SEO strategy starts with fixing what’s broken.
If your site is lacking in keywords there is a lot of help. Content creation and backlinks are what will get you to the top of the SERPs. You can outsource a lot of this time-consuming work to a service like this.
You Can Start to See Results in Less Time Than You Think
So what did Scott Paxton learn while racing to rank his website?
Every top search result led to a subdomain of their homepage. Your homepage should act as a directory that hosts all your valuable unique content.
That’s because we want to provide value above all else. Backlinks and keywords create the language we use to communicate with Google.
No one wants to do business with a faceless corporation. SEO and content marketing set you up to be an industry leader by humanizing your business.
To start ranking higher and attracting more customers, get a free site audit and start optimizing your page immediately! If you still need help with your SEO strategy we can help with everything from designing your website to creating a solid network of backlinks.
Stop ignoring your SEO strategy while your competitors thrive. Read this article now about what happens behind the scenes of a site audit.
How much time do you spend on social media every day? How many social media accounts do you have? I guess both answers will be something like “too much”.
And it’s really never enough for us. Do you think social media are a kind of addictive? I can’t prove that for sure, but I am 100% positive about the fact that wise merchants can use this social media obsession to their benefit.
Well, you are here, reading this article, which means you would like to become an influencer on social media or boost your influence there.
I am going to give you 10 simple tips that will help to make up your mind.
By the way, what do you think is the most precious on social media? From my viewpoint, it’s the fact that people view and read your posts because they are interested in them.
Social media don’t work like annoying television, radio or newspaper ads.
Ok, it’s quite understandable that if you want to grow your influence, you need to nurture your followers. I advise you establish yourself as an expert in your business niche and it doesn’t matter whether you are a social media professional or not.
Please keep in mind that social media influence is not the thing you do once in a lifetime. It can be compared to growing a plant which needs constant care. It is a rather long process and you should be ready to invest your time in building the desired influence.
Ok, below you will find working tips that will help you build your social media influence. They are mostly generic, so can be used by anyone to improve their social media influence.
Have no time to read? View the infographic below, however, I recommend you to skim the entire post, it won’t take you long.
You need this to add new followers and maintain the old ones’ loyalty. Don’t invent any complicated schemes, just ask them about their daily activities. You need to have followers if you want to become popular on social media. Build your gang – add your friends, peers, and just people interested in your product/service/offer.
It’s also good to run a blog. Don’t be lazy, comment on other people’s posts. You should be accessible to your followers when they want to get in touch with you. Have real interactions with people instead of posting what you did or are going to do.
“Listen” to what people in your niche are talking about. Can you contribute to the topic? Do it! Contributing to conversations on popular topics in your field is a great way to reach out to people and add followers.
You can use your favorite SEO/marketing tool to find the most shared content in your niche. This will save you a ton of time.
As I work at Ahrefs, I surely use Ahrefs Content Explorer for the purpose.
Carry out contests, special events, and post news
People are emphatic, they like to reach out to others. They want to get involved in your life, celebrate, and do many other things with you. Hold contests and regular events to reach out to them. Don’t forget to encourage people to get involved and share the latest and the most revolutionary/funny/interesting developments at your company or in your life with them.
Use the power of hashtags to build contacts
Don’t underestimate the power of keywords and hashtags when you are trying to reach out to people on social media sites. Squeeze out the most out of them. See how other people are doing this and don’t be shy to learn from them. Act wisely.
All of us know that our content should be unique and original. However, other people have curious things to share. Curate the best posts and share them on your page. There is no need to overload your followers with posts. They will appreciate your creativity and careful posts choice.
Promote things you are good at
Generalists are cool guys. They are free to post everything they want. But it’s much more likely that you are running a niche business, so you can’t afford to be a generalist. What you need to do is find some specific topics that resonate with your activity and create posts on that. This way you will become an expert on a subject and people will start to trust you.
Measure your activity
Everybody wants to know the results of their work. You can find that out signing up with social media measurement websites like Klout or Kred. I named them because they are easy to use and provide you with good insights on what works great for you and what you are doing wrong.
