Small business owners typically wear several hats in their business, especially in the beginning. Most startups do not have a lot of extra money to spare while the company gets off the ground. So we put together a few SEO tips to help small business owners.

First off, do some Keyword Research before you get too far along in your online marketing process. It is amazing how many small businesses we have worked with that have completely missed the mark on this easy topic. Taking the time to find what users are actually searching for will help you in developing leads right out of the gate. Many businesses both small and large just assume they know the industry keywords and use what they think will work. When in doubt, hire a professional. Remember that the data driven approach is always better.

Competitor research – Know your enemy. It is very important to know who your competition is. Most business owners are great in this area. They have a list of their top 5 competitors they can rattle off when needed. But did a little deeper. Research them online and see what they are doing. Are they advertising? Is their website up to date and fresh? Do they use call to actions? And on and on from there. Remember, keep your friends closer and enemies closer.

Develop Relationships With Similar Companies. Call similar companies in a different city and interview them. This is a great way to gain a companion that is not a competitor. Obviously be sure they are not a competitor and can not sell in your territory, sell online to your clients, etc. Most small businesses want to help others and want to grow their business. Making allies with a few will help you adjust you marketing to be successful .

Maintain a Blog. Blogs are a great way to add some fresh content to your site and gain some followers. The key is to make the content interesting so people will read your articles and stay on your website for a bit. It is always good to have subtle call to actions in your blog. One great way to gain a following is to give away some free advice in your area expertise, kind of like this post. This will help other people that are trying to achieve a goal and need a little help from an expert.

Track your leads. This is huge and many business owners miss out on this obvious tip. It is very important to know where your leads are coming from. This will help you allocate your marketing budget to get the best return on investment. Business owners should have someone that can run reports and tell them what type of website traffic they are getting, organic, pay per click, direct, etc. You should also know when someone calls or submits a web form how they heard about your business. Develop a system for tracking all of your leads so you know where to advertise.

Following these five steps will help to take your online marketing to the next level.