How to start with SEO for your website
Many small business owners have heard the term “SEO” but don’t know what it means, how to use it, or where to start learning more. SEO is usually thought of as an incredibly technical topic that only computer wizards really understand. And while there is truth to the fact that SEO is a highly technical and difficult topic to master, there are ways that any business owner can implement SEO best practices into their website to make it more effective and more discoverable in search engines. In this article, we’re going to lay out some of the basics of SEO and get your business on the way to using SEO to acquire more visitors and paying customers.
What is SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. To put it simply, Search Engine Optimization is how you structure the pages, text, and other elements of your website so that when someone searches on Google or another search engine, your website is set up to show on search result pages. The goal of SEO is to make sure that when someone searches for your business, or a topic that your business is connected with, your website shows up as high up on the search results as possible. Where your page shows up is called your “rank”. You want your rank to be as high as possible so that when someone is searching for how to solve a problem, a product that they want to buy, or a general topic you're involved in, your page is one of the first ones they see and want to click on to explore.
Why is SEO important?
SEO is an ever-changing and complex topic that has many technical components that impact search results. Large businesses have dedicated positions or even whole teams that are dedicated to overseeing SEO strategy and execution. Small business owners typically don’t have the expertise or time to dedicate to an expansive SEO strategy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as important to them.
SEO is important because it is the key to having more people discover your website easily, so you can promote your business to as many people as possible. Also, compared to something like paid advertising, most SEO strategies are aimed at bringing in people from organic searching, meaning that you don’t have to pay when they click on the link that shows up in search results - because it’s not an advertisement.
What are some easy SEO best practices to implement?
SEO strategy has several key tenets that any small business owner can implement in their website. Take advantage of best practices and make sure that you’re checking the boxes to be doing the right things - even without a dedicated team. Here are a few of the key tenants that you can implement (easily) on your website so that your SEO strategy is sound and puts your business in a place to be successful.
Best Practice #1: Use a website service that is set up for easy “crawlability”
Services like Google do something called “crawling” your website to determine how useful it is. They index the content on your pages to make determinations on what you do, who you help, and how effectively you show that to visitors. Some website services make it easy for Google and other search engines to crawl your site and some have challenges that make it difficult to be crawled. Make sure you’re using a website service or partner (like Moby’s team of web experts) that will not have any errors when crawling your site, which can be disastrous for your rank.
Best Practice #2: Publish content that is relevant to your audience
Google and other search engines actually analyze your content and have an algorithm that determines how relevant it is to search audiences. If your business helps people with management strategy in a particular geographic area, you want to have content that is relevant to that topic so that Google and the like know that you would be a great website to serve up when someone is looking for information on that topic. If you have content that is about your business but not aimed at the problems you solve or the value your business has, it won’t show up when someone is looking for information related to that problem or the needs they have, which is mostly what people search for. Making sure your content is related to what you do for your prospects and customers helps search engines identify that it’s a great option to show when someone searches on that topic.
Best Practice #3: Optimize keywords across your website
The next step of optimizing overall content is to also optimize specific keywords that appear across your website. Keywords are words or phrases that further drill down on the most relevant audiences and search queries for you to show up for. You want to choose keywords that will be representative of who you help, what problems you solve, and what products and services you offer so that if someone searches for those specific keywords, your website will be more likely to show up higher in search results.
For instance, if your business is a pet grooming company located in Portland, OR, you want to optimize the keywords across your site to be focused on things like “pet grooming in Portland”, so that when someone searches for pet grooming services in Portland, OR, your website clearly displays that your business can help and will rank better in search engines.
Best Practice #4: Make sure your website performance is high
One thing commonly misunderstood about SEO is that it is only the text, pictures, etc. that actually exist on your website. While those are huge difference makers and things to focus on, another major component of SEO strategy is website performance. If your website has pictures that are too large and load slowly, poor layouts across all devices, or other things that cause your website to not function properly, your SEO ranking will take a BIG hit. Services like Google not only index what is on your page, but also how your page performs. Even if your website would be the perfect result for someone’s search, if they know your page will have a hard time loading or won’t work properly for that searcher, it’s in their best interest to keep it hidden.
Working with a website service like Moby that understands how website architecture, design, user experience, and more influence SEO is critical to executing on a sound SEO strategy. Many free web services say that they are set up to be “SEO Optimized”, but in reality, that just means that they have some tools that glance over how your page is performing to make sure nothing is completely broken. They don’t actually help make sure your website is set up to be optimized in the eyes of search engines.
I want to get started with SEO. What’s next?
If you want to learn more about the intricacies of Search Engine Optimization or read even more about the above topics, a great resource is Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Moz is a well known, trusted resource in the SEO community that will help any business owner understand more about all of the influences in an SEO strategy.
If you want to take action to increase your SEO effectiveness right away, reach out to the Moby team to start with making sure your website’s architecture, design, and structure allow you to execute a sound SEO strategy. One of Moby’s consultants can talk you through how to create or revamp your website so that performance is high and the user experience will set you up for success when going for organic search results to increase web traffic and revenue.