Getting Started with Small Business Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been a hot topic ever since search engines became relevant, which was shortly after the internet came into being.
The simplest goal of SEO is to be found. With the rise of social media, this ends up branching out into shareable content between real people.
You’ll be learning here how to get started with the foundational skills for SEO.
How SEO Is Relevant for Small Businesses
Let’s assume you know nothing about search engines for a moment.
The function of a search engine is for a user to type in a question, search term, or phrase, and subsequently receive a list of relevant results from all over the internet.
Google is the most famous of the search engines, but other big players include Yahoo, Bing, and Ask. As time moves forward, social sites also serve a certain amount of search functionality – including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Organic Results vs. Paid Results
When a search engine shows you results for your question, it will typically bring back a high percentage of organic results. Organic results means that the search engine found these results and genuinely believes that they are the most relevant to your search term.
Paid results are essentially advertisements. Someone paid to have their website show up for certain keywords. These can still be relevant links, but it does mean that they paid to be there.
How do Search Engines know all of this?
The question is: how do search engines work? There is an answer to that!
Search engines have little internet robots that follow links around the web. When a robot looks at a page, the data and content of that page gets sent back to the search engine for reference. The robot then lathers, rinses, and repeats this process for each page until it has exhausted all of its links – and then it starts over from the beginning to see if anything has been updated since its last visit.
You can help your small business stand out from the crowd with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO essentially means that you are making life as easy as possible for those little robots to decide you deserve to be found. Even if you decide to pay to be high in search results, the better your website shows in organic searches, the more traffic you’ll get as a result.
So we know that the search engine is going to look at your website and log data about it. The data it finds is going to determine how you show up in search results.
This is where search engine optimization comes in. Your business will stand above the crowd in search results when you make it easy for search engines to find and catalog the information it needs.
“Okay I totally get search engine optimization, and I want it.” you’re thinking.
Getting Started with SEO
Okay this is great! You’re excited!
Don’t run off in a brainstorming frenzy just yet – you’re going to need to go back and review your target audience. It’s important to remember that you need to base your choices on what is going to ultimately make you successful.
Especially if you have a broad target audience, choose the audience most likely to be online. No really, get a piece of paper and write this down.
Once you’ve done that, put yourself in their shoes. What situation are they in that they may be searching for your company, product or service?
Here’s an example:
- You sell slippers.
- Your target audience is stay at home moms.
- Scenario: Their old slippers have worn out and they need a new pair of slippers.
This is a great start! Think of keywords or key-phrases which fit into our scenario. Here are some ideas:
- best slippers 2016
- affordable slippers
- slippers free shipping
- home slippers with grip
- no-slip home slippers
If you know anyone who falls in your target audience, ask them what they would search to find what they’re looking for.
There are a lot of resources, both paid and free, available for performing this kind research. Collect a decent list of keyword and key phrases that you think will work best for your small business website.
Curating Your Keywords List
It’s time to review the purpose of your website. You need to narrow down your focus.
Are you bringing in locals to your brick and mortar store? Are you making online sales? Are you getting a phone call or an email from site visitors?
Tip! You can add the state, city, or other local words to your phrases to make them locally focused if you are trying to bring in local foot traffic (i.e. “bagel shops new york” instead of “bagel shops”).
Take the purpose of your website into account when you’re narrowing down what keywords will work best. Do you want someone who is looking how to repair slippers instead of buying new ones? Unless you offer a repair service, then the answer is no. You want to sell to someone who is ready to be sold to.
If you wrote down keywords that do not directly relate to the purpose of your website as far as the intent of the searcher would go, get rid of it.
“I have a list of keywords that I think will work great for my website! Now what?”
Oh, you’re not done with fixing your list yet. It’s time to measure up how well you did. We want to end up with only 2-4 keywords or phrases. I know, it sounds small. Just remember that you’ll do much better aiming for a vital organ than just generally bashing away like a barbarian with no tact.
It’s time to put your keywords to the test. You can use the following tools to figure out what the best ones are on your list:
- Test your list against the Google Keywords Planner
- Test keywords against each other in trends: Google Trends
- Understand search insights: Google Insights
- Track results with Google Analytics
Integrating Your Keywords
It’s time to start integrating your keywords in a way that makes them effective. This will involve the following:
- Choosing to write real content that relates to your keywords
- Writing title tags that include your most important keyword or key-phrase
- Including various forms of your keywords or key phrases inside of your content
- Writing descriptive snippets that will capture the searcher’s attention when they’re browsing through their results