SEO (search engine optimisation) for small business websites may need to focus on essential and actionable SEO ranking factors. These I describe as the “Four SEO Pillars for Small Business.”
As a small business owner, you would have neither the time, nor the inclination and diligence, to learn and optimise your website content for all SEO ranking factors. Besides, they keep changing both in substance and importance.
SEO is a complex business with search engines like Google and Bing using a multitude of ranking factors in their algorithms. The exact number of ranking factors is unknown although some experts claim there are over 200 of them.
It is important to focus on the ranking factors that will yield the best results. I recommend that you focus on the following four pillars of SEO:
- Website design and structure
- Content creation, distribution, and promotion
- Inbound links
- Social media presence
Let’s look at these issues in some detail.
Website design and structure
To establish a web presence for your company, you need a website that is well structured, fast, and mobile-friendly. However, if you are a company owner, and new to SEO, this does not tell you a great deal.
To get started with SEO, you need some foundation strategies. There are billions of websites and, without a marketing strategy, you can’t hope to compete and gain visibility in what is now an overcrowded marketplace of immense proportions.
Here’s some foundation strategies you need to address:
- What purpose does you website serve?
- WHOSE attention are you hoping to reach and for what PURPOSE?
- Do you know the identity (demographic data) of your target audience and their needs?
- HOW are you going to reach your target audience?
- Do you know how people search for information online?
- Do you know how you can attract their attention?
- Are you satisfied to look for organic reach on search engines, or would you consider paid advertising for a better reach?
SEO is supposed to solve most of these problems. It won’t unless you learn and apply effective online strategies.
- More than 70% of people use a mobile phone to access the Internet. You need a mobile-friendly website (responsive design).
- People’s attention span has falling in reverse proportion to the rapid increase of mobile use.
- People enter search phrases into search engines like Google and Bing. These phrases identify their search intent (what they are looking for).
- Your website must rank for their specific search intent if it is to reach their attention.
- Once people visit your site, you have 4-5 second at most to attract their attention, or they will leave.
The challenge is to identify a problem, solve the problem, and paint a picture in which buyers, and their supporting team, see their company in an improved situation.
Learn how to select 2 or 3 focus keywords relevant to a specific search intent. Place these keywords in the page title and content headings, and in the meta description of you site content. Whatever content you publish must be unique, relevant to the identified search intent, be comprehensive, and address the question or issue in which the visitor is interested.
Your challenge is to identify a problem, solve the problem, and paint a picture in which buyers, and their supporting team, see their company in an improved situation.
Content creation and distribution
Valuable, unique and relevant content is now of prime importance as a ranking factor. Write content relevant to the needs and interests of your target audience. Visitors express their search intent in the search phrase they use. You cannot read their mind about search intent. Instead, be clear what you write about and optimse the content with relevant keywords and theme-related words and phrases.
The content must express a unique viewpoint that offers valuable insights into the subject instead of rehashing what is already available online.
The best approach to content creation is to develop a content strategy.
- Identify you target audience.
- Identify the specific interests and needs of your audience.
- Create a content schedule that enables you to post content regularly.
- Identify one or two keywords for each article or blog post you create.
- Avoid keyword stuffing as this is now likely to degrade your ranking.
- Write content relevant to a specific search intent. Search engines use machine language to analyse and rank content relevant to the search phrases visitors use.
- Include content specific images in your content.
- Quote and accredit survey and studies conducted by relevant authorities in your content as it adds authority.
- Informational blog content can put you in front of a wider audience.
- Informational blog content can put you in front of a wider audience.
Content must reach an audience and create some engagement with visitors. This task can become time consuming, so concentrate on what you can manage.
Use one or more of the following methods:
- Use paid advertising to reach you audience. Start with Facebook Promoted Posts to learn about audience targeting. Promoted posts cost US$10 a piece.
- Bookmark the content. Use sites like SocialAdr, Socialmarker, or OnlyWire. They publish your content title and meta description on social media channels. You can find 50+ social bookmarking sites online but one of two sites will be enough.
- Re-purpose the content. Re-purpose your content as a video. podcast, or a slide presentation. Publish the revised content on video sharing sites, a slide sharing site like SlideShare, or podcast sites. You will find several of these online.
- Promote the content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Include an image and a brief post that describes the content. On Facebook, enter the URL link to the content and press the Return button. Facebook retrieves the title and, if available, an image pointing to the content.
- Publish the content to Web 2.0 sites. Suitable sites include Squidoo (now owned by Hubpages), Hubpages, Weebly, Wikidot, Scribd and eHow. There are many others.
In summary, use content creation, SEO, and social media promotion to attract visitors to your site and convert these visitors to potential customers.
The Internet is now a crowded marketplace and your website is useless if nobody can find it. What’s the solution? Manage what you can with limited time and resources. The alternative is to hire a content provider or SEO agency.
There are two issues you need to address with inbound links:
- Acquire high-quality, natural links, from authority sites.
- Purge unnatural links and spam links.
Natural links improve you ranking, unnatural links diminish your ranking.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your site. It is a time-consuming and difficult process because you need to earn good links, not buy them.
How do you acquire natural, good links?
- Webmasters may like your content and wish to share it with their own visitors.
- Contact webmasters of sites from which you would like to get a link. Use email or or social media channels to do this. Offer them valuable content you have written as a guest post they can publish on their site.
- Monitor blog or forum sites in your market niche and comment on relevant posts. Comments should offer a unique, valuable viewpoint and not be self-promotional. A link to your site contained in your signature will suffice.
- Build your link profile progressively. Search engines do not credit sudden spikes of links that appear at irregular intervals.
What are unnatural, bad links?
- Links bought from a person or organisation acting like a link farm.
- Links from low-quality sites that offer spam content of little value to visitors.
- Blog comments which are self-promotional and irrelevant to the content published.
The process of removing unnatural links from your site is not a straight-forward process.
- You can contact the site’s webmaster and ask them to remove the link. They will most likely ignore your request.
- Google Webmaster Tools offer a method for declaring bad links invalid. Look for the term DISAWOV to find it.
The fourth essential pillar is to establish a presence on social media channels. The prime channels are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
While Google has stated that they do not crawl sites like Facebook and Twitter, engagement with other users boosts ranking by correlation (whatever that means).
Social signals should boost traffic to your website and helps rankings. A high level of likes, shares and comments on Facebook can help search rankings.
In summary, use content creation and promotion, basic SEO, and social media to attract visitors to your site and convert these visitors to potential customers.
The Internet is now a crowded marketplace and your website is useless if nobody can find it. Manage what you can with limited time and resources. The alternative is to hire a content provider (you’ve got the attention of one right here) or SEO agency.
What the Experts Say About SEO in 2017
This post outlines basic SEO processes. For more information, you may be interested in a survey SEOPowerSuite conducted by asking a group of experts about their recommendations for SEO in 2017.
Here’s a selection of the main recommendations made. You will find that there’s a lot of emphasis about creating unique, relevant, a valuable content for your website visitors.
- Focus on quality instead of quantity. Make sure the content you publish on your website is of the highest quality. Create content that is relevant and valuable for your audience.
- Publish content that will earn links, instead of building links by other methods.
- Content that earns links include research data relevant for your niche market. Inform people of factors and trends that affect their position in the marketplace, like their competitiveness.
- Use A/B testing to test and optimize your headline and meta description for organic traffic.
- Consult expert sources like Search Engine Land, SEO by the Sea, and Search Engine Roundtable.
Feel free to contact me if you need sales copy or web content.