Let’s face it. SEO Marketing for business owners like you and me may be tough, but will ultimately pay off with lots of new customers. The challenge is that business owners invest thousands of dollars to get a top-notch website, but don’t see any results. Yet, there are others, who promote their business website through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and are not only growing their business with a steady stream of new customers, but also competing successfully with the big players in their industry. In this guide, I will explain SEO Marketing in simple terms, so that you can put it to work for your business and get some amazing results. Trust me, it is not Rocket science.
Here is a simple guide on Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a technique to get free traffic from search engines, when someone searches for a product / service that you offer. When someone does a search, results like websites, Google business listings, videos, images, are displayed. Those results are ranked by Google based on what it considers to be most relevant to the person doing the search. When you do Google search, you will notice paid ads on the top (pay-per-click advertising) and then relevant results, also referred to as Organic results. Every business wants to appear in the top organic results on 1st page of Google for the keywords or phrase relevant to their business, so that more people click and visit their website, eventually converting them to paying customers. So the art of optimizing your website to improve its ranking in search results is known as SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is a combination of technical, creative, and content elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. I will cover major aspects in this article below.
Why does you small business website need SEO?
It helps people find your website
The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, with 86% of market share captured by Google. Although social media, referral websites and other types of traffic can bring some visitors, search engines are the biggest source of visitors to your website. This is true whether your site provides products, services, or general information.
Your website is your first point of contact with your online audience. It can generate leads, qualify prospects and attract a steady stream of new prospective customers. But that will only happen if they are able to find your website, among millions of websites out there.
Compared to other forms of online marketing, like pay-per-click advertising / search engine marketing, social media marketing, or content marketing / email marketing, SEO provides the best return on investment. More than 75% of searchers never look past page one of a search results page. Just imagine the no. of prospects your business can get if your website is ranked on top. It can prove to be the best investment you ever made into your business.
Your competitors are doing it
Almost 90% of customers search online and read reviews before making a purchase. If you have not invested in SEO, they won’t find your business, but they will definitely find your competitors.
It builds trust
SEO makes your brand stronger because it makes you recognizable. If you’re one of the top results for a search of your product or service on Google, people will automatically believe that you’re the best at what you do.
SEO is quantitative by nature. So every aspect of it can be measured, analyzed, and optimized to gauge results. You can easily calculate the ROI for every dollar invested in SEO.
Still not convinced? Here are some stats to prove the value of SEO
If you are still not convinced on the value of SEO, no worries. Here are some key stats to help you understand the value and true potential of Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
- Google owns 82% of the search engine market share.
- 80% of people click on organic search results, while only 20% click on paid ads.
- 75% of users never scroll past the 1st page search results.
- Search is the no. 1 driver of traffic to websites, beating social media by 300%
- SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbounds leads (direct mail, email, print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
- On Google, 18% of organic clicks go to the #1 position, 10% to the #2 position, and 7% to the #3 position.
Whether you don’t understand SEO, or just don’t want to understand SEO, it’s very difficult to ignore the value that SEO can bring to a website or blog.
Even if you have been burned by some shady SEO companies in the past, it is important that you stay the course and keep SEO as an integral part of your Digital Marketing efforts.
How does SEO work?
Google crawls the web and builds a database of all of the web pages, files, news stories, videos, images, and other media available online. Then, when you search for something specific, the search engine will look for it in its database and deliver results that match and seem relevant. The returned results are ranked based on popularity and relevancy; with most popular at the top, to least popular at the bottom. Relevance and popularity are determined using mathematical equations called algorithms which contain hundreds of variables called ranking factors.
The search engines keep their algorithms confidential, so people don’t cheat the system and get ahead of others in ranking, to get more traffic. I have explained some key elements of SEO, to improve website ranking. SEO mainly comprises of 2 optimization techniques; On-Page SEO, in which web pages, its attributes, and content are optimized; Off-Page SEO, in which external inbound links are setup.
Key elements of SEO:
Keyword usage and targeting are still a part of the search engines’ ranking algorithms, and we can apply some effective techniques for keyword usage to help create pages that are well-optimised.
1. Figure out your best keywords
Google can help you figure out the best keywords to focus on. Simply go to Google AdWords (adwords.google.com), a free service that allows you to type in a word and get a list of keywords and phrases that are most commonly searched in that category. Click Tools, then Keyword Planner. Choose 10 to 20 long-tail keywords most relevant to your products, services or target audience. The more those words appear on your web pages, the higher up your site will appear in results for those searches. Use these keywords all over your site, from titles to page headers to body content to URLs to image text.
2. Start with good content
The foundation of quality SEO rests on content. The best content is the kind that does the best job of providing information, which has the largest demand. It should be well-researched, interesting, to the point and unique. Plus, it should be fresh, so make sure to update your site on a regular basis (preferably weekly).
3. Start a blog
The best way to build content to boost your SEO efforts is to constantly provide users with updated content on your site. There’s only so much you can do when it comes to your static website, so launching a blog and updating it weekly with insights on your business and industry helps ensure your site stays fresh.
4. Add meta tags
Go to your website, right click and select View page source. Another tab or page will open with HTML / CSS code. Look for the meta tags—anything that starts with <meta>— and make sure they include a great description of what it is your business does so search engines will find it.
5. Tag your titles
Title tags is what is displayed in the title of browser and is considered by search engines to be a precise description of the page’s content. So make sure it has the keywords on which you want to be ranked higher, while at the same time accurately describing the content of the page. It is a good idea to keep your titles under 55 characters so that complete title is displayed, instead of being cut-off.
6. Create a sitemap
Insert a page on your website that links to all pages on your website, because it guides and allows search engines to crawl the website more intelligently and not miss out any key web page.
7. Internal Links
It is important to link your web pages together, as it is looked upon by Google highly favourably and helps to crawl and read all web pages. So try to link relevant pages with specific keywords or phrases.
8. Monitor your results regularly
You won’t know if your SEO efforts are paying off unless you keep track of your search ranking and monitor the improvement. Use tools like Alexa and the Google Toolbar to keep an eye out on your standings.
9. Work on URLs
Make sure your URLs use words instead of a string of numbers, letters and symbols. And organize your directory to make it easy for visitors to know where they are on your site.
Since the days of Yahoo, search engines have treated external links pointing to your website as votes of confidence for popularity and relevancy of the content. Google has refined the use of links to a fine art, and use complex algorithms to perform evaluation of websites based on this information.
Build relationships with other websites and link to them on your site. Then ask them if they will return the favor. That way, your audience will see their site, and their audience will be introduced to yours. It’s a win-win.
Links play a very important role in SEO, as search engines not only analyze the popularity of a website based on links, but also measures other metrics through it, like trust, spam, and authority. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites, while spammy websites hardly receive any links from trusted sources.
The steps mentioned above are the basic steps to get your website optimized and improve its ranking. Mastering SEO is a complicated, long-term effort and will require significant portion of your time and money.
If you prefer to invest your time running your business, then our SEO experts would be happy to do it for you. Simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org / (416)278-0734 and one of our SEO experts would be happy to help.