Supposing you have just launched a new product or service. It’s natural that you want to get inputs on a specific issue. Ask your followers, they would love to share advice. Another benefit of such kind of activity is increasing the engagement level and adding more people to your community.
Bask in the glory of other social media influencers
Give positive feedback to the posts written by others. Do it on your wall. Mention high influencers names and this will also do you good. Add @ before the influencer’s name on Twitter, add + in front of the name on Facebook and Google+. This will also increase your social influence.
Make friends with your niche influencers
It’s obvious that you are not the only one working in your niche. Some of your peers may be more influential than you. Try to connect with them and establish friendly relationships. What can those people do for you? They may mention you in their posts or share your content, which is cool. You can use your favorite SEO/marketing tool, like Ahrefs Content Explorer to find influencers in your niche. It will show you what content is hot in your industry, who is writing it, and who’s sharing it.
Don’t limit your conversations to social media networks. For instance, you can record a podcast, host chats on Google Hangout, take part in radio interviews, post videos on YouTube, etc. There are so many alternative ways to connect with people. All these will help you build your social media influence.
As you understand, my list of tips to increase social media influence is not comprehensive. The final advice is to watch other people. What are they doing? What is going right? Noticed something – try to adopt the technique.
I wish you the best of luck in boosting your social media influence, waiting for your additions/comments/thoughts on the blog post. And don’t forget to share it on your social media with friends and colleagues.
The line between offline and online sales has become very blurred. There’s showrooming and Research Online, Pay Offline (ROPO), point of sale (POS) e-commerce systems, click and collect options— and then there’s local action-focused search to factor in.
With smartphones that keep us connected to the internet wherever we go, we always have the option of buying something in under a minute. We can search for things, place orders, and carry on with our days. Micro-moments are an ever-present danger to our wallets.
Retailers that aren’t taking advantage of this power are making a huge mistake, because it’s a huge source of revenue. Let’s look at what local SEO really involves, why Google cares about it, how you can optimize for it, and what really makes it worthwhile: ROI.
What does local SEO for online sales mean?
Before geo-targeting was an option, SEO was unfocused. The overall goal was always to get more traffic in general, reasoning that the more people visited a site, the more conversions there would be. It makes sense, and it works— but when there’s a physical location involved, your SEO requires a far more granular approach.
Because it operates through a physical location, local SEO needs to be geographical to an extent that goes beyond simply knowing what country a user is from. Consider the average Google search made from a phone in today’s world. Google won’t just parse the text; it will use the searcher’s specific locational data in combination with the specified keywords to try to find the best possible solution in that context.
Just look at the enormous increase in the use of the term “near me” in America over the course of the last 7 years. We know that we don’t need to type our current locations, so we don’t bother. We pass our tasks to Google, and it takes one look at our location data and figures out what exactly we’re talking about.
That’s what makes it so much more important (and interesting) to optimize for.
Why Google prioritizes local SEO
Imagine that you got hungry on a night out and wanted to visit a restaurant, but you couldn’t think of what could be open at that time. Eager to eat, you could take out your phone and search for “restaurants still open right now”. Google would interpret the string, conclude (quite correctly) that you were searching specifically for restaurants in your area, and deliver results meeting your criteria.
This focus on understanding intent—recognizing what a user meant regardless of what they actually said—is a key part of local SEO. It’s all about figuring out the purpose of a search so the best results can be found, and mobile devices play into this hugely (since searches from mobile devices cumulatively comprise well over half of all web searches now).
By listing a company in response to a local query, whether as a top result or even a featured rich snippet, Google knows it is implicitly recommending the locations it lists. If you can give your business the best chance of being such a recommended location, it will benefit you hugely through increased business from mobile users ready and willing to convert.
