So you have a new business and you keep getting calls from solicitors about SEO.
Naturally, the first thing that comes into your head is “What the heck is SEO?” or “Isn’t SEO that band from the ‘80s?”
After five minutes of the solicitor spouting off scary-sounding words like “competitor keywords”, “Search Engine Optimization”, and “edge rank”, you’re spooked enough to pay for their service at an exorbitant price.
Next thing you know, you’ve got a website loaded with what looks like a page from the thesaurus and websites you’ve never heard of before that have nothing to do with your business are linking to you.
Don’t panic! Howdy Neighbor Marketing is here to tell you that SEO is (mostly) easy.
Let’s start with the basics. What does it stand for?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Don’t let the jargon scare you. All it means is your website is findable when customers type in search terms related to your business. The better your SEO, the closer to the top your site will appear in the list of search results.
Think about it this way: if you’re in the business of landscaping in Indiana, you want your website to come up in the first few websites listed when someone searches “landscaping in Indiana”. Simple, right?
There are a number of factors that contribute to good SEO, but if you’ve just started a business, the main idea is to write good content for your customers and present that content how a potential customer would expect to see it.
Here’s how to get started:
- Everything begins with good content.
Your website should be more than a business card or a flyer about your services. Put together information about your business in a way that makes sense to a potential customer, with pages for things like “About Us”, “Our Services”, “Testimonials”, and “Contact Us”.
Those are the bare-bones basics. Going one step beyond will help secure your place in the search results.
For instance, you might want to include a “Frequently Asked Questions” page you can refer customers to.Or you might want to create a video demonstration of how your product or service works so customers can see what you’re all about. You might create a page featuring your staff who interact with customers on a regular basis, what they do, and what their hobbies are.
Having a blog where you have a weekly or bi-weekly stream of valuable, helpful content for your customers will help improve your SEO.
- Good structure is just as important as good content.
The three big components of structure that relate to SEO are the page title (the thing that appears at the top of the browser window), the heading text, and the first paragraph.
Also important to a lesser degree: the URL and META tags (don’t worry about this right now when you’re just starting out, it can get pretty complicated).
When you write a new page of content for your website, make sure it also includes the name of your business or what you do in the title. For instance, “About Us” wouldn’t just be called “About Us”; it should be called “About Jones Indiana Landscaping Company” – at least for the page title.
The first main part of content visible to the user is the heading. It’s okay to match this to the title, but sometimes to save space you might go with something like, “About Us”. You’ll want to make the rest of the page as descriptive as possible.
In the first paragraph, you might put something like, “Jones Indiana Landscaping Company has been landscaping Indiana homes for more than 2,000 years.” You don’t have to load up your paragraphs with things that don’t make sense, just be as descriptive as possible for someone who may have no idea who you are or what you do.
Something to remember: PDFs where you can’t highlight text and images with text in them are not easily searchable by Google or other search engines, so be sure that you don’t keep all of your vital information on PDFs only.
- Build relationships with tangential partners online
You know how you type in REO Speedwagon, and the first thing that comes up is Wikipedia? That is no mistake! Hundreds of pages about REO Speedwagon link to their Wikipedia page. One might be a concert listings website. One might be about ‘80s fashion. One might be a ranking of ‘80s bands.
There are a lot of other reasons why Wikipedia’s articles show up at the top of search rankings, but the biggest is that Wikipedia is cited. By creating content that is valuable to your customers, building relationships with non-competitor “partners” in your industry, and linking your websites to each other where it makes sense, you can improve your search engine rankings.
- Build content that’s sharable on social media.
Links from partner businesses aren’t the only valuable links. Content that gets shared more widely on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) tends to show up higher in search engine results. Creating good content that people want to share is the best method to making sure your content gets shared out.
Making sure your customers and potential customers KNOW that you have good content is another surefire way to getting it seen and shared. Creating an email newsletter or highlighting your blog and website at events can be a good first step. Setting up a social share plugin makes it as easy as possible for customers to share your content.
Want a little help with your SEO? Contact us for a consultation!