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Hi there! I'm Molly: small town enthusiast, digital marketer, and mom of 4, passionate about helping local, small businesses thrive. Stick around to learn how YOU can flourish while living and doing business in a small town.

molly knuth

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Beginner SEO for Small Business: Guest Post by Web Expert Sara Leisinger of Who’s Lance? Digital Media

Molly, here: I am so, so lucky to have been introduced to Sara Leisinger of Who’s Lance? Digital Media in early 2019.

Based in the Marion/Cedar Rapids, Iowa, metro area, Sara and her husband Grant operate Who’s Lance? to serve local businesses by helping them with their SEO and Social Media Education. Their goal is to help local businesses establish and grow a credible online reputation to impact their ideal audience through local, social channels.

Adept at everything from Facebook to Pinterest to Podcasts, Sara is a true digital jack-of-all-trades, and below she’ll share how to improve your web presence by building your site’s SEO and Google ranking.

Not only did she agree to a FREE blog post to walk you guys through the basics of beginner SEO, she also joined me for a FREE tutorial and Q&A session over in the Molly Knuth Media Social Workers Group…and I’m thinking that we’ll need to have her back because her info was soooo helpful and needed for us small business owners.

Thank you to Sara for agreeing to guest blog and join the LIVE party, and enjoy her walk-through of SEO basics to get your small business website ranking on Google!

Beginners SEO for small business: Foundational steps for on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
by Sara Leisinger, Who’s Lance Digital Media

As a small business owner, I understand that you wear several hats.  Because you have taken the time to read this (I appreciate it!) you understand the value of having good search engine optimization.  There are 3 components of SEO, which we’ll refer to them here as on-page, off-page and technical SEO. 

On-Page SEO

Ok, let’s start with the foundation of all SEO, which is keyword research!  I will give you a simple tool to use in the process of this research. (You can also look at what your competition is doing.)  Recommended tool: UberSuggest.

We’ll do a brief exercise to show you how to do basic keyword research.  You’ll need 2 things to complete this part: Access to Google and Ubersuggest.com.

Step 1: Go to Google search.

Step 2: Type in your main product/ service and service area (also called a geo).

Step 3: Look at results page for local business websites. (Don’t include directory sites such as Yelp, YP, Etc.) 

Step 4

Copy and paste your competitor’s URL into Ubersuggest.

Step 5: Click on Organic Keyword Box.

Step 6: See the key terms that your competition is using.  You are looking at 3 things: 1.) Keywords that are related to what you do/sell in your area.  2.) Medium search volume. This assures more targeted traffic. 3.) Search Difficulty (SD for short) of 15 or lower.  This is if you are just starting to compete in the world of SEO.

Step 7: Repeat steps 1-6 with your top 5 competitors.

Step 8: Record a list the keywords it makes sense for you to compete for.

Now that we have our basic keyword research done, it is time to put it to work on the website!  

Rule #1 Create SEO friendly URL.  Do this by using your main keyword (if at all possible) in your URL.

Rule #2 Each of your products and services must have their own page.  Search Engines pull up pages, not full websites.

Rule #3 Use relevant keywords in titles including page titles, header titles and alt text on images.  

**Disclaimer: This is by no means a comprehensive list of on-page SEO, but I have included one below (in case you would like a challenge)!

On-Page Optimization

Website uses SEO/ user-friendly URLs

Set a preferred URL

Optimize Page Title tags

Optimize Page Description (Meta) tags

Optimize Header tags on landing pages (h1, h2)

Duplicate/spun content removed

List Business Hours on landing page/contact page

Embed map on contact page

Mobile friendly landing pages

Verify website appearance on mobile devices

Page Speed 3 seconds or less for each page

Test for existing schema

Select appropriate schema business category

Add full local business schema

– product (if needed)

-offer (if needed)

-event (if needed)

-review (if needed)

Test schema for accuracy

Appropriate content length for all landing pages

Include correct NAP info on all landing pages

Include correct NAP info on contact page

Create XML Site Map & Add to Google Search Console

Off page SEO

Google My Business Profile. 

Because the lion’s share of all searches happen on Google, this is a main component of off-page SEO.  This is where your Google Reviews are housed, which seems to be weighted heavily by the Google Algorithm because of the value supplied to the user.  Fill out every component that you can/space available to fill out. Add and keep up to date current photos and if the hours of operation are ever modified for a reason or season.

**Shout out to Molly for adding her events!!**

Local Business Listings

We have found that local businesses benefit the most from local business listings.  This however, is a time intensive process for any individual to do, so we strongly recommend going through a company like Synup.com or Yext.com for citation creation and management. 

Citations feature the name, address and phone number of a local business, usually with the opportunity to list hours of operation, email address, link to website and type of industry.

Technical SEO

Now that we have explored the basics of on-page and off-page optimization let’s complete our conversation by discussing the fundamentals of technical SEO.  Here are few steps:

  1. Install the Google Search Console.
  1. Create XML Sitemap and Submit it to the Google Search Console everytime you update your content.  (Every 30-60 days)
  1. Make sure your site is mobile friendly and secure.
  1. Set up AMP.(Accelerated Mobile Pages) This will allow your site to load faster on mobile devices.  On a WordPress site, install and activate the AMP plug in, powered by automatic to do this. Click here to read an article that covers how to do this step by step: https://www.apptentive.com/blog/2017/07/07/step-by-step-guide-to-set-up-accelerated-mobile-pages/

Pro Tip: Use a tool like tinypng.com to optimize photos for quick loading.   

Remember that SEO is ongoing and constantly changing.  Having your foundation in place will lead to attainable growth.  This should get you started. For more resources, feel free to follow Who’s Lance? Digital Media on Facebook and Instagram.  FB @ whoslancedigitalmedia and IG @ whos_lance_digital_media.

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Hi there! I'm Molly: small town enthusiast, digital marketer, and mom of 4, passionate about helping local, small businesses thrive. Stick around to learn how YOU can flourish while living and doing business in a small town.

molly knuth

Meet the blogger