Most any business these days needs an online presence of some sort, and unless you are a truly local trader you will probably end up relying on a website for at least some part of your revenue. In fact, even the local plumber would probably get more inquiries if he had a website to show off his expertise…
But as a business owner you don’t always have the time to spend on SEO, after all you have a business to run right? What follows is a simple guide to planning your online marketing campaign without all the mis-information and complicated bits.
This guide is based on the 80/20 principal. It will show you how to handle the most important bits that will get you the majority of the results. Search engine optimisation can get complicated, so try not to get bogged down in details, just keep it simple and move on.
Step 1: Keywords
If you sell blue widgets, then you want people who search Google for “blue widgets” to find your site. Simple enough right? You might also want to target people who search for things like “bulk blue widgets” or “blue widgets online”.
Keyword research is simply the process of deciding what keywords you think your potential customers are going to be searching for. All you need to do to start with is plug in a few ideas to Google’s keyword tool (find it here), check out the ‘local search volume’ and pick some moderately popular keywords.
The principal is simple enough; you want to target specific and relevant keywords. So instead of targeting “blue widgets” you might decide to target “mail order blue widgets”. What you shouldn’t do is target “red widgets”, because that’s not going to get you the right traffic.
Keyword research is often more an art than a science, so if you want to learn more, here is a recent blog post about keyword research and competition analysis.
Step 2: Planning Your SEO
Once you know what keyword phrases you want to target (aim for a short list of maybe 5-20) you should assign no more than 2 or 3 phrases to each page on your site. Obviously, assign relevant keywords to relevant pages.
If you have a keyword phrase on your list but you can’t find a page that is relevant, either create a new page or just don’t both with that phrase – trying to optimize for every possible iteration and variation is a sure route to failure.
Step 3: On-Page SEO
On page SEO is going to require some technical know-how, so feel free to have a go yourself, or otherwise hire a professional.
If you are doing it yourself, be careful not to take it too far; use a little common sense and whatever you do, don’t spend hours reading up on advanced SEO tips, sometimes, too much information is a bad thing.
At first, just focus on these essential search engine optimisation techniques and don’t worry too much about the rest:
Should be no more than 70 characters long and should mention your keywords, should also be readable by humans.
Maximum 160 characters, write a good, concise description, this will appear in search results pages on Google, so write it for the user, not the search engine.
Just make sure your copy actually mentions your keywords. Don’t stuff in so many keywords that your page sounds like it has been written by a computer. Also write primarily for the user, keywords come second.
Step 4: Links And Brand Building
The final step of your SEO is to get your name out there. Don’t worry too much about the SEO impact of your links, it is easy to over-think things. Instead, try to focus on getting your website mentioned in places that your target audience are likely to hang out.
Some examples might be:
- Popular industry forums
- Commenting on popular blogs
- Guest posting on relevant blogs
If your main focus is on getting your name in front of your audience as often as possible then before long you should find that your rankings improve and your traffic along with them.
Step 5: Social Media
Finally, I thought I should mention social media, since it is a big thing right now, and used in the right ways it can help with search engine optimisation too.
Don’t feel that you have to use social media unless you are confident to do so. For some businesses, social media makes absolute sense, but for others it doesn’t, so think carefully about whether social platforms will help you connect with the right people.
Whatever you do, keep it simple, using just one channel effectively is infinitely better than try to do them all and failing.
About The Author
Hi, my name is Mark. I am the founder of ThinkTraffic; we specialise in SEO for small businesses. We like to practice what we preach and we keep things simple by focusing on results. Click here to see a recent blog post about internet marketing strategy.