How to Improve Your Small Business Site Ranking

Are you a small business owner or creative entrepreneur looking to drive more traffic, boost conversions, and increase engagement on your website? Do you want to show up in your ideal customer’s Google searches? Blogging is your answer—and here’s exactly how to get started.

In this article, you’ll learn five proven ways to improve your small business site ranking with a blog, and how to do it. Let’s get started!

1. PUBLISH HIGH-QUALITY CONTENT WEEKLY

As a small business, you rely on increasing revenue from your flagship offering to keep the doors open. For this reason, many small business owners don’t want to provide public materials on their process, or educate their ideal customer because it’s too much work. 

This is crazy talk!

How do you expect someone to purchase your product or service if all they know about your business is from a few sales pages on your website? In today’s world, up to 3X as many buyers prefer to self-educate and do their own research through content marketing before making a purchase. That’s why it’s so important to provide weekly blog articles, ebooks, videos, and more on topics your ideal customer would be interested in. 

You’ll not only increase confidence in potential and current clients, but you’ll also start ranking for the keywords they’re searching for, and your site will start to show up in search engine results (SERPs).

Let's stop here for a second...this is an insanely powerful system. When your ideal customer finds your answers to their questions in Google, you have the chance provide value to them right away and provide a product or service solution.  

Understanding the needs of the target audience and implementing a plan to stay consistent in producing content will start to propel your business up the rankings.

2. BE THE GO-TO RESOURCE IN YOUR INDUSTRY

You’ve probably heard it said, “writing is leadership at scale.” As small business owner, you want to be the market leader in your space, and using your blog to position your brand as a thought leader is the most scalable way to spread leadership in your market increase site rankings in the process.

A thought leader is an individual that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded. Positioning yourself as the go-to resource, or a primary thought leader in your industry has three primary benefits:

1. Builds trust with your ideal customer

In a world where 85% of consumers regularly seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase, and on that journey they engage with over 11 pieces of content on average before making a purchase, you have to focus on thought leadership. Do you have 11+ pieces of content on your business website for potential customers to interact with? If not, you’re probably leaving SEO, and money, on the table.

2. Builds trust with your clients

The more of your content that someone consumes, the more likely they are to buy from you. If you want to encourage recurring customers, create a built-in continued education program for your business through blogging.

3. Encourages inbound links

Other bloggers and thought leaders are more likely to link to your work when you’re an industry resource rather than a product pusher. When you create and publish blog content that resonates with your ideal customers and thought leaders alike, they’ll find you and you’ll increase your chances of gaining inbound links. These "inbound links" are pure gold for your site’s search rankings.

For example, Michael Hyatt does a great job of this. His website (you’re welcome for the link, Michael) he has a whopping 4,493 inbound links. And that number is growing every day! Here are the number of inbound links for some other bloggers you might know of:

As you can see, by putting in the work to position yourself as an authoritative voice and provide the value your target audience is seeking, you’ll start to see improved site rankings, an increased amount of inbound links, and higher sales for your website.

3. UTILIZE SEO BEST PRACTICES

Don’t waste any more time thinking about how to setup your site for Google’s bots and crawlers. Start thinking about the real humans who visit your site. Who are they? What problems do they have? How can you help them solve those problems through relevant content?

Google focuses their algorithms on sites with quality content. In their steps to a Google-friendly site, they tell website owners that providing high quality content on your pages, “is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site.”

Everything I know about SEO best practices comes from Google’s Search Engine Starter Guide, and in that they outline five of the most crucial content items to focus on to improve your website rank:

  • Homepage: your homepage content is the most crucial for SEO rankings on your domain. Make sure you’re strategically using long tail keywords in your content.

  • Page/Post URL: URLs with words that are relevant to your site's content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site and reinforce keyword density.

  • Offer quality content and services: Designing your site around your visitors' needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results.

  • Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc): multiple heading sizes create a hierarchical structure for your content, making it easier for users to navigate through your document.

  • Alt image tags: whether or not you decide to use an images as a links, filling out alt text helps Google understand more about the page you're linking to.

