SEO is a fundamental tactic that many brands use to gain visibility on Google search results. As algorithms evolve, SEO has become more time consuming and complex. Finding the right company to help your small business can get results faster, saving you time and money in the long run.
By many, SEO is perceived as free. While it is true that you are not paying Google for placement, SEO is anything but free. SEO requires significant skill, time, and effort to do it well. Many businesses try to do it on their own but quickly become overwhelmed.
There are three main parts of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical. For most, SEO is simply on-page. You use the right keywords and SEO tool our plug-in, and that does it. However, the truth is, even perfectly optimized content will not rank unless it has the right off-page and technical foundations to support it. This is where skill and time come into play.
Running SEO solo is doable, but it requires time and effort that can overwhelm your workload. This article at WebFX explains some of the reasons that SEO is difficult to pursue on your own. To summarize that article and explain some core concepts, here is our breakdown.
Finding the right keywords is both an art and a science. The art requires you to think like your customer. How would they structure their question? What terms would they use? Luckily, you do not have to do this on your own. You can look at the keywords that rank well for your competition. This should give you a hint.
Once you have these terms, it is important to know if you can rank on them. This is the science part. Not all sites are created equal in the eyes of Google. Some have more clout than others. Therefore, you need to understand the clout your site has to know where a given term is in or out of reach.
Domain authority (DA) is what that clout is called in SEO jargon. DA is your site's reputation. Like any reputation, it takes time to build but can be ruined easily. The topic of DA authority is for another post. But, for most small businesses, it is safe to say that you will have DA of less than 50 and more in the 20-30s.
As a rule of thumb, to have a reasonable chance of ranking on a keyword with a monthly search volume of over 3,000, you need to have a DA > 50. For most small businesses, it means sticking to keywords with monthly search volumes of < 1,000.
Content creation is critical. Google loves new content. But creating content without a clear keyword strategy is unlikely to be successful. You will want to write unique content around one keyword and only post for each keyword once. It is better to update an older post with new information than to create two posts on the same keyword. Otherwise, you will have two of your pages competing against each other for the same keyword, which is a poor use of time and resources.
Off-page SEO tends to get the least amount of focus, but it is probably the most important aspect of ranking. The ranking is a bit like a popularity contest. The more people that link to your content, the more valuable it is perceived to be. In the early days of SEO, all you needed were links. While this is no longer true, legitimate organic backlinks are still a major component of the Google ranking algorithm.
In an ideal world, all you would need to do is write awesome content, and people would find it and love it. Even if the content is fantastic, it takes marketing effort to break through the noise and be seen. This is the bulk of the effort when it comes to SEO.
Two-thirds of people say that "finding what they need quickly" is the most important attribute of a website. Google wants happy searchers. Happy searchers find the right site using Google if that site quickly gives them the information they need.
Therefore, SEO isn't just about making new content for your company; it also involves making your small business's website fit the needs of your audiences.
Two trends are likely to continue that are having a major impact on those happy searchers. First, people are less willing to wait for results. Half of all people will exit if the site takes more than 3 seconds to load. Second, more search is done on mobile.
Page speed is a major factor that many sites face. If you built your site using a website builder or a theme, speed is likely an issue for you. The other is mobile-friendliness. The better a mobile layout for a site, the better the experience for people looking you up on their phones. Given half of device use is on mobile, it would be a mistake not to be mobile friendly.
Some things can be fixed using your current provider. Some cannot. Most require a designer who knows what he or she is doing to fix these issues. But, if left unfixed, you are likely to have more unhappy searchers, which can cause your rankings to drop.
Localized SEO is one of the most important and underdiscussed reasons for small businesses to get attention, especially brick-and-mortar companies that require in-store experiences or services that don’t go beyond a certain area.
There are two things to remember when it comes to making a localized SEO strategy. First, you’ll need to build content that represents the awareness and needs of your local area. Second, you’re going to need to specifically target the areas that are most essential to your small business’s growth. HubSpot writer Kelsey Smith discussed this in an article about local SEO, but she points out how difficult it can be.
For small businesses, you’ll want an SEO company that knows your local area. You wouldn’t want an SEO company based in Albuquerque to tell you how to talk to an audience in Boston. If your small business needs to localize its SEO strategy, it needs to look to SEO companies in your own area to know your needs.
There are three major things that will influence your decision to find an SEO company for your small business:
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Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile
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