If you own a small business, you have probably worked with a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company, worked with an independent SEO consultant, or read up about best practices online. If you’re like the small business owners I work with, you have probably been burned in the past and currently receive about five calls each day from SEO sales people. And I get it—it’s really annoying!

I understand the world of SEO can be frustrating, and you have probably heard a great deal of conflicting information over the years. Overzealous sales people tend to be ambitious with their projections, and amateur SEO professionals lack the knowledge base and practical experience to provide counsel that will be impactful. There are four main types of SEO: Local SEO, Technical SEO, On Page SEO, and Off Page SEO and plenty of industry nomenclatures. So it’s no surprise when business owners have difficulty distinguishing good practices from outdated tactics.

This article is intended to provide you with some SEO tips that are easy to implement and are proven to have a positive impact on rankings and user experience.

1. Think Mobile First

Think Mobile SEO

I still can’t believe how many business owners I’ve met that are still prioritizing desktop over mobile. It’s been two years since Google announced that more searches take place on mobile than desktop. When I analyze a client’s data in Google Analytics, Facebook Campaigns, or AdWords data, I often see mobile sending more traffic than desktop.

It’s imperative that your site is mobile-friendly and provides a good experience on mobile devices. By mobile-friendly, I mean that your site is responsive. A responsive site will properly adapt to different devices like iPhones, Androids, and various tablets.

Today, it takes more than just passing a mobile-friendly test. Your site can respond to different devices and receive a good score, but at the same time the mobile version may not show your form’s submit button or your contact information in the header. Nowadays you need to go above and beyond to ensure your site is responsive but without compromising the user experience and your conversion opportunities.

A mobile-friendly website is an SEO ranking signal and caters to your customers and prospective customers browsing preferences.

2. Set up Your Reporting and Analytics

Google Analytics Reporting

Before you roll up your sleeves and start implementing best practices, you should know exactly where you currently stand. Make sure you set up Google Analytics. From there you will want to set up some custom dashboards and reports.

Google has a crowd sourced project called the Solutions Gallery, which is a collection of user-submitted dashboards and reports. It’s very easy to locate a dashboard or report and add it to your Google Analytics account. Other users even rate and provide comments on the reports.

Here are a few dashboards I like:

    • Content Performance Dashboard – Content is integral to a modern SEO strategy, and this dashboard lets you know which pieces of content are performing. You can also use this dashboard to identify which pieces of content need a refresh. If you spent a considerable amount of time on a blog post and it’s buried on page 50, it’s time for a content relaunch.
    • Geography Dashboard – This dashboard lets you know specifically where the traffic is coming from. Let’s say you own a business within the San Diego city limits, but you’re trying to expand to North County coastal. Use the dashboard to see if you are pulling in traffic from Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Encinitas, or Carlsbad.
  • Mobile Analytics – Since I led off with the importance of mobile, it’s no surprise I included a mobile dashboard. The dashboard will show which devices are sending traffic, top mobile keywords, mobile viewed content, and more!

Here are a few reports I like:

    • Keyword Analysis Report – This shows popular keywords alongside key metrics, conversion rates, goal completions, and more.
    • Content Efficiency Report – Use this report to identify engaging content and what types of content is the most valuable so you know which content to produce more of.
    • Diagnostics Page Timing – Use this report to identify slow pages. Add these slow pages as action items to your SEO project plan. Get them fixed so your site can fly!
  • Landing Page Analysis – Check out sessions per landing page, bounce rates, and average time spent on each page.

3. Set up Your Keyword Tracking

Keyword Tracking Software

If you want to rank for certain keywords and longtail keywords, you’ll need to track the movement of said keywords through the search engine results page.

If you own a real estate brokerage in Rancho Bernardo, you’ll want to rank for “Rancho Bernardo Real Estate Broker” or “Best Rancho Bernardo Real Estate Agent.” If you’re a home remodel company, you may want to rank for “San Diego Kitchen Remodel Company” or “San Diego Bathroom Remodel Company.”

Whatever your business is, there are obvious queries you will want to appear for so you can capture the user when they are in the act of searching for a service you provide. This is intent-based marketing at its finest.

For the not-so-obvious, you will need to conduct keyword research to identify additional opportunities. When I conduct keyword research, I typically utilize Google Keyword Planner, review Google Autocomplete, review Google-related searches, and use keyword.io. Those are some of my top choices, but there are variety of tools when it comes to Keyword Research.

If you are running an AdWords campaign, you have probably already completed keyword research. In this case, you can just export your keyword list from AdWords.

Once your list is in order, you will want to upload it to a keyword tracking tool. As you can imagine, there are several on the market. We have tested a handful, and the one we use as part of the Rocket Pilots SEO Package is Authority Labs.

Authority Labs will allow you to see the movement of your keywords through the rankings. You can sort by the last 90 days, 30 days, 7 days, and since you first added the keywords. It’s incredibly powerful and always a great way to decide on your focus keyword for your next blog post. If you’re on the rise for a keyword, using it as the focus keyword for your next blog post might just be the bump you need to get to page one!

4. Implement Local SEO Best Practices

It’s no mystery that Google has placed an emphasis on local results. You’ll want to adjust accordingly and roll out local SEO strategies. For a comprehensive approach, check out A Guide to Ranking Your Business Locally.

The core tactics you need to implement are as follows:

    • Claim and Build out Your Google My Business Page – This process is easy and can be accomplished by the non-technical.
    • List your Name, Address, Phone Number, and URL on directories like Yellow Pages, Express Update, Yelp, WhitePages, and more. Do this yourself manually or utilize a service like Synup if you prefer to save the time but spend some money.
    • Embed a map of your location(s) on your website.
    • Build out your reviews on Yelp, Google My Business, and review platforms that are relevant to your business. Take advantage of Yelp’s SEO clout when someone Googles “San Diego plus your keyword” and your Yelp listing takes up a spot on the search engine results page (SERP).

5. Roll Out a Content Strategy

Producing content is no longer elective. It’s completely mandatory if you intend to win with search engines and user engagement. Over the years, Google’s algorithm has become more sophisticated and started incorporating factors surroundi