A Beginner’s Guide: How SEO Can Boost Your Small Business

In the world of business, the term SEO is everywhere, with many business owners and entrepreneurs claiming that it’s the foundation of any solid marketing strategy, and this is actually for good reason.

SEO is a great tool that can really help to take your business to the next level when it’s implemented correctly, so by neglecting the opportunity it provides, you might be losing out on potential business growth.

However, we understand that SEO is a complex tool that can be tricky to understand, so we’ve created a beginner’s guide that will have you seeing results in no time. 

What is SEO?

First things first, it’s important to understand what SEO actually is, and how it is used. Search Engine Optimization, or ‘SEO’, is the art of improving your business’s visibility on the main search engines like Google, so that your website ranks higher in the search results and drives more traffic to your page.

After all, if your target audience must scroll through eight or nine pages of search results to find you, it’s unlikely that they’ll take the time to reach your website, and they’ll likely find what they are looking for before they even get the chance to see what you have to offer. 

That’s why businesses use SEO to ‘optimize’ their ranking, and they do this through the introduction of a variety of keywords and search terms that will catapult their pages to the top of the results.

While this is an effective strategy, it means that if you aren’t currently using SEO for your small business, you might be missing out on potential leads, which will limit your sales and profit potential. 

How does SEO work?

SEO works so effectively as it leverages the commercial intent of individuals who are searching for specific keywords or phrases, by analyzing how likely someone will be to become a lead or a customer.

Whether an individual is simply looking to learn more about a product that you provide or has their card details ready to buy the right item, there are a range of ways that you can optimize your website to make a lasting impact. 

For instance, if you sell backpacks, you can create and promote informational content for people who are looking to learn more about the different features that backpacks can come with, and by interacting with your site in a positive way they will be more likely to return if they need a backpack in the future.

If they are searching for a new backpack for an upcoming trip, then they are more likely to search for the ‘best travel backpacks’ – if your page includes this key phrase, then your site will rank higher than a competitor who simply advertises a ‘backpack’. 

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The principles of successful SEO

For small businesses especially, SEO plays a hugely important role in the success of a company. Statistics show that 97% of people learn more about a local company via the internet compared with any other means, so if you’re reaching out to a target audience in your local area, then this is the best strategy to focus on.

To start boosting your traffic using SEO, there are a few principles to bear in mind. 

Prioritize relevant, high-quality information

While the Google algorithm is complex and regularly changing, one of the steadfast features of how it chooses what content to promote is that it searches for information that is of high-quality and relevant to a user’s interests.

To make decisions around this, Google will automatically read through your content to evaluate whether the information you provide is trustworthy, based on how many reputable sites have linked to your page.

If your only links are coming from low-ranking sites, this suggests to a search engine’s algorithm that there is higher-quality information that will provide a better outcome for their user out there.  

Improve the accessibility of your site

Accessibility is highly important for SEO as it shows that your site can be useful for a higher number of users. While you should ensure that your site is mobile-friendly and loads easily, you will also benefit from introducing and maintaining accessibility features like alt-text for images and adaptations for screen readers.

Not only will this boost your SEO ranking, but it will also reduce the risk of legal implications for your business if customers have difficulty accessing your site.

The American Disability Association (ADA) website can provide more information around their compliance requirements, so you can check whether your site offers full and equal access and communication. 

Offer unique content

Another important feature of your website for SEO optimization is unique content that not only stands out from the crowd and leaves your readers staying on your site for longer, but that is also different from other content you provide yourself.

For instance, having the same articles or guides repeated or paraphrased across your site can limit the value that your users receive, and might encourage them to return to a search engine’s results page once they’ve found what they needed.

If you provide relevant additional content, however, they might find themselves staying to learn more about similar areas of interest that your site focuses on, and this is a great way to boost your SEO rankings, as it’s clear that your site is giving value to users.  

Steps to take for high SEO

Now that you’ve got a clearer understanding of the principles that you should be abiding by for search engine optimization, it’s time to make a plan of action and propel your business’s website to the top of the results page.

Initially, you should focus on researching the right keywords to include on your site.

Rather than just filling your articles, posts, and product listings with a large quantity of seemingly random keywords, you want to prioritize keywords that are relevant to your business and have a proven record of being used by customers who are looking to buy a product through their search.

If your keywords are repetitive and irrelevant to the user, then a search engine’s algorithm will find your content to be of lower value. Luckily, there are a few factors that influence keyword optimization that you can consider:

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  • Volume – how often a keyword is searched has a direct impact on the number of leads that your site will generate.  
  • Competition – another influential factor for SEO is the competition that you face from other businesses in your industry to get to the top of the search results, and while they are leveraging popular keywords this can present a barrier for reaching customers who might hit their sites first. 

If you have some keywords in mind but aren’t sure whether they will work effectively to increase the traffic to your site, then you can use specific keyword tools like the one produced by Google, to run searches around the volume, competition and click rate to confirm whether these keywords are the best option for you.

These sites can also give you some inspiration around keywords that might work better for the audience you’re looking to attract. Once you have compiled the keywords that will work best for your website, you can then use these to specifically target your potential customers.

Think about the type of language that your target audience will use when searching for your products and implement these terms in your content so that any search results will bring up a direct match.

It’s a good idea to use keywords within longer optimized sentences, so that your page doesn’t show random words placed without context, as this will improve the trust of your customers and the overall readability of your site.

This will in turn boost how a search engine’s algorithm reacts to your site, as your users will stay longer, receive the best information, and spend more money on your products. 

 

Still struggling

If you’re working hard on your business’s SEO but find that you’re still falling behind other companies when it comes to your place in the search results, then it might be time to look at the structure of your business and whether you can do more to make this important marketing technique a priority.

A great way to restructure your business in this way is through outsourcing, which is highly effective if you want to reduce some of the demand on you and your team around the day to day running of your business.

A good example of this is handing HR, IT management or accounting work to a freelancer or specialist company. However, if this concept is new to you, then you might be thinking, what is outsourcing?

You can find some great guides online which go into detail around what outsourcing can do for your business, and how it can give you more time to focus on the things that really matter, like marketing through SEO.

SEO is a complex tool that for small businesses or entrepreneurs just starting out can be difficult to understand, especially as there is a lot of information online that may feel conflicting.

However, by following this guide and structuring your business to prioritize the main SEO principles in your work, alongside choosing keywords and phrases that strike a balance between high search volume and low competition, you’ll be well on your way to an optimized site that will see you climbing up the search engine rankings in no time.

With SEO, business growth is closer than you think! 

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