4. PUBLISH LONG-FORM CONTENT

Word count matters. In fact, an article on Search Metrics pointed out that content written with a minimum of 1100-1300 words long tends to rank best in the long term. After analyzing 1,000,000 articles, Moz reportsed that that 85% of all content online is less than 1,000 words long. It might just be me, but are you seeing a prime opportunity here?

If the highest ranking content contains at least 1,100 words but most people are only writing 1,000 word articles, by producing long-form content over 1,000 words you’ll immediately stand out from the crowd. Plus, your readers will appreciate the effort.

Sean Smith, founder and content strategist at Simple Tiger, recently wrote,

“People like long-form content if they're looking for solid information. If they're looking for quick consumable entertainment -- sure, don't write your "Ultimate Funniness on The Web" post -- It probably wouldn't do well anyways. When users are looking for solid information though, they trust in long-form. They share long-form. Users typically reward solid content. It's just human nature to award obvious effort.”  

If you want to break through all the content marketing noise around you, focus on producing in-depth, long form content on a regular basis. Google (and your readers) will find and reward you for the value you’re providing.

5. LEAN ON LONG-TAIL KEYWORDS

I’ll be honest here…in-depth keyword research is my weakness. Since keyword research isn’t as important as it used to be, I often use common sense keywords and go with my gut instead of hard-and-fast data. Though in reality, researching and using the right long-tail keywords in your content will help you show up in more targeted searches, and convert more leads and sales. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a long-tail keyword and why is it important?

Long tail keywords are those three and four keyword phrases which are very, very specific to whatever you are selling.

For example, imagine your business sells boxed water. You’d think it would be awesome to rank #1 in Google for “water.” I mean, that keyword alone gets searched 1,000,000 times each day! But in reality, the person searching for “water” could be actually looking into buying a water filter, they could be researching an article about water pollution, or they could be looking into donating to a non-profit water cause.

If you, a seller of boxed water are getting a ton of traffic from being #1 on Google for the keyword “water,” but most of the people searching for “water” aren’t looking for boxed water anyway, why would you want them on your site? Smart marketers call that an unqualified lead.

"When you rank for a long tail keyword, you are able to catch people later in the buying/conversion cycle when they have their credit card in one hand and are searching for “boxed water,” in the other."

Instead, focus on long tail keywords so that you show up in the searches of highly-qualified leads. When you rank for a long tail keyword, you are able to catch people later in the buying/conversion cycle when they have their credit card in one hand and are searching for “boxed water,” in the other. A general rule of thumb to follow is that the more specific keywords your customer is looking for, the farther down they are in the sales cycle. Or, as Neil Patel says, If consumers haven’t made up their mind to purchase, they’ll probably search for “informational keywords.”

To explain the value of ranking for long tail keywords, Moz uses an illustration they call, “The Search Demand Curve” in their Beginner's Guide to Keyword Research.

Essentially, it shows that popular search terms make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. Moz explains, “The remaining 70% lie in what's called the "long tail" of search. And here’s the important part—the long tail contains

How to find the right long-tail keywords

There are a number of free or cheap tools to help you find the right long tail keywords in your industry including Keyword PlannerKeyword ToolLong Tail Pro and Market Samurai. I’ll cover the details of Pinterest search in another post, but searching for your keywords in Pinterest is also a great way to see what’s rising to the top.

BLOGGING IS CRUCIAL FOR YOUR BUSINESSES SEO STRATEGY

By using your blog to publish high quality, authoritative, long-form, keyword rich content, you’ll stand out from the crowd and get the results you’re looking for.

If you’re trying to build your business without a blog, you’re leaving time and money on the table. In fact, blogging is one of the cheapest and most sustainable ways to grow your business in today’s marketplace.

According to Dale Partridge, serial entrepreneur, and author, blogging is for everyone, especially if you’re in business for yourself.

“Blogs are no longer just for the “professional writer”. They are for the thinker, the designer, the mother, the craftsman, and the teacher.”

Blogging is the new Facebook. It’s for teachers, students, entrepreneurs, tech companies, manufacturing businesses, and more. To put it plainly—if you’re not doing it, you’re doing business wrong. You’re missing out on increased site rankings and a passive traffic referral system that will only grow with time.

What are your biggest questions or struggles with content marketing and SEO? Let me know in the comments—I’ll respond to each one of them.