Demystifying SEO for Small Business
by Chad Lane, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer
SEO. You’ve heard of it. It’s certainly a popular buzzword. So what is it?
SEO is short for the term search engine optimization. It’s a body of technology designed to boost your website’s rank in search engine results. When SEO is properly done, online searchers looking for the solutions you offer should find you ahead of your competition.
Is SEO Really All That Complicated?
It depends on who you ask. Some less-than-scrupulous companies will convince you that it’s terribly esoteric. They’ll throw around a lot of words you don’t understand so you will turn to them for help. And there are other companies that use less-than-scrupulous methods which could harm your search engine standings more than help them.
SEO does have it’s technical points; however, anyone can understand the basics when they are simply explained.
What Should SEO Do for You?
SEO work should result in more people finding your website through organic search. The term organic search refers to people finding your website naturally on Google or other search engines. In other words, your website visitor did not click a paid ad to reach your site.
Let’s look at an example to understand that better. Joe has a flooring company in Palm Harbor, Florida, and he specializes in real wood flooring materials. He wants people who are thinking about putting in new floors to find his website. He hires an SEO company and they do some work and tell him, “Look, Joe’s Flooring is on the first page of search results.” Yes, but only if you search for Joe’s Flooring Palm Harbor. Joe’s Flooring would appear early in search results without any SEO—that’s because there is only one company named Joe’s Flooring in Palm Harbor.
What Joe needed (and thought he was paying for) was for someone in or near Palm Harbor searching for hardwood flooring company near me to find him. They would arrive on his website as a result of that search, not as a result of an ad that Joe had to pay for. That’s an organic search result answer. The people who arrive at a website via organic search results are called organic website visitors, Organic website visitors are the only valid results in an SEO service. If your SEO provider tells you otherwise, get a different provider.
There are several key components to SEO. Let’s look at these three key points:
- Name Your Target Audience: You need to pin down which audiences are looking for your services. This will help you create website content that resonates, which we cover in #3 below. If yours is an established business, you probably already know your target audience. As an example, though, if you are a B2B business, you need to know what company types need your solutions and why; their annual revenue range, their geographic location, etc. If you are a B2C company, you need to know the demographics of your target audience including gender, age, annual household income, etc. The more you know about your target audience, the more you can craft content that is meaningful to them and elicits response.
- The Right Keywords: You need to know the best keywords for your business, products and services. Keywords are the words or phrases relevant to your business; they must be included in your website content. Say you have a store that sells athletic shoes. Your website should be rich in keywords like: running shoes, women’s running shoes, men’s running shoes, Nike shoes, Reebok shoes, cross-country shoes and others. When your content includes these keywords in the correct proportions, Google and other search engines know exactly what your website is about and serve it up in the search results appropriately.
- Valuable Content: Providing valuable, relevant website content is essential to good SEO. Are you answering your prospective customers’ commonly asked questions? Can they easily find out what you do? Are you illustrating how you solve their problem? The more relevant and useful your content is, with the appropriate keywords included, the better your website should perform.
There’s more to SEO but that should give you the basic idea.
Reputable SEO Providers
There are companies out there that will be happy to take your money and send you complicated reports on what SEO services they’ve provided. But you can see in this list that really, SEO is pretty straightforward and logical.
Good SEO companies provide their clients with the right content to appeal both to potential customers as well as search engines—a fine balance, indeed.
Too many small business sites seem to speak to other professionals rather than to prospects. A good SEO provider creates content to engage the person who needs the products and services being offered. Good SEO providers will also include the correct keywords in the appropriate volume to make each page appeal to Google, Bing and other search engines.
SEO is not a project that is completed overnight. But done right, it works. There’s simply no substitute for doing it right.
SEO is one of the digital marketing services we offer. For help on using SEO to boost your company’s organic website traffic, submit this form.