Getting found online can boost your business tremendously. But how do you market your business online? Well, there are many ways to do that, but one of the crucial parts in getting found online will require you to optimize your business website for search engines – a process called SEO. Search engines (such as Google) are where people begin their online journeys, and if your business isn’t listed in the first few search results, your website won’t be considered as a possible destination.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO (short for search engine optimization) is about making your website easy for both people and search engine robots to understand. Although search engines have become increasingly sophisticated, they still can’t see and understand a web page the same way a human can. SEO helps the engines figure out what each page is about, and how it may be useful for users.
There are multiple metrics search engines use when determining which websites offer the most valuable content. These include:
- Links (also link relevance and authority)
- Domain authority
Now, none of that will mean much if you don’t know anything about SEO. So let’s start by looking at links, specifically.
Small Business SEO and Links
- Inbound links: meaning links on other websites that lead to your business website.
- Outbound links: meaning links from your website to other websites.
- Internal links: meaning links you place on your website to other pages that are also on your own business website.
Most websites that rank high in search results will have all three of those kinds of links. Another important aspect of using links to improve SEO is link authority.
Link authority is closely related to domain authority. This means that Google will place more value on links that come from a website like Wikipedia, rather than links from a small website you don’t know. Google trusts certain domains (like Wikipedia, Wikihow and other well-known websites) more than new websites with few pages. When Google “trusts” a website more, the website is said to have high domain authority. Links to and from websites with a high domain authority means more to Google than links from an unknown website.
Link relevance refers to how closely links to and from your website reflect your content. So if you run a local gardening service company, for instance, Google will notice that your website is about gardening more easily if most of your inbound and outbound links are to and from websites that Google already knows are gardening websites.
Business Website SEO and Keywords
Google can’t read like a person can. But Google can pick up certain words in your content. And if the words in your content seem relevant to what someone searched for, Google is more likely to list your business website high in those search results.
So, if (like in the previous example) you offer gardening services in Knoxville, TN, Google is more likely to list your website first for a search like “Knoxville gardening services” if it can find the keywords “gardening services” and “Knoxville, TN” on your business website.
But as with links, not all keywords are created equal. Some keywords have higher search volumes, while other keywords are more likely to get relevant traffic to your business website.
So, in the case of gardening services, the keyword “gardening services” is a short-tail keyword that’s unlikely to send much traffic your way. This is because there’s no context. People can easily search for something simple like “pink socks”, “large sofa” or “medical professional”, but that’s unlikely to get them results that are tailored to their specific needs.
On the other hand, keywords like “pink and black polka dot socks for women”, “vintage black three-seat sofa with stripes” and “pediatrician in Knoxville”, are longer tail keywords. Google will have a much better idea of how to give someone relevant results if they search for these kinds of things – and if your keywords match a specific search closely, your business website will usually be ranked higher in the results.
But not all too many people will be searching for something like “pink and black polka dot socks for women”. This means that it will be easier to rank first for that long-tail keyword, but unfortunately the search volume on that keyword won’t be much, meaning it can lead relevant traffic to your website, but not a lot of traffic all in all.
To give yourself the best chance of ranking high for relevant search results, you ought to use a combination of short-tail and long-tail keywords on your website. But in reality, you’ll be aiming to rank high for phrases like “gardening services in Knoxville” or “domestic (or commercial) gardening services in Knoxville”, if that’s the business you’re in. But you could also look into phases like “how to take care of your lawn in the summer” to improve the overall SEO of your website.
Domain Authority and Ranking
Building a higher domain authority is ultimately the goal of practicing good SEO. The more good practices you implement to improve your small business SEO, the more Google will start noticing your business website as an authority website within your specific niche.
So if your website becomes the most trusted website for content about lawns in local Knoxville searches (meaning searches that include Knoxville as a keyword), you’ll show up the highest in these search results.
But all of this barely scratches the surface of how to maintain your SEO to show up in local searches. SEO in a complex field and good SEO practices include time-consuming tasks like blogging, managing social media and link building.
At Serious SEM, we professionally handle your SEO and Internet marketing on your behalf. Our aim is to help small businesses grow and compete with larger companies online, so you can enjoy the benefit of increased online visibility for your business.