New businesses can find the idea of SEO intimidating and often confusing. You can find a lot of information about SEO, implementation strategies, latest industry trends and so forth. But it’s difficult to figure out the basics of why SEO is beneficial for your online business.
Most SEO firms leverage local SEO for service based businesses. These strategies will get you the maximum mileage as they are customized for people searching for services locally. Once you’ve taken care of basics there are more ways of getting traffic to your website using social media marketing, display advertising and other channels.
What does SEO Mean?
It’s the first step in your digital marketing strategy. SEO is an optimization strategy that helps your business outrank the completion on search engines. As most of your customers are online and are looking for your services on search engines, you shouldn’t be taking SEO for your online presence lightly.
Is SEO required and relevant today?
When your customers are looking for you online, the first point of your interaction with them would be your website. To stay relevant and keep up with technology and keep pace with consumer adoption of this technology, you’ll need to keep your website up to date.
Search engines are evolving at breakneck speeds. They are constantly updating their algorithms to serve people with the most relevant information. The days of yellow pages and calling businesses to figure out if they are a right fit are long gone.
What it boils down to, is for your service to be relevant to the customer’s search terms and showing up on Google’s search pages.
Who needs SEO?
Any business that has an online presence be it a website, a social media page or social handle needs SEO. All of your online assets need to be found by search engines and that’s where SEO plays a major role.
What should you keep in mind so that your bases are covered with respect to SEO?
As your website is the first point of contact for you online customers, keep the following things in mind:
- A responsive website is a must. What that means is your website is resized and served according to the device where the customer is browsing from. This makes your website look good no matter if the customer is on their laptop or handheld mobile device.
- Think of your favorite website and imagine how easy it is to browse around and find information on it. Similarly, your customers should also find it easy to navigate around your website. You should put a lot of thought into this and work on improving things based on feedback.
- Once your customers are on your site, what would you like them to do? Read an article, comment, order your service, book an appointment, request a quote… direct them to it. Don’t leave any doubt in the mind of the customer about taking action.
- Make it easy for them to reach you, in case they need to talk to you or ask for some information. You should be easily accessible.
If you’re not comfortable with the technicalities of web design or don’t have anyone to look after your website, a CMS is an easy way to manage things yourself. There’s a lot of help available online and you can hire people on a need basis when you’re stuck or can’t figure something out by yourself.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of your customer and design the experience you want them to have on your website.
After the basics of website experience and design are covered, the next thing to focus on is “on-page” SEO elements:
Search engines use these indicators to determine authority, authenticity and relevance. Many of these elements when efficiently used will help your search rankings immensely.
Meta description is a snippet of what your website or specific page is about. It helps the user decide whether they want to click and pursue it further.
Title tag is a clickable headline that is displayed on the search engine ranking pages.
Every image should have a description that described the image, in the alt text box so that it’s easy for the search engine to identify and index it.
After you’ve taken care of on-page SEO, the next part is local SEO. A good local SEO strategy will help customers you are serving, find you easily. Here are a few online listing services you should register your business on:
- Google My Business: Create a listing if you haven’t already. If you have one make sure the contact information is up to date.
- Other listing sites: Yelp, Kudzu, Yellow Pages, Citysearch. These directory listing services get a lot of local search traffic. If your listing is optimized for the service you’re offering, you could gain a lot of qualified leads fromt these services.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts for small businesses in terms of SEO?
- Create a long-term budget for SEO and digital marketing. Depending on what kind of services you’re offering, you should have a minimum budget of $25k.
- Join hands with a marketing firm that understands the value you are providing. And if you’re having trouble finding that hire someone to work on digital marketing exclusively for you.
- Before you start implementing SEO strategies, an SEO audit is very essential… it can bring to light the areas that need attention immediately.
- Avoid cheap or budget service providers. Though it’s easier on your pocket, dealing with customer service, downtime and other technical issues will drain you out and keep you away from your core business.
- Be skeptical of smooth talking agencies who promise the moon. It’s not that it can’t be delivered, but remember SEO is time consuming… so it’s a good idea to be realistic. Go with someone who will explain how they plan to go about helping your SEO.
Special Tips for Service professionals for growing their business:
Reviews are a great way to establish your online credibility and also improve SEO for service professionals.
The greater the number of reviews, the more authentic your business appears. It also means people are consistently using your services as they are reviewing your services online.
And if the reviews from customers are consistent and don’t vary extremely, it removes any doubts in the minds of the prospective customers.
It’s natural for people to dig deeper when they plan on working with your business. And online reviews can help create the confidence in your service in the minds of prospective customers.
A long term SEO strategy will help your business reach a wide range of customers and also increase your revenues. Once the basics of SEO are implemented you can then start looking at email marketing, social media and other channels of digital marketing to help grow your business exponentially.