Seo is complicated. Very complicated. Seo is also technical. Very very (oftentimes more so than necessary) technical. This leaves most small business owners feeling overwhelmed, and ready to accept that quality SEO strategies are just another one of those business components made for the business that “have it more together than them.”
This is the part where I tell you how wrong you are. Quality SEO does NOT have to be out of reach. It doesn’t even have to be something you outsource. You - Yes You! - can and should develop and implement an SEO strategy that funnels interested customers into your business while you’re out there doing the dang thing. And today I’m breaking down the 3 simple ways you can!
But first crash course time!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. What does that mean? Basically, it’s just the process of helping the search engines (ie Google) understand what your website, webpage, blog, or other pieces of internet-based content is about.
Well, kinda. There are also a lot of technical components that are a bit more advanced that can really speed up your SEO efforts but they typically require an expert and are much less user-friendly.
Technical and/or Advanced SEO tactics typically aren't on the shortlist for small business owners new to the field so for simplicity's sake we'll be skipping that for now.
If you are interested in learning more about the technical aspect of SEO you can find a quality online course and or contact an expert for a consult. My favorite go-to expert in the world of COMPLICATED GOBBLY GOOK is Brain F of Websapient. (Dude knows his stuff!)
If you're studying on your own, without an expert in your corner- a word of advice make sure nothing you are reading, watching, or studying is more than 9 months old, and also make sure you have a large Red Bull on hand. You will need the extra brain buzz to digest it all.
SEO Tip #1: Gather Some Keywords
If you’re a small business owner and you’re not necessarily trying to get technical, a great place to start is with a keyword strategy. Keywords function similar to hashtags (for my social butterflies out there) in the sense they are meant to help tell Google what your content is about. And just like hashtags, there can be good and bad strategies for implementing these.
I typically recommend having a basic set of 10 keywords from which to operate. These keywords can be more or less anything but they must meet the following criteria:
They must be researched. By you (or your trusted SEO expert). Recently.
They must relevant to what you do or offer.
They must be terms your potential customer would use when looking for what you offer.
They must not be so broad that you dilute yourself out.
Let’s elaborate a bit on those.
"They must be researched. By you (or your trusted SEO expert). Recently."
You should never just pull a keyword out of thin air. You will need to research them first to make sure they are even keywords with good traffic. Keyword research can be quick. Jump in Google Keyword Planner* and spend 10 minutes doing some basic guess and check research.
*If you don’t have a google ads account you will need to create one first and launch a dummy ad but you can immediately turn the ad off and do NOT need to use the Ads platform in order to use the planner.
The keywords you choose when researching should have relatively high search volumes per month. Google Keyword Planner (and/or any other planner platform on the market) will tell you how many times per month/day/week the words you’re researching are typed into search.
"They must relevant to what you do or offer."
Literally, any word can be a keyword. Try to keep the search relevant. The keywords you choose should be directly related to what your business does. (ie. marketing consultant, freelance artist, content creator, video editing, etc)
"They must be terms your potential customer would use when looking for what you offer. "
Shy away from super industry-specific terms that may not be known by the masses. You are trying to funnel organic search traffic to your website, which means you need to be using search phrases that your potential customer might be using when they search. If your industry is super niche, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself what you might search for then start there.
There is an obvious exception to this rule. If your ideal customer is a person who already knows your industry well - like perhaps you’re trying to sell technical SEO. You would not want to shy away from complex words because you are looking to attract those who are already familiar enough with your industry to want your services in the first place. Again WHO you are trying to reach will matter most here.
"They must not be so broad that you dilute yourself out. "
That being said you do not want to be too broad. If I were to use the term “SEO” in my previous example that would be a case where you would be diluting yourself.
People searching for “SEO” might be looking for a definition, some basic information, or something else entirely. There is nothing in that word specific enough to indicate they would be interested in booking your services.
Generating web traffic is great but remember the goal isn’t just to generate as much traffic as possible - it is to generate as much INTERESTED and MOTIVATED traffic as possible. There is a big difference between the two.
Once you have your core set of keywords done you can work on implementing them. Queue the next tip, Johnny!
SEO Tip #2: Get Meta with It!
Meta descriptions are magic. Meta descriptions are tiny, like barely bigger than the original Twitter limit tiny (160 characters MAX), little HTML tags that allow you to tell your audience, and more importantly, the search engines *cough cough* Google *cough cough* what your page is about.
And if that isn’t enough to get you excited about meta descriptions - maybe vanity is? Your meta descriptions are also the little preview text that generates below your site’s name in the search results.
A quality, well-written meta description will allow both your potential customers and the internet at large to quickly and accurately assess your content. This means more well-intentioned website viewers and hopefully more business for your business.
But what is a well-written meta description? Don’t overthink it. It’s just a quick snippet of what your page is about using at least one or two keywords. Here is ours.
You can see we tell the world we specialize in “digital marketing”, “content marketing” and “business management”. Also, we allude to our weirdness - never shying away from scaring off the bad fits (but that’s another strategy altogether- a blog for another time if you will).
Is it perfect? Nope! But something is closer to perfect than nothing, so I will take it!
SEO Tip #3: Blog your way to SEO Success
Ever wonder why there are so many blogs out there? Can that many people just be unable to restrain themselves from sharing their every thought with the entire world on a semi-real-time basis? Well kinda - try and find a recipe for lemon bars and you’ll see what I mean. But also no. Blogs are SEO content 9 times out of 10. This blog is part of that 9.
Blogs are great ways to get some SEO traction because blogs are essentially just extra web pages. Each blog can have its own keyword focus and can easily use that same keyword in the meta description, and throughout the blog enough to leave no confusion for Google, I mean the search engines.
This blog is trying to rank for SEO. Which is why I keep saying SEO. See? Seo, SEO, SEO. If you’re expanding services or trying to sell more of a certain product try blogging about it. It helps for SEO but also if it's written right could help explain or elaborate on said product or service - pushing you even closer to the elusive CLOSE.
And that’s barely scratching the surface!
Pun always intended.
The world of SEO is big and scary and intimidating; which I know means the same things as scary but both words seem appropriate in this context. The Clever Catalyst specializes in practical, small business, bite-sized SEO. This means we will get your bases covered - if they aren’t already. And if we’re building the baseball diamond from scratch we build said metaphoric diamond with the bases in mind.
Is there more to SEO than what we offer? Hell yes. There is more to SEO than we can even comprehend.
But if you’re a small business and you’re not ready to invest in the SEO strategy that requires a certification to understand and a second mortgage to afford - maybe give us a shout.
We will get you operational and when the time is right - ie we’ve helped you grow your business to a point where you can afford a more comprehensive SEO strategy - we’ve got some smarty-pants friends we can refer you to.