The question that we get asked most often by small business owners is “Why is SEO necessary?”. My answer is generally a mixed response of “How successful do you really want to be? So, in response to all the small business owners out there that do not have a full website development team with SEO Professionals on staff, this is my SEO Survival Guide To Success. Now, that being said, there are many other aspects to search engine optimization that are not listed below in my top ten. I am focusing this survival guide on the ten most important aspects to getting your SEO under control and to be moderately successful with it. Notice that I said moderately.
The reason that I say this is because there are always exceptions to the rule in SEO and optimizing your website. Your overall success online is going to vary greatly based on your business model, market niche, business location, customer acquisition, customer service and retention, and of course your website development, SEO, digital marketing, and a myriad of other factors. This survival guide is intended on putting you on the right track towards developing your website properly and putting you on the path to move towards a successful digital advertising campaign. This is based on the concept that I can help you get 98% of the way there, and the rest is a dogfight. So let’s get you to the 98%…
1. Quality Content:
Content is always above all. If you create quality content that people want to see, and content built around products people want to buy, you really can be successful online. One of the biggest challenges that I see with clients I work with is that their websites have been designed around either very little content, or no content at all. If you are selling a product or service, you should always have something to say about it. If you have issues coming up with what to say about your product or service, hire a content writer to assist you. It will make the world of difference in how Google sees and indexes your website. Just so we understand this fully, writing 20 to 30 words on your product or service is not sufficient. You need paragraphs of content surrounded by pages of additional content to support the other content. You want the world to see that you are passionate about what you do or sell.
2. User Experience (UX):
User experience is something that has to be at the forefront of your mind as you design each and every page on the website. If you have a product that sells better than others, highlight it on the front page, making it easily accessible for your visitor. Don’t crowd your pages with content that people really do not need nor want to see. Streamline things, making the content clean and easy to get to. This cannot be overstated. How many times have you gone to a website and after ten minutes you still cannot find what you are looking for? It’s frustrating, and causes visitors to leave the website, creating the high bounce rate you are having trouble figuring out why it is happening.
Backlinks are truly the foundation of SEO. It really is a simple concept. The more people that link to your website, the more Google and other search engines see that your website is relevant. The more that you get, the higher you rank in the search engines. The only real trick to this is that you need to get backlinks from websites that matter. Getting them from high traffic, high domain ranking websites is key to success here. I will go into what I call “down and dirty backlinking” in another article.
4. Technical Optimization:
Some call this technical SEO, but it really is simply optimizing your website so that it is technically sound, fast, mobile friendly, and easy to crawl. If your website takes more than a few seconds to load nowadays, you need to find another Internet hosting company or start working on all of the extra scripts and code on your website that is causing it to be slow. It will kill your business if your website visitors cannot get onto it fast enough. Most people have the attention span of a goldfish, so don’t expect them to wait more than 5-6 seconds for your website homepage to load. There are plenty of tools out there that will help you test your site speed. Google “free site speed test”. I believe that Pingdom is still one of the easiest to use.
5. Keyword Optimization:
As you design your content always keep in mind that you need it optimized for relevant keywords throughout your content. Whatever your business sells, you need to make sure that your keywords are used throughout the individual web pages, and used often. Make sure that the keywords that you use for any given product are relevant to that product as well. Proper keyword usage helps reduce bounce rate, and ultimately pages with high bounce rate slowly lose their rankings because Google sees this as people finding the wrong pages for any given keyword. So focus your efforts on writing content filled with keywords that relate specifically to the product or service you are offering on that page.
6. Schema Markup:
Google focuses a large amount of their search rankings on websites that make it easy for the search engine to index. Schema is simply structured data that helps search engines better understand your content. If you have not implemented this on your website, you need to look into it and start implementing it today. If you are using a basic CMS like WordPress, there are plugins available to help you with this process. For Shopify, there are a bunch of different apps to help as well.
7. Social Signals:
If you own a website in today’s social media based world, you need to encourage your visitors to interact and engage with you and your company on social media. This is probably the easiest way to get your brand name and products out into the public eye with minimal effort. People love to talk about products that they like. Think about it. Someone tells you that you have a nice shirt on and after 10 minutes, you are still talking about where you got the shirt, how it feels, the quality of the product and so on. People sell for you if you encourage the behavior and help it along.
8. Brand Signals:
This is another area that you need to constantly be working on. Get your brand out there. Get it everywhere you can. Make sure you build a strong reputation with your community, other websites, Yelp, the BBB, Local.com, Google My Business, and everywhere else you can. The more that your business is seen visually online, the better your SEO gets.
9. Submit Your Sitemap To Google:
This one almost goes without saying nowadays. If you want your website to be properly indexed by Google and you want the ability to manage and monitor your indexed pages, you need to open a Google Search Console account and properly configure it. This also means that you need to submit a sitemap of all of the pages on your website. Depending on your website, this may be something you already on your website and it should be fairly straight-forward to submit. Google will then index your website and keep you up to date with information on your pages, whether they have been indexed or not, and so on. This is a must.
10. Google My Business:
Previously called Google Business, this is your lifeline to your customers when a customer does a direct search for your business name. It is the profile on the righthand side of the page that lists your business name, address, phone, hours of operation, and other aspects of your business. Nowadays you can also highlight products on the profile along with add a bunch of pictures of your products, business, etc. It really gives you the greatest opportunity to communicate with your customers outside of them visiting your website. If you haven’t already taken control of your business profile on Google My Business, you really need to.
If you follow these basic guidelines from my survival guide, you will find that your SEO overall will have significant improvement. Will this help you beat the competition? Maybe. If you competition is Home Depot, maybe not. But if you are competing in a niche or segment that includes local businesses, outperforming the competition’s SEO will give you a substantial advantage. Always remember though, the last 2% is a dog fight. If you want to discuss your individual business situation, reach out to me.
About The Author
Mark Temte is our Director of Ecommerce & Digital Marketing. He originally started working with an affiliate company HVC Enterprises from 1996-2004, and rejoined our staff here at Ecom Internet Technologies in 2020. He has more than 25 years of experience in search engine optimization, web development, and digital marketing, working for various companies throughout the world. He has also worked as a contributing editor for Website Magazine in the early 2000’s. He is now our contributing editor and author of most articles here on our blog.