Practical SEO Basics For Small Business Owners
Visibility & Your Business Website
What website owner doesn’t want their website to be found, seen and used? Most of us count on it. Reaching our best, most targeted potential leads and customers for our products or services is a priority we take very seriously. And we want to assure ourselves that we’ll attract the right visitors. That describes the majority of website owners.
And profit. Site visitors who will, in some way, add to the success of our business. Who will become customers, clients or (market) evangelists, people who will speak up in favor of us and act on our behalf.
Surprisingly, we’ve encountered a sliding scale of levels of interest in discoverability and search rankings, that go counter to this grain. There are those unusual instances where visibility and ranking is not all that important to certain entities and their keepers. But even if organic search isn’t a priority, being indexed always is.
In March, 2014, I published a post called “SEO Essentials For The Proactive Small Business Owner”. This post is a companion piece with updated thoughts. They can be used as a pair.
That first installment began with an amble through my own experience back in the late 90’s when I was learning SEO basics for the websites we create for our clients. After a while, the task began to resemble a sort of knitting and weaving; the organizing, joining and adding up of small relatable pieces that tell the story of an entity. It became satisfying.
I am invested in encouraging small business owners, our clients, to be proactive about the effectiveness of their web property. As it was then, my goal is still to describe and layout a foundation that helps overcome timidity, overwhelm and perhaps, even fear. There are impactful segments of basic SEO and overall visibility efforts that a non-technical person can undeniably put their hands on effectively and even manage once a site is launched (one of the beauties of content management systems such as WordPress). I named the essentials, “Holistic SEO” as a way to describe the interconnected nature of the elements.
There are compelling reasons to make the construction and material of a website generous in nature. We know that a website should be attractive, easy to use, with clear, straightforward and well-planned architecture and navigation. It should house quality, informative content that is congruous with the nature and purpose of the site and the entity it represents. It should be factually accurate, authentic to character and ultimately, findable -due in large part to all those things.
What Helps To Bring It Together?
Taking into account the website’s relationship to its business attributes (and vice versa) those attributes or qualities should be quickly recognizable by anyone who comes to the site and remain so upon further investigation and engagement.
Attributes in business pertain to brands or products, companies and even employees. They can be best described as certain underlying characteristics that best represent all brands or businesses in the marketplace. Rick Suttle, Demand Media
There’s that old familiar philosophical question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” It gets us wondering; can something exist without being perceived (unperceived existence)? Funny thing about websites and this question- it kind of makes us sweat bullets and then there’s that anxious surge just for a moment while we’re imagining that the site’s been built and launched and then dies the painful death of invisibility and disuse. If no one can find your website and no one visits or uses it, it may as well not exist.
Who Are You Looking For?
Searchers, who become visitors who become customers. We are looking for them. They are looking for us.
In the first article, I defined the three major contributing elements of a comprehensive SEO program. Now I will revisit those elements and add in some fresh thoughts.
1. Content Development And Content Marketing
“…With Holistic SEO we must all become writers and/or content producers. And we must also become publishers- because our web property (website and our blog) is the publisher for the content we (and our guest bloggers) author. Your content will be the means by which you build relationships with your audience and customer base. Your content is the core; it is both the base tool and the main ingredient of all your marketing. The vehicle for communicating everything you are and have to offer. It’s called Content Marketing.”
Gina Fiedel: SEO Essentials For The Proactive Small Business Owner
Now And Then Update
What I’d like especially to add to that today is that if you’re looking at this with an eye to SEO, it’s your content that will ultimately gain you that estimable spot on the list. It always comes back to the quality of the content. That said, your content won’t function at all in a vacuum no matter how good it is. It will be the falling tree that nobody heard if you don’t follow up by making sure it’s seen by a receptive audience.
Blog posts are archived separately and can be accumulated over time without adversely effecting the beautifully clean, purposeful architecture of your site. So you are, in effect, creating a library of content that is instantly accessible to anyone who wants to gain access. This is where blogging is so powerful.
Think of your content marketing as a way to build reputation, visibility and audience. The more you are able to create content that people want to share with others, the more your are giving yourself the opportunity for exposure to new people.
This will lead to building links. Another critical feature of good ranking in the SERPs. We always want to earn quality links from reliable, high quality sources.
“These are natural, or earned, links from sites exposed to your content as people share it to new audiences.”
“Why Should Links Not Be Your First Content Marketing Priority?” – Here’s Why with Mark & Eric Mark Traphagen and Eric Enge, Stone Temple Consulting
The title of the video piques our interest because it seems inverted or wrong yet it makes total sense. And like all their “Here’s Why” videos, well worth a watch.
2. Social Media And Social Integration
“…your engagement on Social Media is an undeniably critical piece to the SEO puzzle. It serves as the entry point to getting to know your audience, customers, what they need and how you can serve them better and let them get to know you. It is how you will generate traffic, authority and trust for your website/blog and create the flow of your content from Home base to the rest of the web.”
Gina Fiedel: SEO Essentials For The Proactive Small Business Owner
Now And Then Update
The pervasive thrust of social media gurus with an over-generalized promotion of standardized social media strategies has steered the masses towards formulas and how-to’s. Social media by the numbers that mostly fail because they are generic plans. Sadly, this has done a disservice to what I see as a more realistic picture.
