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SEO Basics Still Move The Needle For Small Business Websites

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

I've recently completed a few website redesigns for small businesses that are customers of Leadferno. Their previous websites lacked basic web design fundamentals and SEO basics that when corrected, could really yield solid Google ranking increases and more traffic.


Now I did redesign these websites as I figured if I was going to improve and optimize their content and on-page SEO, I might as well do it all the right way. You'll see the sites are basic but focused on clean design, clear navigation, good calls to action (including Leadferno and texting), and being trustworthy.


Plus, I have fun with a bit of creativity and the chance to boost how the small business looks online. One was for a Charleston locksmith and the other for a Mental therapy and counseling center in Woodbury, MN.


My SEO Basics


Now this list might vary from SEO to SEO, but most are tried and true on-page optimization tactics to help a website and each of it's pages become clearer in their authority.


These are all SEO elements and tactics that are in your total control to improve.


  • Basic keyword research

  • Meta page titles

  • Meta descriptions

  • Keyword in URL

  • H1 headlines

  • H2 sub-headlines

  • Content optimization (use of keywords, related terms, build trust, long enough)

  • Internal linking

The two on this list that I see missed or underutilized the most are H2 sub-headlines and internal linking. Now meta page titles and H1 headlines matter more, but they usually have some substance to them.


H2 Sub-headers ... just like this one!


Many small business websites just slap blocks of content onto their pages without thought. The web is a scannable read, and should be simple to take in for the visitor and allow them to zero in on what they care about or need to know with ease. Here is a primer on H tags if you need it.


Sub-headlines are key to this. Breaking up content into 1 to 3 sentence paragraphs with sub-headers makes the content more approachable, allows you to call out key messaging and can support the SEO clarity of the page. H2's might be your best move, but with some sites, content, and design you might be using a mix of H3 to H6's as well.


Make you content easy to engage with while increasing it's clarity for Google to understand what you are an expert at.


Internal linking


Of course links matter a whole lot in SEO. But the easiest links to control are the ones on your own website. While links from other websites to your site are crucial to establishing a well ranking and highly visible website, internal linking is a basic you can control that many miss.


Take the time to link your content to the pages that have more detail and information on that topic, service, or product. It makes the user experience better for the site visitor and improves your sites crawl-ability and what's important to Google.


At a minimum, your home page is likely giving an overview of all the things you offer or do, make sure you link that content as you mention the services, products, reviews/testimonials, and more your site has dedicated pages on with content, photos, and videos.


Getting SEO Results


The first site I did a month or two back, Changes Counseling, has seen improvement just from the redesign and SEO basics. In addition to this I also uncovered a canonical issue and a Google Business Profile issue with the wrong main category set for one of their locations.


I use Whitespark's Local Rank Tracker to keep tabs on the ranking improvements and things are trending in the right direction. With the right basics covered, I know they will see further improvements over time with acquiring a few more links and reviews.


On the day before we launched the new site, October 18, 2023, they had just 3 keywords ranking in the top 10 organic results and just 9 of the 27 keywords that matter to their business ranking at all.



SEO rank tracking


Now a month later on November 20th they have 10 keywords ranking in the top 10 and 17 of their 27 keywords ranking at all. So their organic search visibility with Google has more than doubled from 7% to 18%.


Their local search results have improved as well. Their map rankings and local packs have improved since the redesign and SEO with a 12% increase in visibility to 37%. 33% more of their keywords are ranking in map results. They moved from 11 top 10 rankings to 16 now.



Google local rankings report
Local Rank Tracking using Whitespark.ca

The second site was just released a few days ago so it will be a few weeks before I se some reporting progress, but I expect the same type of results.


Website Redesigns


Changes Counseling & Wellness Center

Here is the Changes Counseling website redesign. I mostly cleaned up it's last design and made it a bit more modern. You can notice the internal linking in the opening paragraph.



website redesign and SEO

This site had decent content, so it was just optimizing it, breaking it up, using sub-headers and a true keyword strategy for their pages. I also created separate location pages for each office in Bloomington and Woodbury, as they were just listed on the contact page before.


What's next: Getting at least 10 reviews on each of their Google Business Profiles and earning more inbound links to them from other sites.


Unlock Charleston

The Unlock Charleston website redesign was a bit more of an overhaul. The previous site was very light on content in addition to being a bit disorganized. That's OK, it made for a much bigger impact on the outcome. :)



locksmith web redesign

The locksmith industry is a wild one online. There is a lot of spam, underhanded tactics, and more to capture valuable online leads. For this site I needed to greatly expand the content, so creating more content for every page was a must.


I also tried to lead with trust. So a focus on their hundreds of reviews, being local, answering their phone, and more. You'll see that reflected in the design and page layouts. There is a focus on their 24 hour locksmith services and the wide area of Charleston they serve.


What's next: While organizing their structure, writing more content, and optimizing their pages will be a big lift, there is more needed as they have ZERO inbound links. So getting the owner to understand how they might acquire links is the next step and a big one. The good news is they already have 200+ Google reviews and they have a great process of asking in person at the time of service.


Best of all, both of these small businesses are already getting new leads using Leadferno because letting prospects text you right from your website makes working with you easy!



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