- Understanding SEO Basics
Every successful business must layout a unique marketing strategy. Marketing is defined as how a business plans to promote and sell products and/or services. This plan should include market research and advertising.
Now that the internet is such an integral part of most every US business, whether for actual sales or information alone, a marketing plan must include an online strategy. I hope to enlighten the average small business owner to the SEO basics.
Search engine optimization (SEO), these steps to getting found in search results, is a necessary part of marketing from a website. For a small business with little or no web experience, dealing with SEO can add stress and additional cost to your marketing plans.
Entrepreneurs take heart. You can handle it for yourself by educating yourself on the SEO basics or learning to safely outsource your SEO, without breaking the bank.
SEO and Google
Google, the most popular search engine, is constantly updating their search practices, to remain fair and impartial. Moreover, in 2016 Google redesigned their search results page, including removing right column ads, which produced less clicks. The new page layout also includes up to seven paid ads per page. These include Rich Cards, ads with photos and sometimes prices, that appear when searching for products on Google.com.
This new layout has helped to increase advertisement success – the “Click Through Rate” (CTR) for Google paid ads. Subsequently, ad pricing increased a bit. It has also decreased the number of organic search results and pushed them farther down on the page.
Although I have normally steered my clients away from search engine paid ads, these changes will alter my recommendations. I now recommend a mix of SEO, with an added Pay Per Click (PPC) ad budget, as the best road to web marketing.
Let me help you with a basic knowledge of Search Engine Optimization. Remain calm. I’ll explain in layman’s terms and there are a plethora of tutorials available online for SEO and SEO tools.
Keep in mind, search engines can penalize websites (by lowering rank) if you do not follow these simple guidelines. Also, cloned websites, with duplicate information, can be removed from search rankings completely. Follow the guidelines. Above all, do not plagiarize material.
The Two Sides of SEO
- Optimize (make the most effective use of) your web pages, according to current best practices
- Research current, best SEO practices for page optimization (Google it!)
- If you outsource, be sure your web developer or content writer is optimizing your pages
- Include page titles (which appear on browser tabs) for all pages
- For WordPress sites, install an SEO Plugin and utilize the features available
(I recommend Yoast – it’s free!)
- Include images with “ALT” tags and use videos, when possible
- Use links to other websites
- Link to other businesses that complement, not compete, with your business.
- Trade links with businesses; add their link to your site, if they link to yours
- Ask distributors and those you distribute for to add your link to their sites
- Exceptional content increases your chances of securing links from more established websites
- Do not link to poor quality content or offensive material, even for friends
- Be sure to link only to valid, live websites
- Include meta descriptions (160 character snippet, HTML tag, that summarizes a page’s content) for each page you want “indexed” (crawled by search engines)
- Update your website regularly.
The Search Engines:
- Register with Google and Bing (at least these two)
- Create and submit an XML Site Map after your site is completed
- Create a Robots.txt file and submit it to Google and Bing.
- Utilize free Google Analytics and Bing Webmaster Tools to monitor your SEO success (Tutorials available on YouTube)
Social media offers free avenues of exposure for your business. Ergo, it is wise to:
- Create business pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- Facebook feeds can be added to your website
- Link blogs directly to Social Media
My goal is for this information to give you a basis of knowledge to enable you to optimize for yourself and to protect you from overpriced services and scams.
SEO is an ongoing process. After these initial steps, you will need to devote some time to:
- keeping up with updates
- analytic data
- social media insights
Web Presence Manager
Another option is to hire someone. In that case, be sure to have a detailed list of what a manager will be doing for you and how often. Keep in mind, a manager with an hourly rate can be a much more cost effective option than a company with a large, monthly fee.
I have an SEO checklist available for download here. Follow these steps to get on the road to Search Engine Optimization. Additionally, I will explain each step in detail in a future post.