How you can optimize for local search
Given the overwhelming importance of being picked by Google as a top result for a local search, local SEO is all about covering all the bases and jumping through every hoop provided. Google wants as much information as possible. Here are some things you can offer:
A Google My Business Map Listing
Filling in Google’s My Business page is an essential component of appearing on Google Maps. Without it, you won’t be featured, and all your local SEO efforts will be ruined as Google won’t want to rank you for a local search when it isn’t even sure your business is in that area.
Your business should have a blog or at least some form of content updated semi-regularly. Use your content to write about your area and your place in it— touch upon relevant area keywords, but be sure to make it good content regardless. If you make a guide to your area, it’ll give you new ranking possibilities and further associate your business with your location (remember to share it on social media for added exposure).
A company with no reviews appears suspicious. Even if you get glowing reviews offline, it won’t help your traffic. Encourage your customers to leave you reviews through Google+ (it’s mostly dead, but the reviewing is still of value), an external review service if you have enough customers to justify it, or (if your online store setup supports it) even a free or cheap review add-on.
While you can include reviews through microdata, it’s not all you can tag. You can point out anything you can list through Google My Business (including opening hours, holiday hours, menu link, etc.) and more, including product types, dimensions, materials, etc. Google may not want to rely on it, but for the moment it still has value.
By including as much detail as you can about what your business does, where it is, and how it operates, you can make your company a viable contender for SERP positioning when a relevant search is made.
If you’re willing to do some PPC to get things moving, you can use Google’s Merchant Center to advertise your product listings inside results pages, plus they’re playing with a system for buying directly through search results. PPC doesn’t innately affect SEO, but if it brings in new customers who really like your site and your service, the uptick in your metrics certainly will.
The high ROI of local SEO for online sales
We still need to answer the titular question of what investment in local SEO can do for your online sales (and offline sales)… so let’s do that now since we only need one term: high ROI.
The scattergun approach of standard SEO gets strong results, but it also wastes resources for businesses with physical locations and associated restrictions. It brings in people who never intended to buy anything, traffic from overseas, and a weak return on the effort.
You don’t just catch stragglers— you catch the people who are in the right location at the right time and itching to buy something you can offer them.
While it’s challenging to track local SEO ROI sometimes, try using call tracking to segment the data. Use one number for your Google My Business listing, another for your website, and another for any other type of campaign you run.
Once you’re done, you’ll be able to narrow things down and figure out where all your sales are coming from. You’ll most likely see that your local traffic is converting at the highest rate. If it isn’t, then you’re doing something seriously wrong to push awaylocals and should think about your overall strategy.
Getting the SEO rockin’ for your small business website can be tricky (and frustrating). Especially, if you’re trying to do it on your own. The good news is that there are a number of common issues you can easily resolve, with a little direction. Focus on these strategies, and your website will be taking a giant leap in the right direction.
I’ve completed hundreds of small business website SEO audits over the past couple of months. I’ve tracked the data from these audits and ran some statistical analysis on it. There are definitely some noticeable trends.
The first thing I noticed is something many owners/managers may not realize about their small business website…
Lots of people can put together a nice looking website these days. But from what I saw, many of the most amazing looking websites were some of the worst performing ones. A primary purpose for any small business website is to drive sales. So all the pretty in the world doesn’t mean a thing.
Aside from that, there are eight key observations I’ve been able to make from looking at the data. Each of these has a significant impact on your website’s ability to do its job well.
This first observation simply blows me away. After all, this is the foundation of all other strategies for your website. It’s about domain name selection. One thing you need to understand is that the first thing people and search engines see is your domain name. And first impressions matter, to both people and search engines.
No pressure. But don’t mess this up.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Let’s say your company, Southern State Roofing Company, launches a new website. The worst thing you can do is to abbreviate the main identifying keywords into something like ssrcompany.com. That doesn’t tell anyone anything about who you are and what you do.
You’ll miss out on any kind of name recognition with people. You’ll also miss the opportunity to get the business keyword of “roofing” in there.
A domain name like southernstateroofing.com, while longer, will be easier to remember and will help your chances on search engines.
