When you think about search engine optimization best practices for your small business, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you think of SEO as only making sure a set of specific keywords are optimized on your website it’s time to update your strategy. It’s true that keywords play a huge role in modern SEO, but today, SEO is about more than simply optimizing a few pages of your site for certain keywords.
In fact, it’s time that small businesses take a deeper look at what search engine optimization means in today’s competitive SEO landscape that demands not only stellar onsite optimization but also a steady stream of fresh content as well as an optimized offsite presence. Here are a few key insights about modern SEO that can help you see what your SEO might be missing.
1. Is Your SEO Focused on Keywords or Topics?
One big evolution in modern SEO is the role that keywords play in today’s search landscape. Search engines have become more intelligent over time, learning more about both the behaviors that consumers use when they search and about the behaviors marketers use to attempt to improve their rankings in search. These insights play in to regular changes to the algorithms that drive what shows up when someone searches for your business online. And, several recent algorithm changes have brought to light an evolved understanding of the role of keywords in SEO.
Keywords still play a huge role in SEO, but the question is, are you thinking about keywords correctly? Because search engines are better at recognizing groups of related keywords and prefer content that’s written naturally (as opposed to content where specific keywords are forced and stuffed unnaturally into content), many experts advise an SEO strategy that focuses on topics, or groups of related keywords and terms, rather than trying to repeat an “exact keyword phrase” a certain number of times on each page.
When writing your content, keep in mind the topic at hand and the keywords people might use to search for your business. Due to changes in search engine algorithms, exact-match keywords don’t play as strong a role. But, you still need to include key phrases related to the core topic. For example, let’s say you have dental website and you focus on the topic of flossing. Your content should be written in a much more natural way than simply repeating the word “flossing” over and over on the same page. Instead, use a natural variance of keyword phrases such as “why should I floss,” “flossing benefits,” and “how important is flossing” in your content to help searchers find your website when they search.
So, if your SEO strategy is still obsessed with exact keyword match, keyword match density, and keyword stuffing, it’s time to update your game and polish up your content. And, speaking of content…
2. Are You Regularly Publishing Fresh, Relevant, Optimized Content from Your Site?
Have you ever heard the phrase “Content is King”? Well, for small business SEO, this statement rings true. In fact, it’s true for any business, large or small, which is why content marketing has become so important in online marketing today. The first component of content marketing that small businesses need is to make sure their SEO strategies include publishing fresh, relevant content from their sites.
That’s because creating fresh, relevant content focused around your main topics and keywords helps your website show up when people search for topics and keywords related to your business. The more you create content that helps people find your site, the more search engines will view it as relevant and authoritative, helping boost your visibility on the search engines.
The most popular way to regularly publish content from your small business website is to have a blog – and post to it regularly! You can use a mix of original, optimized content such as educational posts, infographics, photos, videos, and ebooks, along with sharing summaries and links to relevant content others have shared online (just make sure you’re attributing it properly)!
When writing for your blog, it’s important to think “educational and entertaining” content rather than “sales pitch” content. Make sure your content is also focused on the keyword topics you are optimizing your website for, and ultimately that the content is both helpful and appealing to the consumers you want to target. Not only will this entice more people to engage with your content, but it will be more likely to prompt them to share your content to their own networks.
Using the dental website example noted above, let’s say you decide to publish a dental blog on your website. You might write a blog post titled, “Flossing & Heart Health: What You Should Know.” Notice that the headline isn’t a sales pitch about your dental practice. Rather, it’s a piece of content that your online audience might find useful and in turn share with their own online audience on places like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
And speaking of sharing…
3. Is Your Content Optimized for Social Sharing?
In today’s SEO landscape, it’s also important to make sure that consumers are sharing the fresh content you publish online. Not only does this help your content (and therefore your business and its website) gain more visibility, but it can also serve as a signal to search engines that your website is a popular and authoritative site on the subjects you cover. Plus, social signals like comments, likes, and shares from your website or social media pages can help influence how relevant the search engines think your site is.
And, speaking of being signals you send to search engines…
4. Is Your Offsite Web Presence Optimized?
Another critical piece – especially for local SEO – is to make sure your offsite Web presence is optimized for your small business. This includes sites like local listing and directory sites, as well as you brand’s social media pages. It’s critical to make sure these pages are not only claimed, but also that they are optimized in a way that is accurate and consistent, because this plays a large role in how search engines understand your business. Here are a few components to consider.
CitySearch, Yellow Pages.com, and Yelp are just a few of the several local listing services that share information about your business online. But, if you haven’t claimed and optimized these listings, you can’t guarantee that the information they include is up to date, accurate, or consistent. And this matters a lot to search engines. In fact, they care right down to how you abbreviate, spell, and punctuate your listings. So, make sure your listings are claimed, optimized, and consistent with how you publish your business information online (including on your website and social media pages).
Google+ Local is both a local listing and a social media page that you can use to share content with your followers. Claiming your own Google+ Local business page and populating it with relevant content not only helps local consumers to find you online, it also helps your SEO efforts. Adding keyword-optimized, geo-targeted content like descriptions of your business, customer reviews, and company and product photos gives the search engines the relevant content they’re looking for when ranking your page. To claim your Google+ Local listing, you have to start by creating a Google+ profile page.
Make sure that when you launch your page, the business information is correct and complete with current address(es), phone number(s), hours of operation, and your website’s URL. Optimizing your Google+ profile with this information and your relevant business keywords can increase your chances of getting found in local and map searches.
Facebook is a top social media site with more than a billion active users, and as such, it’s a popular online marketing tool for small businesses. It offers you the chance to grow and cultivate an engaged, passionate community of customers and other fans — an audience that you can leverage to help spread the word about your content. This also drives traffic to your website, along with social signals, both of which search engines factor in. Infographics, photos, and videos are popular content types on Facebook, so make sure you’re creating and sharing content from your blog and business website that appeal to your Facebook audience.
Twitter is also an important site when it comes to optimizing your business Web presence, plus, it’s a great place to encourage social sharing and engagement for your content online. Many businesses struggle to understand how to best leverage Twitter, especially when it comes to SEO. Most experts recommend sharing content related to your core business topics as well as regularly syndicating links to your own uniquely published content as a way to build an active audience and encourage your engaged followers to visit and share your content.
So, What is Your SEO Missing?
Bottom line? It’s important to have an SEO strategy that applies a modern understanding of keywords, includes publishing fresh, optimized content, and leverages an optimized and engaged social media presence.
Are you using a modern keyword strategy when it comes to your website? How often do you create and post new content for your audience? Let us know with a comment!