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What is SEO and how should I use it in my small business?

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and improves your visibility online. In basic terms, it is the keywords that your customers will type into Google to find your business. The words that they type in should appear on your website in the titles and text on your website and in your meta description. 

SEO is about making your website more visible and appealing to search engines, which in turn increases the chances of your website being ranked higher. It involves various strategies, such as keyword research, on-page optimisations, technical optimisations, link building and content creation.

Key Components of SEO

There are two main components you need to consider when you are writing content for your website: On-Page SEO and Off-page SEO. Although this can get very complicated and technical we are going to look at an easy strategy that can make a big difference in your business. 

1. On-Page SEO:

What are keywords and how to research the best keywords for my business?

Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is all about. In terms of SEO, they are the words and phrases that searchers enter into the search engine to discover content, also called ‘search queries’. If you place everything on your page; all the images, videos etc, down to simple words and phrases, those are your primary words that people can search for you by. As a business owner and creator of excellent contect, you ideally want the keywords to be relevant to what people are searching for so they have a much better chance of finding you.

The first step you really need to be taking is sitting down with a pen and paper, or go digital (whatever works for you) and write a list of all the keywords that are relevant to your business. Try not to think of what people might type into search engines, just think of all the products or services that you offer and all the words that come to mind that describe or are relevant to you.

Next you should be taking a sneaky look at what your competition are doing. It does not have to be your main competition, it could be a much larger company that maybe you can get some ideas from. This can be a rather long process but if you are willing to take the time and do your research then go ahead.

Optimising meta tags, titles, and descriptions 

What is a meta tag?

Meta tags are a description or code that is not visible on your website but it offers information for search engines and browsers about the content and characteristics of the webpage. They play a crucial role in search engine optimisation (SEO) and can influence how your web page appears in search engine results.

Why are website titles and descriptions important? 

Search engines like Google and Bling will crawl your website. This means that they read the information that you provide. The better the content and keywords are the higher your organic ranking will be. The search engines will read the different titles on your website. Your titles will be read as a H1, H2, H3, Paragraphs on your website and meta tags link to each page. H1 is the most important title on your website and should contain your keywords. 

H1 Bad example: I help you stand out from the crowd

It doesn’t tell search engines what this page is about as there are no keywords that people would enter in their search 

H1 Good example: Social media content writing for small businesses

Customers who need help with social media for their business would use the keywords in this heading. Search engines will know what the page is about and show your website to potential customers. 

To get the best result it is important to optimise each page on your website for only one keyword or keyword phrase. For the page in this example, the keyword phrase will be: Social media content writing for small businesses. All the other headings and paragraphs on the page should contain these keywords with a description of what you mean by it. 

How do I optimisation my content for search engines

Keyword research - identify relevant keywords and phrases that users are likely to search for in relation to your content. Use keyword research tools, like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush, to find popular and low-competiton keywords.

Quality content - create high-quality, original and engaging content that provides value to your audience. Write clearly and concisely, keeping your target keywords in mind.

Title tags - Craft descriptive and keyword-rich title tags for each web page or blog post. Incorporate your primary keywords in the tidal tag to make it more relevant to search engine algorithms.

Internal and external linking - Include internal links written within your content to guide users to related articles or pages in your website. Additionally, use external links to reputable sources and relevant websites to enhance the credibility and trustworthiness of your content. 

Mobile friendliness - Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive. With the increasing use of mobile devices, search engines prioritize mobile-friendly site in their rankings.

Social sharing - Encourage readers to share your content by incorporating social sharing buttons. The greater the social engagement, the higher the chances of your content being discovered and linked by other websites.

Remember that SEO’s is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor your search rankings, analyse your website’s performance and update your content accordingly to stay competitive in search results,

2. Off-Page SEO:

What are backlinks and how can I get backlinks to my website?

If you are navigating the vast and ever-changing world of SEO’s, you may have come across the term ‘backlinks’ numerous times. Backlinks are an essential component of effective SEO strategies and play a significant role in determining the success and visibility of your website in search engine result pages. To put it simply, a backlink is a hyperlink from one website to another. These links serve as ‘votes of confidence’ from one site to another. Search engine interpret backlinks as endorsements or recommendations. The more backlinks your website receives, the higher it is likely to rank in search results, driving organic traffic and increasing online exposure.

Let's look at some effective methods of how to acquire backlinks:

Create high-quality content -  We mention in most blogs about producing valuable and informative content. It is crucial to attract organic backlinks. When your content is well-researched, engaging and provides unique insights, other websites are more likely to reference and link to it. Focus on creating original content that stands out so as to maximise your chances of obtaining quality backlinks.

Guest blogging - Writing quest posts for reputable websites in your industry is an ex ellent way to build relationships and gain backlists. By offering valuable content to other blogs, you can include relevant links back to your own website.

Outreach and networking - actively reaching out to bloggers and website owners within your niche can lead to valuable backlinks. Personalised and genuine communication, such as requesting links to relevant articles or offering your expertise for an interview or collaboration may result in inbound links and expand your network of connections.

Social media promotion - sharing your content on social media platforms is an effective way to increase visibility and potential backlinks. Engage with industry influencers and encourage them to share your content with their followers, extending your reach.

The key to acquiring backlinks is quality and not quantity. Focus on obtaining relevant and reputable backlinks instead of spamming low-quality websites with link requests.

Can social media signals influence my SEO? 

Social media signals refer to the activity, engagement, and visibility a piece of content receives on social media platforms. While the direct impact of social media signals on traditional search engine ranking algorithms is a topic of debate, there is evidence to suggest that social signals can influence SEO indirectly. Search engines are starting to focus more on customer experience so if a piece of content on social media has a lot of engagement it indicates to search engines that people are interested in your business and that you are providing high value content. 

Online reputation management

Reviews can be good and bad. It is important to respond to all reviews that you receive on all the different platforms. Respond quickly (as possible) to all reviews; this can help to build the community on your social media and can also lead to brand awareness. It doesn't matter if it's a positive or negative review; a swift response is a swift response and shows that you care and more importantly shows you are listening. Replying to comments makes your customers feel valued and can show that you are also willing to own up to mistakes (if any); this can show you are accessible and also trustworthy which again can increase your following. 

Showing you are taking on board what others say/think/suggests shows you are willing to learn and grow with your customers in mind. Customers are more likely to stay loyal to you. 

If you get negative reviews or feedback from customers, do not leave your response at ‘sorry’. Go back and explain what you intend to do to resolve the problem and if it cannot be done straight away then let them know. These reviews can help improve your customer experience.

Equally, use positive reviews to promote your business. There is nothing wrong in blowing your own trumpet and good reviews can lead to more business, so if someone tells you that your product/service was amazing then thank them for their feedback and ask if it is ok to share with others. If they like you enough to leave a good review then it’s probably a yes to sharing their thoughts with others. 

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