So your business page is up, conversations are flowing on social media sites and some sales are starting to trickle in. But not at the pace you would like. Why not? Probably because customers aren’t finding your business when they search for products online. Like social media, Search Engine Optimization has become an essential piece for any online business. Consider that 66% of all new customers use searches and online research to find businesses and 14.6% of SEO leads are closed. So people are searching for products on Google/Bing/Yahoo!/etc and when they find them, a good portion is buying.
There are many pieces that make up SEO. My next few posts will all circle around how to effectively learn the fundamentals of what goes into an effective SEO strategy.
What is SEO?
To understand what SEO is, I first need to say what SEO is not. SEO is not going into Google Adwords and purchasing a sponsored link that shows up on the top bar or “Sponsored Stories” section on the results page. Purchasing paid placements is a part of search engine marketing. True SEO is a collection of techniques that allow a website to get more organic traffic from search engines by placing higher in search results. In order for that to happen, the content of the website needs to match with what people are looking for.
There are many nuances to truly take full advantage of everything search engines can do. However, getting to know the basics is the first step for any online business owner. Once they are mastered, the rest will just come. The first step of an effective strategy is to determine exactly what words relate to the business and which of these words people are searching for. Finding the appropriate keywords is the first step in effective SEO. Keywords are the terms used by search engines in the rankings and what need to be included in any content that is posted on a website.
Finding the Right Keywords
Choosing the right keywords for search marketing can be the difference between someone finding a business for the right reasons and the wrong ones. Ever do a search for something and the completely wrong item pops up on the first page of the results? The owner of that website didn’t do enough to make sure his keywords are shown to the correct audience. Researching the appropriate keywords is the essential first step in SEO. The keywords should have:
- A high volume of people searching for them--Google’s Search-Based keyword too l is probably the easiest way to find out exactly what terms people are using
- A low amount of competition--Fewer results will increase the chances of a higher ranking
- Content that is found on the website
When deciding on keywords, make sure to consider both broad searches and specific searches that are associated with the business. Broad keywords, like cars or software, are easy to categorize, on the other hand they are extremely difficult to be ranked very high simply because of the high number of potential matches. For example, when someone searches for cars, your business would be up against huge entities like Ford, Toyota and all the other automobile manufacturers. But any business that can get on the first page for searches for these words can be assured of a high volume of traffic.
Beyond the broad searches, there needs to be attention placed on the more specific keywords. These searches only make up roughly 30% of daily searches. The rest of searches are done targeting more individual needs. Going back to the car example, a more targeted search like “Ford Mustang” will get fewer individual searches, but when you combine with all the other specific title results, they will add up to significantly more and have a completely different audience. Someone searching generalities like “cars” is probably doing research while someone who is specifically searching “Ford Mustang” probably has their wallet in hand. Pay special attention to what the buyers are using to search and include that in any content that is created.
Make sure to also pay attention to phrases that include more than one word. Studies have shown that longer phrases have a higher ROI than one and two words searches because they are more likely to return the results of what the searcher is looking for. These longer phrases are great because they have much less competition in the rankings but also produce lower traffic volumes because of the possible combinations of keywords decreases the number of exact matches.
Once you have gone through the initial research and selected your keywords, your job is not done. Search engines are like a living being in that they change and what ranks high one day may drop down the next. The most effective users of SEO are constantly paying attention to their rankings and are evolving when the changes happen. In the end, paying attention to the keywords can show what your target audience finds important. Finding the right words and then using them in website content will ensure the right people make it to your website.
I’ll go more into SEO over the next few weeks. We also will be hosting a webinar on November 8th that is focused solely on SEO and include many tips and advice for business owners. Stay tuned for more information as we’ll be posting links to register for the webinar in the next few days.