Writer and communications strategist Claire Propsting gives advice on small business communications strategy in the last installment of our four-part blog series.

Once you have your social media and content marketing up and running, not to mention a user-friendly, eye-catching website, you should start thinking more about getting the most from your digital presence.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is an important marketing tactic for any business. When done right, SEO takes advantage of the algorithm rules that search engines (like Google) use to move your business toward the top of the search results, making it more likely that people will click on your site and hire you. For small or startup companies, when every click counts, SEO is crucial. So in support of the nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, I’ve put together a short list of the  simplest SEO tips small and startup companies can implement today.

  1. Start a blog
    Having fresh content on your website is important for SEO, and a blog is a great way to make sure you’re updating your website consistently. And if you post useful, interesting stuff, in line with your content marketing strategy, it’s more likely that other websites and blogs will link back to your site, increasing your traffic and moving you up in search results. Blog posts are the content gifts that keep on giving: you can post them to all your social media channels and include them in your client newsletters as well, so you get the most from the time you spend.


  1. Be readable and fun
    The internet is a fickle place. You need to have readable, relevant content on your website to get people to click. Make sure your content is grammatically correct and flows well. And remember: your website is not an academic paper. Don’t be afraid of using a more casual voice and writing style. Break up your text with headings and be brief, but not too brief — pages with around 1500 total words tend to have the best rankings.


  1. Tinker with your keywords
    There are people who make a living studying and predicting the most searched words and phrases on the internet. You don’t have to go to extremes, but since you’re an expert in your own business, you probably already have a good idea of what a customer or potential customer would search to find a business like yours. Try to incorporate those words and terms into your headlines and sub-headings. Be careful: trying to cram too many keywords into every piece of content will make your writing look like the work of an SEO robot, so it’s better to stay true to your brand voice above all else.


  1. Put a call to action in your content
    Make sure your content has a next step for your readers. That might be to get in touch with you, book an appointment, or like you on Facebook, but make sure your customers have a measurable call to action. Then you can use your web analytics and social media metrics to see how well your call to action is resonating with your audience.


  1. Link Smart
    A good rule of thumb is to have half the links in your articles direct to outside websites and the other half to sites within your own domain. That might be your homepage, your blog or another page on your website. Linking to outside content makes it more likely that other sites will link back to you, increasing your traffic and optimizing your search engine results, while linking within your own domain drives traffic to your site and helps with your site architecture. But make sure your external links are organic and that you’re not violating search engine policy (check out some of Google’s rules here).


And there you have it. Five ways to make the most of your digital presence through SEO. This marks the end of my four-part guest post series on digital marketing for small businesses. It’s been real! If you keep working at it, your digital marketing and communications strategy could become one of your company’s most valuable assets.

Following stints in London, Edinburgh and Dubai, Claire Propsting now lives in Washington, D.C. and has been working as a writer, editor and communications strategist for the last seven years. Her work has appeared in The Times, Retail & Leisure International magazine and The Buzz magazine. Visit www.clairepropsting.com for more information.