As an entrepreneur or website owner you’ve probably been thinking about online marketing and SEO in particular, nothing more attractive than free traffic. That is, until you start looking into SEO and discover that it is more difficult than you expected.
You may consider hiring an agency or a dedicated SEO expert, only to find that it is no easy or uncostly endeavour. The risks involved in hiring an agency or expert are also high as results can never be guaranteed. Money is often short when starting up so getting an expert on board can seem like a risk not worth taking. I have met with and spoken to various small business owners over the years, many of whom have delayed or entirely given up on SEO efforts due to confusion as to how to get started.
I can understand the trepidation. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there who not only fail to get results but actually place your site and business at risk with practices that Google label as “blackhat SEO”. These practices are a quick way for agencies to earn money as they do provide short term results but often lead to a long term loss of ranking due to penalties enforced by Google. It is therefore to be expected that the less than favorable reputation of SEO agencies may deter business owners from engaging these services.
So what can you, as an aspiring entrepreneur, do to get started?
I’m here to give you a lowdown of the very basic steps that you and your site administrator can implement today to help your site rank for the keywords you want. Before I tell you the easy steps you can do yourself, a word of warning; SEO does require time and effort. There is no such thing as an “easy fix” and despite what some “experts” might tell you, there are no technical tricks you can use to get immediate results.
Long term rankings require effort, and most importantly an investment in time. There is no such thing as free traffic. The other thing you need to know is that the broader your business is, the harder SEO becomes – you will be able to see faster results if you are operating in a niche market as the competition for your keywords will be much lower.
Now that we have these warnings out of the way, lets have a look at what you can do to help your site rank.
1. Getting the basics right.
Google is a crawler. A sophisticated one. But at the end of the day, all it does is read your website and rank it for what it thinks are relevant search terms. It is therefore of great importance to create a list of keywords that you think Google users will use to search for your products or services.
Once you have created a list (which can be as short or as long as you like), you need to assign single pages on your website to each of the keywords on the list. Once you’ve paired up a page to a word, you can then start optimising the page for that particular word. For this you need to keep the following in mind:
- The page title. Make sure your keyword is used in your page META title. Create a 70-character sentence in which the keyword appears and make that sentence your meta title.
- The page description. The same counts for the description. Make sure that your focus keyword is used in the page description. Your description should be no longer than 165 characters.
- The on-page title (or H1 header). Every page should have one, and make sure the focus keyword is present.
2. Content, content, content. Lots of it.
You are passionate about your business. Write about it! Flaunt it! Google LOVES periodical, original content on your page, especially if the topic is your product or service. This is a huge ranking factor that Google takes into account and will be one of the biggest reasons you will show up in the top spots on the search results. Make sure you use the keywords from your original list in your posts and link to your designated SEO pages from that keyword in your blog posts.
Also, consider creating videos about your product or service, Google promotes and pushes useful YouTube content. Make sure you name your video files correctly (including the keywords again) and include a transcript in the description.
3. Reach out.
Create valuable media connections. Getting links from other pages that are topically related to your site is the third pillar of good SEO. Every link is a vote of confidence in your site and Google will consider these links as indications of recommendation. The more links you have, the better your site will rank. Be careful though, make sure that the link is authentic and places for the correct reasons, don’t be tempted to buy links as Google will penalise your site for it.
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
As a small business owner you are perfectly capable of achieving high Google rankings based on an SEO campaign that you manage yourself. In fact, the future of ranking will be based more on genuine effort and topical expertise than on technical trickery. The on-page elements, content and link building are the three major pillars that any professional SEO expert or agency will focus on.
The most important thing however is authenticity and the usefulness of your pages content. No one is better equipped to be passionate and authentic about your business than you!
About the Author: Andre Weyher is the marketing director of LegalVision. He is an ex-Google employee from the Organic Search quality team where he was a content quality and backlink profile expert. You can contact Andre at andre[at]legalvision.com.au.
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