Better yet, try using one of the many not-com names that are gaining popularity. If the .com isn’t available, then a great option in this example could be southernstateroofing.contractors (yep, .contractors is an option). This can help a great deal when people search for terms like. “[your city] roofing contractors.”
TIP #1: It’s important to use a name that’s not only memorable but also one that sets you up well with the search engines.
Of the websites I reviewed, fewer than 30% of them currently do not have a security certificate.
Using an SSL certificate on your website means that it will run as an HTTPS website instead of the regular HTTP version. It will encrypt user information when delivered over the web. For example, when someone fills out a contact form on your website, their information could be exposed on a non-HTTPS website.
Taking care of security and encryption on your website with an SSL certificate will have two main benefits:
It’ll protect you from the security-mageddon happening now with search engines and web browsers.
Your visitors (potential customers) will have more confidence in doing business with you when they see the big green “Secure” indicator in their browser.
Build a Portfolio of Quality Links Back to Your Website
There’s no doubt about it, the Internet is built on links. That’s why it’s called the web. That’s all Google is doing. At their core, they’re providing you with some links that should answer your questions. Google’s mission statement is to, “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Google not only provides links to answer your questions, but they also evaluate links to your site to determine usefulness.
Their goal is to always provide the best answers they can to your questions. If they start providing non-relevant information, then they know we’ll leave to find answers elsewhere. So the quality of the links they provide is of utmost importance.
One of the ways they evaluate the value and authority of your content is to look at the links to your website. The idea is that if a higher authority website links to you for an answer on something, then you must be valuable.
That’s where MozRank comes in as a measurement (for us, not necessarily for Google). It’s a way to measure link popularity of a website. A website is scored on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being the highest.
The average MozRank of the website evaluated in this study was 3.79. That’s not a horrible number but still shows that most sites have a great deal of room for improvement as it relates to link building.
The average website you’ll visit when surfing the web will likely be around 3-4.
TIP #3: Make sure you have a strategy for building strong links back to your website. This can be done with SEO link-building services (like ours), guest posting on other websites, and developing local citations for your business.
Establish Your Authority
Like MozRank, the Domain Authority (DA) score has to do with how authoritative your website it. But it takes into consideration more than just the MozRank factors. It’s a score that measures a site’s authority through measuring links (internal and external), mobile-friendliness, on-page content, and site structure.
In my experience, I’ve seen DA scores go up and down just based on the page structure of a website. Specifically, as it relates to the topic(s) your website is supposed to be about.
Using the Southern States Roofing Company example from earlier, that domain name is one of the factors considered in the DA score. Choose your name wisely, and it’ll help you out quite a bit.
In addition to that, it should be clear to search engines (and visitors) what your website is about. If your main pages and menu structure include more generic About, What We Do, Testimonials, Gallery, Contact pages, then you’re making it more difficult for search engines to figure out what you’re really about. None of your keywords are showing there.
Instead, consider main navigation pages like About, Roof Replacement, Roof Repair, Roof Inspections, etc. This will make it more clear what you are an authority on.
And for a bonus, create subpages to build more depth and structure. So under Roof Replacement, consider adding subpages for Tile Roof Replacement, Shingle Roof Replacement, Metal Roof Replacement, etc. Additionally, blog posts can be another way to add depth to the website and pass authority up to other cornerstone content pages.
The average DA score for the websites we evaluated was 15.25. That’s on a scale of 1-100. Getting your DA score more into the 30-40 range can result in great improvements in rankings. Get yourself over 50, and you’ll almost be able to write your own ticket on the search engines.
TIP #4: Consider how well your website is built from an authority perspective (check out this case study on website structure). And develop some depth with strong content to establish your authority.
Work on Page Speed for a Better User Experience
One really important ranking factor that seems to be often missed is PageSpeed. From Google’s perspective, if you’re too slow, then you’re not a good answer for them to present. They want to minimize the impatient-factor in the results they present.
Too often, website owners and developers go for the super flashy and pretty design, but don’t do it in a way that keeps the site running smooth. Too many large images and videos and scripts can knock you way down on this score.
