There are a couple of questions I get asked on a regular basis when I’m out and about talking up my business:
What is SEO?
How can I make sure my website has enough SEO “fairy dust” sprinkled on it for it to make a difference? (OK maybe not those exact words, but you get the gist.)
For Question 2, I see a golden opportunity for a face-to-face follow up meeting where I can wax lyrical about SEO and website content for hours on end. And for Question 1, my short answer is “the things you need to do to your website to figure in search engine page rankings”. For my long answer, see Question 2.
For most small business owners, SEO is currently and will remain a mystery so long as search engines like Google continue to evolve (aka move the goalposts). Smart small business owners are aware of SEO, aware that it affects their search engine rankings, and that it’s something they need to think about, but have no real idea where to start. And who can blame them? It’s tough enough making the thousand-and-one day to day decisions that impact their business, let alone worrying about such a nebulous concept as SEO.
But SEO needn’t be so complex that the average business owner can’t do some things for his or herself. I recently gave a presentation on SEO at my local monthly meeting of MumsUnItd where I emphasised that optimising a website needn’t be one of those “back burner” tasks that you get around to someday. That with small, consistent efforts (and the ability to edit your site’s content) you can chip away at SEO and see the results over time. I’ve included come of the presentation content here as a checklist for future reference.
SEO covers two main areas:
On Page SEO – the things your customers see when they look at your website
Background SEO – the more technical stuff, e.g. coding, metatags etc
To go into the technical side of SEO would is more than I can cover in one blog, so this is just about on page SEO for now. This is the stuff you can handle for yourself with little or no intervention from a third party.
Let’s walk though it step-by-step.
This is how Google works in a (rather large) nutshell:
Google crawls the world wide web, all day every day
It indexes all the web pages it finds (a web page = a unique URL)
It finds the web pages by following links
When searching for something, it will use its algorithms to find the best quality matches
Google’s search algorithm is constantly evolving. It’s a big hairy beast that uses something like 200 different factors in deciding a page ranking. They rank a website according to its popularity, the quality of its content, and its reputation.
But how do they decide which web pages to include in search results? This is where optimisation comes in.
There are four basic elements to On Page SEO, all working together, and all things you can manage for yourself:-
If you were searching for your business without knowing the name of your business, what words would you use? These are your KEYWORDS: the words or phrases that describe your business or product.
Have you noticed lately that when you type something into Google’s search bar that’s say more than two or three words long, that Google now tries to second-guess you? What’s happening is that it’s trying to guess the intent behind your search, they are that clever.
This is probably the biggest change that Google has made lately and the most important thing you can research and review right now is your keywords. Once you’ve done that, you need to update your website content to include them (more on "Fresh Content" below).
This is how Google analyses a website’s popularity and reputation. As I’ve said, as it’s crawling around the web it’s following links. So the more links you have on your website the better up to a point*. These can be:-
Internal links – where you are directing your visitors around your site from one page to another
Outbound links – where you are directing visitors to an external site e.g. useful info, testimonials, case studies etc
Inbound links – people being directed to your site from somewhere else e.g. social media, networking groups etc
Links show Google that your site is trusted and authoritative and has a good reputation and has quality content, so it will rank you.
*WARNING: In the bad old days site owners would exploit this as a loophole and join link schemes or affiliate schemes that have little or no bearing on their business or industry. Try it now and Google will see you and will penalise you. So – just don’t.
You should be on social media every day talking about your website and posting links to it. Social sharing creates more links as it creates more awareness of your business, grows your fan base, your target audience, your website visitors and subsequently helps with your reputation on Google. For example, every time you...
launch a new product
publish a new blog
publish a new article
get a new testimonial or case study
get a new client
discover something interesting & relevant
you should be all over social media talking about it, using hashtags and linking back to your website. This only builds on your credibility and reputation on Google.
Google loves new or updated content, especially if there are links in that content and/or a new page is added. This doesn’t mean making wholly unnecessary changes just for the sake of it, but every time you…
Launch a new product
Create a new case study
Write a new blog
Write a useful article
Upload a new image
… you are creating fresh content. Blogging is the best way to keep your content fresh as each time to publish a new blog you are creating a new page. And a new web page equals a new index page equals another reason for search engines to pay attention. Blogging also gives you an opportunity to use your keywords, it creates links, and increases your authority with search engines. Last but not least, blogging keeps your customers and your target audience updated and makes you look more professional and informed. For more reasons to blog, read this.
That’s the four main on-page SEO topics covered. If you want more information about on-page SEO or the more technical aspects, then give me a call today and book a free consultation.