Search Engine Optimization for Business

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SEO is definitely one of the most important types of marketing strategies you can utilize for a business of any size. It takes a bit of planning, but it all pays off in the end.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. This article provides you with some essential strategies to increase your online visibility among users and resultantly boost your business.

Find the right keywords

Think about the words your clients are likely to use when looking for your products or services on the web. If you’re selling appliances, for example, are your customers more likely to use a formal word like refrigerator or a slang word like fridge?

Make a list of 20 to 50 keywords, then go on Google AdWords. Once you have created an account if you haven’t already done so, you can validate that the keywords you chose are frequently used in online searches.

You can also use a Google AdWords product called Keyword Tool to find more keywords to build your list.

Use your keywords on each of your website pages to help them rank higher when prospective customers search using those keywords.

Start by using keywords in the URL—the address appearing in the Internet browser for each of your website pages. Also include them in your titles as well as in your metadata descriptions (the brief text that tells search engines what your content is about).

 Make a list of topics.

Keywords are at the heart of SEO, but they’re no longer the first step to achieving organic growth. Instead, the first step is to make a list of topics you’d like your content to address. 

To start, compile a list of about 10 words and terms associated with your product or service. Use an SEO tool ( Google’s Keyword ToolAhrefs SEMRush or GrowthBar just to name a few) to research these words, identify their search volume, and come up with variations that make sense for your business. 

By doing this, you are associating these topics with popular short-tail keywords, but you’re not dedicating individual blog posts to these keywords. Let’s go over an example of this process using the image below.

google adwords keyword tool screenshot resized 600

Let’s say a swimming pool business is trying to rank for “fiberglass pools,” which receives 110,000 searches per month. This short-tail keyword can represent the overarching topic for creating their content, but the business will also need to identify a series of related keywords to include in their content. For example, they could opt to use the “fiberglass pool prices,” or “fiberglass pool cost,” to achieve additional rankings for the overall keyword of fiberglass pools. 

Using search volume and competition as your measurement, you can create a list of 10-15 short-tail keywords that are relevant to your business and are being searched for by your target audiences. Then, rank this list based on monthly search volume. 

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Each of the keywords that you’ve identified are called pillars, and they serve as the primary support for a larger cluster of long-tail keywords, which we’ll discuss below.

Make a list of long-tail keywords based on these topics.

During this step you’ll begin optimizing your pages for specific keywords. For each pillar you’ve identified, use your keyword tool to identify five to 10 long-tail keywords that dig deeper into the original topic keyword.

For example, we regularly create content about SEO, but it’s difficult to rank well on Google for such a popular topic with this acronym alone. We also risk competing with our own content by creating multiple pages that are all targeting the exact same keyword — and potentially the same SERPs. Therefore, we also create content on conducting keyword research, optimizing images for search engines, creating an SEO strategy (which you’re reading right now), and other subtopics within the SEO umbrella.

This helps businesses attract people who have varying interests and concerns — and ultimately create more entry points for people interested in what you have to offer.

Use your long-tail keywords to create blog posts or web pages that explain the specific topics within the pillars you’ve selected. Together, all of your long-tail keywords create a cluster around a pillar topic. Search engine algorithms depend on the relationships between clusters to connect users with the information they’re looking for.

Focus on your unique offerings

Remember you’re competing against other companies for attention online from prospective customers. To rise above the pack in web searches for your industry, look for words that correspond to your market differentiators such as your unique offerings or geographic location.

Competition is also stiff for keywords you buy as part of a pay-per-click campaign, where an ad for your company appears above or beside the free search results. You pay the search engine company each time your link is clicked. Again, you will have to focus on niche keywords if you don’t have a big budget.

Build pages for each topic.

When it comes to websites and ranking in search engines, trying to get one page to rank for a handful of keywords can be next to impossible. But, here’s where the rubber meets the road.

Use the pillar topics you came up with to create a page or post that gives a high-level overview of the topic using the long-tail keywords you came up with for each cluster in step two. These pillar pages can essentially be a table of contents, where you’re giving a description of the main topic, and briefing readers on subtopics you’ll elaborate on in other posts.  

Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with your business needs, like the number of products and offerings you have. This will make it much easier for your prospects and customers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.

