SEO can seem super complicated, right? There are a lot of new SEO terms and technical considerations and if you’re not a web designer, it’s hard to get started with SEO. So let’s dive into some easy steps to get results when it comes to SEO for small business!
I’ll start with a brief answer to the question of “What is SEO?” so that you can understand some key SEO concepts.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and put simply it’s the process of translating parts of your website so that they can speak to search engines more easily. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean learning a new language. It just means learning a bit about how Search Engines think and act so that you can set up your website for the best results.
Search engines use crawlers to “crawl” your website (or scan it), and then use algorithms to “index” your site (or categorize it). Their crawlers read in a specific way, though, and can’t use context clues like we humans can.
When setting up a new SEO strategy, I like to tell my clients that your work in SEO is basically helping tell Google what questions your site answers. And perhaps even more important than that, it’s telling Google what questions your product answers. Because more than traffic, I want you to get sales and conversions that make your small business more money!
These 5 steps will help you capture some low-hanging SEO fruit, and see some movement in your website’s search results. But in order to tell if they’re working – I hope you’ll go ahead and set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics!
Here’s a brief overview on how to do that! Setting up these accounts means that Google will start collecting search and analytic data for your website, so you can see if your SEO strategies are working.
Now onto the strategies…
First step is finding your best SEO keywords. There’s a video below on how to find keywords, but let me first tell you what types of keywords you should look for!
Your main SEO Keywords should be 3-5 keywords max that you are trying to rank for on basically every page of your website. This is usually just a description of your work or your product – for instance “San Diego Wedding Photographer”. It’s a set of keywords for which every single person that searches would be an ideal client for you.
If you’re brand new to SEO and your business isn’t ranking on a lot of keywords yet, then look for something with 150-500 monthly search volume (if you have no idea what this means, watch the video below!).
While searching for those primary keywords, you’ll likely find a few that are good, but not perfect. These can be less related, but still relevant to your work, potentially have higher or lower search volume, and maybe include some more generic or more specific keywords (for instance, “San Diego photographer light and airy” or “Wedding photographer california”). Not every single search on these keywords would be an ideal client, but some may be!
Once you’ve found your focus keywords, it’s time to start optimizing! You’ll want to infuse those keywords anywhere it makes sense within your website, and start building up your website’s context around those keywords.
If your focus keyword is “Wedding Photographer San Diego” then building up context looks like writing articles and creating website pages including text that a San Diego wedding photographer would use. For instance, you can start talking about working at venues in San Diego, share your favorite places to shoot in San Diego, and talk about different weddings you’ve shot in the Southern California area. All of those words will improve your “claim” that you’re a San Diego wedding photographer as far as search engines are concerned.
Now, onto the additional strategies…
This probably sounds technical, but bear with me. If you’re new to SEO, then you likely haven’t included any metadata on your website, and it’s not as tough as you think.
Metadata is technically a set of data that gives information about another set of data. Get it – it’s meta! In the context of SEO, metadata will tell search engines what your website or webpage or element is about. Think of it like the “specs” of your page.
Metadata typically includes titles, meta descriptions (a brief overview of your page), and meta tags. These pieces of data will appear in the source code for your page – not on the page itself.
If you Google something, you’re seeing metadata in the search results. Below, the large blue/purple text is the Page Title. The paragraph below each page title will be the meta description. Tags are generally not seen, but are helpful in making sure Google knows what keywords your page focuses on.
As with many SEO topics, you can separate the metadata that’s included in your entire website from the metadata on each page. Not every platform gives you the same options, but in general you’ll be able to enter metadata for your entire website, and then metadata for each individual page. I’ll show you how to do this for two top website platforms – Squarespace and Showit.
The search results page photo above is a good example of this – if you search something, Google will include a title and meta description. You’ve probably never seen a search result without some type of text below it, right? So if you don’t fill in the meta description and title, then Google will do it for you. Sometimes, that’s not terrible…but generally, it’s going to be better if you can dictate to the search engines what your page is about, instead of letting them make assumptions.
I did show alt tags or image tags in both of the videos above, but it’s important to get these right as search engines have a really hard time with images. For the record, they don’t have as hard of a time with videos, as they can translate the audio to see what the video is all about.
Here are some tips for adding alt tags to your images for SEO:
We’ve mentioned that crawlers have a hard time with images. Thus, you need to have text on every single page in order for search engines to properly read them. Yes, this means even a gallery or portfolio page. You can put the text at the bottom below the gallery if it’s really going to mess up your flow!
The minimum number of words recommended per page is 250. A piece of long-form content, like a blog or landing page, should have 1,500+. The average page in the top 10 of search results had 1,447 words in mid-2020, and studies have shown this average number to be increasing. We typically recommend 2,000 words for a blog post like this one! Just for context – this blog post is about 1,100 words so far (from the beginning to this point).
In those 250 words, you’ll need to use your keywords. Your Main SEO Keywords are good to use really anywhere on your site that they make sense. Your secondary keywords might come in handy though on secondary pages – About Me, Gallery, etc. It’s good to choose a “Main Keyword” for each page, to help you focus.
Another tip is to work your keywords into the URL structure of your pages. For instance, instead of a Services page at “www.designbylaney.com/services” you could do a services page titled “Wedding Invitation Services” and make the URL structure “www.designbylaney.com/denver-wedding-invitations”. It’s going to help my SEO for that page without looking out of place.
