A silver laptop displaying Google’s search engine page.

Must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses

A silver laptop displaying Google’s search engine page.

 

Must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses

In the digital age, few marketing practices have seen as much attention and devotion as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As a series of practices that aims to rank content in search engines, it boasts undeniable potential. Still, SEO is an extremely deep subject for multiple reasons. From its reliance on Google’s 200+ranking factors to its long-term nature, it can certainly dismay the uninitiated.

Indeed, measuring SEO Return on Investment (ROI) is notably difficult, and not all SEO endeavors fit all businesses equally well. Thus, let us use this article to delve into fundamental, must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses specifically.

How service-based businesses differ as regards SEO

The fundamentals of SEO are identical between service-based and product-based businesses. They are, after all, aligning their websites and content with the same search engine criteria. Thus, where they differ lies in how they approach SEO and where they focus on. In this specific dichotomy, the difference lies in what they’re selling; intangible services versus tangible objects.

Simplifying the difference for text economy, then, product-based businesses can often rely on impulsive purchases from broad audiences. That is, their content marketing strategies can rely more on eliciting emotional responses from a wider customer pool. In contrast, service-based businesses address more specific audiences, which are typically better-informed on, and more engaged with, their service. Thus, they need to emphasize service quality, sometimes rightfully sacrificing tone for substance. Moreover, they need to leverage social credit comparatively more, as customers seek intangible, often long-term or subscription-based services.

In-house SEO versus hiring an SEO specialist

The aforementioned differences aside, a final factor for both to consider is who will handle SEO. DIY SEO does have benefits, such as lesser upfront costs and businesses acquiring first-hand knowledge. However, SEO does have a steep learning curve, and early mistakes can have long-lasting consequences regarding ranking and revenue. Thus, while the final choice will depend on you, service-based businesses do have more incentives to hire outside help. However, should you do so, due research to choose the perfect person for the job is highly advisable. After all, not all professionals are equal, and your unique needs must be met in full from the start.

A tablet on a desk displaying a pie chart dubbed “traffic sources overview”.
If implemented correctly, SEO will generate notable traffic for any business website.

Must-have elements of SEO strategy

Now, with the above context in mind, we may explore must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses. Throughout most of its history, SEO has delved into 3 key areas of focus:

  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO
  • Technical SEO

None of these subsets are of lesser importance, for service-based businesses or otherwise. Thus, we’ve gathered 2 elements from each subset that should deserve your attention.

1. On-page SEO

On-page SEO delves into on-page elements, as the name implies. These include images and videos, Call to Action buttons (CTAs), and others. The two most crucial aspects of it are, arguably, content itself and CTAs.

Quality content

It’s not entirely uncommon for service-based businesses to forego content marketing altogether, even if at the cost of additional traffic. For those that do not, content quality is still a profound subject that would warrant its own article. We may, however, consolidate the fundamentals down to the following:

  • Factual accuracy. Your content should strive to be as factually correct as possible.
  • Visual appeal. Your content should be digestible and enticing. Consider white space, visual elements, and other factors that affect visual appeal.
  • Your content should address your audiences’ interests and satisfy their search intent. Consider your choice of keywords to make your content relevant to your audiences.
A woman in a pink dress using a laptop.
Content quality will determine audience engagement, in turn affecting both search engine rankings and conversions.

Clear, alluring CTAs

For all its quality, your content should still facilitate conversions. It does so through CTAs, which are the primary focus of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). This, too, is a very deep subject, whose basics we may distill down to the following:

  • Visibility and readability. Ensure your CTAs are always visible, and other on-page elements do not distract from them. At the same time, ensure your choice of font makes them easily readable.
  • CTAs that incite urgency or suggest exclusivity typically function better. Consider countdown timers and exclusive offers in this regard.
  • Multiple CTAs may induce choice fatigue and hamper conversion rates. Thus, consider limiting each landing page to a single CTA.

2. Off-page SEO

Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO addresses off-page activities such as social media promotions. Among must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses, it encapsulates backlinks and reviews.

