As a small business owner, you may see SEO as an unnecessary expense. You may even believe it is not worth your time and effort because SEO is dying anyway — but this could not be further from the truth. SEO is constantly growing in importance and expanding into new areas. Before, it played a major role for large and midsize businesses. Now it is just as crucial for small businesses.
What Is SEO?
Many people think they know what SEO is but it is much more complex than it appears on the surface. For instance, although keywords and content are a big part of SEO, there are many other elements involved. These all fall into two categories:
• On-Page SEO. Any effort you take to improve individual pages to enhance your ranking in search engine results is on-page SEO. As well as keywords, this includes formatting, URLs, navigation, load speed, on-site blogging and responsive design.
• Off-Page SEO. You can also improve SEO by taking action off your website. The most well-known aspect of off-page SEO is link building, but this category also encompasses social media, business profiles and articles.
How To Get Started
Although it is true that SEO can be complex, this is no excuse to neglect it altogether. Much of SEO costs nothing more than your time, and it is much more effective than traditional marketing tactics. For example, inbound leads (like from SEO) cost 61% less than outbound leads (like cold calling), according to Search Engine Journal. It is also simple to put tactics in place — once you know how.
• Local SEO. Google favors local content, as it has extra value for users. As a small business, you may have an advantage over even the biggest corporations if you have a unique knowledge of your local audience. Much of local SEO is based around long-tail keywords. By researching potential terms with a tool like Google Keyword Planner, you can find phrases that describe what your business offers with a location included. Simply creating content based around these keywords will help you reach the top position in search engine results.
• Social Media. Social media is an ideal place to share content from your website or blog to drive traffic to your site. You need to post regularly and interact with users.
• Link Building. Another aspect to add to your initial SEO strategy is link building. Bear in mind that to Google, the size of your business is not important — if you use black hat techniques, you will be penalized. Black hat techniques consist of any low-quality methods and spam. Instead, you need to use link building to show your authority, such as by guest blogging, sending pages to high-quality, relevant directories and creating content others want to share.
To put the above into practice, we use what we call the BoostSEO Method, which we created after realizing that traditional strategies of search engine optimization were failing small businesses. Although many strategies were able to provide a service that was comprehensive, high-quality or affordable, none were able to offer all three. We follow six steps:
• Keyword Research. Conduct even more keyword research than is normal to create an exhaustive list. From this, we are able to choose only the very best terms; quality is more important than quantity when it comes to keyword performance.
• Optimization Of Keywords. We add keywords naturally and strategically to the entire website (in the code and the content). We also create more high-quality content for the business elsewhere on the web. This shows that the business is relevant to the keyword terms.
• Earn Trust And Authority. We promote and market the website online to gain the trust of Google and prospects.
• Monitor Progress. We have a team in place to monitor keyword rankings and adjust the strategy as needed.
• Maintain Top Rankings. We continue our efforts to ensure SMBs are able to keep ranking at No. 1 in relevant search results.
• Start Again. Once we have completed step five, we return to the beginning, optimizing for new keywords and repeating the process.
We are able to do this using our in-house software platform, which allows us to apply our SEO method to individual tasks, sending each task to the appropriate specialist.
You can use the same method for your own SEO. Begin by brainstorming far more keywords than you will need. This will allow you to find the top-performing terms for your niche. Then, apply these keywords throughout your website — in copy, blog content, guest posts and tags. Next, promote your website by using social media, reciprocal linking, and Google Local Business. Throughout the process, regularly check your analytics to examine keyword performance and make the necessary changes to your strategy. Once you have gained top rankings for this first set of keywords, simply repeat the six steps.
How Can You Know SEO Is Working?
One of the best things about SEO is that it is measurable. With a tool like Google Analytics, you can find out who is visiting your website, how they are arriving and what they are doing. For example, if you notice many visitors are finding you through a particular search term, you can use this keyword in more of your content.
To thrive and survive in the business world today, you need SEO. Whether you have a local business with a brick and mortar presence or you are a niche company with a specialized audience, you will fail without SEO. Without SEO, you have no visibility online, which means when a consumer searches for what you do, they can’t find you and do business with you.
If your competitors are still relying on outbound marketing or are just hoping for the best with their websites, you have the perfect opportunity. There is no need to start big: Begin with the basics and build up gradually as your company grows.