SEO or Search Engine Optimization, for Small Business is, in itself, a huge topic. It has many intricate strategies that can lead you down a rabbit hole. There are advanced SEO techniques that would usually require the assistance of an SEO expert or SEO agency. However, there are some basic SEO functions that don’t require a marketing degree and will enhance your overall content marketing strategy.
As mentioned in our blog article on how to market your small business; SEO is one of five strategies you can use to market your small business under the umbrella of content marketing. At the level we are talking about in this article; SEO should be used in conjunction with the other strategies and not as a stand-alone strategy. That’s a whole different level of marketing!
SEO works by understanding the keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business and putting them in front of the right people at the right time. As a coach for instance if you want people to find your website (including social media pages); when they search for “life coach” you must ensure that your content includes the term “life coach”
Unfortunately, “life coach” is a broad term, and likely you will be fighting for spots on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) if you are even lucky enough to be on the first page of results. There are hundreds of other businesses using the same keywords and likely with bigger budgets that can employ some of those advanced tactics we mentioned earlier.
So how do you stand a chance against those with bigger companies and bigger budgets? The answer is to refine your keywords and phrases so they are more targeted towards your ideal clients. There is a fine line between broad and highly targeted keywords. Your goal is to find keywords and phrases that have a reasonable amount of monthly searches so that you are in the game but not so many that you are suffocated by the big guns!
One of the easiest ways to narrow down your broad topic is by adding a local area that you provide services in, so “life coach” now becomes “life coach Calgary”. Chances are, if someone is looking for a life coach, they would prefer someone in their geographic area.
Maybe you have a specific type of client you work with such as children with ADD, or widowers. Your keywords could then be “Coaching children with ADD” or “Life Coaching after a death” The trick is to think about what your ideal clients are searching for. What questions are they asking search engines that are relevant to your business? Make a list of those topics and write about them!
Search Engine Algorithm Changes
I’m sure you’ve heard “google keeps changing the algorithm”. This is actually somewhat of an urban legend! Google makes constant changes to its algorithm, but most of them are so small, you wouldn’t even notice. They don’t impact your ability to rank well on search engines that much. When Google does make significant changes; They publish the information, nothing is hidden as people may lead you to believe. The last few big changes were moving away from blog posts and content that was written to please the search engines to a preference of writing content that is valuable and authoritative for the reader – that’s how it should be, right?
Now when you stumble across content that has clearly been stuffed with keywords (life coach Calgary is in every sentence on every page) you can rest assured that this content won’t be ranking well.
Whilst it is important to identify your keywords and phrases, you don’t have to litter them throughout the content. Just 2-3 mentions are good depending on the length of the text, and only if they are in context with the rest of the content.
The search engines want to know that you know what you are talking about. One way it does this is by using inbound and outbound backlinks. Inbound links are links to other content on your website. So if you have another blog post that is relevant to the current one you are writing, then add a link to it as we have done in our opening paragraph. Citing other authors when you use their quotes or information in presenting facts is a usual way to demonstrate you know what you are talking about and links do the same thing. Outbound links are when you link to other websites outside of your own. These work in the same way and for the same reason as inbound links. Only now you are saying “see, it’s not just me, other people say the same thing!” thus giving you added credibility.
Be strategic about your outbound links though. Remember that you are doing all of this work to gain new clients and customers. You don’t want to send them into the open arms of your competitors! If you publish an article on an external website, you can also link to this as an outbound link. Sites such as; Medium, LinkedIn Articles, Pop Sugar, Thrive Global and many others offer the opportunity to write an article for them.
Optimizing Your Content For SEO
To summarize, here are a few ways you can incorporate SEO strategies into your content marketing strategy:
- Use the keywords or phrase you have picked for the article in the title and in the first paragraph of the content
- Add inbound and outbound links to your content
- On social media, use keywords as hashtags
- Write for the reader. Keep sentences short where possible and add bullet points and titles to break up text
- Add a meta description that includes your keywords
- Write a good sized article – HubSpot talks about that here
- Use an SEO tool on your website – we like the Yoast Plugin for WordPress
- Add keywords to your URL slug
- Add keywords to the image alt attributes if relevant
If you use some of the basic SEO strategies mentioned here in conjunction with your content strategy, you should start to see an increase in traffic to your website and a rise in your search engine rankings as long as you have not used very broad keywords.
Look out for our next article on analytics so you can ensure that what you are doing is working!