The average PageSpeed score of the websites I evaluated was 60, well below the 85 (on a scale of 1-100) that Google gives a green light to. And the greatest offenders were the people who likely thought they have an amazing new website that looks incredible but had scores in the 30s.
In WordPress, there are plenty of great tools to help you optimize images, minify scripts, and leverage caching. All of these are crucial in maintaining quicker page load speeds.
TIP #5: If you’re on WordPress, then consider some optimization plugins to clean things up right away. If you’re on other site builders like Wix or Weebly, consider moving to WordPress. Our managed WordPress hosting will include plenty of these tools, and we’ll even help take care of it for you.
Optimize for Mobile First
Whats worse than scoring a 60 for Google PageSpeed on your website? How about scoring a 51 for PageSpeed on mobile for your website? Unfortunately, that’s the average mobile PageSpeed score for the evaluated websites.
During a time when Google is focusing so much on mobile-first indexing, you need your website to perform well on mobile.
There are two ways you can do this:
Get your web pages running on AMP. This is Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. Basically, the idea is to push your page content into a more mobile format that Google serves up really quickly through their results pages on mobile devices. The downside is that it technically doesn’t get the traffic ON your website, so you may lose some of the experience as pages are stripped down for speed.
Focus more on the mobile version of your website’s design. All websites these days should be mobile responsive. But mobile responsive doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s mobile optimized.
With the typical website getting around 50% (and constantly increasing) of their traffic through mobile now, you cannot afford to skimp on this.
TIP #6: There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the methods of mobile optimization. The important thing is that you spend some time doing this optimization. Do take a desktop-only approach to design. And don’t just think about converting the design to mobile optimized, consider mobile-first content too.
Clean Up the On-Page Elements
One of the biggest on-page factors for your content is the metadata, image alt tags, and header text. Your keywords should be built into each of these elements on every page. Too many websites fail to optimize this for their keywords, or simply miss it altogether. In our experience, cleaning this stuff up across the website is one of the easiest ways to get some big wins with your SEO.
And don’t optimize every page on your site to the same keywords. That feels unnatural because not every page is about the same exact thing. Using our roofing company example, consider optimizing pages like this:
Homepage –> “roofing contractor” as the keyword focus
Using a plugin like Yoast SEO, the metadata can be updated in the “snippet” settings for the page. That’s the information that shows up in the search engine results for your page. (Can you guess what keyword terms the page shown below is optimized for?)
Many websites also contain generic text in header text on most website pages. For example, the header text for a section on the page might be “Our Services,” which doesn’t contain keywords. Instead, consider using something like “Roofing Services” instead.
TIP #7: Review the metadata settings for each page on your website, and make sure they contain your keywords and look enticing for searchers to click on. Also review all header formatted text to make sure it’s specific, and check all images to ensure the “alternative text” contains your keywords.
Step Up Your Professional Brand Image
This last item isn’t necessarily a performance or SEO metric. It’s more of a branding issue. Many (a large many) of the websites analyzed used a non-domain based email address for their contact email.
For example, our southernstateroofing.contractors should be using firstname.lastname@example.org for email instead of email@example.com (or worse, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Honestly, Gmail is not as bad because of how widely used it is. But using a domain name based email address that matches your company’s website address provides a much more professional image. And people will judge you based on little things like this.
TIP #8: Just get the email addresses set up. If you prefer, you can set up your Gmail to send/receive that email for you. So you can continue to use the Gmail interface, but with a much more professional image.
If you want your online marketing efforts to be successful, then getting your small business website design done properly is of great importance. And it involves more than throwing up some cool photos or some drone video. You’ll need to get these website design fundamentals done right if you’re going to have a chance of succeeding.
But if you get these elements right, you’ll set yourself up far ahead of the competition. If you already have a small business website in place, then let us run a free, no-obligation website SEO analysis report for you. You can use the information to improve your website on your own. Or hit us up to talk about how we can help take care of issues or just build you a well-designed website.
Regardless, it’s important to know where your website stands and to take steps to improve its ability to drive results for you.