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Don’t overstuff your site with keywords

As Google’s webmaster guidelines states: “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

If you are just sprinkling keywords all over your content, you risk distorting the meaning and irritating readers, so don’t overdo it.

Your priority should be to make the text clear and easy to read.

Build links to your site

The more sites that carry links to your site, the higher you will rank on searches. Ask the owners of related sites to carry a link to your site. Offer to carry a link to theirs in exchange for a link to yours.

Focus on the quality of the links. One link directing to your website from a chamber of commerce or a university website will help you more than a dozen links from obscure blogs.

Set up a blog.

Blogging can be an incredible way to rank for keywords and engage your website’s users. After all, every blog post is a new web page and an additional opportunity to rank in SERPs. If your business does not already have a blog, consider creating one.

As you write each blog post and expand on your clusters, you should do three things:

  1. Don’t include your long-tail keyword more than three or four times throughout the page as Google doesn’t consider exact keyword matches as often as it used to. In fact, too many instances of your keyword can be a red flag to search engines that you’re keyword stuffing to gain rankings, and they’ll penalize you for this.
  2. Second, always link out to the pillar page you created for your topics. You can do this in the form of tags in your content management system (CMS), or as basic anchor text in the body of the article.
  3. Once you publish each blog post, link to it within the parent pillar page that supports the subtopic. By connecting both the pillar and the cluster in this way, you’re telling Google that there’s a relationship between the long-tail keyword and the overarching topic you’re trying to rank for.

Publish high-quality content and lots of it

The main mission of search engines is to help people find answers to their questions. So your best strategy to get lots of traffic is to create compelling content—articles, videos and photos—that provides quality information to your readers. Make sure to update your content frequently so it stays relevant.

A good content strategy will also position you as a thought leader in your field.

Get social

Social media is a great ally in your SEO strategy because people also use social media platforms as search engines. They’ll often search for companies or products using Facebook’s search function, for example. Your company’s social media profile will also rank in the search results when people search for your company or for related terms.

ALSO READ:   Seo for Small Business 2020

SEO TOOLS

Google Analytics

In my experience, most small businesses have Google Analytics installed on their websites (you do have Google Analytics installed on your site, right?), but when it comes to actually using it—well, that’s a different story. If you’re just getting started with Google Analytics, then first set up Goals (leads and sales) in the Admin area. Then get familiar with the Channels report within the Acquisitions reporting section. This report gives you a high level overview of all your different marketing channels so you can see where your traffic is coming from and which marketing channels are converting into leads and sales.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is an “SEO spider,” which means it crawls your website to find broken links, ensure redirects are working, analyze metadata, find duplicate content and more. The free version is a great place to start—and probably sufficient for most small businesses—but if your website is larger than 500 pages, then you’ll need to invest in the paid version. Use Screaming Frog to schedule regular audits of your website to catch potential issues before they impact your SEO.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs covers a lot of bases when it comes to SEO, performing site audits, competitor analysis, keyword research, rank tracking and more, but it’s perhaps best known for its link analysis capabilities. This makes it essential for any business that’s embarking on a link building campaign for their website. In addition to the tool itself, Ahrefs has an active private Facebook community where you can get support from other marketers, along with robust documentation and tutorials to help get you started.

SEMrush

Another solid paid SEO tool is SEMrush, but this one requires a bigger investment considering the SEMrush Business plan is $449.95 a month. Like Ahrefs, SEMrush is categorized as an SEO multi-tool because it performs a number of different functions, ranging from keyword research to analyzing backlinks and traffic. You can see which keywords your website (or your competitors’ websites) are ranking for, and deep dive into traffic trends and SERP positions.

Ubersuggest

Ever notice that Google suggests similar searches when you’re typing into Google’s search field? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a list of all the suggested keywords?

Well, you’re in luck because Ubersuggest does exactly that. When you type a keyword into Ubersuggest, then the tool will show you all the related keywords that Google will suggest to searchers. Plus, you’ll see the keywords’ monthly search volume, level of competition and more. 

Conclusion

SEO is an important part of driving traffic to your business website. These days, most people use the web to find local businesses that they’re interested in doing business with. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, there are also online customers who are looking for you. You might have customers who aren’t actually looking for your products or services right now, but could benefit from learning about them.

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