Small Business SEO Strategy and How To Make The Most Of It.

Small Business SEO Strategy and How To Make The Most Of It.

Creating an SEO Strategy is probably the last thing that most small business owners think about when they want to get found in the search results on Google. I’ve had many conversations with small business owners and those responsible for marketing their small business and not one of them had thought about creating a strategic approach to their overall Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing.

For many small businesses SEO is one of those “dark arts” that they know they should be involved in but feel that there is little point in spending the money on! I’ve had people say to me

“Only one website can be at the top of google for a search term…”

and although this sounds true enough it’s too simplistic a notion to be anywhere close to accurate in a real world scenario. Sure when you or I search in Google for something we will be presented with a set of search results or SERPs as they’re known; the thing is that your results will be different to the results that I am presented with. So you see there is more than one chance to be at the top of Search results.

Search results are based on many factors, some of which relate directly to the person searching, their location, the websites they’ve already visited, and even the searches they’ve already made.

Being Number One

Content that is good for googleOf course being at the #1 position for a particular search term is the holy grail of search marketing, or so some people think. However, there are many more factors that come into play when you start to analyse what it is that YOU want those people searching to actually do.

In terms of my own target audience, I’m looking for people who want to know more about digital marketing and who want to make a difference to their own business in terms of driving new enquiries through digital marketing, SEO and Social Media. Ultimately I want small business people to click a link and sign up for my series of training videos that’ll help them get their website to the top of the search results for the right kind of searches, thus placing their content, products and services in front of their ideal client base.

The point is that we all need to put our content in front of as many of our ideal clients as possible so knowing the who, what, where and when of your content production is all important. In other words we all need some sort of strategy and direction for our plan to capture new clients from our web presence.

Working Out A Strategy For SEO

Here are the basics of what you’ll need to consider when working through an SEO Strategy for your small business. Keep in mind that a strategy is not the plan or the implementation tactics, it’s just an overall and high level view of direction and outcomes.

Know your audience and understand their needs.

Your business does not appeal to everyone in the world. It will not even appeal to everyone in your country or home town. You need to understand who is interested and most likely to buy your products and services. Understanding the type of people and or businesses that need your products and services is key to getting into the mind of your ideal client and therefore makes it easier to target them and more easily appeal to them when you’re creating your website and social media content.

Keyword Research and Categorisation

Keyword research is one of those things that can take as much or as little time as you want it to. Many people who are new to SEO have been lost in the task of keyword research to the exclusion of any actual SEO work thus delaying an SEO project for months. This is clearly not what your strategy will be like though. My advice on keyword research is to get started by brainstorming about 10 of the basic terms you think or know your customers use to find your products and services.

Once you have a basic list, spend a little time expanding the list by seeing what Google suggests when you start to search for each one. If you’re not sure about how that works there is a short video tutorial lasting a couple of minutes showing exactly how it works in this context.

Grouping Your Keywords

Categorisation and grouping your keywords into small sets is a great way to focus your content production process around a single idea. When you focus content and create a page on your website that fully explored that idea or keyword set then you’re on to a really good way to appeal to the Google search results algorithm.

Finding Gaps and Opportunities

During your keyword research process look for key phrases that are four or five words long. These are known as “long tail keywords” and can seriously improve your google search results position. For example if you do a google search for “How to succeed in keyword research 2018” you’ll see my article about keyword research right there at the top.

Of course it a pretty niche key phrase but it does the job of putting one of my website blog pages at the #1 position in the search results. But you will also see that same page at the #3 spot for the phrase “How To keyword research 2018” and at #6 for the phrase “keyword research in 2018”.

How to do keyword research is a massively competitive search area but it’s possibl, as you can see, to rank for closely associated phrases and start to gain traffic to your website.

Define, Spy On and Learn From Your Competitors

When you are looking for key words to help you direct relevant traffic to your website you could start by simply doing some searches for the popular thing related to your business. Take a look at those websites that appear at the top of the search results and look for the types of content and meta data they use on the pages they get ranked.

Of course you will not want to directly copy their content or meta data but it can greatly influence you thinking when it comes time for you to create exceptionally good pages of content.

When you are creating content pages or blogs try to improve your content and make it significantly more detailed than any of your competitors pages. Add images and videos, break up the content with H2 and H3 headings. Include some of your keyword research data in those headings but take care that you don’t over use the keywords as this will be seen as “keyword stuffing”. Keyword overuse will result in your page being downgraded in the search results.

SEO Recommendations

When you are starting out and trying to get your website found in the google search results, there are a few things that will get you the results you need faster than all th either things that need to be considered.

