14 May SEO Basics for Small Business (just like yours!)
Creating the perfect website is no mean feat! It needs to be aesthetically appealing and to speak directly to your target market. However, of equal importance is its ability to appeal to the all-important Google bots.
Now, I certainly know a thing or two about SEO. I’m able to tweak and refine a website to have it appear in searches but, when it comes to SEO there is SO MUCH to know and you want to be absolutely sure that you’re getting it right.
Fortunately, I happen to know someone who absolutely does get SEO right. Fiona from Click Here Web Design is one of those people who really understands SEO. Recently, I was lucky enough to pick her super-smart SEO brain. We covered a lot of information, especially relevant to small business, and I’d love to share Fiona’s pearls of wisdom with you.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
Your Website is a Digital Asset.
When managed correctly, your website can (and should be) a very powerful asset for your business. A common mistake is treating a website like an online business card. However, a good website is far more useful than that.
When your customers come to your website, they should expect to be:
- Informed and educated – when people are looking for someone to work with, they want to be sure they know what they’re talking about. The best way to demonstrate your expertise is by sharing a snippet on your website.
- Inspired to act – whether you’re looking to collect their details, have them come into your shop or to pick up their phone and contact you, you need to make this desired action clear and easy for them to do.
- Wowed! – your website should be appealing to your client both visually and in the knowledge, they gain from visiting it.
Making your website easy to find.
My old biz partner used to say, “Having a website without people knowing about it is like having a billboard in the desert.” In other words, you may have the prettiest, most informative website but, if no-one can find it, it’s not adding any value to your business.
Yes, it’s worthwhile to embark upon a clever marketing strategy and to plug your site on Social Media BUT, this will only get you part of the way. The best, most reliable long-term strategy to ensure your website is found, is to invest time and effort into your SEO.
It’s fair to say that Google’s algorithm is complex and not something that many people could figure out. However, it’s also fair to say that, in its most simple terms:
Google wants to provide users with the BEST answer to someone’s query.
Because, for Google’s customers (us) to keep using their search engine, they need to find what they’re looking for.
How to make Google happy.
When you’re creating a website, there are some things which you simply must get right from the start. Your website needs to be:
- Mobile responsive – with OVER HALF of all searches now done on mobile, a mobile-friendly website is critical to your business.
- Clear – it needs to be super obvious to your customers that you can solve their problem.
- Quick – people won’t spend a lot of time scrolling through your site to find what they want. Your content needs to grab them and grab them quickly. This blog will ensure your website copy is doing just that.
- Easy to navigate – for both Google and your customers. This means Google can understand your content and your customers can easily take the required action.
The combination of these elements will ensure a site which provides an awesome user experience and therefore, pleases the search engines.
It’s all in the keywords.
If we really break it right down, the goal of good SEO is to:
- increase the quality and quantity of leads, and
- target the right people.
This is done by providing that all-important content your customers are looking for and ensuring that content includes the keywords they’re using to search for it.
Choosing the right keywords for your business can feel like a massive task but let me tell you, it doesn’t have to be. To select keywords which will impact your SEO, think like your customer.
Try searching for your biz in Google and it will basically tell you what your keywords should be. Simply start typing a couple of relevant terms and then Google will:
- finish your sentence for you with phrases that people searching for business like yours, are using.
- Tell you other terms that people are using under the heading: People Also Ask.
- Give you more suggestions related to your search, right down the bottom under: Searches Related To.
Because, if anyone knows what your customers are searching for, it’s Google!
Google can’t see pictures (yet).
This means, all your gorgeous images, while beautiful to look at and appealing to your customers, will not help your SEO on their own.
What will, however, are your keywords. So, let’s make sure you’re using them correctly. Your keywords should feature in your:
- Page headings;
- Meta descriptions;
- Image tags.
And, when they are used in these places, they should appear naturally. Your website needs to be easy to read which means your content, and keyword use, is best when it’s simple and conversational. Over-stuffing keywords looks spammy, and can result in Google ‘penalties’.
Maintaining good SEO.
One thing we can all agree on is, SEO is not a set and forget technique. For your site to continue to be found on the search engines you need to be consistently working to ensure you have the fundamentals right.
This means your website must have:
- a clear call-to-action, especially for mobile devices;
- quality content for the user;
- good site speed;
- regularly updated, keyword-rich content;
- a clear contact page, with contact details.
In addition to this, building quality backlinks can help Google view you as an authority in your industry and be more likely to present your page as a query solution.
Think of it this way, if credible people in your industry are linking to your site, they are indicating to Google (and their customers) that you are also credible. Alternatively, if some random Russian directory is linking to your Australian small business, that link holds far less value and will likely even be detrimental to your SEO.
Put simply, your external links need to be relevant and they need to be natural. The best way to create a link profile which fits this description is through:
- guest posting
- social media posting
- keeping your profile updated on LinkedIn and Google my business.
It’s also a good idea to vary the timing and placement of these links. For example, when you’re guest posting, it’s great to exchange a link with that person but, stagger the timing of sharing those posts.
Also, consider setting up your links to lead to various, and relevant, pages of your website. It’s probably worth noting here that often the most popular page on a small business website is the About Us page. For this reason, it’s important to share the SEO love across your WHOLE website, not just the Home page.
Over the years Google has refined their algorithm, creating the impression that SEO is highly technical and complex. In actual fact, to create good SEO for your website you just need to stick to the basics and maintain your efforts consistently. To keep track of what is and isn’t working, set up Google analytics and keep an eye on what pages of your site people are visiting and how much time they’re spending there.
Before I finish up, I’d like to leave you with a great analogy used by Fiona to help me visualise the importance of investing time into SEO. She suggested I think of it as a big snowball which needs to get down a hill. It’s going to take some time to build up that snowball and then, once it’s ready to roll, you need to run alongside it to ensure it keeps the momentum…and that it’s moving in the right direction!
And with that, we have just a little of the vast SEO knowledge possessed by Fiona! By sticking to the fundamentals covered here, you’ll be able to set-up a long-term strategy which will ensure your website isn’t just another billboard in the desert.
If you’d like to talk SEO with the master herself, please head over to Fiona’s website – Click Here Web Design – and get in touch.
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