It’s not your imagination – it is hard to get a website noticed. At the moment I am writing this, there are 1,774,912,640 websites on the web. That’s a lot of noise. At times, it can seem insurmountable. But with some planning, adding SEO strategy to your overall balanced digital marketing program is not only doable – it will make a difference.
Why you need to have a strategy
When a user enters a keyword phrase into Google, Bing or Yahoo, complex algorithms kick into gear. Google uses hundreds of variables to evaluate a user’s search request before offering up search results. In the end, the search engine wants to provide a valuable response to the user, and the algorithms prioritize websites that have detailed, relevant, user-focused content. Gone are the days where a few gimmicks or hacks would boost your SEO rankings. The algorithms have instead invested a lot of time and energy into measuring variables that are closely aligned with serving end users.
When strategizing SEO for website clients, the team at Bombastic breaks these variables into four categories:
- How well do the search keywords entered by users match the content on the website?
- How much relevant, up to date information is on the website?
- Is the website a resource for others? Can this be demonstrated by how much traffic it is getting? How many other websites link back to it?
- Is it easy to find information on the pages of website? Can users – and search bots – find information in the content and code?
Those four categories guide how a website is built, what content is written and how it is organized, and how digital marketing can bring attention to the website through sales promotions and social media programs. But SEO optimization is a technical science that requires dedicated focus over time.
As a small business owner, you most likely don’t have the budget to hire a dedicated SEO team. After you have ensured that your website is built on an up-to-date SEO coding foundation, what else can you do that doesn’t involve a hefty budget? The team at Bombastic has 5 SEO Boosts to offer our small business clients research-proven ways to improve their SEO rankings.
1. Content is King
For SEO results, you need to have a website that contains relevant, easy to find information that users like to explore. The content of the website is your most important SEO tool. Search algorithms will match the content of your website with the keywords entered and see if they can find a match. And as keywords entered by users will change over time, it’s important to keep your website content refreshed, ideally every month or so.
Another important note: while photos and visuals are critical for an effective website, SEO rankings are dependent on HTML text. If SEO results are a priority for your digital marketing strategy, you need a lot of written information that is synced up with keywords for your industry and region. A lot.
2. Create a high quality Google My Business profile.
Google My Business is a free tool from Google that helps businesses create and manage their listing on Google. It combines social media options with the ability to customize the business listing information found by users. Not only is it a powerful way to gain control your information that is viewed by Google users, it also provides important information about your services, skills, hours, and location. Having a completed, detailed Google My Business profile has been proven to improve search engine rankings.
3. Create business listings around the web
Beyond Google, Bing and Yahoo, there are literally hundreds of business listing websites across the internet. Not all of them are recognized by search engines (otherwise called “domain authority”), but there are dozens that are highly valued. Having your business information consistently included on these listing websites will improve your authority score with Google. You can either have a service like Yext or Moz Local to help organize your listings, or use a list like this one from Hubspot to create your listings manually. Just be sure that your information is consistent across platforms, otherwise Google & Bing might not trust it.
4. Encourage other websites to link to you
Called an “inbound link” strategy, having other websites point to your business website is a way to cultivate your authority ranking with Google. You can cultivate links from many sources, but common resources include:
- links from client’s websites,
- professional business organizations,
- community and non-profit organizations,
- social media accounts,
- news articles, and
- press releases.
But a word to the wise: be sure to carefully research any link building services that might approach you. They are not all reputable, and getting your domain listed on untrustworthy websites (known as “link farms”) could get you removed from Google all together. Like in most areas of business, your website will be judged by the company it keeps.
5. Encourage customers to review your business online
Google and Bing pay close attention to online reviews. Reviews provide detailed feedback on the quality of your business from third parties, and show that your business is thriving and useful to the general public.
It’s unfortunate that many small businesses are apprehensive about cultivating online reviews. They think it will be rude to ask customers to leave a review, or aren’t sure what to do when a negative one sneaks in. To help, we have posted a detailed video tutorial on how to grow your online review base. With a few helpful tips, you can start to build this valuable online resource. Wondering where you can get the most ROI from reviews? Research shows that reviews on Google My Business, Facebook and LinkedIn are the best places to start.
Be patient, but keep at it
No matter where you start, every SEO strategy takes time to show results. Due to how the search engine algorithms work, it can take 3 to 6 months to demonstrate results. It’s best to make some notes in your calendar to ensure you don’t forget to keep on it. But if you set aside time and remain focused, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to see results.