Here is a list of the more important things to get right when you’re starting out your “On Page” SEO:

  • Create a focused list of keywords for each page you intend to create
  • Create a unique meta title for each page / blog post on your website
  • Use your main keyword for the page at the start of your meta title
  • Make sure that your meta title is no longer that about 65 characters including spaces and punctuation
  • Create a unique marketing message for why people should click on your page and use that as the meta description for the page
  • Use your main keywords and alternatives in your meta description
  • Make sure that the meta description is no longer that about 160 characters including spaces and punctuation
  • Use your main keyword in an H2 Heading near the start of your main content
  • Add a link near the start of your first paragraph, that links to some related content within your site
  • Create images with files names that contain the main keywords
  • Add Alt Text to each image used and make sure that it contains the main or related keywords

The above list is not an exhaustive list of things that need to be done to optimise your content pages for search but focusing on these things will allow you to gain a a more prominent position in the search results. This of course assumes that you are creating extensive and detailed content that answers your potential readers questions.

Remember that end users of the big search engines are looking for answers to their questions and if you can provide an exhaustive answer to that question, IE their search query, then you’ll be rewarded by those search engines by being placed higher in the rankings.

Prioritised SEO Work To Be Done

If you have a website with lots of pages and blogs already in place and you’re struggling to get ranked in the search results, here is a list of things that you’ll need to focus on and work through before you can even start to get your pages to rank in the results.

  1. Make a list of all your website pages and URLs.
    You’ll need to have a list that you can work through one page at a time, applying the basics of SEO to each page and making sure that you’re following the advice contained in this article.
  2. Assign a set of keywords to each of your pages / URLs
  3. Starting with your home page, rework your meta titles and descriptions
  4. Review page content and expand where needed, making your content as expansive as possible so that it answers every questions you readers might have
  5. Add H2 and H3 heading / sub-headings to the page content and include keywords where appropriate
  6. Add images to the content and make sure that the file name contains the keywords and add Alt Text too.
  7. Update the URL for each page to include your best keyword edit search phrase
  8. Make sure that you 301 redirect the old URL to the new keyworded page
  9. Once fully updated, publish a link to your updated page on Facebook and Twitter
  10. Consider scheduling link posts using something like PostPlanner.com to “recycle” those link posts automatically for you.

Do all of the above to EVERY page on your website.

This is a marathon task especially if you have a large existing website with lots of blog posts but it really is worth the effort. If you have implemented Google Analytics then your start to see your traffic stats climb. Analysis of the traffic is a whole other subject area which needs some serious consideration so that you can see where your traffic is coming from, what those visitors are doing when they do come to your website and what happens to make them leave.

Getting to grips with Google Analytics is all part of an overall SEO Strategy and I’last cover that in a future article.

How Does Facebook and SEO Work

How Does Facebook and SEO Work

When Google first started out indexing the web they’d make a simple list of all the pages and content and index that against keywords and other things that mattered to them and what they thought their users would benefit from. But how does Facebook work with SEO these days?

The World of search has moved a significant way since the advent of Social Media and the proliferation of “Black Hat” techniques that trey to fool the search engine algorithms into thinking their content is the most relevant and shouldn’t be placed at the topic of the search results.

Social Media

How does the introduction of Social Media platforms and in particular Facebook affect the way you are to be found in search engines? It’s still possible to rank facebook posts in search engines but you need to be aware that it’s most likely not the best way to try to promote yourself or your business in terms of making it into the top end of the search results.

If you’re a regular Social Media user and post on Facebook or even consume all those Facebook Posts from your “friends”, you will know that although the posts, photos, and videos are stored for ever on the Facebook servers, your view of that content is very transitory in that once it’s passed by in your time line you’ll probably never see it again.

It’s certainly true that content is being indexed by Facebook, Google and the other search engines so it’s inevitable that posts, images, and videos will show up in search results. The point is that you want your content to show up at the top of the google search results for the best and most relevant search terms that relate to your business, your products and services.

How Do I Get To The Top Of Google?

It is a simple fact that, in the big search engines, the results that are shown at the top of the results for a search term are the most likely to be clicked on. The trick to having your content show up within the first 3 or 5 results on the page is to be the most relevant, comprehensive, and well written piece of content for that search request. Once you factor in that thought, you’ll quickly see that it’s pretty hard to fulfil those three criteria in a Facebook Post, even if you include and image or video.

Posting on Facebook can improve your popularity (on Facebook) and lead to a wider following if you get it right and offer value to your intended audience with every post you make. Taking the approach that offers real value in return for someone following you is certainly the way to elevate your online presence to the level of “Niche Expert” or “The Go To Person” for your type of expertise. But what does this all lead to?

Increasing the number of followers and the quality of those followers on Facebook where your audience hang oin every word you say allows you to “direct” your audience to other content on your own website and thus improve the search optimisation of that website simply by virtue of the fact that you have a significant amount of “Link Traffic” coming to your web pages as an dwhen you want it to.

