For many small business leaders, SEO can feel like the black box of digital marketing that requires specialized training and knowledge to leverage effectively. While it may seem like unfamiliar territory, the truth is that if you’ve run a small business for any length of time, you’ve already honed the skills you need to develop a successful small business SEO strategy.
By applying the same approach that built your business to how you build your website, you can optimize your content for search engine rankings and appeal to a whole new audience that wants to engage with your product. It just takes dedication and perseverance – since you’re running a business, you’ve already proven you have plenty of both!
Playing A Long-Term Game
With both SEO and running a company, patience is the name of the game. No one expects their small business to be a breakout hit in their first week, first month, or even first year. Instead, you pursue incremental growth over time by being consistent and reliable in delivering your product or service. SEO works the same way. A single blog post isn’t going to make your website shoot to the top of Google’s rankings on its own, no matter how optimized or well-written it is. Create enough of those blogs and post them consistently over 6-12 months, though, and you’ll watch your rankings steadily improve.
You can think of SEO results like your customers. A small, loyal group finds your business and falls in love with it. They come back the next week with a few friends, and then those friends go tell more friends, then they tell even more friends, and the cycle continues. After a while, you’ve attracted a sizable crowd who all want the same product you’ve consistently provided month after month, year after year.
In SEO, your product is content, and by providing a steady stream of high-quality work, you can attract new “customers” (in this case, search engine rankings) over time.
Strategy is Key
The first step in starting a business is drafting a business plan. That plan becomes foundational to decision-making as the business grows and develops. It may go through some changes and revisions along the way, but it will always be the guiding force that defines who your business is and how you pursue your goals.
A successful SEO strategy requires that same commitment to developing and following a plan of action. Instead of deciding on a menu or service list, you’re researching relevant keywords and deciding which ones add the most value to your customers. Instead of determining your hours of operation, you’re creating a posting schedule to ensure a consistent flow of content. You didn’t start your business without first creating a strategy to guide your actions, so why would you launch into SEO without doing the same?
Establishing yourself as an authority in your niche helps your customers view you as a trustworthy business. Repeat customers keep coming back to you because they believe you’re knowledgeable about your industry and reliable in providing excellent service. It would hurt your business if your customers learned you were paying for positive reviews or were only pretending to know how your product works. Trust is the bedrock of positive relationships with your customer base.
Search engines also need to trust that you’re getting their attention honestly. Buying backlinks, duplicating pages to increase keyword density, or creating low-effort content to spam keywords all hurt your website’s credibility and will undoubtedly lower your rankings. Again, think of search engines as your customers and content as your product. You earn your customer’s business by providing a high-quality product worthy of their trust.
Dos and Don’ts of SEO
So how can you use these SEO principles in specific ways to improve your rankings and gain a wider audience? Here are a few guidelines to set you on the right path to creating an organic website optimization strategy.
DO: Conduct keyword research to identify relevant and valuable keywords for your website. This is the planning phase of your SEO strategy. Researching relevant keywords will help give your content focus and create a roadmap for content creation.
DON’T: Don’t engage in keyword stuffing or spam tactics. This will lower your search engine ranking, not improve it. Once you have your relevant keywords, focus on weaving them into content organically and use consistency, not spam, to raise your ranking.
DO: Create high-quality, unique content that is both keyword optimized and valuable to your audience. User engagement is far more important than hitting a certain keyword density. Get a search engine’s attention by creating content your customers want to see.
DON’T: Don’t focus solely on search engine rankings at the expense of the user experience. The user determines the success of your website, and neglecting user optimization for the sake of keyword optimization will negatively impact your rankings.
DO: Optimize your website’s metadata, including title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags. This helps search engines understand who your content is for and puts it in front of an audience that’s more likely to engage meaningfully with your site.
DON’T: Don’t neglect your website’s technical SEO, like page speed, mobile-friendliness, and “crawlability.” This hurts the user experience and signals to search engines that it’s not a site worth sending people to.
DO: Use internal linking to connect your site’s pages. This improves a search engine’s ability to crawl your site, making it easier for users to navigate, meaning they’re more likely to spend time there. Earning a user’s time and clicks will improve search engine placement.
DON’T: Don’t duplicate content on your website or plagiarize content from other sites. This hurts your credibility with both your customers and search engines. It will negatively affect user engagement and penalize your search engine ranking.
DO: Build high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. This establishes your website as an authority in your niche in the eyes of a search engine and makes them far more likely to send users to your site.
DON’T: Don’t buy backlinks or participate in link schemes. This is like the black market of SEO, and search engines will impose harsh penalties that can severely damage your site’s reputation. It’s a very quick way to lose trust in a way that’s difficult to recover from.
You already know what it takes to build a successful SEO strategy – you do it every day when running your small business! Reach out to us at GreenCup Digital, and we’ll help you leverage your current skills in the digital sphere, where you can establish yourself as an authoritative and trustworthy industry leader to a whole new set of customers: search engines.