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
Of 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.
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.
- 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.
- Assign a set of keywords to each of your pages / URLs
- Starting with your home page, rework your meta titles and descriptions
- Review page content and expand where needed, making your content as expansive as possible so that it answers every questions you readers might have
- Add H2 and H3 heading / sub-headings to the page content and include keywords where appropriate
- Add images to the content and make sure that the file name contains the keywords and add Alt Text too.
- Update the URL for each page to include your best keyword edit search phrase
- Make sure that you 301 redirect the old URL to the new keyworded page
- Once fully updated, publish a link to your updated page on Facebook and Twitter
- 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.