In this day and age, it’s essential that small websites, and especially small business websites, see the potential for SEO to transform their balance sheets.
Getting to know the search engines could be invaluable to your startup or small website.
If you run a small business, you know that one of the biggest challenges is owning every element of your operations. From hiring and HR to marketing and accounting, these tasks are solely your responsibility.
It can be difficult to know the most effective way to allocate your time and money, and which steps and actions are going to deliver the biggest ROI.
Why Is SEO So Important?
When it comes to marketing your business and generating sales leads or inbound customer interest, this is especially true. Increasing the visibility and discoverability of your business is key. However, some methods are more effective—and not to mention more expensive—than others.
However, one of the best ways you can help your business grow and attract business is harnessing the power of SEO. Achieving a high ranking on Google search will put you on the fast track to ecommerce success. The good news is it’s possible to do this without spending way over your marketing budget.
With that in mind, here are some of the key reasons why SEO is perfectly suited for marketing small businesses:
Barriers to entry are low
Unlike more conventional marketing streams, SEO does not require you to spend any money ensuring your business will gain visibility. It is easy for anyone to upload SEO-heavy content to their website in the form of blog posts or web copy.
Once you have that copy, the next step is to start disseminating it on your social media streams and various other distribution channels. This is to make sure it gets seen by as many people as possible. Neither of these steps costs money or requires access or equipment you don’t already have. Meanwhile, all of them promote engagement among your existing followers and draw in potential new clients and leads.
SEO works really well for niche or regional markets. The more specific the sales segment is that you’re trying to reach, the more you can tailor your search terms and SEO strategy to capture that market. It’s worth investing time into identifying what your customers or prospects are searching online. You can use this knowledge to build your SEO strategy. Big, top-down competitors won’t know precisely what people in your region or demographic are searching for. So, the more specific you can get, the better.
Social media is a key step in the SEO process. Small businesses are perfectly positioned to have the kind of engagement with their followers that can amplify their SEO efforts. Big corporates struggle to genuinely engage with their followers, simply because their corporate reputations run counter to the intimate and familiar nature of social media. However, small businesses can have much more success here.
You can forge meaningful engagement with your followers on social media by responding to their feedback and serving them valuable content they want to see. They will then essentially do some of your marketing work for you by sharing the key-word heavy content you put out. This will boost your content’s ranking. It will also make it more likely to turn up in organic search results that will reach new customers in the space.
The toolbox is free
The main tool you need to put to use to track your SEO gains is Google Analytics (GA). GA is essentially free to use for any small business running a website. Investing time into learning how you can leverage the insights from Analytics is key for your SEO success. SEO something that anyone who runs a small business can do in their own time at any time.
Increasing the odds
With all that’s been said, there are over one billion live websites on the internet. What are the chances your site will be found? As you have seen, it is all based on SEO.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is basically the science behind getting your website seen. However, there is a distinct difference between knowing that search engine optimisation is important and implementing these practices on your website. This is exactly why the next section of this guide is dedicated to helping small websites begin SEO efforts.
SEO for Beginners
For any online business or blog, being found through search engine searches is all part of generating new business and growing subscriber bases. The more traffic a website has, the higher the chances are of monetising it. To stand a chance online, we need to make sure that our website is SEO optimised as much as possible.
Here are our top tips on SEO optimisation for a website:
Before doing anything else, you need to determine in which kind of searches you want your website to be found. This involves creating a list of keywords relevant to your services. Once you have these in mind, using a keyword tool can help you investigate which keywords have enough monthly searches to be useful and also how competitive a given term is. You can then choose the right keywords with a realistic level of competition.
Now that you have chosen your keywords, your website needs to be structured in a search engine friendly way. Links need to be coherent and a good sitemap submitted to Google will go a long way. Also, including relevant keywords within your URLs will help improve website rankings. Make sure there are no broken links and that there is no unnecessary duplication of pages and content.
