As a small business owner, ensuring strong SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be a top priority in your marketing strategy. Here are my tips for strengthening your SEO on your website.
Let me ask you, what is the first thing that customers do when searching for your product or services? They Google it! The brand Google has become a verb to describe the action of going online and searching. Have you ever Googled different keyword combinations to see where your website falls in the Google rankings? If it doesn’t appear in the first couple of pages then this is a sign you need to step up your SEO game. SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization - the optimization of utilizing different strategies to increase the number of visitors to your website by obtaining high-ranking placement in the search engine results pages - in other words - it’s how easy you are to find. This is not limited to Google, but applies to other search engines like Bing, Yahoo and more. Why is it important? If users can’t find you then your lonely website will just be floating in cyberspace flushing money down the drain. Sure, a website is a great place to direct users to by advertising on social media and on your business cards but wouldn’t it be even better to have that website working for you even when you aren’t looking?
There are many different techniques that can help strengthen your SEO and it does take a bit of time to build. Strong SEO can also be very valuable to potential buyers if you decided to sell your website or business down the road because it isn’t something that happens overnight. Don't worry, SEO can be affordable and many of these SEO tips are DIY.
The first step in building your SEO is to identify and research keywords. These are words that people generally search for when looking for products or services you offer. To identify these keywords we love Ubersuggest for discovering different combination of keywords typically being searched on the web. Once you have these keywords you can use them to come up with relevant blog posts containing strategic wording, use them in image descriptions and sneak them in your general website content. Don't forget to include them in your blog post tags & in your blog post title if possible! It's fair to say that all wording you use on your website should be very carefully curated. This is why digital marketing has become such a huge industry!
As a small business owner you want to target your ideal customers by using focused keywords. For example, if you are a bakery that specializes in macarons (mmm our favourite) in a small town like Kelowna focus on those keywords together - “Kelowna Macarons”, “Custom Macarons Kelowna”, “Wedding Macarons Kelowna” as opposed to general keywords like “Macarons” or “Macaron Tower” or “Bakery”. If you are an online business then you need to toss a wider net by using more general keywords too. Another important place to include your keywords is your domain name. It's called Exact Match Domain (EMD). For example if my bakery is called Lindsay's Sweet Shop maybe I own the domain name lindsayssweetshop.com but what if I also owned Lindsaysmacarons.com or better yet kelownamacaron.com? You can own various domain names and point them all to one spot and that could help your SEO immensely. It's impossible to use all the keywords so be selective about which ones to use.
Blog posts are a simple way to inject different keywords into your content and improve SEO. The best part is you can never have too many blog posts! A carefully worded essay on the Top 10 Most Popular Macaron Flavours for example, along with colourful original photos could go a long way for a bakery. Get creative! If you are targeting a specific city, a good topic would be Best Coffee Shops in Kelowna. This post might not be about macarons specifically but it still targets your potential customers and coffee or tea pairs so nicely with macarons so it’s still relevant. New blog posts also keep your website content fresh and shareable (which also helps with your SEO). It gives users a reason to come back often. Include some of those keywords in your topic sentence so Google can find it easier but make sure it's natual. For some people, the idea of blogging can seem like a daunting task, but lucky for you it’s a service I offer! *wink wink*
In addition to keywords, another great way to increase your SEO rankings is with links. It helps search engines make sense of what your website is all about. There are a few different types of links to consider; inbound links, outbound links and internal links.
Inbound links, also known as linkbacks, are when another website includes a link to your content and traffic is directed to your site. One method to get linkbacks would be to be quote as an expert in another blogger’s post. For example, if you’re a business consultant and you get asked by a blogger for a quote, expert opinion or an interview. Be sure to request a linkback so you can benefit from the SEO boost. Product based companies might send out samples to bloggers and request a product review along with a linkback. Whenever you get the opportunity, be sure to sign up for online directories (LIKE OURS!) with the link to your website. You can even reach out to bloggers with the same target market and offer to swap blog posts or relevant linkbacks. Just be sure that your connection to the website that is linking you back is relevant to your website otherwise it could work against you. More on this later.
Outbound links are when you are linking to a website outside of your own. This is great for blog posts that mention other brands or more detailed explanation of something you mentioned in your blog post. For example, I linked to a couple of other websites in this article that are relevant to my blog post.
Internal links are similar to outbound links except it directs the user to another area on your site. This is especially useful when mentioning a product or service that you offer and makes it much easier for the user to find the information they need without looking too hard and hopefully convert it into a sale! A rule of thumb, any reference to anything should have a link attached to it!
Beware of some actions that can hurt your SEO. Some search engines like Google are smart and can penalize websites which can actually hurt your rankings. For example, Google doesnt like it if you have too many linkbacks from irrelevant sources, so be sure it makes sense if you’re partnering up with another blog. If you are paying for linkbacks or have hired a service that provides them for you, not a good idea, Google knows it’s not legit. Google can even monitor if you have overused keywords! Yes, you do need to use keywords on your site, but you need use them in a balanced way. You could also be penalized for having duplicate content on the web. If you copy and paste your blog post onto another blog as a guest contributor and keep your original post on your site, that won’t help your SEO. Always keep content original. Another Google penalty is if your website has low engagement or a high bounce rate (the amount of time someone stays on a page). If you find your bounce rate is high - meaning people are leaving quickly, you could be using the wrong keywords to attract the wrong target market and Google doesn’t like that either. Don't worry, the reason for penalties is to weed out the spammy sites and make room for genuine websites, like yours!
While we are on the subject of bounce rates, make sure you have a google analytics account. This will come in handy and we will talk about using its data for your benefit in a future blog post.
Once again, your SEO efforts won’t happen overnight and it can be overwhelming. There are many other things to consider in regards to SEO but these two points; keywords and links are both things you can do yourself to improve SEO for your small business. If you aren’t sure where you stand in your Google rankings, go Google your keywords right now and see what page your website comes up on. If you aren’t satisfied with your results feel free to get in touch with me and we can discuss how I can help you get more traffic!