SEO for Small Business: Search Engine Optimisation Basics
It’s impossible to avoid the word SEO in modern business. We’re all talking about it. But do you actually know what it means? Search Engine Optimisation is one of those phrases that fills many people with dread. We’ve all heard how complicated and difficult SEO for small business is. Google is The Man out to keep good honest content from seeing the light of day. Right?
Wrong. Actually, SEO basics are simple, user-friendly and can have a big impact on how your business performs in search engine ranking. A little bit of forethought goes far. We’re going to break it down for you, without the bull and big words. Get ready for the Social INK Beginner’s Guide To SEO.
Let’s start with the simplest question.
What is SEO for small business?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a practice that increases both the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through non-paid search engine results.
Effectively, you are tweaking your content (website, blog posts, videos, etc) so that they’re more likely to be found in search engines. That includes searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
The basics can be broken down into four steps, and for the purposes of our beginners guide to SEO that’s what we’re going to do.
Think of it as your four step programme to success.
- Find out what your customers are searching for
- Optimise your web pages for your target keywords
- Link building from other websites
- How to measure your SEO
Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For?
It’s impossible to optimise your website if you don’t know what your customers are actually searching for. The first step is putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and thinking about what they may be looking for. For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine a customer searching for:
- Digital marketing
- Online marketing
- Social media marketing
However, the key to optimisation is knowing which keyword is getting the most traction from potential customers. And which keyword your business can compete with. For example, if you offer Facebook marketing services, you probably don’t want to try to rank for the word Facebook. It’ll be close to impossible to outrank Facebook itself.
So the quickest way to find this out is to use a keyword search tool. MOZ, one of the industry leaders in SEO, has a free set of SEO tools you can use to get started. You simply put in one of the phrases you think a customer might use, and the tool will find the most commonly searched related keywords for you.
If you don’t want to use a tool, you can simply look at the titles returned when you perform a search. For example, ‘digital marketing’ returns a lot of top searches with the keyword “guide to digital marketing” included in the title. Therefore, you could use this keyword yourself. Make sense?
Google autocomplete also offers great insight into how customers are searching. Just start to type and then looking at what search requests are suggested. Simple!
For indepth statistics and insight, there are powerful premium tools that dig into the analytics of search. If you’re ready for this kind of detail, we recommend bringing in the pros.
Hit The Target (With Keywords)
You’ve done your research, and you know what the most popular searches are for your target demographic. So now it’s time to put those keywords to work.
We’re going to show you how to use keywords in our beginners guide to SEO, which looks at SEO for beginners to teach you SEO.
See how clumsy the sentence above looks? It’s what’s known as keyword stuffing and you should never do it. While it might seem like the best way to hit the first page of Google, it’s not engaging or useful. You should always aim to optimise your page for humans first, and SEO second. User experience (UX) is vital to creating a community. No matter how many people visit your webpage, if it’s not aesthetically pleasing and providing useful content then they won’t stay for long.
And, Google is pretty smart. It knows when you’re trying to game the system, and it’ll actually punish your content. So your ranking will get worse.
So, user-first and no keyword stuffing. Got it?
How You Should Use Keywords
Sparingly. In a natural way. While you need to optimise your content, Google’s algorithm is pretty sophisticated so that means you don’t need to keep shoehorning just one keyphrase. Keep it varied, and you increase your chance to getting clicks and more vitally, readers.
Remember to ask: will the reader like it? Will the reader want to share this? Would it be worthy of linking back to as a credible or interesting article/page?
The easiest way to ensure that you’re creating good quality content, that has a high density of keywords but is still pleasing to the human eye is to use an SEO plugin. A popular tool for this is Yoast: it’s free, simple to use and effective.
Pay particular attention to the meta titles and descriptions that you use. When a customer performs a search this is the title and description of your webpage that they see. It might be tempting to create something quirky to ‘stand out’, but you shouldn’t. Keep it factual and informative so that busy humans and search engines can see exactly what you’re offering.
Linked In (And Out)
No, we’re not talking about the social media platform. We mean links to your blog. Every external link (known as backlinks) to your blog is like a small seal of approval. It’s showing Google that your content is valued, trustworthy and useful. Backlinks are one of the factors with the strongest influence on Google’s ranking algorithm.
You can develop relationships with other businesses in your sector. Become collaborators, not competitors and exchange guest blogging spots, or even just links. You should also create posts on websites like Medium and social media to boost your external links. Or, of course, you can pay to be included in directories.
But it’s not just external links that count. You should focus on creating your own internal links to relevant content. So, if you publish a blog post about SEO. Let’s say a blog post named A Beginners Guide To SEO, for example *wink*. You should be sure to include links to your other articles that discuss SEO. Like this:
If you enjoyed this post, you might also find these articles useful:
This way, you’re increasing the value of your content and providing additional useful information to your readers.
A great way to check what related content you have available is to visit google and use:
site:yourdomain.com + “topic of the post you want to link to”
It will bring up a directory of all posts that include the topic you’re searching for, making it nice and simple for you to pepper your post with internal links.
Measure Your Success
We’ve talked about this in detail:
- Social Media Marketing for Startups 7 – Analysing Data
- Why Google Analytics Is Essential for Digital Marketing
- Using Google Analytics to Track Inbound Marketing Success
So we’ll keep it brief. But use Google Analytics. It’s not enough to create content and just send it out into the world. If you’re not using Analytics to delve into how your content is performing, you’re doing your business a disservice.
To measure the success of your SEO, you should look at organic traffic and the keywords that your website is ranking for.
With every business doing its best to optimise their SEO, it can be a competitive market. However, it’s still the most effective way to drive sustainable traffic to your website.
The key to SEO is keeping it consistent, and you’ll see rewards increase over time as you build more trust and content and find your niche.
We hope you found our SEO for small business guide useful. We’d love to hear if you have any questions or comments.