Possibly the most misunderstood resource available to utilise online, search engine optimisation (SEO) can make your online business a complete and utter success. But that’s only if it’s utilised in the right way – and it’s this that causes many small businesses problems.
SEO is continually changing. What worked or was recommended last year is likely to need changing today and what worked 10 years ago is almost guaranteed to not work on its own today.
But there are several basic principles of SEO that are unlikely to change tremendously in the near future and in fact, they are actually likely to grow significantly in importance.
SEO is not about the search engines
OK, in one sense it’s important to understand how the search engines rank websites so you can ensure what you’re doing is having the right effect, but most people fail to realise that today, SEO is more about the user experience than the search engines.
Google, for instance, is trying to move towards a much more social and user-friendly internet experience. They want people to be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
And because of this, it’s important to implement your SEO practices for the user and not the search engines.
A prime example of when this is apparent is with copy. Read through your website content and ask yourself whether it truly explains what you’re talking about – does it need more descriptive keywords in it or should you take some out because it doesn’t read that well?
Focus on the user and the simple fact is, you’ll be rewarded in the search engine rankings.
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Regular content is key
Earlier in the year, Google essentially said that websites that provide regular updates to their target audience would be rewarded with better ranking positions. A blog is a perfect way to do this and the most important points are quality on a consistent basis.
Going back to the first point, you need to think about your audience and they need (or in today’s day and age, what they expect). Can you provide two high quality, unique blog posts every day? Fantastic! If you can’t, however, don’t worry – one blog post per week that is of superb quality and truly engages with your audience will be of considerably more benefit than 10 poor quality blog posts that offer no value to the reader whatsoever.
And remember, don’t make the blog posts all sales based – your customers want to hear about your products or services, but that’s not all they want to hear about.
A proper keyword analysis could be the catalyst behind your SEO success
One of the most common reasons why SEO strategies don’t achieve their level of success is because their foundations are poor – most notably the keywords they’re focusing on.
The keywords you choose are the ones that you’re going to be trying to rank highly for and therefore the ones that send the most traffic. But it’s not just about volume – just like copy, quality should always come first.
Imagine you were selling baby strollers. By ranking highly for the term ‘baby products’, you’d get a high number of visitors. If you were to look at the visitor statistics, however, chances are there’d be a huge amount of unused traffic – people who type in ‘baby products’ could be looking for baby strollers, but they could also be looking for cots, toys or clothes.
A more suitable term to focus on would be ‘buy baby strollers’ or even inclusive of something that relates directly to your target audience, such as ‘buy baby strollers in Miami’.
Although you can carry out a keyword analysis yourself, it’s usually beneficial to have an experienced third party carry it out for you. Do it yourself and you may discover half a dozen different keywords to use, but a third party could have dozens – depending upon the size of your business, there may even be hundreds.
SEO is crucial to the success of any business, big or small. The difference between small businesses and their larger counterparts, however, is that the former usually have a lot to spend on SEO, whereas the latter don’t – and it’s therefore imperative that small businesses understand how to fully benefit, at the very least, from the basics of SEO.