SEO may be the single most important marketing strategy for a small business. It brings potential customers to you and it can expand your reach since it allows you to tap into an interested online audience. If you haven’t yet invested in it, you’re not only behind the curve; you’re missing out on tons of opportunities to convert more customers.
People use search engines frequently to make purchase decisions or to find businesses that will fulfill their needs. It’s important for your business to be on the first page of Google.
First, if you’re a beginner to online marketing, you might not understand what we mean when we say SEO. Simply put, it’s the process of making your website visible in search engine result pages (SERPs). Since Google owns almost 95% of the global search engine traffic, we’re going to talk about Google only when teaching you how to excel at SEO.
When a user searches using Google, Google uses a proprietary algorithm with over 200 signals when choosing what webpage to show. Google scans every single page on the web and stores the data. When a user types something into the Google search box, Google lists in order from top to bottom the most relevant and authoritative pages to answer the user’s search query.
You want to ensure your content is written and optimized to be on the first page, yet keep in mind the Google algorithm is constantly changing. Successful SEO can seem like black magic, but there are common strategies that are known to work if done correctly.
Google likes websites that ooze Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E.A.T). Your web pages on a particular topic are only going to rank if Google deems those pages to have high topical relevance to a search query. One of the best ways to demonstrate topical relevance is to create content that’s rooted around content clusters.
A content cluster consists of a pillar page and content clusters. The pillar page is the foundation and the central keyword theme of the content cluster. It’s a long-form piece that covers a topic in a broad yet to-the-point way to build authority and relevance on its subject matter.
On the other hand, cluster content refers to articles with a narrow focus on a specific topic relevant to the main keyword theme. They are short-form articles, blogs, or guides that link back to the pillar page.
For example, if your pillar page title is “ What is Remote Work?” you could have content clusters focusing on areas such as:
A strong keyword strategy focuses on attracting both customers at the bottom of the sales funnel who are ready to make a buying decision, as well as customers at the top of the sales funnel who are just doing a bit of light research.
To understand what keywords your business should use, you want to perform keyword research before you even launch SEO tactics or a blog. Keep in mind that now that more and more companies are performing SEO and content marketing, search engine results have become increasingly competitive. You’ll obviously want to rank for relevant keywords, but you don’t want to go after words that every other brand within your industry is vying for.
Another great way to make the most out of your SEO strategy is to conduct a keyword gap analysis. Look around and pinpoint some of your fiercest competitors — those that you compete with online.
When it comes to creating top-ranking content, you don’t have to start from scratch all the time. Sometimes, optimizing existing content yields more gains than creating completely new pieces.
However, not all old pieces of content are worth an upgrade. You’ll see significant gain only when you optimize top-performing pages on your site. Head over to the Google search console, and on the left side panel, click Behavior → Site Content → pages.
Check the content performance and pick those that are doing well (high volume page views) or those with high potential yet lie on page two of Google SERPs. Go to Market Muse or the content optimization tool you use to find out where each piece is lacking.
Market Muse pinpoints the keywords you need to work in, and the target word count to give each article the impetus to jump to page one. Improve the content by adding new topics or expanding upon existing topics to close all content gaps. Add new images, incorporate new keywords, and add new internal links to improve the content quality.
If you’re not prioritizing featured snippets, you’re leaving a lot on the table. Ranking for featured snippets (position zero on Google Serps) can increase traffic to your website by 30%. Beyond web traffic, ranking for featured snippets improves your brand authority and click-through rates.
For starters, the featured snippet is the excerpt of dedicated content that is located at the top of Google SERPs. It provides the searcher with a concise answer to a search query, and it can feature text or video content.
What does it take to rank for position zero?
Once you understand the keywords your customers use to find your business, it’s time to optimize your website. SEO website optimization touches six critical areas:
This is the copy that appears in the search result as the description of your page. It also appears within the tab of your webpage. Title tags carry a lot of weight and should absolutely use your focus keywords.
This refers to the headlines used on your site with the H1-H6 text formatting. H1 and H2 are most important to Google — make sure your page has a clear title using your keywords in an H1 tag.
Use your short-tail keywords in the page copy throughout your website, but don’t overdo it. Google is smart and will pick up on keywords even if you don’t use them in every sentence (and you shouldn’t). Always keep your user in mind: does the copy read smoothly for your potential customer while also strategically using keywords throughout your pages? Bingo.
Your website URLs are a great opportunity to highlight keywords. You want to make sure words are separated by hyphens, written in all lowercase, and use clear keywords.
Google image search is another place SEO matters — for every picture you put on your website, make sure you name it with the appropriate (and relevant) keywords. It’s also important to include an “alt text” tag and image “title” tag.
The “alt text” tag is the text that will appear if your image does not load, telling the user what the image is. The “title” tag can offer a short description of the image. For instance, in some web browsers, the image title will appear when you hover over an image.
The meta description is the two lines of text that appear below the clickable link in search engine results. It’s important to make sure you fill out meta description information. Otherwise, Google will choose and pull the copy directly from your webpage.
Each of these parts of your website can be changed by your web developer or within a CMS platform such as WordPress if your entire site is built that way.
You don’t have to create new content to boost organic traffic. Sometimes, all your website needs is a properinternal linking strategy to get more eyeballs on the low-ranking pages, particularly those that have stagnated on page two.
Here’s how it works:
An article ranking on the first page has built better link authority and relevance signals than an article on page two. If you link both articles, you spread the link authority and relevance signal juice to the low-ranking article giving it the wings to fly into page one.
Don’t underestimate the power of content distribution. Most brands fail with content marketing because they don’t distribute their content properly.
Remember: organic SEO is a single content distribution channel; if you only depend on it to broaden your content reach, you won’t get the desired results. To significantly improve your website traffic, you have to use other distribution channels.
One way is to repurpose your content. Turn your blog post into a Twitter thread or a YouTube Video. Alternatively, write a blog post capturing the most valuable points in your webinar video. Moreover, every time you update a blog post, make sure to inform your followers on social media.
The content repurposing list is endless — just be creative and leverage every opportunity to a new set of eyeballs on your content. Beyond repurposing, try guest posting on healthy websites to build backlinks to internal pages.
Content and SEO go together like eggs and bacon — I truly believe you can’t have one without the other. Why? Because one thing we do know about Google’s mysterious algorithm is that it puts a lot of weight on fresh, new content. Here’s how you can utilize content to win at SEO:
Launch and maintain a blog. A company blog is the number one way to constantly create new content that features short- and long-tail keywords. The more content you create, the more keywords you’ll rank for and grow new potential customers visiting your site. I’ve seen businesses grow their traffic by more than 1,000% in 18 months by just sharing regular blog posts.
Build out landing pages. There are likely at least 5 – 10 landing pages that would make sense to create for your business and put within your navigation. These could describe a service or answer a question. Think beyond the About and Contact page — how can you utilize your keywords in thorough, content, and multimedia-rich pages?
Testimonials and case studies. Gathering reviews from your clients and writing testimonials and case studies are great ways to naturally feature keywords on your site. It’s also an awesome way to showcase your customer service and help potential clients understand why they should use your business.
If you perform keyword research, optimize your website for better SEO performance and create consistent, fresh content, your business will be leaps and bounds ahead in the SEO game. A great way to tell if your effort is paying off is to benchmark the keywords and organic traffic on your site before doing the above strategies, then check in 3-6 months how much traffic has grown thanks to your SEO techniques.
SEO can seem like a big goal for a small business, but with a little time and effort, it will definitely pay off.
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