Backlinks

Backlinks are links to your content from external sources. SEO-wise, they help enhance your page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA), boosting your ranking efforts. Practically, they generate referral traffic and help build trust – which is crucial for service-based businesses, as highlighted above. To build a healthy backlink strategy, consider the following:

  • Content quality and promotion. Producing impeccable content will naturally generate backlinks through cross-channel promotion. Consider the skyscraper technique in this regard.
  • Branded mentions. You may scout the internet for unlinked branded mentions to claim backlinks, without additional effort.
  • Backlink type balance. A healthy balance between Follow and NoFollow backlinks is advisable. Google values natural-looking backlink profiles, and both types generate traffic.

Reviews

Similarly to backlinks, reviews are excellent social credit – especially for service-based businesses, whose audiences examine them carefully. They also affect such practices as local SEO, so you may address them in such ways as the following:

  • Elicit reviews across channels. You may do so through social media posts, popups, and so forth.
  • Feature them prominently. Most customers value reviews highly, so feature them prominently on your testimonials page.
  • Respond to them. Many bad reviews may be withdrawn if you can address their grievances, so always try to do so. It will also reassure other customers of your professionalism.
A man in a black suit pointing at a 4/5-star review.
Reviews serve as excellent social credit, assuring customers of your services’ quality.

3. Technical SEO

Finally, technical SEO ensures your website’s technical health, as the name implies. While it’s less complex by comparison, it is by no means any less significant. Two among its most notable subjects are sitemaps and breadcrumbs.

XML and HTML sitemaps

In brief, XML sitemaps are reserved for search engine crawlers, allowing them to index your pages. In contrast, HTML sitemaps are visible to human visitors and help facilitate easier navigation to your site. Healthy SEO requires both, so you should:

  • Provide Google with an XML sitemap. While it can be a challenging process, third-party tools and such WordPress plugins as Yoast SEO can offer immense help.
  • Provide your visitors with an HTML sitemap. Fortunately, creating HTML sitemaps is the easier process of the two, as SEMrush explains.

Breadcrumbs

Finally, breadcrumbs offer visitors a small text path at the top of pages that immediately tells them where they are. They are immensely useful for both search engines and visitors, as they consolidate content hierarchy and ease navigation, respectively. Fortunately, there are multiple third-party tools to help you implement them, such as the aforementioned Yoast SEO plugin. For service-based businesses, there are two main breadcrumb types to consider and choose between:

  • Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs. These follow visitors’ journeys from your homepage to subsequent pages and reflect your site’s hierarchy.
  • History-based breadcrumbs. In contrast, these reflect your visitors’ journey paths chronologically. Notably, you may also combine the two.

Conclusion

To summarize, there are must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses across all SEO subsets. For on-page SEO, content quality and pristine CTAs are crucial, as they entice visitors to convert. For off-page SEO, backlinks and reviews are invaluable, as they generate traffic, build trust, and serve as social credit. Finally, for technical SEO, sitemaps and breadcrumbs ensure technical health and cater to both search engines and visitors. These are, of course, only some of the fundamentals of SEO, but we do hope this list served as a helpful starting point for your future research.

 

Google maps on a laptop

On-page Strategies to Improve Your Local SEO

Google maps on a laptop

On-page Strategies to Improve Your Local SEO

Getting a lot of traffic to your website is great – you want to be visible online, after all. But not all traffic is equally valuable. For example, if you are running a small business in the service industry that only operates in Brooklyn, then a website visit from Japan won’t be as important as one from New York. So how do you target potential customers in your area? The answer is a specific type of search engine optimization – local SEO. It is a way to get better rankings in local searches that are more likely to lead to conversion. You can improve your local SEO in many different ways that include both on-page and off-page practices. But you have to start somewhere, and on-page strategies are the easier and quicker option. So how can you optimize your content for local searches specifically?

What is local SEO?

Search engine optimization or SEO refers to all the actions you take to make your website more visible in search engine results relevant to your niche. SEO can be incredibly helpful for a business, especially one that’s just starting out and needs to get the word out there. But a wide variety of practices fall under SEO, including things like your website structure, the keywords you choose to use in your content, the way you market yourself on social media, and more. So unless you plan on dedicating a lot of time and effort to SEO, you should consult the experts in this field to achieve the best possible results.

