Next, log into Google AdWords and click “Tools” > “Keyword Planner.” Once you’re on the Keyword Planner menu, click “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.” Complete the form that appears; to start with, search for your type of business and location. For example, if you own a hair salon in Chicago, you would want to enter “hair salon Chicago.”
An important factor in ranking is review signals, which refers to the quality, quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews you get from customers. This rank factor is intriguing as it has jumped up year-over-year in importance. Google reviews are the most important, followed by third-party reviews (Yelp, Facebook, and other sites). It’s also important to get your product/service mentioned in the review. There is even some suggestion that responses to reviews are a factor in rank.

One of my best pieces of advice when it comes to SEO for small businesses is to truly spend some time understanding your audience and their intent. Even if your website is perfectly optimized, if it’s done for the wrong audience, you will not see good traffic. Google is taking audience intent into account more and more, as updates like RankBrain try to understand the semantics of a search query and not just the literal definition of the words. If you can comprehensively answer the questions your audience is asking, your site will rank highly in Google organically.
The tip that resonates with me the most is to publish studies, which you back up by linking to the study you collaborated on. That is spot on. It feels like having genuinely useful in depth content is THE strategy that will not be “Google updated” at any point. (Because if you were building a search engine, that’s the content you’d want to serve your users when they search for a topic.)

Keep in mind, this will often mean shifting the focus of your business from more general to more specific products or services. For instance, instead of exclusively offering general home renovation services, you could consider specializing in "one day bathroom renos" or "custom kitchen makeovers." These more specific keyword phrases will likely be much easier to rank for, which will mean you can start ranking that much faster.
The most valuable tip I give small business owners who are looking to improve their ranking is to optimize their website for voice search. As of January 2018 alone, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month. This number has grown exponentially over the past year and it will continue to grow in 2019. Optimizing their sites now will give them an edge in all aspects of their marketing.
I am blind myself and run a disability community and many of our users have different accessibility issues and needs – eg I can’t see your infographic, deaf people can’t listen to your podcast without transcript or captions. Adding this text will benefit Google and your SEO but also make life much better for people with different disabilities so thanks for thinking of us!
Hi Brian – I couldn’t agree more on the tip “delete zombie pages” to raise rankings. We’ve been blogging for 11 years now, and have been through the dark times when you were supposed to publish 400-600 blogs posts per minute in order to rank. Needless to say we had a lot of thin content… A few years back we embarked on a journey to cut out the dead wood, combine the good stuff, and create the long form content you espouse on your website. And guess what? Over those 2 years, traffic us up 628%. We’re down to around 72 pages / posts and couldn’t be happier. It gives us time to update the content when necessary and keep it fresh, rather than scratching our heads trying to figure out what new and exciting way to spin divorce mediation!
This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page. Many breadcrumbs have the most general page (usually the root page) as the first, leftmost link and list the more specific sections out to the right. We recommend using breadcrumb structured data markup28 when showing breadcrumbs.

Hi Brian – I couldn’t agree more on the tip “delete zombie pages” to raise rankings. We’ve been blogging for 11 years now, and have been through the dark times when you were supposed to publish 400-600 blogs posts per minute in order to rank. Needless to say we had a lot of thin content… A few years back we embarked on a journey to cut out the dead wood, combine the good stuff, and create the long form content you espouse on your website. And guess what? Over those 2 years, traffic us up 628%. We’re down to around 72 pages / posts and couldn’t be happier. It gives us time to update the content when necessary and keep it fresh, rather than scratching our heads trying to figure out what new and exciting way to spin divorce mediation!
One of my favorite ways to give content a boost is to run ads on Facebook targeting people with interests that are relevant to the content. It’s fairly low cost since you are offering a free piece of content. By targeting people with relevant interests to your content, you drive the right people to the content and into the top of your funnel. And if your content resonates with them, they’ll share, link, and engage with the content in ways that will help Google see its value.
As an alternative to tackling this on your own, try using a service like Mayple to match you with your industry’s best marketing experts. Mayple is a platform that connects business owners to vetted marketing experts, so you can focus on running your business and delegate the rest to experienced professionals — all you need to do is fill out a brief explaining your business’ goals. It even monitors your project’s progress and ensures your expert always delivers the best results. Get started today.
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