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6 SEO Tips to Benefit Any Business Small Business Week is a good time to quit procrastinating and optimize your SEO to rank higher, load faster and reach more visitors.

By Scott McGovern

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Irina_Strelnikova | Getty Images

National Small Business Week is a good time to remind yourself that building a digital business means knowing which SEO tips to implement first. No matter what they're searching for, people typically turn to search engines first. The best way to grow your traffic, no matter what your business, is by creating a website with both search engines and your visitors in mind.

In today's search engine-oriented market, SEO is the most effective way to drive traffic to your website without paying for advertisements. For small businesses with limited budgets, this can be a huge advantage when facing more established competition. SEO (search engine optimization) is a way of structuring your website to build traffic through organic search. As opposed to paid traffic, which comes from advertisements, organic search traffic comes from high rankings in search engines and creating quality content that captures your audience. In a world where 32 percent of people click the first Google search result, SEO is a crucial part of any business.

But optimizing your website all at once can be daunting for owners of small businesses who have a lot else to do. These six actionable SEO tips are the best place to start -- small changes can transform your traffic.

1. Monitor all changes.

No matter which SEO tips you choose to implement first, the single most important thing to do is monitor those changes. If you're not seeking professional help, this means accomplishing the following:

  1. Decide on a metric to use to monitor your traffic. Is it newsletter sign-ups, product purchases, keyword rankings, or percentage of people who return to your website?

  2. Start using at least one of the recommended SEO tools to help you rank higher in Google to monitor your progress.

  3. Implement one change at a time. How can you know what is working if you do everything at once?

2. Create a clear site structure.

It doesn't matter how many SEO tips you implement on your website if it isn't structured in a way that's easy for search engine crawlers and users to navigate. For small businesses with new websites, this means creating a hierarchy that includes:

  • Pages

  • Categories

  • Subcategories

  • Internal linking that reaffirms the site structure

  • Headings

Crawlers and humans both love hierarchy: Having a clear site structure accomplishes your two main objectives. First, Google crawlers can quickly understand your content and rank it accordingly. Second, humans can navigate it easily, making them more likely to stay on your website, buy something from it, or return to it in the future.

If your site structure is unclear, Google crawlers could miss some of your content, making it impossible for people to search for it in the first place. Bad site structure also leaves your visitors confused and likely to go somewhere else. This will translate to less time spent per visitor, lower conversion rates for online retailers and less traffic as Google demotes your website based these statistics

3. Prioritize content creation.

Creating quality content is one of the top SEO marketing trends in 2019, whether you're a small or large business. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Google algorithms consider content quality more than ever before. This means creating content that matches your keywords, headlines, and meta descriptions.

  • Long form content will rank higher than short form.

  • Writing should appeal to readers, not robots. Google algorithms are getting so sophisticated that they penalize content for keyword stuffing, a tactic designed to appeal to algorithms rather than people.

  • Content doesn't just mean text, either. Videos have significant engagement, and photos are equally important.

Keep in mind that the ideal content for your website will depend on your type of traffic. Test out different styles and monitor traffic to see what your audience wants from your website.

4. Focus on building both internal and external links.

Building a network of internal and external links is a constant process. Whether you're an entrepreneur with a less-than-perfect existing site or you're a small business building a brand new one, one of the best SEO tips is to structure your links a little every day.

Use internal linking to create site structure: For starters, it's important to internally link every new piece of content. Otherwise, it becomes orphaned content. This means that it's disconnected from the rest of your site. Orphaned content is difficult for Google crawler and visitors to find. If a piece of content isn't connected to the rest of your website, crawlers can either miss it or will consider it less important, thereby ranking it lower.

More broadly, interlinking pages within your website accomplishes two main things: It helps crawlers understand and better rank your website and logical links make it easier for visitors to navigate (and therefore stay) on your website.

Build a network of high-quality external backlinks: Backlinks are a key factor that search engines use to evaluate your website. But today, backlink quality rather than quantity is more important than ever. Instead of spending money on cheap links that will negatively affect your traffic, website owners should create quality content that will solicit backlinks on its own and build relationships with businesses big and small in relevant fields can help you grow your backlink profile.

Though buying links may have been an effective tool in the early days of search engine optimization, black hat SEO tricks like this no longer work. In fact, buying low-quality links in bulk is a sure way to have Google demote your website, which will decrease your traffic. When choosing your next SEO firm, make sure they're not doing anything resembling that.

5. Delete anything that slows down your site.

One of the top SEO tips for gaining and maintaining traffic is improving site speed. Google has made it known that site speed is a factor in ranking websites. And research also shows that a half a second delay in page load time translated to a 20 percent decrease in traffic. For entrepreneurs, this means that cutting out elements that slow down your website is key to customer and search engine satisfaction. Some effective tools include:

  • Compressing images

  • Cashing your browser

  • Getting rid of unnecessary elements in CSS

  • Stop using JavaScript

6. Always consider mobile first.

Google rolled out mobile first indexing in the summer of 2018. But designing websites for mobile has been a focal point for web designers since mobile traffic outpaced desktop in 2016. Still, whether you're designing a website or creating content, it's important to design a responsive mobile website -- even if you're designing it on a desktop computer. This means placing even more emphasis on mobile UX and mobile-oriented site structure.

Optimizing your website can be a massive undertaking -- but that doesn't mean that you have to (or should) do it all at once. The best place to start is by focusing on key SEO tips and addressing issues within your website one by one.

No matter where you are in the process of optimizing your website, make sure that you approach it methodically. Monitor everything you do so that you can replicate your success with future businesses.

Scott McGovern

Founder of NDXBL, an organic growth co.

Scott McGovern founded Green Rush Daily, a cannabis media platform acquired by High Times, where he went on to serve as EVP. Today, McGovern creates digital content and growth in emerging trends as the founder of NDXBL.

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