Small Businesses can Compete on Google through SEO – Here’s how

With a whopping 1.13 billion websites vying for Google's attention, the idea of standing out can be overwhelming for many small business owners. This often leads them to shy away from delving into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) since the competition appears insurmountable.

The good news is that Google doesn't solely assess the size of your website or business when determining its visibility in "near me" searches. The search engine has evolved to prioritise the user's needs, striving to enhance the search experience by delivering pertinent results.

Keeping this in mind, there are a few  strategies you can employ to increase the likelihood of your business appearing in the next "near me" search.

Get a Search Engine Friendly Website for Your Business

Creating a search engine-friendly website doesn't require an excessively intricate, custom-built PHP behemoth. The essentials for an SEO-friendly site involve the following key components:

  • Content management system (CMS): opt for a CMS over an Express Website builder like Wix. WordPress and Webflow are particularly favoured by SEO specialists because they inherently incorporate SEO principles into their framework.
  • Text-based website copy: ensure that the content describing your business is presented as text on your website rather than embedded in images. This not only makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website but also enhances accessibility.
  • Optimal hosting: select a reputable hosting company to host your website. A good hosting service contributes to swift loading times, a crucial factor in search engine rankings.
  • Image file optimisation: keep image file sizes minimal to reduce the overall page size that needs to be downloaded. This not only enhances user experience but also contributes to faster website speed, a factor that search engines consider in their ranking algorithms.

By incorporating these fundamental elements, your website becomes not only search engine friendly but also well-positioned for improved visibility and user experience.

Implement Basic SEO

While having an SEO-friendly website is a great foundation for success, it's essential to go a step further and implement key practices that will ensure Google grasps the essence of your website. Incorporating these practices into your SEO strategy, will ultimately increase the likelihood of Google accurately interpreting and ranking your content. Consider including the following tasks in your SEO checklist:

  • Conduct comprehensive keyword research: prior to crafting content for your website, delve into thorough keyword research. Identifying and incorporating relevant keywords will enhance the discoverability of your site in search engine results.
  • Optimise landing page speed: gauge your landing page speed using Google's speed assessment tools and promptly address the recommendations provided. Ensuring swift loading times not only improves user experience but also aligns with Google's preferences for faster websites.
  • Enhance meta-data: integrate pertinent meta-data (HTML code) into your landing pages. This crucial step aids Google in comprehending the thematic focus of each page on your website, contributing to more accurate indexing.
  • Establish a Google Search Console profile: create a profile on Google Search Console and submit your website's sitemap for indexing. This establishes a direct line of communication with Google, enabling you to monitor your site's performance and receive valuable insights for ongoing optimisation. 

Create (or Claim) Your Google My Business Listing

Google's effectiveness hinges on the quality of results it provides to users. To facilitate this, they've devised a means for businesses to appear on Google Maps, aiding potential and current customers in locating and navigating to business establishments. Establishing your business listing marks the beginning of this process, but it's crucial to proactively oversee and refine it.

When we mention "manage," we're emphasising the importance of engaging with both positive and negative reviews. Addressing negative feedback, in particular, demonstrates to potential customers that you uphold exceptional after-sales support, fostering confidence in your brand.

As for "updating," it involves regularly refreshing your business listing with relevant information. This includes showcasing promotions, specifying special business hours, and ensuring accurate contact details, especially in instances where your landline may be temporarily unavailable. By consistently maintaining and enhancing your business information, you not only stay current but also provide users with the most accurate and beneficial details, contributing to an optimal user experience.

Create Relevant Business Directory Listings that Link Back to Your Website

In industries saturated with competition, expanding your reach by listing your business on popular and trusted directories can be a strategic move. Should your website struggle to secure a coveted spot on Google's first page, a well-crafted listing on reputable South African business directories could provide an alternative avenue for visibility.

When placing listings be sure to place them on directories that are specifically relevant to your industry. For instance, medical practitioners could leverage platforms like MedPages for a more targeted approach.

Bonus tip! Exercise caution when creating business listings. Instead of bombarding all directories simultaneously, stagger your efforts. A gradual approach prevents Google from interpreting your actions as an attempt to manipulate search results. By adopting a thoughtful and strategic listing strategy, you enhance your chances of standing out in the digital landscape without triggering any red flags.

In Short, Can Small Businesses Compete?

YES, you can definitely compete in your industry as a small business and you don't even have to break the bank to secure a presence on Google. However, some investment, be it in time to do it yourself or money for an SEO company's expertise, is inevitable.

The good news is, with the right strategies, you can navigate the digital landscape without a hefty financial burden. 

Whether you're dedicating your own time to the endeavour or allocating resources to a professional SEO service, a calculated investment can yield significant returns in terms of online visibility and business growth. So, while it may not require sacrificing an arm and a leg, a thoughtful commitment is essential to harness the vast potential that Google offers for your brand's exposure.