SEO - A Guide for a Small Business
When marketing your business, there are multiple channels that, as a small business owner, you should be using. Today, we are going to look at SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimisation. This beginners guide will introduce you to the concept of SEO, why it's important for your business and the first steps you should take when developing your SEO strategy.
What is SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a digital marketing technique used to increase the number of keywords that your website appears for in the organic search results,
Let's break that down a bit
"Keyword" = a term or query that someone types into the search bar
"Search Engine" - e.g. Google, Bing or if you are older than 25, Ask Jeeves!
"Organic Search Results" - These are the results that are not paid for. Typically, if a search query is competitive, companies will pay to appear at the top of the search results. Paid results make up the top three or four results and will be labelled "Ad". The organic results will follow this.
So you might ask the question, why would I bother trying to appear at the top of the organic result if I can simply pay to appear at the top of the paid search results. Well, the main answer is money. Yes you can appear at the top of the search results with paid search by constantly investing in PPC, but if you can get your result to the top of the organic search result, you'll pay nothing every time someone clicks on your result - yes that's right zilch!
The other thing that youll achieve by investing in SEO is improved brand reputation, Having your result at the top of the organic search results adds to your credibility as a brand,
So investing in SEO is important..., especially for a small business where every penny counts.
How do I identify what SEO keywords are important for my small business?
We could write a whole article on this question (we probably will one day!). However, today, let's just cover the basics.
There are lots of keyword tools on the internet but for small businesses, these are very expensive and are unnecessary initially. Instead, grab a piece of paper and a pen and write out the question:
1) What topics/areas does my business support
Then simply write down what your business does. So for Design 49, ours would be:
We offer support to small businesses by developing websites, branding and marketing to help them grow their customers and revenue.
So now you want to follow this up by answering this question
2) What are my customers likely to type into Google to find my product/service
So again for Design 49, our keyword strategy would include terms such as:
Social Media Marketing
and so on...you get the idea! And there you have it, you have your first keyword strategy.
Now as you move further into SEO, you may want to think about your sales funnel and break down your keyword strategy to drive customers at different stages of the purchasing journey but that's for another day!
How do I get my small business to appear on Google for the keywords I have chosen?
So you've identified your keywords. Great! The first thing is to get them onto your website. Ideally, you want to pick one main keyword per page.
Websites are all laid out in the same way when it comes to content. Your main headline or title is known as the H1 title and then sub-headers are known as H2, H3, H4 etc. The way that Google works is that it reads the HTML code of your website and looks for these headers and assumes that the keywords that appear are the keywords you want to rank for. It sees the prioritises the content based on which type of header tag it appears in:
H1 - Most important
H2 - Less important than H1
H3 - Less important than H2
H4 - Less important than H5
Unfortunately, however, simply putting the keywords that you want to rank for into your website copy is not enough. Many many factors impact your ranking ability but today we will look at just one of them, and probably the most important. Links!
Links and SEO
For Google to pick your website to appear at the top of the search results for a certain keyword, they need to believe you are credible as quite simply, Google's reputation hinges on the websites that they show in the search results. If the result they show isn't relevant or is inappropriate, very quickly they would lose a lot of customers.
So how do they work out if you are credible - and no they aren't going to ring you up and interview you! Google work out your credibility by looking at the number of sites that are linking to your website overall and to the web page that has the keyword you are wanting to rank for.
If your website has a lot of links from credible websites, Google will assume you are credible as well and reward you by improving where your website appears in the search results for the keyword you are trying to rank for.
There are lots of credible websites but a few that are good to know about are news sites like bbc.co.uk or guardian.co.uk. Other credible sites include blog websites or educational sites like universities.
Techniques for driving SEO links
There are several ways to get credible websites to link back to you. These include:
Create interesting content - write about a topic that you know about and add your twist, If the content is credible, other websites might link their users to it
Write a guest post - there are lots of websites that thrive on other experts providing content and as a thank you, they will provide a link back to your site
Write a press release and send it to journalists who write for titles that are within the area you operate.
So there you have it, a beginner's guide to SEO, SEO is a channel that takes a lot of time to get significant results however it can be extremely profitable and very satisfying. Design 49 helps small businesses with developing bespoke keyword strategies and can offer help and advice to help improve the ranking of your site.