Questions abound. Many think that unless social media is initiating new business in the way of leads and customers, it’s a waste of precious time. There are conflicting viewpoints about the validity and invalidity of metrics- the numbers that tell us the quantity of likes, plusses and tweets or the numbers of followers we have. There really is no shortage of persuasions.
I prefer to hypothesize that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the ways in which social media might be beneficial for your business as well as procedure. The benefits can be tremendous for some and not for others. Even when they are they can be hard to measure. They are as uniquely applied or achieved as are the differences in character, structure, operation, customers and needs of one business to another.
My own opinion is that social media is an opportunity to develop relationships not only with our customers, but also with our peers and the people we learn from that we may not have discovered or had access to any other way. It’s a place of collaboration and co-creation of fresh concepts and practices.
In pursuing engagement, we let ourselves be known, we grow our reputation and our authority based upon our expertise and experience. It’s where we can offer transparency to who we are and let the public in general and our customers, one by one, gain a window into what it would be like to do business with us.
Social media is the arena for sharing content, finding our audience, making that tree fall less than silently.
If you are interested in being exposed to a less-than-mainstream way of thinking about social media from some very interesting thinkers take a look at the collaboratively authored e-book on Amazon that I was honored to contribute to called “Disruption: How Successful People Use Social Media For Business”. This is a book that doesn’t supply easy answers but rather asks what we see as many of the important questions. The book itself is a continually fluid piece that may evolve and change over time.
Fun detail: This book was a collaboration across 6 countries, 3 continents, and 11 time zones. We met each other on Google Plus and the majority of us have never met offline. This is a beautiful example of the potential that can be unearthed and pried open on social media.
[Contributors: Randy Milanovic (Author), Gina Fiedel (Author), Vincent Messina (Author), David Kutcher (Author), Jodi Kaplan (Author), Christine DeGraff (Author), Iblis Bane (Editor), Jason Wiser (Editor)]
3. Rudimentary On-Site Optimization
• Website design
• Content Management system and SEO plugins
(it’s gone but there’s speculation of a possible shift to author rank)
• Page titles, descriptions and URLs
• Internal Links
(see SEO Essentials For The Proactive Small Business Owner for bullet content)
Mobile Friendly Websites – Responsive Web Design
On April 21, 2015, Google implemented the Mobile Friendly search algorithm for mobile searches and this is now a ranking factor that applies to all mobile searches. What that means is that any company that has a significant amount of mobile traffic to their website will want their site to be classified by Google as Mobile Friendly or risk losing their position in the SERPs on mobile. The most reliable method is to have your existing site re-programmed into Responsive Web Design and to start with that for any new sites you may develop in the future.
Equally important though or perhaps more important is to be cognizant of the dampening of your site visitor’s experience if you aren’t supplying them a user-friendly experience with an easy to navigate and view website experience on mobile. As of now, it doesn’t apply to desktop or tablet searches.
Intent-Based Search – Intent Based Optimization
In contrast to the past when keywords were optimized in a veritable vacuum of narrow thinking and even somewhat separate from customer search intent, we can now not only change our thinking (as we have naturally been doing for a number of years anyway), we can formalize our process. Optimizing our content with a consideration to the visitors we want to attract via search has a name. As we are evolving into an ever more semantic web this becomes more relevant.
The application of Intent Based Search or Intent Based Optimization can be dramatically supported and strengthened if coupled with an in-depth use of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. Through the strategically and pinpointed lens of David Kutcher, Confluent Forms, we can see some of the inner mechanisms. Being a connoisseur of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools metrics gives him a leg up on developing strategies. Asking the right questions and then using those answer metrics to examine the results that come from targeted content and campaigns enables zeroing in more closely on search intent.
“Understanding your target audiences, and how they’re searching, enables you to tailor your content and messaging towards the SERP and generate traffic that is actionable and looking to buy.
Rather than focusing on generic phrases, find queries that include the intent that you wish to target. Those who are ready to take an action.“ David Kutcher
Laura Lippay, on the Moz Blog breaks down some of the questions to ask in Is Your Content Strategy Guided by Audience Intent (or Just Keywords)?:
- What are the goals of this content (why are we creating it)?
- What are the goals for the business(how do we make money)?
- What does it need to solve for the consumer (what is the audience intent)?
“How do we build something that meets (and exceeds) user intent, while satisfying our business goals, and is better than anything else out there?”
Knitting & Weaving SEO Things Together
Both to our visitors and to Google. Each of the parts, on their own, are meaningful and have purpose, but their potency increases dramatically when joined together.
These are the things you can keep in mind as you develop and work with your website, your online presence and your overall visibility.
SUBSCRIBE & RECEIVE BLOG NOTIFICATIONS OF NEW POSTS:
* Don’t miss any of our blog posts! Subscribe at the top right of this page.
GOOGLE PLUS POST NOTIFICATIONS:
* Would you like to be included in my Google Plus Notification Circle?
If you would, please visit the invitation and let me know in the comments with a +mention of my name. Thanks!
Photo Credit: iStock, Stock photo © Selitbul Re-mix by Gina Fiedel
We’ve recently installed Google+ Comments.
If you’d like to leave a COMMENT- PLEASE CHOOSE:
‘W’ for our WordPress commenting system,’G+’ for Google+, or ‘F’ for Facebook