Building of SEO Strategy for Small Business Sites

Let’s consider the stages of a successful SEO campaign:

  • Setting goals and defining where you’re going, and what’re you’re planning to achieve
  • Research the competition and analyzing the market Analysis
  • Keyword research, which means selecting keywords with the best search-volume-to-competition ratio
  • On-site SEO, optimizing meta titles, creating correct robots.txt file, creating and submitting a .xml sitemap of your site, and a thorough analysis of your site’s content and structure
  • Link building
  • Results analysis

Now let’s look at those stages in more detail.

Competitive Research and Market Analysis

Be neither afraid nor ashamed of spying on your competitors and borrowing ideas from them. Surely you can create your own unique SEO strategy and stick to it, but remember that while innovation is adorable, it’s rarely successful. Statistics show that innovators only make use of around 2% of the total value of their innovations, the rest obviously goes to imitators.

If you look closely for a good technique or strategy to copy, there’s a good chance that you will surpass its inventor eventually!

The trick is to know whom to copy and on whom to spy. How do you do that?

To identify your true competitors and sites worth investigating, all you need is to type a couple of the most popular queries in your niche into Google, and the guys that occupy the top 20 positions in the search engine results pages (or SERPs for short) are worth studying and copying.

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When you get those top 20 results for your query, make sure you’ve got SEO Quake plugin for Firefox installed and turned on. It makes the Google results look like this:

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This plugin shows lots of useful information on a domain, but what’s most crucial is the Alexa rank. Alexa rank reflects the traffic to a site. The smaller the Alexa rank is, the better the site performs.

After you’ve found the sites with the smallest Alexa rank, go to Semrush.com and add your competitor’s URL. SemRush will give you the URLs of your competitors both in organic search results and in paid AdWords campaigns.

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It’s a very helpful tool, because it gives you an idea of the traffic you can hope for if you get to top positions in Google, as it also shows how much traffic your competitor’s site is getting from organic top 20 results.

Anna Korolekh (Moseva)

Anna Korolekh (Moseva)

Deputy Chief Marketing Officer at PSD2HTML
Anna Korolekh (Moseva), Deputy Chief Marketing Officer at PSD2HTML, a full cycle website development company. Anna started her career in online marketing in 2009 from content-writing, link building and SEO. By 2011 she has discovered a big and wonderful world of online marketing and stays a great fan of multi-channel approach to any brand's promotion.
Anna Korolekh (Moseva)
Anna Korolekh (Moseva)

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17 thoughts on “Building of SEO Strategy for Small Business Sites

  1. I would be hesitant to encourage site owners to copy other sites’ SEO campaigns. Sure, it makes sense to check in on the competition and see what they are doing. It gives you a good idea of where you stand and what niche you can carve out for yourself. I think it’s okay to borrow some ideas, but never directly copy someone’s strategy. That strategy has been created for their site, to meet their goals. There is no guarantee it will work for you too.

  2. Great article, very comprehensive. Definitely enough for a “DIY SEO” to get started. That tip about exact matches in the Google Keyword Tool will help people avoid wasting a lot of time on keywords that don’t get a lot of traffic.

  3. Good list here. I would add, if it’s a local brick and mortar store, to set up and optimize your Google Places page and built citations for it which is just like link building. For link building, “relevant” directory submission is important. Don’t just submit to any directory that will accept you. Also, one of the first links a small business should be going after is your local chamber of commerce and any other local places like that. Go after your local market first if it’s feasible as it’s going to be quicker and less competitive.

  4. Most small business owners don’t even realize how much SEO really matters. They think a website is all you need. Thanks for some tips I picked up in this article.

  5. I’m on the fence with Nicks comment above. I agree with Anna’s post regarding looking for a technique or strategy to copy and I think for small business sites it’s a great way to get involved with SEO and understand how it works but I also agree with Nick. Perhaps copy is the wrong word. I think small businesses should look to draw from competitor techniques and once they have a handle on what’s working, improve upon it. Nobody would want to see hundreds of sites popping up all cloning the number 1 search engine result.

  6. Don’t just look at competitors in your area for ideas. If you’re living in a smaller city it’s unlikely that many of your competitors have invested much in SEO. But if you look at somewhere like London you’ll find more sites that have been well optimised.

    For keyword research i tend to look for keywords without my location to get an idea of which ones are the highest traffic.. If you use Googles keyword tool to find out how much traffic there is for ‘wealth management lowestoft’ it will probably return 0 results.

    When you research your competitors look for things they’re not doing as well as things they are. For instance, you may see that everyone is targeting Norwich and Norfolk related keywords but no one is targeting East Anglia. Of course you should check first to see if there is any traffic for East Anglia…

  7. My experience with small businesses has been that beyond some basic on page optimization through things like title tags and a good internal link structure (e.g. providing lots of links to the home page within the site’s pages), most don’t have the time to do anything else. Link building campaigns and regularly monitoring rankings are great, but just not practical for small businesses who also have to worry about their day-to-day operations and other business obligations. But in a perfect world these are good things to do/use. The only thing I would caution about is using Alexa to rank your competitors. Alexa rankings are generated by people who have the Alexa toolbar (usually people working in the Internet-centric fields). Consequently they don’t necessarily reflect actual consumer behavior and preferences.

  8. Most businesses aren’t going to buy the “long-tail keyword” idea. Optimize for their MOST IMPORTANT, MOST RELEVANT keywords, and the long-tails will follow naturally.

  9. This post is enlightening for small business owners who loves to optimize their business on their own. List of free SEO tools that can help them make their optimization more accurate and economical.

  10. This is a great overview. I’ve been doing SEO for a few years now but I was able to pull out some great tips on on-page optimization as well as my link building campaign. Thanks for sharing, Anna. I’m glad I started following SEJ!

  11. Chris is I think correct most small business owners think gotta have a website and thats it. Its like they all saw that film “build it and they will come”. I have a good friend and when I asked her how many visitors she gets to her small business website she looked at me blankly. My friends website looks great, then it should she paid a guy in a suit more than £2,000 for it.
    My thoughts are good original content and links from long standing websites, yes there is much more to it than that but to keep it simple and not overly time consuming.