Small Business SEO Checklist: 11 Ways To Improve Rankings

How do you rate your small business’ SEO performance, and what should you focus on next for greater success?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your site to rank higher in search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

Your goal is to get in front of searchers who can become your clients.

It’s important for your business to appear in different types of search results as well — Google Maps, organic snippets, featured snippets, images and videos, and more — in order to maximize your visibility.

Small business SEO is a unique challenge in that you probably don’t have a dedicated SEO team or a lot of time to stay up to date with all the latest developments in search.

You are competing not only with other small businesses but also with publishers, big brands, and all sorts of other sources of information that appear in search results.

And you certainly don’t have the budget that the big competitors have.

What small business should you do?

In this article, you’ll find an 11-point small business SEO checklist that helps you prioritize and focus on the SEO tasks that will actually move the needle, including:

  • What to eat.
  • Why is it important.
  • The tools to use.
  • respect the time.

1. Identify the problems you solve for clients

Before moving into SEO, you must first understand how people search. You can waste a lot of money on paid search targeting the wrong people, or getting the wrong message across to the right people.

It is essential to know who you are trying to reach and what problem you are going to solve for them.

Start by asking yourself questions like:

  • How, when and where do customers decide they need your product or service?
  • Is he away from home using their mobile phone? Is he at home using a desktop computer or a tablet?
  • Is it driven by a personal desire, such as good food to eat or a great place to spend time?
  • Or is it caused by a disruptive event such as a domestic or personal issue?

These questions color the language your customers will use to find your business.

This information will drive keyword research and content creation, among other tasks.

(You can use these free keyword research tools to get you started.)

2. Fix your technical SEO problems

Your small business website might look good on the outside, with great graphics, colors, and fonts.

But if there are technical issues ‘under the hood’, they can potentially affect your rankings and your traffic.

Before embarking on a content or engagement campaign, spend some time getting your foundation right.

You need a strong website structure so that search engines can crawl and index your web pages properly.

Some of the most common technical SEO issues relate to:

  • Speed.
  • Duplicate content.
  • Breaking links.
  • Improper use of canonical link elements.

You’ll learn more about what it takes to conduct a technical SEO audit here.

3. Optimize your pages

On-page optimization is more than simply placing a targeted keyword in strategic places on a page.

It is important to develop properly structured, high-quality content written in natural language that includes your target keywords.

Use every reasonable opportunity (eg spam) to add your appropriately targeted keywords on your website.

Otherwise you are missing important ranking signals. In other words, you should improve:

  • Title tags and subheadings.
  • Pictures and videos.
  • meta description.
  • body content.
  • Internal links.
  • And More – Get our On-Page SEO Guide to learn more.

4. Optimize your Business Profile on Google

Your GBP strategy should be a focal point for any small business. It’s free, easy to update, and can make a huge impact.

Screenshot of search [san diego candy shop]Google, January 2022

Ideally, your Google Business profile will provide all the information a potential customer needs to contact you, get driving directions, order online, or convert directly from a menu in any other way.

The first step towards optimizing your business listing on Google is to claim and verify it.

Make sure to fill in as many fields as possible and include photos and videos to enhance your listing.

Choosing your category is very important. Make sure you choose the right categories for your business.

The base category guides the themes and other features that are available to you.

If you want to get more advanced with your Google Business Profile, take the time to create a Q&A.

what does that mean?

In the local search results, there is a section on your listing where people can ask questions and get answers.

As a small business, it is important to stay informed about these questions.

You can also create your own questions and provide answers to provide proactive information that may help conversion searchers.

Read the new Google Business Profile: Complete Guide to learn more.

5. Find out what competitors are doing and do it better

Online competitors may differ from competitors in your local area.

For SEO purposes, we are most concerned with websites appearing in the top five to ten Google search results for your target keywords.

These are the competitors you want to analyze.

When conducting a competitive analysis, use the tools to discover:

  • What are those sites ranking for.
  • How many pages have they indexed.
  • their website structure.
  • Their backlink file quality.
  • Whether they rank for long-tail keywords that you can target.

