If you are a business owner new to marketing your business online, you may have heard the term SEO thrown around as something you need to be doing. But what is SEO, and why is it important?
SEO is very complex, and people who are really good at it spend a lot of time and effort dedicating themselves to staying on top of changes and improving their skills. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be explained in simple terms. It also doesn’t mean that a small business owner can’t use SEO to gain new customers either.
Once you understand some of the basics, you can evaluate your website and improve what is there. Will you be as effective as a master who dedicates their life to the craft? No. But you can still improve how your website shows up in search.
What is SEO in simple words?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a tactic used to ensure your customers can find you online by putting certain words and phrases into the writing on your website.
When a person looks for a new product, they go to Google and type in the words that describe what they are looking for in the search bar. Then Google offers a list of articles, videos, images, and businesses. That list is called the search results. The goal of that list is to provide the searcher with what they are looking for.
SEO is the work behind the scenes to get your business or website to show up first on that list. You think of words that your customers will type in the search bar to find your business, and then you make sure they are on your website.
Why is SEO important?
SEO is important because it helps customers find your business. If you make crazy hats for infants and someone searches for crazy hats for infants, using SEO makes sure that your website shows up in the results.
But you need to do more than just show up. You need to show up in the top ten results. Why?
Most people do not click-through to the second page when they are searching for something on Google. In fact, people look at the second page of results less than 1% of the time. Additionally, the top result in search receives almost a third of the clicks for a search term. That means that about 30 out of 100 people looking for crazy hats for infants are going to do business with the #1 spot.
So SEO is also important because if you aren’t on that first page of results, your customers probably aren’t going to find you. If you get to the #1 spot, you get 30% of the customers. Without SEO, that is never going to happen.
What is the goal of SEO?
The number one goal of SEO is to help your customers find you when they want the service or product that you offer. This helps you to grow your business using the power of the internet.
SEO also helps you to make potential customers aware of your brand. This is done by writing about topics that relate to your service or product with the intent of educating potential customers. You can write about why they need your product, what your product is, or why your business is unique.
Not everyone searching for terms related to your product is ready to buy. Using SEO to write educational articles for customers when they are first aware of the problem your product solves ensures they buy from you instead of your competitor when they are ready.
Thus, SEO is, at its core, about getting your website in the top position on Google. But it is also about building trust and brand awareness.
Is SEO easy?
Realistically, no. Yes, you can write a few paragraphs for your website and social media profiles that contain the words your customer would use to find you. Which you should definitely do. This might get your website to show up for certain terms that your customers are searching for. But full-service SEO is very complex and easier to mess up than it is to get right.
Ultimately, there are over 200 factors that Google takes into account when deciding whether or not your website gets to the top of a search page. Some of those factors require technical knowledge to meet the requirements.
Additionally, there are three different types of SEO that you need to use. On-page SEO, which is the actual words on your website. Off-page SEO, which is getting other websites to link to your website. And Technical SEO, which involves improving things like how fast your website loads. Larger companies have a specialist in place for each one of these aspects of SEO, because each one requires different skillsets.
If you’re looking for easy, then you’re probably in the wrong place.
But don’t despair! If you are a new business, or you’re dipping your toes into marketing online for the first time, you can still use SEO. You won’t get the results that you would get from a professional, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get any traction. You can always hire a professional to come in later when you have more money. If you have the basics already in place, it will make their job easier. Here are some simple things that anyone can do to get started with SEO.
On-Page SEO Basics
- Add a plug-in to evaluate what you are writing. We suggest Yoast because it gives great suggestions and has articles to help you understand the why behind the suggestions.
- Think about terms your customers would search for when trying to find your product. You can get into doing crazy research for this. And there is plenty of advice out there on how to do it. But to start, just think of obvious things.
- Make sure the writing on your website has the words your customer would use when looking for your product.
- You can also opt to start a blog. Use it to answer the questions your customers have about your product or service. You could do a lot of work researching keywords here as well. But if you want to just focus on doing a great job of answering questions with your expertise, that’s great too!
Off-Page SEO Basics
- Make sure your website is connected to all of your social media profiles.
- Claim your Google My Business listing.
- If you’re writing a blog, share it on your social media profiles regularly.
- Find online business directories that feature companies like yours and get your business listed with them.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. This means that people can easily navigate your website from a mobile device. You may have to work with a web developer to do this, depending on how you built your site.
- Ensure you have an SSL certificate for your website. An SSL certificate ensures Google views your website as secure. You can get it from the company that is hosting your website.
- Make sure the website loading speed is fast enough.
That’s it. It seems like a lot. And it is. But that doesn’t make it an insurmountable obstacle. Just plug away at it a little at a time, and eventually, you will be an SEO pro. Ok, just kidding. But taking the above steps will at least get you started. Good luck!
If you have any further questions about SEO or want to hand it over to the experts, we would love to talk! The team at The Social Expansion Project loves to help small business owners like you make more money using all the tools the internet has to offer. Learn more about what makes us different and then schedule your free, no-pressure consultation today.