Never Too Small for SEO
“You should Google that.”
By now, you’ve probably voiced some variation of that phrase, or had someone say it to you.
But what does it really mean?
In so many words, it means: “Plug a search term into a search engine (such as Google or Bing or Yahoo!) and find out which web pages are most relevant to your needs—realizing that the ranking of those sites can be affected by the search engine optimization (SEO) efforts of the company or organization that owns that website.”
Or, put another way, “You should SEO that.”
In fact, for any small and medium business (SMB) looking for attention on the web, SEO is the means to raise your hand above the crowd of competitors and catch the eye of potential customers who are searching for what you sell. And know this: whether you’re competing locally, regionally, or nationally, a majority of consumers are starting online to identify the business that can deliver the product or service they need.
SEO by the numbers
What is SEO?
So just what is SEO, really?
Broadly speaking, SEO is your guide to preparing your website so that it’s more likely to be seen by search engine visitors. And SEO done right means more visitors to your site. More formally, Forbes calls SEO “the process of aligning your website to the standards and recommendations of search engines in order to get increased traffic and visibility from search engine results .” And Search Engine Land weighs in to say, “It is the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.”
Note the common term: process. There are accepted practices, or steps, to doing SEO right, which we’ll explore later. But first, let’s take a closer look at the importance of SEO for your business.
Understanding the significance of SEO starts with understanding how search engines behave. When a user submits a search term, the search engine then sets about processing the search term by way of its own proprietary algorithms. An automated web crawler, also known as a spider, sorts through the many billions of documents that are connected via the web and delivers a list of the most suitable web pages, ranked in order of relevance.
Consequently, “making your site relevant” is the answer to “why SEO?” Without SEO, a website can be invisible to a search engine, and therefore invisible to your potential customers.
Says search marketing firm Moz, SEO makes “your website easy for both users and search engine robots to understand. Although search engines have become increasingly sophisticated, they still can’t see and understand a web page the same way a human can. SEO helps the engines figure out what each page is about, and how it may be useful for users.”
Take a closer look at some of the benefits SEO can bring to your organization:
Greater visibility to customers
With SEO, you can raise the profile of your site and rise in the search engine rankings.
Friendlier website = friendlier search engines
SEO provides users with a better, faster, and friendlier experience. And happy users translate to happy search engines.
Better conversion rates
When optimized for SEO, a website is easier to use for visitors, which means visitors are more likely to become customers.
Broader brand awareness
The higher your site ranks on search engine results, the more likely that customers will embrace your brand.
Greater social media exposure
Social media represents a growing opportunity to reach customers, and SEO feeds that opportunity. If a website ranks high on search results, more social media exposure will follow.
Making SEO work for your SMB
As you consider your SEO campaign, you’re certain to hear about a range of factors that will drive your website up the search engine rankings. We recommend that you emphasize these three basic building blocks for SEO success:
Emphasize titles and description meta tags
It’s true that visitors may not see the title tag or description tag while they’re on your website, but don’t discount their value. Let’s start with the title.
The title influences how search engines evaluate the intent of your page, and consequently how queries are going to relate to your content. The title also represents the first view your potential customer will glimpse of your company and content when they see the search engine results page. The bottom line: craft the title with care.
Appearing directly underneath the title tag on the search engine results page is the description tag. This constitutes an opportunity for your business to persuade the searcher that you offer exactly what they want, and they should click through to your site.
Acting together, a well-conceived set of title and description tags will go a long way in attracting visitors and vaulting your site over competitors on the search engine results page.
Develop content that counts
While keywords remain significant in search engine results, developing content that creates a buzz should be your priority. Understandably, many small businesses find it difficult to devote resources to generating or updating content to keep pace with larger competitors in their industry. But there is a way.
If SMBs poll their existing customers about their interests, and engage one on one with those customers, they can focus on more relevant content (blogs, videos, etc.) that truly connects to their audience. Google, for instance, gravitates to content that is genuinely desired by the audience. Generally, search engines are looking for content that is being shared by users, rightly interpreting that shared content is highly relevant to the audience.
Furthermore, since search engines sift through a large amount of data that connect themes to searchers, you can get specific pieces of your content to rank for queries as your customers are looking for your services.
Measure the performance of your content
Show your competitive side
You’re in a competition to bring attention to your website. Rising up the ranks of search engine results can deliver lucrative rewards—getting there starts with a commitment to SEO, and the understanding that search engine optimization is an essential instrument for raising the profile of your business.