4 Steps To Powering SEO For Your Business

Powering SEO for your businessThe words “search engine optimization,”or SEO, can often be the bane of existence for many a marketing, creative or public relations professional.  These competent folks can – and do – regularly develop marketing strategies, create content, develop branding and messaging and handle social media for brands large and small. Yet when it comes to search engines and their importance in the marketing equation, many struggle to understand why it’s a critical component of success for their clients.

I had a client once who scoffed at my suggestion of having their web content written by an SEO copywriter and was insistent upon writing it himself. I ran into the writer a week or so later – a seasoned, accomplished writer and asked how it was going. He said, “What’s all the hoopla about this SEO business, anyway? A writer friend of mine told me that it’s not such a big deal. He said all I need to do is put a bunch of those keywords in there and the copy will be fine. I’m not going to have any trouble with this.” I smiled and nodded.

That former client’s web traffic – right next door to nonexistent. Yessireeeebob, it sure doesn’t matter. Not one bit. And, for the record, it wasn’t the fact that they wanted to write it themselves that was such a big deal – I can understand pinching pennies. What bugged me was the arrogance – and the ignorance – of the writer. And it’s often that kind of attitude that sinks a business – or at the very least, handicaps it from an online marketing performance standpoint. SEO isn’t only about keywords; it’s about keyword strategy and also about an overall SEO strategy. It’s about understanding the competitive landscape, where your opportunities lie, and what you can do to take advantage of them.

Wonder How the Web Really Works?

If you’re curious as to how a web search actually works, let’s go straight to the source. This is Google’s Matt Cutts, explaining all you need to know about web indexing and spiders. Now, let’s talk about SEO and how to use it to power your business and drive more web traffic.

First Do Your Homework: Keyword Research

SEO isn’t only about keywords, but keywords are certainly a factor when it comes to thinking in terms of what consumers are searching. Wondering where to start? It’s easy. Keyword research. First, pick out primary keywords and what you think consumers might be using for when they’re looking for the product you sell or the services you provide. Do a few test drives with your local searches to see what it pulled up to find popular topics, and develop a hierarchy of keywords (spreadsheets, anyone?) And, without getting too nerdy, understand that there are different kinds of keywords. Competitive keywords are differentthan mid-tail keywords. The hierarchy approach will play into page rank, as well as how often a brand comes up with different searches in its specific sector. Sounds complicated but it’s not. And once you dive into a little keyword research, and start seeing the words people use to search for what they seek, you’ll probably geek out a little. We do – on a daily basis.

Plant Your Flag: Claim Your Business on Google, Yelp and Bing

Local search is incredibly important these days. My friend John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing and author of The Referral Engine has written a fantastic white paper on how to use local search to drive business – and once you’re ready to focus on this, you should definitely check it out. Local search is really important, because Google (and other search engines) want to serve up searchers the most relevant results – and relevant results are often location-based. Google, Yahoo! and Bing have made it easy for businesses to provide detailed information, including addresses of locations, descriptions, images and even videos, so that their locations will show up when a user enters in a matching search phrase. Smart businesses create pages that share information specific to terms consumers might search for. For instance, “Italian Food, Northwest Houston” allows a search engine to match the searcher’s request by category and location. Google Local will also show information around hours of operation, services offered, user ratings and location. Make sense? I’m thinking you’re nodding about now. If so, scoot over and claim your business listing on Google Places.Then do the same thing with Bing and Yahoo.

Don’t Be a Tease: Provide Full Contact Information on Websites—And Be Specific

One of the key factors search engines look for in results returned is the website header and content on page. The header is important because it should always include the address of the company, and the header should be included on every page. Why? Search engines can easily pull results through address, and more specifically, zip code. This will help send customers in your vicinity to a specific location, especially if they search for terms that are heavily present in the content.

Content Creation

The second most difficult SEO tactic behind link building is content creation. Content creation requires knowledge of not only the consumer, but of the industry. Why are people buying a specific product? What drives their brand loyalty? Do they only buy products that have X instead of Y? Marketers often lean on surveys (or their own opinions), which don’t always generate the best results. And sometimes small business owners don’t do any research. They often don’t know what their customers are interested based on keyword research, they guess. Instead of either of these approaches, why not do your homework, and also empower your sales force, employees and even brand ambassadors to do some listening. Have them observe, monitor, ask questions of and interact with your target demographic. It’s amazing what you can find out when you listen and ask questions. This is where social media can play a big role. From an analysis standpoint, consumers love to talk and share huge amounts of information on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It’s relatively easy to create search lists around specific topics and keywords, join the conversation and see what topics are most popular and heavily discussed? By doing this, you can create a list of 30-35 topics that can be covered in the earned, owned and paid spaces, ensuring that you’re creating an adequate supply of content and coverage across a variety of platforms, extending your online reach and enlarging your prospective customer base.

So, do tell. How do you use SEO to power your business? And if you’re not yet using the strategies outlined above, do you think you might start? These things take a little bit of time, but the payoff can be huge. Our recommendation – get going! If you don’t, your competitors will. Or already are.

  • Heather Ostrom

    Great post Shelly – thank you. The first thing when I started making my commitment to social media and online presence was claiming our listing, posting our biz listing and grabbing every name I could in relation to us. My biggest pet-peeve is people hiding their contact info with the theory that it will force us to provide – it’s not clever, it’s annoying! I know that’s an SEO tangent, but your comment hits a chord. :-) Keep up the great info-share work to improve our online world SK. 

  • Anonymous

    Great job, Heather! And I’ve always held you and Mr. O out as people who get it, and people who are doing a good job (especially to my clients in the real estate field).

    Thanks for coming by, m’dear!

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    lol at “I smiled and nodded.”  Well played. Not surprisingly.

  • http://twitter.com/AnnTran_ Ann Tran

    Hi Shelly,

    Between your post and with the help from our friend @SteveAkinsSEO , I will be on my way.  I book marked this for me to reference and update my site.

    Thank YOU!

  • http://www.annehaynes.com AnneHaynes

    Shelly, I’ve been doing SEO for several years now and keyword research is never easy. Keyword research is the most important task in an SEO campaign and knowing how to use the words properly is a science in my opinion. 

  • Anonymous

    Hi Anne,

    It is a science – as is all of SEO. But my larger point is that in most instances businesses – large and small – rarely bother to try and find out the terms people are searching for. And I think that by devoting just a little time to doing some keyword research, even the biggest skeptics can see that this stuff matters. And even if they only do a little bit of research and educate themselves, they’ll be exponentially better off.

    If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge advocate of working with SEO peeps who know their stuff (and you’re one of my favorites) … so don’t interpret this as a post that says businesses don’t need SEO experts and can do it all themselves. They should understand how important it is – or at least try – and they should work with people who can help them accomplish their goals. And they should understand that if they don’t do it, their competitors will.

    BUT, understanding SEO and its importance is, to my way of thinking, a first step. And maybe even experimenting on your own. And if all that leads to people working with us or working with you to power their online marketing efforts …. that’s a win – for everyone involved!

    Thanks for coming by – it’s always a pleasure to see you!

  • Anonymous

    Good!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks honeybunch. That made me laugh!

  • http://www.annehaynes.com AnneHaynes

    Good to know Shelly. And understand I had to make the comment because everyone needs to know it’s not easy and proper keyword research will make or break you if you don’t know how to analyze the numbers.

    I enjoy your work!
    Happy Holidays

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  • http://cuttingedgeprojects.co.uk/seo/ seo agency leeds

    Yeah thats really great setps, these steps have great effect in the field of seo.

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