Are you a small business owner with a website and wondering what SEO is all about? Search Engine Optimisation for businesses is confusing. Did you know that if your business isn’t ranking on the 1st page of Google, then your potential clients aren’t going to find you? But do you know what you are supposed to be ranking for? And what’s going to help you get on the front page of Google? If you already have someone working on the technical bits (ie., your website) or if you can do that yourself, then great, otherwise get someone (or try it yourself!). You may need the help of an SEO agency, a web designer, or a bit of both. But in any case, SEO for business is a COLLABORATIVE effort. What does this mean? It means you, as the business owner, have to do a fair bit in order to get the most from your website. This article is predominantly about natural SEO techniques to drive traffic to your website, however does touch on paid advertising. The article covers some of the things you need to know about as the business owner, and who should be doing what.
Let’s explain ‘Meta’
The word ‘Meta’ essentially means referring to itself, or self descriptive. The term is used in the SEO context to describe the data (ie., Metadata) that explains the information in your website page, such as the Title or the Description. This data should ideally also include the Meta Keywords or Keyphrases for which you are looking to rank.
Meta Title Tags
The Meta Title Tag is the headline for your website, as displayed in the search engine results. This tag is used in SEO as well as social sharing and should be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content.
The Meta Description provides a brief summary of your web page and is shown underneath the Meta Title. Google and other search engines will display the meta description in search results, and the content of the Meta Description should be carefully written and catchy enough to inspire a potential visitor to click on your site in the Google search results.
Meta Keywords & Keyphrases
An ideal sequence of Keywords (known as a Keyphrase) is a term, usually 3-5 words, that a potential visitor may search in Google for to find your website. It’s usually a good idea for your Keyphrase to focus on the unique offering of your business to really stand out from the crowd. Of course each word in your Keyphrase is also a Keyword! Your Keyphrase doesn’t necessarily contain your business name, but should also be something your potential customers may search for, such as “saltwater pool supplies Melbourne”, instead of “Jim’s Pools”. Of course you can incorporate your business name in the Keyphrase, just make sure you’ve got the search phrase covered.
So how do you Meta?
Optimising your website for specific keyphrases will yield you more specific and relevant traffic and visitors. As a business owner, what do you need to do? At a minimum, you need to come up with at least one unique keyphrase for your business’ website. You should let your web developer know, and they can optimise your website with this keyphrase. Further, you can also come up with a keyphrase for each page of your website, and your web developer can optimise each page as needed. Your site will need to be indexed by Google, and you (or your people), should keep an eye on how you are ranking to determine what is working, and what isn’t.
Domain Authority (DA), is how much Google cares about your website and how it will rank search results. If it cares a lot (a high DA), then your site will rank higher in search results, if it doesn’t care – then your competitors will be outranking you. Domain Authority is scored on a 100 point logarithmic scale, with most sites between 10 and 30. Domain Authority is influenced by multiple factors, and the ultimate goal is to get a DA good enough in order for you to outrank your competitors in a search that would return results for you and your competitors. There isn’t necessarily a good or bad DA score, the key is to be aiming for one better than your competitors (this is why it’s important to do competitor analysis).
So how to improve your DA?
A key metric used for a high DA is the number of backlinks to your site. A backlink is another website that has a link to your website. Essentially, if other businesses are linking to your site then this is a measure of your website’s credibility. If the other website also has a high DA, then this will be even better for your own DA.
But how do you get backlinks?
Some agencies will charge for backlinks with a high DA. This will work to improve your SEO, however a more natural (and cheaper) technique is to work with your agency to get your website content out on the web. This comes from creating regular content (eg. blog posts), and sharing this content in as many places as you can. Treat your website as the central source of information for your business and share as much as you can on social networks and directory listings. Again, see what your competitors are doing on social media and local directory listings, and do it better.
Google My Business
Google My Business is an awesome tool to have your business listed on Google, and ties in closely with the successful performance of your business within Google. It should be a part of your marketing strategy along with your other social media profiles.
