What's in this article?
We hear about SEO all the time, and as a business owner, you probably know it’s important–but do you know why? And do you know how to get started improving your SEO, without spending hours banging your head against the keyboard?
What is SEO?
SEO just stands for “search engine optimization.” SEO is just a set of techniques that are used to make it easier for people to find your website (and thus, your business) online. If you’re a chiropractor’s office in Atlanta, you don’t want to be on the sixth page of Google results when someone searches for “chiropractor atlanta,” you want to be on the first page–and SEO is how you do that.
Search engine optimization should never be outright ignored–even if you aren’t making it a focus, you should be keeping an eye on it while working on your website’s content and your overall content strategy. But it’s especially important to take into consideration if:
- You’re a local, brick and mortar business. If they aren’t hearing about you via word of mouth, chances are that people are finding out about shops like your’s through searching “hair salon minneapolis” or similar queries. Optimizing your website for search can get you in front of new local customers.
- You’re the type of business that doesn’t have a lot of referrals. For whatever reason, your customers don’t necessarily refer other customers to you. This is especially common in more intimate or private services. For example, even if you’re the best marriage counselor in the city, your previous clients aren’t necessarily going to be telling all of their friends and family about how you really helped out their marriage when it was seriously on the rocks. And when people need help with private matters like that, they’ll ask their closest friends, but they’ll also turn to…you guessed it…search engines to help them out.
Figuring out your keywords and phrases:
Before you start optimizing your website, you need to know what keyword phrases you’re optimizing for. While generic terms are okay, you also want to think of the specific words or phrases people would be searching for when trying to find a business like your’s.
Here’s a few places to start when thinking about your keywords:
- Your USP. “USP” is marketing lingo for “unique selling proposition.” Basically, it’s the thing that makes your business different. With the above hair salon example, a hair salon that specializes in cutting curly hair would want to include “curly” in their keywords.
- Your location. If you’re looking for local business, you should include not just your city, but your neighborhood or zip code in your keywords as well.
- The way your customers describe your services. The way you describe your services (“incorporation and contract creation”) might be different than what your customers would say (“business lawyer”). Don’t include industry jargon unless you’re absolutely certain that the majority of people looking for your services will be using those terms.
You don’t want to have a list of 20 or more keywords. You should have 3-5 main keywords for your site, and maybe a longer list of another 3-5 keywords that are “nice to use” keywords that will be used where appropriate.
I have some potential keywords–what’s next?
Once you know what keywords you want to optimize for, here’s how to get started:
Title of page: Instead of titling pages things like “Home” or “Services,” use titles like “Salon Le Curls” and “Hairstyling Services for Curly Hair.”
URL of page: Don’t let any page on your site have a URL that looks like domain.com/page496. Instead, make sure your URLs have the keywords in them as well: domain.com/freelance-writing-services.
One of the reasons that we so strongly recommend WordPress is because it gives you such easy access to editing those two fields for each individual page and post. If you’re using WordPress, make sure to download the free Yoast plugin to help analyze your SEO purposes–it gives you a score for each page or post based on your keywords.
Content of page: Obviously, you want to make sure your keywords are in the actual content of the page. But don’t “keyword stuff”–you’ll actually get penalized by search engines if you use your keywords an unnatural amount. So don’t try to work “minneapolis hair salon for curly hair” into every single sentence. Just use them where natural, and then read it out loud to yourself to make sure it sounds okay.
Headers: This is one place where you can easily use keywords without it sounding unnatural. Running with the hair salon example, the services page could be broken into headers like, “Haircuts especially for curly hair,” “Our stylists specialize in curly hair,” and “Come visit our Minneapolis salon.”
Pages vs. posts: Differences in strategies
If you’re not only keeping up with your business site, but regularly writing posts for your company blog, you’ll want to adjust your strategies for pages vs. posts. Your homepage (and other pages like your services page or booking information) should target more general keywords, like “austin tx chiropractor.”
Blog posts, on the other hand, are a very natural way to target specific keyword strings, like “lower back pain relief exercises.” The structure of a blog post lets you write an article that targets specific keywords, which can send customers your way who might not have found you otherwise.
This is one reason that we recommend blogging and content creation to all of our clients. It’s a great way to naturally boost your SEO and get a one-two punch of optimizing for general and specific keywords at the same time. You can start building organic search traffic without having to pour tons of money into ads (although ads might still be part of a well-rounded SEO strategy).
There’s your SEO primer–any questions? Feel free to give us a call, we can help!