This article is written for small business owners who either have a physical location or service-based business. The goal is to create a mindset and understanding of how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works, what they can do to support their SEO efforts, and what they should hire an SEO expert for.
I’ve found that SEO has been misunderstood.
The fact that SEO is such a difficult industry to understand, and the fact that it’s always evolving with Google’s latest changes, makes it a volatile and risky area for business owners to know who to trust and what to do.
This article is one angle on explaining SEO and should be considered as one option and outlook on what SEO is and means to people. Because SEO changes so often, we’ve compartmentalized SEO into 4 categories in order to understand the fundamentals and how to get the most out of it.
Keep in mind, in this article, we are only talking about organic (non-paid) search engine optimization, although I do suggest for companies to do Google Ads and/or have a balance of both Google Ads and organic SEO to create the best lead generation system they possibly can.
When done correctly, SEO can be an essential part of a companies marketing.
When you excel in the following 4 categories, you will be able to solidify the foundation for your SEO.
There are so many different ways to learn about SEO. This method is what we’ve come up with for business owners to better understand and navigate this unique and evolving industry.
We have categorized SEO into 4 main areas. Each category encompasses various tasks and strategies. As SEO changes and evolves, the new updates can fit into these categories, and you or an SEO expert can measure how successful you are within each category. This in turn can help you understand what you need to focus on or what you can help with to improve your SEO moving forward and with consistency in your marketing.
By using this system, your company can stay consistent with your marketing efforts and hold yourself accountable to keep up with these 4 categories.
#1. Website Content & Keywords
Strategize content on all the pages in your (mostly) static website, keywords used, and amount of keywords vs. content.
Relevant, Unique, Engaging Website Content
If you want to rank your website in Google, the number one thing you can do is have a lot of content on your website. What I mean by that is every page on your website should have 500+ words. Google is a search engine that requires text-based content on your website for it to scan through and figure out what your website is about. The content on your website should be unique (not copied from somewhere else on the Internet). While you're at it, you should make sure the content speaks to your audience and is engaging. Talk about benefits of doing business with you, why should someone care and/or want to do business with you over your competitors, what your process looks like, and what makes you unique as a company.
Keywords That Describe You and Keywords That Describe Your Service
Once your content is written, do another once over and make sure your primary or secondary keywords are incorporated throughout your website. Are there keywords that describe you? For instance, if you are a massage therapist, do you have "RMT" or "registered massage therapist" keywords written on your website? Do you have keywords that describe the service you provide such as "massage therapy" or "deep tissue massage," etc.?
Location Targeted Keywords
The next part we'd suggest you consider is location (city, province/state, or country). Next to your keywords or within your website copy somewhere, you should also focus on where you physically are or where you'd like to do business. For instance, "massage therapy vancouver" or "RMT vancouver."
#2. Code & Guidelines
Take into account Google’s requirements for websites to be indexed in their search engine: how to spec your website and code are, how efficient your website is loaded for users, and benchmarking guidelines and/or comparisons to other websites across the Internet.
Website Code & Website Hosting
There are many different ways to build a website, and there are many different ways to display or host a website. This is an area that you definitely want to hire an expert for to make sure your website is set up correctly and to give you the best chance for success. You may have an important piece of code that's throwing off your whole marketing campaign. For instance, your website hosting might be so slow that your website visitors aren't even loading the website before they've decided to leave, or your website contact form might not be working due to poor email delivery settings from your web hosting company.
This is also an area where a lot of business owners use software or consider reports from people who are trying to sell them on marketing services. How do you know which report or software is actually telling you what's important, and how much of an impact does each of these warnings or errors have? SEO software and reporting are actually quite complex and would take years to learn to be able to decipher what matters the most. The suggestion here is definitely to hire a professional to help you when it comes to website code and hosting.
Google's Suggested Webmaster Guidelines
Over the years, Google has done an excellent job of educating webmasters on the rules and regulations they put forward on how to best optimize your website to rank well in its search engine. In short, Google wants to give the best search results as possible to their end users. Webmasters want to deliver the best results for their customers. This in turn should mean that Webmasters should do their best to abide by the guidelines that Google recommends. If Webmasters don't abide by the rules, they may see their clients' websites removed from Google completely as a penalty. The point here is not to try and cheat the system. It's not worth being removed from Google's search results.
Knowing these guidelines takes time and years of experience. As such, this is another area you'll need to hire an SEO expert for. Here's a link to Google's Webmaster Guidelines: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en
This area also evolves and is essentially a never-ending area. Every time you add something new to your website, it opens up a list of tasks that you could do to optimize your website further. Knowing which tasks are most important and which tasks are much less of a priority is the real key here.
#3. Ongoing Content Marketing
Update your website with fresh, relevant content (usually blog posts or landing pages).
This is an area that I feel all business owners need to start considering much more within their marketing campaigns. It's an area that they can have input on in which they can fine tune their brand messaging and attract more ideal customers by producing relevant and engaging content. Once you have completed #1 and #2 to a level where you are happy with, moving on to #3 and #4 in this program will really ramp up your results and solidify your marketing.
Think of this part of your SEO as running your outbound messaging to generate your inbound inquiries. Much of the success for marketing is based on the message you want to convey and how deeply defined it is. Marketing experts will tell you this is where you need to define your voice. What I mean by this is: why are you in business in the first place? What's your story? Bringing this into your marketing blog posts and landing pages will give you better long-term success.
Ultimately, you can hire people for this area, although if you don't supply them with your tone and background messaging, they may not be able to communicate or write the way you want them to.
This is often why the business owner is the one who's best to write the articles and has trouble passing on this task to someone else. The mindset in this step is very important. Find a way to fit writing content into your schedule, or hire a professional who can match your tone and messaging that can get you results. Another key tip is to not just write the articles, blog posts, or landing pages, and then just leave them there. You need to promote the content once written, and get it in front of people. You've already spent the time or money on writing the content. Now, get people to read it!
#4. Exposure Popularity, Reputation & Relevancy
Consider the popularity of your website (in Google's mind) across the rest of the Internet (including Social Media) and how many links point back to your website (Link Building).
People don't talk about this area as much as they should. The involvement and impact of the rest of the Internet on YOUR website is actually quite important.
When we talk about exposure, we are referring to your Internet marketing reach. How many people are you in front of with your message? Social media is often referred to as the way to achieve a high amount of exposure in an efficient amount of time. It's outbound marketing of your messaging. Google considers social media popularity of websites when ranking them within their search engine. Being popular on social media by sharing your website link and gaining more likes, shares, etc. will help your exposure popularity.
Reputation & Relevancy
Are you listed on other websites in locations that someone would click on to visit your website? How relevant and related is that website to yours? If you have other high authority websites linking back to your website, this will help with your relevancy. If those websites are talking about you and linking to you, what are they saying about you? How is this reputation affecting your website or marketing in general?
This part of SEO is heavily reliant on how well you are doing with Ongoing Content Marketing (#3).
This article is an overview and is meant to educate small business owners on which areas they can help with and in which areas they should hire an SEO expert.
Another important thing to consider regarding SEO is that Google Ads is an option in which you pay for top-page ranking within Google's search results. Having a balanced attack on marketing of Google Ads monthly ad spend and SEO will give you the best results. ROI Web Marketing offers marketing packages that include Google Ads & SEO services that are focused on lead generation to grow your business.
Contact us today to get started!