85% of consumers search for local businesses on the internet.
That fact, more than anything else I’ll say in this article, explains the importance of SEO.
As I said last week, there are a variety of internet marketing strategies that can help your business get found online. But one of the most important is organic search: instead of reaching out to people who may or may not want your service, it allows you to be present at the exact moment your potential customer is looking for a business just like yours.
There are two components to any successful SEO strategy: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. To begin, let’s look at On-Page SEO.
On-Page SEO is everything you do on your website to make it seen by search engines.
A lot of this is the more technical side of SEO. So you’ll want to make sure your site runs quickly enough. Check your site speed on Pingdom. If it takes more than three seconds to load, you’re in trouble, since 40% of people leave websites after the first three seconds of load time.
To speed up your site, you might want to reduce the number of images on your site. You can check out this article for a more in-depth dive into site speed.
Once you’ve tackled the more technical stuff, it’s time to make sure all your pages follow basic on-page optimization rules. This means coming up with keywords for all your most important pages.
To start, you’ll want to think of they keywords that your customers will type in while trying to find you. For a plastic surgeon, this might be “Boca Raton Facelift,” “Boca Raton Plastic Surgery,” etc. Plug variations of these terms into Google Trends to see which ones people search for the most (“Boca Raton Facelift” or “Facelift Boca Raton”, for instance). Then head over to SEMRush to get an estimate of how many searchers you’ll be targeting.
Once you have your list of keywords — in a perfect world, you’ll have a keyword for most of your pages, but if you don’t hire an SEO you can probably get away with optimizing your highest-traffic pages — you’ll want to assign each keyword to a page.
Make sure each keyword has one associated page. Otherwise two of your own pages will be competing for the same keyword, which is counter-productive.
You’ll want to make sure the title of your page features the keyword as soon as possible. Then, you’ll want to use the keyword several times in the page itself. This should come naturally, since the keyword you’ve chosen for the page should also be the chief topic of that page.
Pay special attention to the bold headings that demarcate subsections of the page. Keywords in these headings, known as H2 Headings, have more weight for search engines.
Each page you write should have a decent amount of content, because this will help search engines determine if your page is authoritative on the keyword it’s targeting. For competitive keywords, it’s recommended to write 2,000+ words, but for less competitive keywords you can get away with a little less.
Don’t just add random fluff to a page. You want to have a lot of text on your pages in order to write authoritatively on the subject. If you feel the subject of the page deserves less words than that, go with your gut.
This is just a quick summation of On-Page SEO, but if you follow these rules, you should be ahead of your competitors who know nothing about SEO.
Off-Page SEO, also known as Link Building, is the art of getting other people to link to your website.
It’s significantly harder than On-Page SEO, because with Off-Page SEO you have less control.
You can’t just choose keywords and implement them on your site. You have to figure out ways of convincing other people to link to your site.
How do you do this? There are some great articles out there that list a variety of methods.
You can create infographics, submit them to infographic websites, and get links that way.
You can guest post on blogs.
You can reach out to journalists and get them to write about your business.
These are all valid tactics, but the best tactic I’ve found is somewhat simpler. Create a good piece of content, something people in your industry will want to share. Then, market that content any way you know how: email people in your industry, post it on social media sites, talk about it in your newsletter.
Let everyone know that you’ve created a link worthy piece of content.
If you do this at least once a month — making sure your content really is good — you’ll eventually get people talking. That means links to your site.
These links have the most value, because it’s what Google recommends you do. They don’t like Link Building tactics that look unnatural, which is why I don’t recommend things like putting links to your site in the comments of a hundred blog articles
Instead, they want to see that people are linking to your site because your site offers them value.
Hiring an SEO
Of course, this article just skims the surface of SEO. It should help you rank above people who don’t know anything about SEO, but a lot of businesses at this point have invested significantly in their SEO efforts.
In this column, we’ll attempt to dive deep into the various components of SEO, allowing you to more fully compete with other businesses. At a certain point you’ll probably be interested in hiring an SEO, but if you’re trying to do it yourself, this column should help you get a clearer understanding of what SEO entails.