Person looking up a business on Google Maps.
Local SEO will put you on the map – literally.

But just being seen is not enough – you need to be seen by the right people. This usually means people who live or work in your area. These are the people who are most likely to purchase your goods or use your services, especially if you’re running a small and local business. To ensure that these people find your website, you need local SEO. Local SEO refers specifically to SEO practices that ensure your business appears in local searches.

Why do you need to improve your local SEO?

It is easier to rank for local searches than global ones. By ranking locally, you can attract more traffic, which can help your overall rankings and even resolve ranking drops. But the main advantage of local SEO is actually attracting traffic that is most likely to convert. The people who search specifically for local businesses are typically ready to spend money on goods and services – they just need to find a suitable place for it. On the other hand, people who search for more general terms are usually just looking into various offers. They are much less likely to shop at your business immediately. Therefore, by focusing on SEO, you can even improve your sales.

How can you improve your local SEO with on-page strategies?

SEO practices are typically divided into three types: technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. Technical SEO is about making your website easier for search engine bots to crawl and index. Off-page SEO includes the things you do on other websites to improve your ranking – this involves backlinks and social media, for example. Finally, on-page SEO is the optimization of the content on your own website. Since on-page SEO practices are entirely up to you, they’re pretty easy to implement. This makes them an excellent place to start when improving your local SEO.

Person looking up businesses on a map
Use SEO to help potential customers find you.

Localize your website

The first thing you should do is to put your location and contact information on the website. Ensure this information is visible and easily accessible – use your sidebar or footer to separate it from the rest of the content on your home page. Include your contact information on relevant pages like the about section as well. It’s imperative to be consistent: you want all your customers to see the same company name, address, phone number, and email regardless of where on the website they notice it.

Create content relevant to your location

Ask just about anyone what SEO is, and they’ll probably start talking about optimized content. There’s a good reason for this: quality content is still one of the most important parts of an optimized website. And in the case of local SEO, quality content means localized content. To attract local users, you’ll want to:

  • write about topics of interest to the locals (if you’re located in Florida, for example, beach activities are a better topic than tips on how to shovel snow)
  • create location-specific pages (make a page for every location where you operate in order to rank for each of them)
  • use location-specific keywords (if you own a spa in Seattle, for example, don’t just use Thai massage as a keyword – use Thai massage in Seattle)

Optimize your website for mobile and voice searches

A disproportionately high percentage of local searches come from mobile devices. This is because people will frequently be looking for local businesses that fulfil their needs when they’re already on the go. For the same reason, you’ll get more voice searches – people on the move often find it easier to speak into their devices than to type out their searches. To reach these users, you’ll need to adjust to their needs. That means optimizing for mobile and optimizing for voice searches.

Person recording into a phone
Optimizing for voice search will help you in the future.

Optimizing for mobile is a must for every website today. More than half of all searches come from mobile devices. Furthermore, Google implements mobile-first ranking. So even when the search isn’t coming from mobile, your mobile website will still be examined. Given all that, there’s simply no excuse not to optimize for mobile. Make sure your website loads fast, use a responsive theme, and check that your pages can be navigated on a small touch screen.

Voice searches are the future of search engines, so you want to get in on them early to give yourself a headstart. Optimize your content for the more conversational style of spoken searches. This will include using longer keywords and accounting for typical question words (like what, how, or why). To get the best of both worlds, combine traditional keywords with longer, voice search-specific ones.

Other ways to improve your local SEO

On-page strategies are not the only way to improve your local SEO. In fact, they work best when combined with off-page practices. So you’ll want to optimize your off-page presence for local searches too. Start by listing your address and contact information on all your social media profiles. Then, set up a Google My Business profile to put yourself on the map. You’ll also want to get listed in local directories and review websites. Finally, encourage your customers to leave reviews for your business. The vast majority of people are influenced by reviews when making purchasing decisions. Positive reviews are, therefore, essential for attracting a local clientele.