An Ideal Scenario for SEO

Imagine a scenrio where you write an opinion piece blog post on your own website. You have spent time researching facts about your subject for the blog. You have taken time to craft a really relevant, emotive and keyworded tittle for your blog.

You’ve taken the time to sculpt into the main body of content suggestions that you, your business, service, or product has the solution to the problem your blog is delving into.

You publish that blog post and direct your facebook following to click the link to find a solution to the problem.

Your blog post gets a boost in traffic over the next 24 hours and continues to gain traffic for the search term you’ve targeted. You continue to post links to that blog over the next few days, weeks and months in order to reach out to those on Social Media who missed the original post because of time differences or simply due to the mass of other social content they’re bomdarded with.

Good For Google

Content that is good for googleThis scenario is one which Google will reward due to the popularity of your post and the traction it gains from Social Media, add to that the fact that you have crafted the blog post so we’ll that you’ve really focused on the keywords and phrases that real people are using to search for the solution to the problem you are writing about.

You’ve broken up the content with headings and sub-headings (H2 and H3), and added images and even video from your youtube channel. You have even gone as far as adding in links to external content that further clarifies the problem and helps with the solution. These are all the parts of Search Engine Optimisation that Google will reward with height rankings in the results.

Overall SEO Strategy For Social Media

Working your keywords into your social media posts can help you gain more visibility but it’s not really the complete answer to your overall need to be found on the big search engines. That more complete answer is to know what your basic keywords are and to develope a set of “long tail” key phrases that “ask a question” like “how does keyword research work for SEO?”. Notice that the example here is not necessarily a search phrase that lots of people will start with and that’s just fine as it’s the meaning of the search term matched with the meaning of the content in the Google database that actually matters.

Scheduling

When you have those phrases worked out and can create an exceptional piece of content. That content. will add value for the reader in terms of actually answering their burning questions. You can then go about advertising that content on Social Media like Facebook using the basic keywords and #hashtags to drive the search traffic from within the social platforms. Here are some basic steps to take to get you going on the path to get Facebook and SEO Working for your business.

  1. Basic brainstorm of some keywords related to your business, services, and products.
  2. Expand each set of base keywords into related and extensive “key phrase questions”
  3. set up a list of blog posts that you could write, where each blog post will have a “key phrase question” as the title
  4. write your blog posts following the basic blog structure guide on this website
  5. Refine each Blog Title using the Headline Analyser over at http://coschedule.com/Headline-Analyzer
  6. Assemble a set of images that help illustrate your point and use them in your blog post
  7. Create a set of related hash tags that you can use on social media that will attract searched. Especially important if you use Pinterest and Instagram
  8. Set up a social media post schedule for Facebook and Twitter to make sure that you post a link to your new blog
    • on the day you publish
    • one day after publication
    • 2 days after publication
    • one week after publication
    • two weeks after publication
    • three weeks after publication
    • one month after publication
    • two months after publication
    • three months after publication
  9. repeat this process each week.

Conclusion

There are no shortcuts to good search engine optimisation especially where social media and Facebook are concerned. We all need to put the work in and create the best content we are able to put out there. Using black hat or grey hat shady techniques to try to speed up your journey to the top of the search engines simple will not work with any certainty and will do you no favours at all over the longer term. Some of the dubious techniques will actually cost you a place on page 1 of the search results thus pushing your business website and social media accounts into oblivion.

Time for Social media

Set aside a couple of hours a week to write some content.  Do some social media scheduling and you will improve your position. If you’re not in a position to write your own content, then there are services out there that will write for you. These services can be a little expensive as a well written blog of 1000 words or so could cost you a few hundred pounds.

Maybe you are better at describing your point of view rather than writing it? Record your words on a smart phone and send it for transcribing using a service like fivrr.com.

Whichever way you approach Social Media and SEO, just get started and improve along the way. You will get better with practice but you need to start!

How to succeed in Keyword Research 2018

How to succeed in Keyword Research 2018

Keyword Research for 2018 and how to be successful

For years Google have provided systems that will allow you and me to find out what people are searching for when they look for our products and services; it’s called keyword research and Google have provided the “Keyword research Tool” and more recently moved that tool into the AdWords system and renamed it the “Keyword Planner”. These tools have always been related to the Google Adwords system even before it got moved into the adwords interface Google showed keyword competition that related to the number of people advertising for that keyword set.

Throughout 2016 and 2017 I’ve been letting people know that Google don’t really care about YOUR KEYWORDS at all and that they really only care about the meaning of your content and the direct relevance to the end users Google Search Terms. In fact it goes further than that and try’s to work out what the end user (their customer) is really trying to find. (more…)

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If this is the case then you may be wondering why email marketing still happens and even more wondering why it’s so effective! (more…)

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