Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of driving traffic (Internet users) to content (pages, videos, listings,) based on what search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, think people want to see based on rankings.
(Think of the old yellow pages directories – companies ranked in alphabetical order and if they bought adverts they rose to the top of that list. While it’s now a little more sophisticated, the concept of a search engine is pretty much the same.)
Whether you own a small online business or a medium-sized consultancy one thing every successful company has in common is at one time or another the company invested in SEO in a bid to stay ahead of competitors, to create brand awareness, and to attract customers.
“SEO is essential for both start-up companies and medium-sized firms as ultimately customers need to be driven towards your website in order for you to get more customers.
If a search engine such as Google ranks a company on page 50, your website will probably have less visibility, fewer customers, and your business will suffer as a result. This will dramatically improve if you implement SEO techniques.
The good news is that it’s relatively simple to learn basic SEO techniques that will make a huge difference to your business and it will help grow your business,” said Kristian Harris, Director and Co-Founder of SEO Agency, Magnify.
How and where you use your branding is extremely important for SEO. Does your logo truly represent your business? Is it immediately clear to potential customers what service your company provides?
This may sound a little obvious but it is vital to get these elements correct at the beginning so that customers understand exactly what you do – along with search engines which will ultimately decide where you rank and who gets to read about your business.
Building a website can be a bit daunting, especially if it’s your first time building one, so choose a platform that’s easy to use, one which is mobile friendly, and which is focused on helping you build it correctly with automatic call to actions like drag and drop images. WordPress and Weebly are just two examples of website platforms.
When a visitor lands on a webpage they want and expect an easy, enjoyable experience. If your website is slow, if it’s difficult to navigate and to find a particular product then the likelihood is visitors will leave the site and you’ll lose customers.
Don’t be shy about showing off your business ability. Showcase any previous successful projects, list your qualifications – you could even offer an incentive such as a gift card to entice customers to write a review on Google on the great job you’re doing which will entice other people to use your service.
Create the right content and your business is sure to get a boost from SEO. The key is to ensure your content is engaging and informative and not just a list of products you’re planning to sell or services you want to offer.
Remember that this content is aimed at potential customers and this is your first encounter with them. Talk about how great your products are, provide industry insight related to your sector, and engage with community events related to your business.
It’s important to think about key words to use in your content. What do customers want to hear or learn about? Ultimately, you want and need your customers (and your local community) to talk about your business in a positive way which you can then adapt for social media too.
The first step is to think about keywords relating to your products or services as it is vital that you understand what your customers are searching for. This will help you create content for each page in-line with keywords customers are searching for. Mind you, don’t overuse these keywords as content should naturally discuss the products and services.
To create strong brand awareness and to encourage potential customers to a website, a business needs to be familiar with the various social media platforms available – what each platform does, who its audience is, and the type of content appropriate for each one. Spend some quality time researching this as it will eventually pay dividends as social media can be hugely beneficial to a small business.
Remember that social media provides the opportunity to interact with your potential customers and also with other business owners including your competitors so be positive, engage in interesting and relevant discussions, and get to know your followers and what they like and are interested in.
Before jumping into SEO and rankings you may want to consider enrolling on a basic SEO course which could teach you how to optimize and rank your website in more detail. Ultimately, your local business needs local SEO in order to get the attention of both search engines and customers.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube have audiences of millions and to capture a piece of the action it’s important to ensure your website is linked up to these sites by interacting with engaging comments or videos.
Setting up a business page on Facebook, and eventually creating adverts that will pull in customers and boost your SEO could also be a wise move.
Another way to attract customers is to set up and fill in the details on Google My Business. Simply set up a profile, add your address – which should be the same as your website address, add product photos, a profile photo, and information about yourself and your business.
Get yourself listed in local directories such as Yell, Scoot, and Yelp – just make sure you list your address as your website address so people know exactly where to find you when searching for your services.
To rank well in organic searches it’s essential to use and position your company Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) in the correct way and in the correct place as this information is where potential customers can find you, according to Blue Corona.
Display this vital information in a prominent place on your website because search engines like Google take this information on-board when deciding which companies show up when people are searching specific areas/locations.
Top tip: It is so important to be consistent when it comes to writing your NAP. Make sure it’s written in the same format in everything you do – website, social media, and local directories so Google continues to recognise you.
Title Tags – a title tag is the title of a web page. These tags are displayed on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) as the clickable headline for a given result, and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content, according to Moz.
Meta title tags are a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about, and they are the first impression many people have of your page. Title tags are used in three key places: (1) search engine results pages (SERPs), (2) web browsers, and (3) social networks.
Keep your titles under 60 characters long and avoid using capital letters as these take up too much space. If the title is too long Google may cut you off or rewrite your title. Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor/searcher! When searching potential customers want to see exactly what you do and where you are.
Don’t repeat the same word over and over again and don’t go overboard with key words. These will only confuse visitors and will irritate the search engine. Remember that every page of your website needs a unique title but overall you are writing for your customers.
We all want to see stunning photos on a website but it’s important to ask yourself these questions before uploading images to your website.
Am I using the correct size images?
Have I used the correct key words relating to the image within the image alt tags?
Will this image slow down my website and affect the visitor experience?
This is where a page on your website is linked to another page on your website and from an SEO perspective it is extremely important. Neil Patel describes internal linking as ‘strengthening the overall search-optimized value of a website. Inner linking does so by providing clear paths for spiders, prolonged sessions for users, and a tight-knit network of pages and posts’.
According to Neil Patel internal linking has three main purposes:
Aids in website navigation
Distributes page authority and ranking power throughout the site
Defines the architecture and hierarchy of a website
Ultimately, connecting your own content pieces together will provide a boost to SEO as it shows Google the structure of your website and shows them the value of your pages – so keep creating good content, says Yoast.
The quick answer is yes, these header tags are important when it comes to SEO as they help search engines determine the overall theme or purpose of your page. The content you use for these headers is vital as the search engines examine and pick up on the keywords you use, says Dwight Zahringer in his SEO blog.
Zahringer says: “While your header tags do extend to h4, h5 and h6, we’re only going to focus on the first three since these are the tags that carry the most SEO value. Now, you can’t just go insert your header tags anywhere and expect to see results. Header tags have their own place on a page and have to be used in a proper order starting with your h1.
The h1 tag should contain your targeted keywords, ones that closely relate to the page title and are relevant to your content. The h2 tag is a subheading and should contain similar keywords to your h1 tag. Your h3 is then a subheading for your h2 and so on. Think of them as a hierarchy based on importance, the above being more important than the below.
Keep in mind that it’s also very import that your header tags are readable and grammatically correct. Stuffing your h1, h2 and h3 with keywords is not going to help your cause. If anything, Google will recognize this and assume you are trying to manipulate them — that’s a no-no!”
Having put in all of the effort it’s now time to track your marketing progress. While it’s important to set yourself targets from the beginning it’s just as important to track how far you’ve come.
Sign up to Google Analytics – set up conversions to track your phone calls and contact form submissions and Google Search so it can estimate your search presence. Remember, it’s about trying to outsmart your competition in every way possible.
Top tip: Google offers a free SEO course and awards you with a certificate if you complete and pass all of its modules.
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Disclaimer: The advice provided here are our own interpretations and opinions. We have tried to simplify the main points to create this article and the information provided is for general informational purposes only. While we try to keep the information up-to-date and correct, there are no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in this blog for any purpose. Any use of this information is at your own risk.
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