SEO strategy & why your small business needs one.

Do you have an SEO strategy?

What about a plan to grow your business using specific SEO tactics? Plus do you know what you should be looking for or actioning when thinking about creating an SEO strategy plan.

I have to admit, I don’t actually have a clear one either, other than optimising individual pages to rank the very best that they can be.

But having an over-arching seo strategy?

Well until recently I haven’t really thought about a wholistic approach to this part of my digital ecosystem. But a few things have happened recently to highlight to me how important having an SEO strategy in place.

Firstly, I have been really thinking clearly around who I want to be working and researching what are the kinds of things my ideal clients are asking for.

Secondly, I have had several new clients come on board and fixing up their current SEO performance and creating a cohesive SEO strategy is something that is high on their priority list, so getting to the heart of what their clients are actually searching for is really important. 

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Clients often ask me - what keywords do I need to have at my website or what are the best keywords I need to have at my website.

And my answer will always be more or less the same.

“What things are your clients searching for online?” “What do you want to be known for” (and the unspoken question, “what are you currently known for”).

Knowing these two options will then allow you to set options in place to develop an SEO strategy for your business.

What is SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

According to Moz (one of the leading international businesses in the SEO space) this is what SEO means

“SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.”

So in a nutshell is it about getting your content ranked well so that Google ( or one of the other search engines) will return your website on page one or as close to page as possible.

How does SEO work?

People type in a question into Google or say OK Google How do I…

Then Google returns search results (or ‘SERP’ a search engine results page) that lists all the results that best fit the answer to your question.

That’s as simple and as complex as it gets.

Best fit’ can mean many things but essentially the Google Search algorithm determines the order of the results and there are various processes that you need to implement to make sure that your page is in the mix for the search result.

What does the Google Search Algorithm look for?

The exact makeup of the Google Search Algorithm is a closely guarded secret, but essentially they are taking into consideration a variety of factors that allows them to rank your page based on search criteria.

According to Google, they are looking at 5 key areas. Both from the perspective of what people type into search or ask Google as well as looking at the cues websites send to Google to help them match that question.

Analyzing your words - This is where google seeks to understand what you are meaning by your question. What is the context of the words?  Google has invested countless millions in determining correct syntax and seeing through spelling mistakes so that they can interpret our questions as accurately as possible.

Matching your search - this is where correct  SEO processes come into play.  This is where Google is looking for the cues from your website, that will drop it into the search results page. Things like page titles and names, headings and subheadings right down to how often you mention that keywords on your pages flag to Google that your page would fit the criteria. Google also looks for quality content as well, so it is not enough to just repeat a keyword multiple times in a page. Google will see this as a spammy tactic, rather look to include images of your product or service, embed video, have a list of helpful information. All of these are useful triggers for Google to rank your page well.

Ranking useful pages - this is the golden seo ticket. If I need this exactly, well….. What Google specifically says about page rank is this, it is all about relevance. This is what they are looking for - when a customer searches for something, is your site relevant from the perspective of providing that answer. In terms of relevance they are looking at how fresh your page content is, how fast your pages load, how easy are they to read, as well as more complex cues like other people linking to you.

Considering context - Google takes into consideration the location of searchers, their particular search history and their search settings when returning results unique to them. I could be a person in Sydney searching for red shoes and I will see different results from a person who might be in Auckland for example.

Returning Best Results - Google then takes into consideration all of them above to put together the best list of results for the person asking the question. This approach is constantly changing and learning how we as humans ask questions and what we actually mean when we ask those questions.

What do you need for an SEO strategy?

Your SEO strategy will have 3 core components.

  1. You need to research your market.
  2. You need to optimise your website &
  3. You need to develop a link building strategy.

Research your market

Researching your market is more than understanding how people are finding your site. You also need to research the words and phrases that people are actually using to seek the answers to their questions and then you need to understand if enough people are actually searching using the words and phrases that you are focussing on.

I have listed a few tools below that let you to see how many searches are actually happening on the keyword or phrase you are selecting, plus suggest some other options for you to consider.

There are a variety of paid tools to help you do this, SEM Rush, ahrefs and Raven Tools are all tools that I have had experience with. I found all of these tools quite overwhelming to use at first - so I recommend following along with the wizard suggestions that they offer to get your bearings.

Raven Tools is what I use and Big Blue Digital uses to help with client seo work and it is by far the simplest to navigate in my opinion. All the tools are great however and come with a free trial period, so I would suggest giving them a trial to help with doing keyword research.

A terrific free  & simpler tool to use is Ubersuggest 

This is a great place to start as it not only suggests additional words that might work for your space but gives you crucial information on how many people actually search that term and how competitive it might be to appear high up in the search results.

