- Mar 10, 2014
Last week was all about your website, and why and how it could make more money for your small business. While getting your website streamlined and ready to take on heaps of customers is a big accomplishment, this next topic ensures that your website is actually seen and enjoyed by your audience.
Great content, kickass design, responsive on all platforms you can think of, but still no audience?
Let’s remedy that now.
Get your brand to the top of search engine results for more business. Oh, and don’t be afraid of SEO – there’s no gobbledygook involved.
So what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the sum of everything that you do to your site to help it get the search results on the top search engines on the web. While it is only a part of your marketing strategy you should invest in revisiting this because properly done, you enjoy more visibility, bonzer site traffic, and more quality leads with improved conversion rates. In short, you’d be the life of the party—popular, always sought after, and always busy with tons of new friends wanting to shake your hand and listen to your stories.
For small business owners though, getting an SEO consultant could mean spending money that could have gone to developing a new product or producing an impressive set of new marketing materials. If you can’t afford to hire anyone at this point, don’t fret. What’s important is you can DIY the basics, and even then you will certainly see your rankings improve.
The Smart SEO Checklist for Beginners
Why do you want your target customer to find your site? Be very specific. This will help you flesh out all the details for your SEO strategy. An example would be: I want stay-at-home mums to be able to find my website and subscribe for weekly recipes that they can prepare with their kids.
What words would they use to find you? How would they phrase this query in the search engine box? List down keywords. For this example, “Kid-friendly Recipes”, “Easy Recipes”, “Home-cooked Meals in 30 Minutes”, “Cooking With Kids” would work. Make the list as long as you want, given that these are all relevant to your site. Come up with as many combinations of phrases as you can manage.
Now that you’re thinking like your customer, solidify your keywords by researching them using the keyword tool in Google Adwords adwords.google.com/ Take some time to learn how to use this because the results of your research will determine which keywords will be best for your site to rank. Consider searcher intent and difficulty and prioritize a keyword/page.
Choose your ten best keywords and compare with your competitors by searching for these keywords on your chosen search engines. Where are you with these keywords? Does competition rank higher than you? Take notes and investigate the top sites to give you an idea of what they are doing right.
Get Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. If you’re using WordPress, you can use Google Analytics for WordPress. Link the two and run analytics for at least a week to get a baseline so that you can analyse insights into how your current customers are finding your site naturally.
No amount of SEO efforts will improve rankings if your site’s content, design, and responsiveness are driving people away. Get your website in shape first before doing SEO.
Content is at the core of everything because it is a big part of how search engines base their ranking of your site. Relevant content tells search engines that your website is trustworthy. For example, if your site is about gardening, your pages would likely have info about plants, tips about landscaping, and photos of different flowers.
Apart from unique, up-to-date, and helpful content, make it a point to organize so that it is more user (and search engine) friendly.
Check if all your pages have unique titles that accurately describe what each page is all about. Craft concise metadescriptions incorporating your chosen keywords as these are the snippets that are shown on the search engine results that will help convince people to click on your site. Your title tags should be >65 characters, and your metadescription tags should be >155 characters, because these get cut off in when shown in the search results page.
NOTE: Visual content cannot be indexed by search engines, so always supplement these images with ALT tags and filenames so that they can be “seen” and factored into your site’s content repertoire.
Want to get found and not lost? Robots.txt is the way to go. It takes five minutes to add this if you haven’t done so yet!
This file allows you to be specific about which pages on your site search engines can crawl, as well as tracking search engine accessing activity (as opposed to regular human visitors). Remember to add at least one disallow statement – spiders love these.
NOTE: “Spiders” are search engine programs that go out to find out what is offered by countless pages on the web every second of every day. Depending on the information they are able to collect, search engines rank sites based on relevance and virtual interactions. Without a robots.txt file, spiders throw out your page and into oblivion.
Links are valuable because they signal search engines that your site is top notch and full of big love. Link building can get spammy, so always focus on quality rather than quantity.
Start by identifying “influencers” in your industry—people with large followings, authorities who are active on their pages and social media. Build a relationship with them and follow them until you get the opportunity to do present them with content that could be valuable to them.
Make the most out of your PR submissions and always add links back to your site. You can also use Yahoo Site Explorer to research for the sources of your competitors’ links and acquire links from these sources as well. Get listings on directories, local networking groups, forums, and communities you are active in.
Waste not, want not. Don’t mess up your SEO efforts by not adhering to the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Make sure your content is not duplicated and use Copyscape to flag any content that exists elsewhere in the web. And stronghold your strategy by always referring to what Google accepts for SEO.
This is certainly not an absolute list—there are many more things you can do to beef up your SEO efforts.
But as with everything else, building this over time, testing what works and what doesn’t, and keeping with the trends will help you rank higher, be more visible, and get in touch with your target audience. With patience and calculated steps you can boost your business!
Social sharing helps too. Stay tuned next week for Tip number 3!
We hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any more tips about this topic, go ahead and comment below!