The quick & dirty guide to SEO for your small business

Editorial Team

5 min read
Woman in front of computer screens

When you started out running your business, you probably conducted as much guerilla marketing as you could—stuff like social media posts to drum up interest or old fashioned word-of-mouth campaigns. While you probably put up a website too, you may not have given it much thought, but a really strong website is crucial to attracting new customers and convincing them to stop by your storefront. The key to that is search engine optimization (SEO). The better your “SEO,” the more easily new customers will find you.

It’s a fact: if your business is going to succeed, you need to be online. Not only do 72 percent of people prefer to find information about local business through an internet search, but a staggering 98 percent of those web searchers will choose a business that appears on the first page of their Google search.

In the world of SEO, content is king

Above all else, Google ranks relevant content as the most important factor for a good SEO score. In years past, companies used to game the system by writing for search engines—this meant cramming a bunch of keywords into a blog post as many times as possible to rank highly for those keywords. It would look like this:

“When choosing a hardware store in Los Angeles, you need to know what makes one Los Angeles hardware store different from other Los Angeles hardware stores.”

Thankfully, Google recognized this practice and made a shift towards favoring readability and helpfulness over keyword cramming. This means instead of thinking like a search engine, you need to think like your customers, and provide answers to the questions they’re asking.

Clover Insights can be really helpful in this area, since it gives you a clear idea of your customers’ preferences and buying patterns. You can use this insight to create blog posts and hone your website content to ensure you’re putting out the information your potential customers want to know about.

For example, if you run a hardware store, you might see that power drills are big sellers. You can then write a few different blog posts on the topic, like “Choosing the right power drill,” “5 things you should know when buying a power drill,” or “When is it time to replace my power drill?” This type of content answers the questions your customers search for and can help you rank higher in the search engines.

Get the link juice flowing

One more consideration that impacts your SEO ranking is link authority—in other words, the amount of websites that link back to your site and your blog posts. Think of this like your reputation. If a lot of other quality websites trust your content, then that means Google is more likely to trust your content as well. When a website with a high ranking, like the New York Times or other news sites, cites a link to one of your posts in an article, then your link authority will go up. These are called backlinks, and when you start linking back and forth between websites it gets the link juice flowing.

Great backlinks for your store can come from setting up a Google My Business page, from local directory listings, local papers (who review your store), or from social media and review sites. You can also get backlinks to your blog posts or other killer content.

It’s pretty difficult to game this system. You’re only getting a link to another website if you put out quality content that they find valuable. You’re not going to see spammy, keyword-loaded blog posts linked in a news article—it’s going to be a post that provides useful information and comes from a place of authority.

The back of your house must be in order

Unfortunately, great content and a lot of backlinks aren’t going to be worth anything if you don’t have the right engine to promote them. Your website design needs to be optimized for your SEO content, otherwise it will just go nowhere. Your metadata, description tags, content headers, and even images all need to be aligned to get the most SEO value out of your content.

For instance, we know Google can’t quite tell (yet) if the image you chose for your post goes along with your content or not. Using the accessibility features like alt text can help. Alt text is a small caption to the backend of your post that describes the image. If you don’t have alt text on the images on your website and blog posts, you’re missing a big opportunity to help your SEO rankings.

While getting your website’s backend into order may seem like a daunting task, you don’t have to be a computer hacker to figure it out. There are a lot of resources out there for you to find—coincidentally, by performing a Google search like “how to get your website seo in order”—that will help answer your questions and give you the tools you need to get SEO working for your business. There are also plugins (like Yoast) and even tools on Clover’s app marketplace like Build Me a Website.

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