Make sure you also hook up Google Search Console to see what is actually happening regarding keywords and search for your business.  Read how to set up Google Search Console here

Researching your market will take time, so allocate appropriate resources and time for this. You can’t just sit down for 2 hours and get it all done. It needs your focus.

Once you have finished researching your market and what people are searching for, then you need to move onto optimising your site to take advantage of this knowledge.

Optimise your website.

There are some simple steps that everyone should be mindful of when creating content for your website.

You need to write for humans - when I read your content, I need to know what you are a person who is knowledgeable and helpful. That is what I am looking for, that is why I typed in search criteria. So focus on creating content that passes the read out loud test.

Make sure you send the right signals to Google about what your page is about.

  • Unique page title - what is this page about, each page should be different
  • Description - if you had to summarise the page, what would you say
  • Use headings to break up your test (Choose H2 tags for this, sub-headings would be H3)
  • Your page name should use the h1 tag - it needs to use your keyword as well.
  • Write in short paragraphs
  • Use bullet points or number to help focus attention into an area
  • Use images and name the images so that they are tied to your keyword - so no more using ‘shutterstock1234.jpg’ or ‘dsc0007885346856.jpg’. Name your images
  • If you can reference a video, then embed a video.
  • Wrap up your blog post with a conclusion, just like when you prepared essays at school.
  • Link your page to other parts of your site that will help your viewer.

I outline more of these key features in this post on SEO Simplified

What I found works best is to prepare an SEO audit of your site. Go through everything single page and note what exists and what is missing. Think about the distinct purpose of each page and make sure that you have pages that are fit for purpose.

This audit process will take time because even if you run your site through a free SEO audit checker, you need to know what you need to do next and then plan to do it. What you need to be looking for is to make sure that you have content on your site that reflects what your expertise is and is targeting the right people.  So look through your blog posts and make sure that you are consistently sharing content across all of your expertise and not just one area.

When I write, I make sure that I write content across each of the 4 parts of the digital ecosystem - ie Web, Social, Content and Search. So I regularly review if I have gaps, or if my content has weighed too heavily in one area for example.

Building Links and Shareability

So this next point is where you need to get a bit ballsy. This is the area that I suck at to be perfectly blunt. Asking people to share my stuff.

This is my little challenge for the next month. Reviewing competitor content and then investigating who is linking to that site content so that I can provide an updated or better article on a similar topic.

Now why would I do that?

Getting high-quality websites to link back to you, will provide great google juice. Yes, Google Juice is a technical term and I refer to it in more detail in this article where I talk about backlinks in more detail.

A backlink is a link from someone else's website, directly into your website. It is essentially someone referring to you, it could be via a link in the body of their content, it could be a link from an image ( like an ad on their website), you might be listed in a resource of the 10 best places to get XYZ…

The process of asking people to link back to you can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but if you get the right people to reference your content, well it all starts from there. You first need to make sure that you have relevant content worth sharing.

If you are stuck for content ideas that resonate with your audience, it’s work checking out Buzzsumo you can have just access the free version, but they have just introduced a micro paid version as well.

Buzzsumo helps you find content that is ranking well and being shared well across the internet.

For example, as part of researching this article on SEO, I conducted a quick search on SEO for small business to see what came up and to get ideas about what kind of content is working best right now. Buzzsumo will return a list of pages that fit with my search criteria ranked in order of how well they are received across the internet. You can see what kind of content gets shared inside Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter as well as understanding more about who is linking to your website.

Be careful - plagiarism is a HUGE no-no.

You are not finding these articles to copy them, rather you are researching articles to see what resonates/connects/fills a need or answers a question for your people in your space.

What is really key to this exercise though is checking out who actually is referring people back to these key pages. One of the key ways that Google will rank your page well and put you close to the magic top of the page for search results is to get high-quality websites to link back to your site.

How do you get people to link to you? You ask them.

I found some really helpful places for email scripts that you can use when are looking to get people to link back to your website content. SEMRush has some useful ideas about how to do this here. The thing is, this involves some work and some smarts from you.

Whilst SEO is not rocket science it is not a set and forget kind of thing. Nor is it a quick results approach.  What it does do however is that it creates long-term evergreen traffic for you that continues to build and drive the right kind of people into your world.

If you are looking for help with getting an SEO strategy in place for your business, please talk to me today about my SEO Audit and Keyword Analysis Report.  It's a great way to get you started. 

Getting the right eyeballs on your website is so critical, take action today, your bank balance will thank you in 12 months time.