Search Engine Optimization Helps Your Small Business Get Discovered
Lets face facts here, you’re a small business owner, or marketer, and you’re competing with some big names on the internet for the attention of your potential customers. Without the use of proper search engine optimization methods your small business marketing website is going to be buried under all the other content that is available on the net. However, with the application of a sound SEO strategy, you can quickly become a recognizable brand online if your doing it right.
What is SEO exactly then?
There are a couple of key things that you need to know in order to get started.
First, lets define what is SEO.
According to Search Engine Land SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and its nothing more than the process of getting free traffic from search engines.
The process consists of your site showing up in the search engine results (SERPS) under the “organic,” “editorial,” and “natural” listings of Google and Bing (Yahoo is showing results from Bing).
These listings are computed by the respective providers “search algorithm” that attempts to rank web pages (not websites), video’s and other types of content based on the keywords the search types into the search box.
The goal of SEO is to take what we as marketing professionals understand about the search engines and optimize our web pages in order to let them know what are content is about.
Here is a short 3 minute video to help you visually understand the question of what is SEO.
We’ll get into these more as we go through this entire eight part what is SEO series.
SEO for your site starts with knowing a bit about how the search engines actually read or find your website.
This is the first step to getting your site ranked properly, so lets dig into is a bit.
Don’t worry about this being too complex though because I have added the infographic below to help you understand it a bit better.
Also, this is a simplistic breakdown and its done on purpose. There are over 200 different things these robots look at, and it changes everyday, so don’t sweat this stuff. It just important to have a basic working knowledge of what is going on.
The first step to ranking is getting the robot (also known as “spiders,” “bots,” and “crawlers”) to find your site. You can do this the fastest by signing up for a Google Webmaster Tools account and a Bing Webmaster Tools account. This is the quickest way to let both sites know that your web property exists.
Note: There are a lot of people out there teaching that you should just “let” the search engines find your content on their own. I disagree, that’s like building a store on a highway with no exit ramp nearby.
Now whenever you update your website the engines send in their robots to take a look at your site for changes.
The first thing that they do is cache an image of your site. You will usually see the last image that they have taken inside your webmaster tools account.
With Google, if you find your site in the SERPS that thumbnail will appear when you hover over the link. This is a great feature when searching around as well because it allows the user to determine if its a good fit for what they are looking for.
The next thing that happens is the search engine spider starts to read your source code (the programming that make your site look the way that it does). In the source code the crawler is attempting to find out what your site is about and we have a few things that we can use to help it do that.
- The first is your URL.
Its always a good idea to have the keyword about your topic within the url.
If you don’t have a topic specific URL, but a brand name URL like mine this is really more important then ever.
If you are using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress then more than likely with a few simple tweaks it can be done automatically for you.
- The next place that is real important is the title of your content.
Again, you want to have your keyword in there. But its also important to create compelling titles that people actually want to click.
When it becomes a toss up between keyword optimization and a compelling title always lean towards the keyword though.
We have one more spot we can use to generate the click.
- The meta description is just that place. Of course as with the url and title we want are keyword inside there. But we also want to make this our advertisement for the click.
You don’t have a lot of space to optimize the description however, so you have to choose your words carefully. I’ll dive more into this and other “on-page SEO factors” at a later date.
The final place that the robots look is at your content itself.
Now this is the tricky part, and quite frankly you can ask 200 different SEO’s the same question and get 200 different answers to this one.
You want your keyword in your content obviously, maybe around 1-3 percent keyword density. But its 1000 times more important that your content is very high quality.
Note: Keyword density used to be a really important factor in the search engines. Today however there is really no focus on it. I teach method that you can try on your own sites as it relates to density that I will publish on the site someday. In the mean time, stick to writing naturally and stick you keywords in your content every now and again.
Google in recent months has launched several different filters to its algorithm that have all but shut down thousand, even millions, of websites that have horrible content. Specifically the Panda Update.
So there are a few do’s and do not’s that you have to know about right off the bat before you start writing for your site.
The Do Not’s For Content Writing for SEO
- Do not copy other people’s content onto your site. It might be tempting to be able to run to different article directories and other such sites and pull that content onto your web pages. But the thing is that duplicate content and just plain crappy content doesn’t rank well. As a matter of fact it hurts your chances of ranking at all. So just don’t do it.
- Do not copy your content onto other websites. This was an old back linking technique and I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t work. Keep the content that you have on your web pages your exclusive copy.
- Do not keyword stuff your content. There was a point in time that them more instances of a keyword the higher that you ranked in the search engines. Today however, they have caught on to this method and have targeted sites that have done it. As a general rule of thumb we keep our keyword density down to around 2%. Anything more than that really tends to ruin the reader experience anyway.
- Do not over-optimize your web page. This one will become more clear when we talk about on-page optimization so just remember this don’t when we get to that point.
The Do’s for Content Writing
- Do write for readers. Remember that the goal of the search engines is to end the search. The more likely they are to end the search right away, the more likely users will prefer to use it right? The same goes with your web pages. The better your content, the more they will hang around and even come back.
- Do write high quality content. Remember a piece of content doesn’t need to have a specific amount of words to it. Just because you can write a novel doesn’t mean its going to be good write. Answer a question in your post. Be concise as possible to make sure you are addressing everything.
- Do use images. We will go over how to optimize these as well. But images break up the look of a web page and keep your readers focused so use them in your content as well.
I’ll address content creation in an whole other series to help you get the most out of your work. But those two lists should keep you going pretty well when it comes to the SEO aspect of content.
So The Robots Found Your Site, Now What?
Now that the spiders have found your site and know what its about, what is the next step.
Most people would say that it ranks your site in search results. But that might not always be the case. There are plenty of sites out there that are not in the search engine indexes even after the robots did their work.
But don’t get stressed out about it if they don’t list your site right away.
First, it might take some time to get them listed.
Second, both the major search engines have a few thousand different computer banks all around the world and that information needs to be passed to all them.
If your lucky though, your site will be listed in around 24 hours. If your really lucky it will be listed on the first page of the SERPS for your chosen keyword. If its not, don’t worry we will get you there soon.
Questions or concerns? Leave your comments below, they will only help make this What is SEO series better!