Also, we know that page speed is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Power up their landing pages with page speed tools. Look for weaknesses.

of Google Page speed insights Great place to start.

Analysis by Google's PageSpeed ​​tool.Screenshot from PageSpeed ​​Insights, January 2022

For example, are their pages running slow? Are there keywords they missed that you could target?

See 3 Ways To Quickly Compare Your Website To Your Competitors for more helpful tips.

6. Manage local business listings and quotations

In addition to Google Business Profile, you need to control the accuracy of your local business data.

Consistency is crucial.

Data aggregators (eg, Neustar Localeze, Factual) share information about local businesses, including name, address, and telephone number (NAP).

Ensure that your company’s NAP information is consistent and accurate. Local business listings and citations (for example, online mentions of a business) can help improve your local presence.

It may be worth signing up for a service or using a local citation tool that will parse your NAP information and monitor for inaccuracies.

7. Get links from websites in your local area

Most small business owners never think about ties.

However, getting links back to your site can help improve your rankings.

It can mean more sales and more customers.

My approach to “connect attraction” has always been more of a publicity stunt.

What can we do to spread the word about our business, educate others, and get involved in the community?

You’ll find plenty of tips and suggestions for building local links here.

8. Add a Markup Scheme

Schema markup helps search engine signals better understand the different components of a page, such as:

  • Trade Name.
  • Tabuk.
  • phone number.
  • Ratings.
  • work hours.
  • Accepted currencies.
  • Area served.
  • Number of Employees.
  • And a lot.

Using this markup can help you appear in rich snippets in SERPs.

Example of local schema markup.Screenshot from, January 2022

Check all file types A scheme is available for local businesses here.

9. Focus on getting reviews

Even my kids are conditioned to look up reviews before buying.

Local ratings were one of the top local search ranking factors in 2021, according to Whitespark’s Local search ranking factors Report.

Additionally, you can improve your conversions by making an effort to get reviews and feedback from your customers.

The platforms can help you organize and manage your review campaign.

Or you can simply encourage customers to leave reviews on major online review sites.

These methods can help you get more local reviews.

Make sure to reply too. Your answer (or lack thereof) is not only visible to the person who asked the question but to all other local researchers who see the review in the future as well.

Even negative reviews are an opportunity to connect with the customer and show others you care.

10. Create videos and images for your competitive keywords

Websites need content, which means words, so that search engines understand what they are about.

However, the content goes beyond words, and must include images and videos.

In fact, if you’re struggling to get featured on competitive keywords, why not try a properly optimized video or photo?

As SEJ’s Anna Crowe recently wrote in her Photo Enhancement Guide:

Image optimization creates many benefits such as a better user experience, faster page load times, and additional ranking opportunities.

And it’s becoming an increasingly important role.”

11. Mix with organic to get going

If you are just getting started with SEO, it may take some time to see results.

SEO is a great game in the long run, but sometimes you need to start attracting leads right away. This is where paid search can really help.

As you build your SEO business, set aside a paid budget, so you can keep your leads coming.

Even after you have a steady flow of organic traffic to the website, you may still consider running a paid search campaign in conjunction.

PPC advertising can help increase your organic presence by giving you a position where you have not been able to break into the top organic search results due to competition.

Read more and find 10 tips for paid local search success here.


Even if the list of things to do seems overwhelming, the important thing is to get started.

Start with the first goal that you know you can achieve.

In time, you’ll discover native SEO tools that can make it faster and easier to work on the tactics that make a difference for you.

You will generate more inbound links from relevant and reputable local sources.

It will add new blog posts and other content to your website, helping you rank on a wider range of search terms.

Once you have worked through the introductory items on this checklist, you will be ready to continue with your SEO strategy.

I highly recommend Maddy Osman’s Complete Local SEO Checklist when you’re ready for the next level.

More resources:

  • How to Create a Successful Local SEO Strategy for Your Business
  • 15 Local SEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • Local SEO: The Ultimate Guide to Improving Local Search Rankings

Featured image: Deemka Studio/Shutterstock

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