Meta descriptions and title tags are the invisible information carriers for search engine bots crawling your website. The meta tags contain information on keywords, what a given page is about, and also represent the text snippet that appears on search result listings. Title tags containing keywords will also add relevance. The more relevant a page is to a given search, the higher it will rank. And once your page shows up on a search, you will want the text snippet to entice users to click on the link.
One of the factors search engines consider when ranking your website is the quality and number of recognised websites linking back to yours. The more authoritative the website linking to yours is, the more credible your site appears to search engines. But beware, backhanded creation of links that are deemed irrelevant to your website’s content can cause a suspension of your domain name or heavy ranking penalisation.
Let’s face it, Google is the number one search engine we all wish to rank highly on. As Google’s algorithm and rules change, it is important to keep up with them and apply changes to your website. For example, pop-ups on mobile website versions will cause damage to your rankings now. As a rule of thumb, if you structure your website with genuine user experience in mind, your website should be quite resilient.
Content Is King
Last but definitely not least is website content. No matter how technically superb your site may be, if your content is boring, unoriginal or not even relevant to your site, the search engines will not rank you highly. Creating new and interesting content that also satisfies a given search is the way forward. ‘How to’ URLs are a good example of pages that rank better than others, as they tend to provide answers to questions.
You might be feeling a little overwhelmed at this point and that’s okay. You wouldn’t be the first person to get frustrated and say the world would be better off without SEO. However, you might not be happy with what the SEO-less world might be like. Let’s dive in…
What Would The World Be Like Without SEO?
After 25 years of online activity, it’s hard to imagine a world without search engine optimisation. Since the new millennium, SEO gurus and platforms like Kissmetrics have become vital tools for any business with an online presence. No self-respecting entrepreneur or marketing manager can get by without a basic understanding of Google Analytics, or an appreciation of the relationship between SEO and social media.
Like a world without search engines, a life without SEO would be filled with uncertainty and here’s why…
People wouldn’t understand why competitor websites performed better in search results than their own platforms.
After all, search engines would still have to order their results based on the perceived relevance of particular destinations. It’d be frustrating if small business owners or IT managers couldn’t tell why a rival website consistently appeared at the top of search results. It would also be confusing if a direct competitor suddenly improved its ranking performance. And it’d be downright worrying if a site began to rank less effectively due to unknown changes in the search engine algorithms.
It’d be difficult to revise a website to improve its ranking.
Following on from the last point, search engines consider numerous attributes when ranking websites. These range from their age and frequency of updates to the volume (and quality) of inbound or outbound links. SEO gurus rely on behavioural analytics packages like Moz and Kissmetrics to identify possible areas of improvement. But in a world without SEO, nobody would know in which areas a particular site was falling down…
There’d be no way of telling which SEO terms potential customers were searching for.
Another key area of focus for SEO professionals involves identifying keywords and long tails. Long tail keywords are search phrases containing three or more words. These reveal the precise terms consumers are searching for. They also help ensure that web copy and social media updates target the right phrases. Otherwise, populating a website would involve flailing around trying to come up with relevant content, without knowing whether the results were targeting suitable audiences or using the right language.
Nobody would know why formerly effective SEO techniques no longer worked.
Certain tricks and techniques were successful once upon a time. Now they’re either ineffective or actively damaging to a website’s performance. Examples include hyperlinked anchor text, excessive use of keywords, and paying overseas link farms for inbound traffic. Without SEO tools (or an authoritative resource like the UK2 blog!), persisting with techniques no longer approved by Google and Bing could severely damage a website’s reputation.
Fortunately, SEO is very much present and correct. It may have been the reason you arrived on this page since this article contains the phrase “SEO” almost thirty times. It determines patterns of behaviour, with predictive search results guiding people down preordained content paths. And it remains crucial for establishing a running order in search rankings. The basis of search engine optimisation, and the most common way new audiences find websites.