If you’re a small business looking to increase your revenue, page views, and influence in the online world, learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial. It can also quickly become frustrating…or so it would seem. The good news is that SEO is not only attainable, but successful and incredibly lucrative! Check out our SEO for dummies — not that there’s anything wrong with that — content below.
At its core, the meaning of search engine optimization (SEO) is increasing your website’s visibility in the organic search results of major search engines.
To get that visibility, it’s important to understand three core components:
The fact of the matter is, lots of people like to search for lots of things online. That traffic can be extremely powerful for a business not only because there is a lot of traffic, but because there is a lot of very specific, high-intent, buying traffic.
If you sell pink cadillacs, would you rather buy a billboard so anyone with a car in your area sees your ad (whether they have any interest in pink cadillacs or not), or show up every time anyone types “buy pink cadillacs” into a search engine? Probably the latter, because those people have specific purchasing intent.
Search engines scour billions of pieces of content and evaluate thousands of factors to determine which content is most likely to answer your query when you type something in on Google or Bing.
Search engines do all of this by discovering and cataloging all available content on the Internet (web pages, PDFs, images, videos, etc.) through a process known as “crawling and indexing,” and then ordering it by how well it matches the query.
Organic search results are the ones that are earned through effective SEO, not through advertising. Search engine results pages (SERPs) — are filled with both advertising and more dynamic organic results formats. Some examples of SERP features are featured snippets, People Also Ask boxes, image carousels, etc.
For example, if you search for “Colorado Springs weather,” you’ll see a weather forecast for the city of Colorado Springs directly in the SERP instead of a link to a site that might have that forecast. And, if you search for “pizza Colorado Springs” you’ll see a “local pack” result made up of Colorado Springs pizza places. Helpful, right?
As a small business owner, your goal is to use organic search to your advantage as it’s free and can be attained with just a little strategic content work.
While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.
Organic search results cover more digital real estate, appear more credible to searchers, and receive more clicks than paid advertisements. For example, of all U.S. searches, only 2.8% of people click on paid advertisements. SEO also has 20x more traffic opportunities than PPC on both mobile and desktop.
When set up and used correctly, SEO is one of the only online marketing channels that can continue to pay dividends over time. If you provide a solid piece of content that deserves to rank for the right keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, whereas advertising needs continuous funding to send traffic to your site.
Search engines may be smart, but they aren’t perfect. They still need businesses like you to create the content that drives engaged traffic.
In the past, digital marketers approached SEO strategy as something completely separate from their content marketing plan. They would prioritize factors like keyword frequency over audience need so that they might rank as high as possible in the search results. However, today’s SEO algorithms are much more sophisticated and seek to prioritize searchers’ intent.
For us marketers, this is great news. We no longer have to choose between creating strong content for humans or for search engines – we can now reach both audiences at once.
Even if advancements hadn’t been made in recent years, we should still seek to write for our target audiences because their opinion is the one that matters. THEY are the ones reading, understanding, and deciding to do business with you or not. We also need to be writing targeted, local posts. Your audience may be served across the U.S., but if you’re a small business that works only out of one city, make your content specific to that city.
As an example, if your target audiences center around dog owners looking for pet grooming services in the Colorado Springs area, don’t just write blogs or social posts with “pet grooming” keywords littered throughout content. Instead, write content from which these pet owners can regularly glean. For instance, “How to Know if Your Dog Isn’t Feeling Well” or “The Best Dog Parks in Colorado Springs.” Make content specific to their needs and to the location you serve.
Yes, keywords are still important! SEO keywords range from single words to complex phrases and are used to inform website content to increase relevant organic search traffic.
Your audience uses them when searching for something related to your brand. When effectively researched and optimized, keywords act as a conduit to connect your target audience with your website. Keywords are also important because they give us clues to who people are and what they want, allowing us to better meet their needs.
If you knew your customers’ true feelings, how would you operate your business differently? How influential would those insights be to your marketing strategy?
To move your keywords and understand how to target the right people, optimizers recommend categorizing your keywords according to a marketing funnel or customer journey. This can help ensure you are targeting customers at each critical point.
Start by breaking out your target audiences and outlining their sales process. Once you do that, list out common issues and solutions for each of these groups. Once you do that, pick out the top words or phrases from these areas. There are also additional ways of categorizing for keyword optimization.
Some sets of categories have the brand in the center (awareness, consideration, conversion, retention), while others are more customer-centric (unaware, problem aware, solution aware, brand aware).
Similarly, some determine the action-oriented mindset of the consumer (navigational, informational, transactional).
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again from us: Content is King. Content for SEO specifically refers to creating content that helps your web pages rank high in the search engines. It includes everything to do with the writing and structuring of content on your website.
Content SEO is important because search engines read your website, so the words you use on your site determine whether or not your site will rank in their results pages. Of course, your website should be well-designed, with a great user interface, and all the technical stuff that makes your site rank in Google should also be covered. But without quality content, your site doesn’t stand a chance in the search engines.
The most important thing is that you should write articles that are attractive to read, and that make your audience want to stay on your website. At the same time, you want to make your SEO content attractive for Google. But some people go too far and optimize their content so that they become terrible to read. We suggest optimizing your text for search without negatively affecting the originality of your idea or the readability of your text.
Your blog should be fresh and original. It has to be different from all the other blog posts and articles that are already on the internet and should be engaging enough that people want to come back.
If you did your keyword research well, you ended up with a long list of terms you want to be found for. This list can be a guide from which to choose. A keyword is not yet a topic, though. You should make sure to come up with an original idea for your blog post – an idea in which the desired focus keyword has a prominent place.
And with all our content marketing and strategy tips, keep the content coming and keep it consistent. This will ensure you regularly rank for your information and don’t fall off the face of the earth.
Making sure your site gets indexed is necessary to show up in the SERPs. If you already have a website, it might be a good idea to start off by seeing how many of your pages are in the index. This will yield some great insights into whether Google is crawling and finding all the pages you want it to, and none that you don’t.
One way to check your indexed pages is “site:yourdomain.com,” an advanced search operator. Head to Google and type “site:yourdomain.com” into the search bar. This will return results Google has in its index for the site specified.
For additional, accurate results, you can use the Index Coverage report in Google Search Console. You can sign up for a free Google Search Console account if you don’t currently have one. With this tool, you can submit sitemaps for your site and monitor how many submitted pages have actually been added to Google’s index, among other things.
If you’re not showing up in the search results, there are a few possible reasons why:
If any of these issues plague your website, Moz has an excellent guide for website crawling and technical steps you can take to improve the recognition of your website for SEO purposes.
SEO may seem like a distant dream to you if you’re just starting out, but following the above tips should start you off on the right foot and in the right direction to make sure you show up in search results for your small business. Need some additional direction or advice when it comes to SEO? We here at Keyhole Marketing would love to chat.