8 Great SEO Basics For Small Business Owners

SEO BasicsWant to learn to DIY SEO? Well, turns out SEO is a complicated subject. Figuring out how each new Google algorithm impacts search and how to deal with all the new changes are subjects of endless debate.

However, SEO Basics are well within your reach—even if you’re new to SEO.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of strategically tweaking all the elements of your website to earn the highest possible placement in search engine results. Higher search results = more customers = money for you.

Searchers tend to click on websites that show up on page one, so that’s where you need to be.

Check out these SEO Basics to help you capture and keep that top slot.

1. Avoid Duplicate Content

Copying content is a fairly common practice, but it’s bad for SEO. You can avoid getting penalized by using special tags that identify the content as duplicate. But, for non-experts, a better answer is: don’t do it. Your website should be bursting with your own unique content. Multiple websites? Even if you own other domains, each one needs unique content. To play it safe, ensure each page and every post is different.

2. Gather Intelligence

Monitor social media and document customer service calls to learn what your customers are asking, what they’re complaining about, and what they like most. Your customers are your key to SEO success.

3. Focus Your Content

Unless you’re running a pet blog, you should probably keep your Pomeranian off your website, no matter how adorable he is. Keep your content industry and product focused—but don’t oversell it. Provide informational, helpful and relevant website content for best results. It’s not only great for SEO, it’s a great way to turn your site visitors into customers.

4. Include Keywords

Semantic search has taken the place of simpler keyword search, but keywords still have a place. Instead of using the same keywords repeatedly, make a list of words and phrases your customers might be searching for. To get started, write down your top 5 customer FAQs. Write content that answers those questions, using your keywords and phrases naturally throughout the content.

5. Understand What Your Audience Wants

When your content answers questions asked by your customers, you’ll naturally earn more traffic. If you’re not seeing more site traffic, it’s time to get back to brand basics. Create buyer personas to get to know your audience better. (Check out this free buyer persona template from Hubspot!) Consider how your products or services make your customers feel. After all, even B2B customers respond to emotional connection.

6. Change Up Your Content Delivery Method

Don’t stop at what your customers want to know, discover how they want it delivered. Trying to deliver complicated technical knowledge or dense statistics to a general audience may serve only to alienate them…unless you present it in a way they can understand. Kick-ass infographics and fun, yet informative videos are great ways to show complex information in an easily digestible form. Step-by-step photos are a great way to walk even a novice through a recipe or repair project. When you find a way to help your customer be successful, they’ll come back for more.

7. Go Mobile

Mobile search is becoming more important every year. Did you know that if your website isn’t mobile friendly, it won’t show up in mobile search? Yikes. That’s a huge chunk of business you could be missing out on. Your website content must be optimized for mobile.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use the free and easy Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out. Now’s the time to go mobile, but how? Check out this handy and comprehensive FREE guide to making your website mobile friendly.

Download: The Smart Marketer's Guide To Making Your Website Mobile Friendly

8. Build Authority

How do you outrank your competition? You produce all the information your customers need to rank you as the leading authority in your field. No matter how crowded the field, a voice speaking from a new perspective can shine through. Find gaps in knowledge and fill the holes. Talk about what every other expert isn’t talking about. Make it personal and always about the customer. Build out your authoritative content over time for even more SEO juice.

Today, SEO is more about content and customer relationships than about tricks and shortcuts. You can’t game the system, you just have to be that good. These tips are low-tech ways to bump your SEO by improving your content and building your audience.

Have a question about SEO Basics? Let us know in the comments!

The SEO Essentials Guide for Beginners – Part 2

Last week we explored how search engines work by using programs called robots to crawl the web, index pages, determine importance & relevance and present search results. This week we’re going to cover a few key things that will help answer the question…

Where do I start?

If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to install a web analytics tool that offers insight into where your web traffic is coming from, and will help you make more informed decisions. There are a number of analytics packages on the market, but for all intents and purposes Google Analytics will meet just about any webmaster’s needs. All you have to do is sign up for a Google account for free access, place a small bit of code on pages you want tracked and you’ll have free reign to slice and dice data as you please.

Your next step will be a tedious but important one, keyword research. Everything revolves around the keyword because that’s what people are using to search. Ask yourself what sorts of words and phrases people would use to search for your site and what sorts of keywords you want to be found for. Even better, ask real customers what they would use and write all these terms down including all possible variations and common misspelling of those words.

Now we want to see if people are actually searching for these terms with a keyword analysis tool.  If you set up your analytics with Google (you did that right?) then I’d suggest using the keyword tool in Google AdWords, it’s also free. Use this tool to evaluate all those words and phrases you wrote down earlier. Look at the number of searches for each word and pick a handful (say 5 or 6) that have the highest number of searches each month. In the screen shot below, we can see the Google AdWords keyword tool not only predicts the estimated search numbers, but also gives you an idea of how competitive the term is, estimates cost per click (CPC) and provides other related keyword suggestions. Very handy.

Determining how many other web pages in the world compete for the same keywords is also very important. The more competitive the term the harder it will be to rank highly for it. Google’s keyword tool gives you a general idea (high, medium, low), but you can dig a little deeper and even dust off your high school algebra skills to better determine where to pick your battles. Google the keywords you selected and see who is currently ranking high for them. If you’re keyword is competing for top rank with likes of Wikipedia or a major brand, chances are you’re not going to break their dominant position and should focus on a different keyword. Check to see how many pages Google has indexed for your keyword and divide that by the number of monthly searches to figure out which keyword has the best relative ratio of pages to # of searches.

This week’s homework is to work on your keywords and practice using some of the tools I mentioned above. Don’t forget to let us know your SEO questions in the comments section below, on Facebook or our Twitter page.

Next week we’ll get under the hood with on-page optimization tips!

Mike

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The SEO Essentials Guide for Beginners Round Up:
Part 1 – How search engines work?
Part 2 – Where do I start?
Part 3 – Getting under the hood
Part 4 – Building links & directory submissions