Google My Business is a listing of your business profile within Google that features the ability to set a description of your business, a link to your website, Google Reviews, your business location, contact details, Q&As about your business, and photos and posts (just to name a few features). If your business has a physical presence, a potential client could search for your service with a ‘near me’ or by suburb name in the search, and your business will rank in search results.
Google My Business is a very powerful and free addition to your SEO and marketing arsenal.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool provided by Google to help you analyse your website traffic, and in turn the effectiveness of your website marketing performance. To get going with Google Analytics (GA), a GA tracking code specific for your website needs to be created and then integrated into each page of your website. Once this is done, Google will start collecting tracking information for your site, and you’ll be able run reports to see key metrics such as visitor behaviour (time on pages), traffic sources such as referrals from social networks, search phrases your visitors are using to find your site, and how many site visitors you’re getting. These metrics are known as User Acquisition and User Behaviour.
With Google Analytics in place, you can check out the key data on your website traffic and make informed decisions on the direction to go with your website marketing strategies.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) is a tool used by webmasters to manage the indexing status of a website within Google. Webmasters use this tool to submit a website URL and sitemap, allowing Google to effectively ‘crawl’ and index the website. This tool will also report if there are any errors with the indexing, such as crawl errors.
A ‘conversion’ is the measurement of getting your visitors to do what you want them to do on your website, which could include getting them to sign up for a newsletter, make a booking, call your phone number, buy your product, or download a document. Google Analytics is easily configured to monitor and report on website visitors, however needs to be specifically configured to measure conversions. These are usually hooked into a Call To Action (CTA), which could be a prompt to take an action on your website, such as a ‘buy now’ or ‘subscribe to newsletter’ button.
Local Directories are listings where you submit details of your business, and are a great way of getting backlinks to your site. Many local directory listings are free, however some are paid services. The local directory listing which you choose is usually quite specific to your industry. There are some generic listings (such as White Pages) which you should ensure you are listed in. More specific listings, such as HIPages for Home Improvement businesses, contain business information for tradies and usually have a way to get in touch with those business. In some cases, the website receives a small fee for referring a client to your business. The best way to figure out where to list your business is to search for what your top competitors are doing and where they are listing, and get in on the same sites.
For SEO, ensuring that your website is able to provide consistent, knowledgeable and unique content is vital to staying competitive. Google monitors websites for regularly updated content, and gives ranking preference to those that regularly provide fresh content. Not only is this great for your SEO and making sure Google takes notice, creating regular content positions your business website as an authority in your field. The best content strategy a business can have is to create all content (eg. news & blog posts) on your website and treat this as the ‘source of truth’. Don’t recreate the content on other platforms, link back to it. Once the content is created, share this as much as you can on all of your social media platforms as well as news groups, advertisements, directory listings, etc. Each share of your website content is a backlink, and the more backlinks, the better your Domain Authority will be. (Techo speak!) – Be sure to check with your website developer to see if your website is configured to share your post content on social networks. Some posts when shared can look ugly, and this is usually due to the OpenGraph (OG) protocol not being configured.
Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, sits alongside traditional SEO and can be used in conjunction with your SEO strategy. It can be utilised if you aren’t getting the results from traditional SEO, generally due to a highly competitive market for your specific keywords or keyphrases. PPC is most commonly associated with Google AdWords where the advertiser (you) places a dollar amount (known as a bid) to ensure you rank in Google search results for your keywords/keyphrases. These results will be at the top of the Google search results amongst others that also have PPC advertising (with ‘Ad’ next to the result), and you will be charged when your advert is clicked (so don’t go clicking it yourself!). Be sure to do your research before investing in PPC advertising, as well as making sure those clicks that lead to your website convert to a sale, so your investment is worth it. If your website isn’t designed well enough to convert visitors to sales, then you could spend a lot of money on PPC advertising without yielding any results.
In this article we have covered much of the knowledge you need as a business owner to have a pretty good understanding of what SEO is all about, and why it is important for your business. This article has also covered what you must know as a business owner, and the role you play in ensuring the success of your business on the web. We wrote this article to cover many of the questions that have come up from the small business owners we have worked with, and hope you also find it useful. If you need more information on any of the info in this post, please get in touch – and good luck with your SEO!