Search engine optimization (called “SEO”) includes many highly technical processes that require knowledge of algorithms and advanced coding skills. It also includes a lot of simple online housekeeping that business owners and managers can do themselves to help boost their online visibility.
SEO Ideas for Entrepreneurs and Brand Managers
Running the day-to-day operations of your business can take up a lot of time. It’s easy to look at your social media, website, and Google search appearance as things you’ll worry about “tomorrow” or “when it slows down.”
Pushing those things to the bottom of your to-do list can be a costly mistake.
Our Top 5
No-Code Ways to Improve Your Business’s SEO
#1: Business Hours
Especially around holidays, keeping an eye on business hours and ensuring they are listed accurately can drastically improve your foot traffic.
Did you know that Google Maps will say “you are asking for directions to a closed business” if your map listing’s hours don’t specify when you are open?
Appearing “closed” may lose you the opportunity to gain a lifelong customer who was searching that day, while listing your business as “open” when the lights are off can frustrate consumers to the point of never returning.
Searching for your business name and seeing what hours appear is a great place to start. Even if you don’t have ownership access to your Google listing (which we strongly recommend), you can still “suggest” edits to the listed business hours of any listing. After verifying that your Google listing is correct, it is wise to do the same at any relevant directories such as Yelp for restaurants and HomeAdvisor for roofing contractors.
#2: “NAP” / “N.A.P.W.”
NAPW stands for:Name, Address, Phone number & Website URL
If your NAPW contact information is displayed inconsistently across the web, that can be confusing to Google. Their algorithm could be splitting your authority between two perceived entities because you have an old address lingering in directory listings or social media profiles. Keep in mind that Google doesn’t automatically know which profiles are yours: They compare the details listed on various sites to come up with an assumption of which profiles represent the same vs. similar businesses.
There are free automated tools like Moz Local Listing Score that you can use to scan for NAPW. Ideally, every single result should have an identical name, address, phone number and website URL. These need to be up to date for the sake of your customers as well as Google.
Name: Whether or not you include “LLC,” “Co.,” “of Buffalo,” or anything like that is up to you, but it needs to be consistent.
Address: If you have a suite number or multiple mailing addresses, pick one and use that everywhere.
Phone: It’s common to have multiple phone numbers, but for the sake of not confusing Google, use only one throughout the internet.
Website URL: Make sure your use of HTTP/HTTPS and WWW/without-WWW is consistent.
Getting positive reviews is an ongoing process. Managing reviews needs to be woven into your standard customer handling procedure. If a customer is unhappy, you need to fix it to prevent a negative review. If a customer is happy, you need to convince them to share their experience online.
In general, the most beneficial place for a customer to leave a review is on Google. Their crawlers read all of the review content and use verbiage in those reviews as a factor in deciding which keywords your website should rank for. Review quantity and overall rating can also be factors in how well you rank in search results.
Rather than trying to persuade your customers to review you on a specific website, it is often better to just ask them to leave you a review on the venue of their choosing. Ideally they will leave a review somewhere they already spend time online and attract other customers like them. Asking specifically for a Google review might be cumbersome to a client who doesn’t already have a Google account.
For some industries, there are even more valuable places to earn a review than Google. Cannabis consumers often use WeedMaps, some brands primarily live on Facebook, and foodies love Yelp:
Customers spend 31% more when a business has positive reviews (Broadly.com)
Customers are 71% more comfortable purchasing a product with reviews (3D Cart)
#4: Second Set of Eyes
Give someone who doesn’t frequently visit your website a list of things they need to find. They should be looking for important pieces of information that your customers would often look for. Watch where your tester starts to look for each item. If you asked them to find your business hours and they scrolled to the footer, then went to “about us,” then to “contact us,” then found an item in the sidebar called “office hours,” you know your site isn’t organized intuitively.
Another thing you can learn from watching a test user is if your website’s navigation terminology makes sense to them. Sometimes we get very comfortable with internal jargon and don’t realize it. For example, if your site has a page called “deals,” but a search for “coupons” doesn’t return it as the first result, you’ve got a problem. If you sell “heating systems” but users keep looking for a page titled “furnaces,” you need to address that. Weaving additional terminology into your site can also help Google as much as it helps your users. When they see those phrases on your site, they will be more likely to rank you for related queries.
Evaluating your user experience (UX) involves taking a close look at how well your site works for users and if they can easily find information, complete tasks, etc. Testing your user interface (UI) is the process of improving button size, link placement, and overall navigation flow based on user feedback.
#5: Contact Forms
Setup a recurring calendar reminder to test your contact forms. Even if you’ve been receiving submissions via email or CRM, it is a good idea to periodically test your forms.
You might not notice the day that your email host starts filing one of your forms as “spam.”
There could be a captcha problem or broken code that doesn’t allow forms to submit properly on one page.
The email box you are sending through might fill up, get locked, or receive a new password.
Someone you ask to edit your website might click a wrong button and deactivate your forms plugin.
An unanswered contact form can cost you a significant amount of business. Running a simple test might be the most beneficial thing you do that day.
And a Bonus
Method to Improve Your Online Lead Generation
#6: “Secret Shopper”
Call the phone number at the top of your website from someone else’s phone. See how that call gets answered. Consider having a friend or family member place a call and ask a few common questions. You might be surprised to hear how your potential leads are handled. “Undercover boss” can be a great opportunity for identifying issues, improving training processes, and ideally, finding opportunities to praise staff for handling their calls with grace.
Another take on this idea is to call a few competitors and pose as a customer. See how they respond to your questions. Are their representatives as knowledgable as yours? More? Also ask about pricing and check to see that your pricing is competitive.
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