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SEO (or search engine optimization) is one of those things that a lot of people put off doing for their small business, thinking it’s a complicated or highly technical process. While you can’t immediately fix all your SEO problems overnight, the process for helping your business organically rank higher doesn’t have to be painful! In this blog post, we’ll go in-depth into what SEO actually is, how keywords and content play into your ranking, what to do with your title and description tags, and how important content really is.
Before we dive into our SEO guide, check out this in-depth blog post by Moz: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
What is SEO?
SEO (or search engine optimization) is the part of your digital marketing strategy that focuses on getting a page or pages on your website to rank high in any given search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube) for a set of keywords. Keywords (or search terms) are a combination of words that a user will input into a search engine to find your website or products. The important part of SEO is that it is an organic way for a customer to find you – no expensive ad budget needed!
Organic vs Paid results on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
When someone searches for a product or service on Google or Bing, the search engine will display a list of results into separate sections (paid and organic). We call this the Search Engine Results page or SERP. Paid listings will typically show at the top with the word “ad” in the title, and organic results will show more towards the middle of the page. While paid listings are there because of a business’s participation in Google’s PPC platform, organic results are there because they are high quality and closely match the keywords searched for.
Don’t skip out on Keyword research!
A keyword is a word, phrase, or search term that’s entered into a search engine (like YouTube or Google) with the intent of finding a page or site to give a person more details on the topic being searched on. Keywords are important because without knowing exactly what your customer is searching for, you can’t tailor your website to provide the answer! Examples of keywords would be “dentist near me” or “reclaimed wood floating shelf”. Ideally, you should focus on one or two keyword phrases that describe your product or service. The more keywords you try and use, the harder it is to optimize your page. When doing keyword research, look for relevant ones with low competition and high traffic potential.
How to find Keywords
There are multiple free sites across the web to help you decide which keywords are best for your business. Remember: you’re looking for terms that are low/medium competition (meaning everyone isn’t trying to rank for the same keyword) and high traffic (meaning the terms will get the most customers to your site) potential.
A few of our favorites are:
- SEMRush (https://www.semrush.com/dashboard/)
- Moz (https://moz.com/explorer)
- Google’s keyword planner (https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/)
- SEOBook (http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/).
Input a phrase or two that describes your product or service and let the tools do the heavy lifting for you. If you’re feeling particularly spry, you can also check out what keywords your competitors are ranking for (https://www.spyfu.com/?htour1=true) (http://www.keywordspy.com).
For more information on keyword research, check out this blog: https://www.learningcomputer.com/beginners-guide-to-keyword-research/
Content is king!
Now that you have your keywords, what do you do with them? Write something! In order to rank high on the SERP of Google/Bing/Yahoo, you need to focus on effective content. Once you research your topic and write quality content, those who are interested in the topic will automatically find you and (in a perfect world) link back to you. Remember: you are writing your content for people first and search engines second. A good rule of thumb is to take one pass at writing for the end-user, then go back and tweak it to include all the great keywords you just found. Good quality content is:
- Keeps the target audience in mind
- Free of grammatical and punctuation errors
- Effectively uses images and or video, not just text
- Addition of related information on the topic
Designing Your Website with SEO in Mind (aka On-Page SEO)
Domain and URL
If you are still in the design stages of building your business website, now is the perfect time to look for a keyword-rich domain name to give you an extra SEO boost. Sites like http://www.bustaname.com exist to help you combine your keywords and find an available domain that both sounds catchy and fits your needs. Already have your domain, and it doesn’t contain the keywords you want? No worries! You can utilize the keywords you’ve chosen in your URL instead.
What’s the difference between a domain and a URL? A domain is simply the name of a website: google.com, learningcomputer.com, Walmart.com. The URL, or universal resource locator (use that one at parties to impress your friends!) is the full web address used to find a specific page: https://www.learningcomputer.com/word-2016-tutorial/, https://www.walmart.com/ip/4-Pack-Great-Value-Orange-Juice-10-Fl-Oz-6-Count/577544460
In a perfect world, you would have your keywords in both the domain and the URL so when Google looks at your site pages, they form one long, keyword-rich expression. If your domain is already set, just use them in the page URLs.
Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Meta Keywords
Have you ever looked (I mean really looked) at the individual results on a Google search page?
Title tags: the title tag is an HTML element that shows the title of a web page. This is one of the most important on-page factors because not only does it tell the search engines like Google what your web page is about, but it’s what the search engine displays for your page on the SERP. The trick is to make your Title Tag both keyword rich and interesting enough to make people want to click on it. Your keywords should show up at the beginning and can be repeated or mixed and matched. Try to limit your Title Tag to 60 characters: that’s what is guaranteed to show up on the search page!
Meta Description: This is the text that shows up under your Title Tag on the SERP for YouTube (or any other search engine). Again, you want this description to be full of your keywords, but well-thought out and compelling enough to make someone want to click on your content. Don’t just separate keywords by commas and call it a day! Take the time and put some thought into it. Your Meta Description should be anywhere between 200-250 characters.
Meta Keywords: A lot of SEO experts will argue that you don’t need to worry about Meta Keywords since Google doesn’t look at them for rankings any more. Our thought? Why wouldn’t you take any opportunity to add more keywords to your webpage?! These keywords can be single words or phrases and should be separated by commas: no fancy wordsmithing needed.
Do you have a WordPress site for your business? Here’s a quick guide to some of our favorite plugins to help automate the SEO process: https://www.datatechnologyllc.com/10-best-wordpress-plugins-for-seo/
Whew! That was a lot. Good for you for making it to the end with us!
All of this information seems like a lot, but once you get some hands-on experience doing all of these things for your website, it’ll be second nature. If you’re intimidated to try it on your own site, pick a favorite blog or small business and analyze their website to figure out what keywords you think they might be ranking for.
Although it won’t happen overnight, if you take the time to come up with some good keywords and use them in all the places we’ve suggested, you should see your amazing content rise in the Google, Bing, and YouTube rankings in no time!
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About the Author: Cindy Hallo is a content writer and social media specialist based in the Dallas area. When she’s not giving tips on online social media strategies, she’s traveling the world looking for the best places to run marathons. Find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cindyhallo/
Need a little more guidance on getting the most out of your social media profiles? Kash Data Technology LLC provides a wide range of services to Dallas area small businesses looking to boost their visibility and gain customers. We can help with SEO, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Social Media Marketing, Local Search Marketing, YouTube Optimization, and content writing to clients in Plano, Frisco, Allen and the surrounding DFW Metroplex. Experienced marketing gurus are waiting to talk to you! Contact us by online form or email (firstname.lastname@example.org)