Now what should we do with your existing content? That’s going to be Tip number 4!
If you already have a website, but you’re trying to increase the SEO for your small business, how can you do that? There are a lot of ways to optimize the site that you already have, instead of building something new from scratch.
Now that you understand some key SEO concepts, you can employ them in your old content.
If you’d like to dig a little deeper, here is a video about one of my favorite techniques for optimizing existing content to get more searches from it!
You can honestly spend as much time optimizing your old content as you spend creating new content, so it’s up to you how you’d like to proceed. In general, new content (that’s optimized) will always help old content because it’s just adding search results and credibility to your overall web presence. So if you have to choose one – new content will help you stay relevant.
However, I don’t want to downplay the amazing results you can have from updating old content! If you follow the steps in that video, it’s like grabbing the low-hanging fruit. Things that your site is already showing up in search results for, but that you could just beef up a little.
Now that you’re done optimizing old content, are you ready to work on something brand new? Onto Step 5…
Want to create long-form content, but not sure if a blog is right for you? Enter – landing pages.
The great thing about a landing page is that it can be about whatever you want! A landing page is different from a blog post in that there’s no expectation that you have more. So this is a great place to start if you’re not sure you can commit to a blog but you want to create SEO-optimized content.
Generally, a landing page will be long-form content in that it should have about 1,500 words or more. However, good content is more important than that number. Dig deep into your topic, but don’t add words that aren’t useful just to add them.
You really have a lot of flexibility with a landing page, and can design it however you want. There are a few things you should take into account for SEO purposes though.
The main difference between a landing page and any other page is that a landing page is there to grab SEO traffic. To get people to “land” on your site. That’s its main purpose. And then, the objective is to do something else…go to another place on your site, sign up, inquire, purchase, etc.
Whereas an “About” page is important to your overall site, a Landing Page might not be. For instance, I have this landing page that’s optimized for the keyword “Honeybook Coupon Code”. It’s basically just to get people who are searching for a coupon code to use mine – because I get paid when they do.
My site can operate fine without this page, none of my clients need to see this page, it’s just for grabbing some search traffic. Great example of a landing page.
This page isn’t linked in my main site navigation. Your landing page could be, but it doesn’t have to be if that doesn’t make sense. In my case, it doesn’t.
My favorite (and super simple!) starter landing page topics are things your clients ask you a lot. Worst case, you create a page that you can direct clients to to answer those questions. Best case? A lot of other people are asking this question too and will find you this way! For example, I’m an invitation designer, so landing pages could be:
This example page is SEO optimized for my focus keyword, and uses supporting keywords in the headings throughout. Examples: Using Honeybook for your Business, The Best Honeybook Features, 50% off Honeybook, Honeybook vs. Dubsado, etc. There are more supporting keywords just in the context of the content, benefits, features, how I use it, etc.
The meta description is: Exclusive 50% discount for Honeybook Client Management System! Honeybook makes running your business a breeze and puts countless hours back in your day.
All of this helps it capture SEO traffic for people searching that keyword.
This is where it’s up to you! It’s your job to create a compelling landing page that converts. In this particular example, I provide lots of links that help them convert. I include a comparison with multiple platforms, talk about the benefits of Honeybook, and then encourage them to check out other resources to see Honeybook in action. These are all steps that will help them click on the link – which I know, because I’ve researched what questions people are asking about Honeybook.
This is how SEO keyword research really helps in all areas of your business. SEO Keywords are really just questions people are asking. So if you have a good idea of what people are searching for, you know what they want, you understand what they’re confused about or looking for in a provider – and then it’s easier to show how your product is the “answer” they need.
This is a great place to set expectations for the SEO tasks you’re going to be working on moving forward. The truth is, SEO is a long-con. It’s not really a con, of course, but it’s a long-term project for your small business. You likely won’t see results overnight.
It’s the goal of SEO to convince Google that your website answers certain questions – and answers them well. And that takes time. You have to build credibility and show your expertise. This happens through time, shares, links from others, and more and more people enjoying your content. Because Google can tell if someone who clicks on your page likes it or not!
I typically like to see some increase in results from a brand new page in about 3 months. Optimizing old content can actually increase your results faster than that, but it’s not guaranteed. To see major results, you’ll want to compare searches over the last 12 months.
The best tool for measuring SEO results is Google Search Console! This is a free tool provided by Google that will help you see where you’re appearing, what keywords people are searching to land on your site, and how those results are changing over time.
The biggest thing about Search Console though is that it’s just a data collection tool. And it can’t collect data from the past! You have to login and claim your website on Search Console for it to start collecting data. So even if you’re not ready to dive in yet, you should go ahead and get that going ASAP so that once you’re ready to dive in – you have a few months of data to work with. Otherwise, you’ll login and have to wait to see if your efforts are paying off at all!
And lastly, you want to make sure your pages are being indexed by Google. Indexing means that Google is scanning your pages and putting them into categories for search results. If they don’t index your site – it basically doesn’t exist to Google.
Pages are generally automatically indexed over time, but if you want to ensure it’s happening as fast as possible, you can index them in Google Search Console. The video below will show you how!
Hi, I'm Laney!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.