Understanding the Basics of SEO
As a business owner you know that SEO is important for your business, but you may not understand exactly how it all works. You’ve probably heard mixed messages about what SEO tactics work best and what tactics could get you penalized. There are also a lot of shady SEO sales people out there that will use scare tactics to get you to buy their services which can be frustrating and confusing.
Although some parts of SEO are still fairly complex, it’s now much simpler for the average person to understand the basics of SEO. In this blog I will clear up some of this confusing information by simplifying the basics of SEO.
Gone are the days when SEO consultants used fancy tricks such as stuffing as many keywords as possible on websites. Search engines want to be able to crawl your website quickly, and easily to understand exactly what your website is about and prefer content that is written for humans.
When choosing keywords for your website, start with the most important services or products you offer. Make a list of possible keywords for each product and service and then use Google AdWords’s Keyword Planner to see which of those keywords gets searched the most each month.
It’s also important to choose keywords that have the best user intent. For example, if your company sells girls holiday dresses, make sure to include the word “girls” so that you don’t attract people searching for women’s dresses.
Each page should have it’s own designated keyword that is used in the following areas:
- Page title (shows up in search engine results pages)
- Meta description (shows up in search engine results pages)
- Image alt tags
- And several times throughout your page content.
Straightforward Link Building
It used to be that link building was a competition of numbers (he who has the most links wins) with whatever strategy one could drum up. Now, search engines care more about genuine links that are true to your business. Don’t waste time getting links that search engines might identify as spam. This could work against your efforts which in the long run will cost you much more to clean up.
Some genuine link building opportunities to consider include the following:
- Local business directories
- Industry directories
- Association memberships
- B to B Relationships
- Press releases about company news
- Guest post article on another website
- News articles written about your company
- Social media accounts
Good quality links are well worth the time investment. Just a few good quality links could move your website up in the rankings in a drastic way.
High Quality, Credible Content
Build a valuable online reputation through high-quality content and improve your small business SEO campaign in the process. Just as it’s important to build credibility and a positive reputation in the real world with your character and credentials, your website content will do the same for you on the Internet. Blog on your website about topics of interest to your customers. For example, if you are a carpet cleaner, give tips on how to maintain your carpets, explain how often they should be professionally cleaned, and show before and after pictures of your work. Search engines like websites that put out new content on a regular basis because it shows that your website is current and up-to-date and it gives you an opportunity to use more keywords to attract more searchers.
The best way to get started with a blog is to write a list of possible topics that relate to your business product or service. You can use the website Answer the Public to find out what questions people are searching online in regards to your keywords. For example, if you are a tax accountant, you can see what types of questions people are asking online in regards to taxes and then use that information to build out a blog calendar.
Set a schedule of how often you’d like to blog and then designate someone to be in charge of writing the blog. You don’t have to write the bogs yourself if you are busy, which as a business owner, you most certainly are. Designate an employee or hire a freelance writer to churn out blogs for you on a regular basis. Consistency is the key.
Blogging isn’t the only way to get new content on your website. Also consider adding a portfolio of your work, client testimonials, new images, company news, press releases, an event calendar, etc. The key is to keep working on your website to let Google know that your website is important and kept current.
Google Webmaster Tools & Google Analytics
It’s important to setup an account with Google Webmaster Tools so you can ask Google to crawl your website and index the pages. You can also keep track of and fix any errors on your website such as links to pages that no longer exist, keep track of links to your website, monitor your site traffic including which keywords are being used to find your site, and see if your website has been penalized for any reason. There’s much more that Google Webmaster Tool offers but that’s a good start.
Google Analytics is also very helpful for a deeper dive into your website’s traffic. You can find trends in your website traffic, find out where your traffic is coming from, see the days and times your website is most busy, compare traffic from month to month, and so much more.
Now that you’ve put all that effort into getting visitors to your website make sure you have them take some sort of action. Don’t waste all of your SEO efforts getting people to your website just to have them leave without converting that visit to a connection or sale. You can use techniques such as calls-to-action to prompt visitors to take action. Here are a few examples:
- Sign-up to receive your email newsletter
- Request a quote
- Make a purchase
- Sign-up for a discount
- Check out similar products
Working with a Consultant
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, there are a lot of shady SEO people out there that will use scare tactics and make everything sound so confusing that no one really understands what is being said. Don’t be fooled by these tactics. Here are some things to think about when looking for an SEO consultant:
- It’s important that your SEO consultant can explain the process in a way that is easy to understand.
- Ask other business owners you know if they have someone they recommend.
- Look at the company’s online reviews to see what past clients have to say about their work.
- Ask for some sample clients so you can test out their SEO results yourself with a Google search.
Most importantly, don’t hire anyone you don’t feel comfortable with. If you feel pressured, tricked, or really confused, consider that a huge red flag and keep looking.
There is a lot more that goes into SEO than what we have discussed here, but hopefully you’ve learned some basic tips on how to get started. Talk with an SEO consultant about your specific situation – it’s worth the investment.