Why you should care about SEO!
A Beginner’s Guide on Search Engine Optimization for Start-ups and Entrepreneurs
My number one marketing tip this year for start-ups and entrepreneurs? Take care of your SEO! Even if you have no idea what that means…
It’s only getting harder and more expensive to get traction via social media and advertising, so if you want to grow effectively, you also need to focus on growing organically.
That’s where SEO comes in.
SEO is a big, complex, ever-evolving field. For today, we’ll focus on a few basics that your business definitely needs to get right to even stand a chance to be found online.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is what search engines like Google use to help people find your website when they’re searching for products or services like yours. The better your SEO, the more likely people will find your business when searching for your brand name, or for terms that are relevant to your business.
Still with me? Good! Now follow these 4 steps:
#1 Set Your Website Up For Success
When hiring someone to build your website, you need to make sure, they’ll have your basic SEO needs covered.
First, ask your web designer/developer if they’re going to do your SEO as part of building your site. Many, if not most, don’t! Then ask about what that means in practice. Here are some things you should look out for as part of your basic strategy:
Content development or review and update of your content to include keywords
Clear and relevant page titles and meta descriptions for each page
Accurate descriptions or alt-text for all images
Contact info, including your business location (map plugins are great for this!)
Indexing your site via Google Search Console
Set up Google My Business
If SEO isn’t fully covered by your website provider or if you’re building your website on your own, you may want to hire someone to do your SEO for you or invest some time to learn SEO properly. If you skip this step, your site will not be found and you might as well not have one at all.
#2 Choose the Right Keywords
Besides making sure that you can be found online, one of the primary goals of SEO is to make sure you “rank” for relevant keywords. To put it in another way, you want to aim to be on the first page of Google search results when people search for things that are relevant to your site.
Keywords can be divided into three broad categories:
Brand Terms: your company name, product names, and if you’re a public figure, your own name.
Niche or Long Tail Terms: specific descriptors of your offering, including location, theme, special features and unique selling points
Broad Terms: The big, overall categories you fall into
The more competition there is on any given keyword, the harder it will be to rank highly. So it’s always wise to target keywords that you have a chance to rank for over the competition — like your niche keywords. For example, instead of trying to rank for “cafés in Singapore” you might narrow it down to “organic coffee shops in Singapore” or “cafés near Marina Bay.”
To come up with your keywords, you can use several paid tools like SEMrush, MOZ or Optimizely, but you can also just get started on your own with a little creativity and common sense. Take out a piece of paper and brainstorm all of the possible things people might be looking for on your site. Use Google Trends to see how often each keyword is being searched for on a monthly basis. From there, narrow it down to about 10 to 15 terms and make sure they’re implemented on your site.
If your basic SEO is done properly, you should at least be able to rank for your brand terms — unless you have a common company name. Note: After your site goes live or implementing your SEO, it usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to start ranking.
#3 Start Blogging
Do you need to blog for SEO? The short answer is yes.
One of the best ways to improve your SEO is to provide genuinely helpful resources to the people who land on your site. Blogging creates opportunities to educate people and build authority around topics relevant to your business.
Not sure how to come up with your topics? An easy way to start is to look at your keywords and come up with a list of related questions people might ask. Just be sure to always keep the end user in mind when writing blogs “for SEO.” Always write for people, not robots.
#4 Do a Quarterly Check In
Investing the time to set up your SEO fundamentals in the beginning is critical, but if you never do anything beyond that you won’t get results in the long run, because other players are constantly working on their SEO and new sites are being published all the time.
Fear not, you don’t have to devote hours to SEO every week. Even just one quarterly refresh can make a difference. Set a calendar reminder to check in on a regular basis. Here’s what to include:
Read through all the copy on your website and make sure everything is still accurate and relevant. Add/update at least some content to keep things fresh. For example you could add a testimonial, a case study, new imagery or a press quote.
Go into incognito or private browsing mode and type your target keywords into a search engine. See if you’re ranking and check out the sites above and below you. Consider changing your keywords if they’re no longer ideal, or look for new opportunities to incorporate them throughout your site.
Check your Google Analytics and see how your traffic is doing. If your organic traffic isn’t increasing over time, you may need to update your approach.
If you want to go deeper, consider using a paid tool like Alexa to give you clear directions on how to improve your SEO.
If you haven’t already, start a blog and update this on a regular basis.
One last note: SEO isn’t a replacement for all your other marketing tactics. A healthy, diversified and comprehensive marketing strategy, including social, PR or paid search etc., can give your rankings a real boost and will ensure that your target audience knows about your business and why they should choose you over the competition.
If you have questions about how to create a smart marketing strategy, complete with SEO, I’d love to chat! Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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