With more than 97% of people beginning their search for a local business online, search engine optimization (SEO for short) continues to be one of the most effective forms of marketing available today for local businesses.
But as useful as SEO is, it’s also one of the most complex and technical marketing tactics available – which means confusion, and a missed opportunity for many business owners.
So in this article I’m going to break down a few of the most valuable, and easiest to implement SEO tactics – so you can start benefitting from a business boost that only high search engine rankings can provide.
My History With SEO
There’s no doubt about it, SEO has been the largest driver of my digital marketing agency’s, (Siren Consulting Firm) traffic and business over the last 5 years.
In fact, I can attribute roughly 60% of all revenue to business gained via a client searching for something online, clicking my agency site, and then choosing to do business with us.
* Disclaimer: My marketing consulting business (adamerhart.com) comes mostly from referrals followed by content marketing and paid traffic. Different business models, mean different traffic sources.
I’ve worked personally with dozens of companies, spoken with hundreds more, and studied many hundreds more than that – and have come to the conclusion that NOT choosing to pursue an SEO strategy should be a very rare exception, and never a rule.
Put bluntly, SEO works.
It brings in traffic and it brings in revenue.
Both key ingredients to building profitable and sustainable businesses.
So here’s how to do it.
Optimize For The User Experience
Search engine algorithms (the math behind why certain websites appear higher than others) are notorious for changing.
It seems like there was a time not so long ago when not a day went by without some breaking news about a Panda or Penguin update being overhauled and unleashed on the world.
(Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird are part of Google’s algorithm. Cute little animals designed to DESTROY bad SEO tactics and the companies that use them).
This means staying current and relevant on the latest SEO news and development, and right now the focus is on user experience.
This means no keyword stuffing (cramming as many of your ideal target words into your website) or unnatural looking linking (pointing every link on your website back to your homepage using the same keyword.
Rather, it means ensuring there is both sufficient content on your site to give your users the information they need, while simultaneously keeping it clean, organized, and easy to navigate.
And mobile friendly. (Can’t forget mobile friendly as over half of all web browsing is now done from something other than a desktop computer.
So once your site is designed with the end user in mind – you might think you’ve done all you can do?
Fortunately, there’s still a lot more you can do to give yourself a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
One of the ways search engines decide what websites are going to appear for certain search terms is keywords.
Specifically the type, number, and placement of these keywords on your website.
There’s a bit of a balance between ensuring adequate coverage of your most valuable terms (proper keyword density) and not overdoing it (keyword stuffing) that makes SEO an exciting and challenging field to work in, but in general there are a few key places you want to make sure accurately reflect the word you’re trying to rank for.
These include the:
- Titles (H1’s, H2’s, H3’s)
- Body Copy
- Page Descriptions
- Images (title, description, and ALT tag)
If all this sounds totally new to you don’t worry!
The good news is that depending on your website and how it’s built, adding, editing, or adjusting these terms is possible to do.
Whether you choose to take on the task yourself or hire an SEO consultant to help is entirely up to you and how much time, energy, and resources you want to invest in the project.
But make no mistake – this IS a project worth investing in.
The next key is to strike the perfect balance between making sure you’re using the right keywords for your business while still respecting the user experience and not keyword stuffing.
One way to do this is with Latent Semantic Indexing.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI’s)
Search Engine Journal describes Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI for short) as:
> a mathematical method used to determine the relationship between terms and concepts in content.
Basically, LSI’s are fancy talk for synonyms, or similar words.
So if you’re trying to rank for a keyword like “car” you would also want to use other words on the page like:
Or other similar terms that will help provide relevance while simultaneously respecting keyword density.
The trick here is to keep it natural (think conversational) which will add not only to the search engines crawl, but also to the user experience.
Make It Shareable
Once all of the above is done and running smoothly it’s time to step outside.
Outside of your website it is.
That’s because as great as you say your website and company are – search engines want a little more proof.
And they get this proof through links.
Specifically, the quality and number of links that are pointing back to your website.
And a great long term strategy to safely and ethically acquire high quality links is through an SEO focused content marketing strategy.
SEO Content Marketing Strategy
The basics of an SEO content marketing strategy are really quite simple.
Create good content, put it on your website, and then build links to it.
But like all things, the devil’s in the details, so below are a few methods to ensure you’re creating shareable (aka linkable) content, and then a few suggestions for how to get those links.
Top Shareable Content
Video is the future of internet content. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start creating some form of video content for your business and embedding it on your website.
Infographics (when done well) are easily shareable because they quickly compile large amounts of data and portray it in an easy to consume, visual, and fun to share format.
No article is complete without at least 1 high quality image. Custom professional photography is best. Edited and customized stock photography works great. Quickly shot smartphone pics can work. But classic “stock photographs” (think of business people shaking hands and smiling unnaturally at the camera) should never be used (unless for satire).
- Quality Content
This one should go without saying – but it’s important, so I’m going to say it…
Quality is far more important than quantity.
If your schedule only allows for the creation of one high quality piece of content per day/week/month, then do that.
Low quality content doesn’t get shares, doesn’t get links, and doesn’t help build your brand, business, or SEO.
How To Get Links
- Manual outreach
This is neither a new strategy (Neil Patel wrote about this in 2012) or a super sexy strategy (it’s actually time consuming and boring) but it works – so stick with me.
If you’ve created great content one of the best ways to get links is simply to link out to someone else, and then let them know you did so.
Now of course you need to do this tactfully, and ethically, and strategically, and don’t expect a 100% reply rate (or even a 10% reply rate) but every link helps.
For more details on this strategy I suggest checking out Neil’s post by clicking here. (For the record, I’m going to be emailing Neil and letting him know I’ve done this – I have to practice what I preach after all)
(There’s also a great article here on “The Definitive Guide To Blogger Outreach“)
- Paid traffic
A great way to build brand awareness, earn links, and simultaneously provide value to the marketplace is to put a little money behind your content by advertising it using paid traffic.
My top pick right now is Facebook Ads as they’re cost effective, allow incredibly detailed targeting, and allow you to retarget people who consume your content quickly and easily with their retargeting pixel.
- Social media
If manual outreach sounds like too much of a pain, and if you don’t yet have the budget for paid traffic, than social media is for you.
Both videos and infographics work well on social media right now (Pinterest for infographics and Facebook and YouTube for video).
But the most important point is that if you’re going to be spending any considerable amount of time on social media you want to make sure to choose a platform that your customers actually use.
Otherwise you may get a few links, but you won’t get the collateral benefit of building a bigger and better known brand.
Now you may find it strange that in an article on SEO tips and tricks, SEO is one of the tips, but stick with me.
You see, by consistently creating high-quality, shareable content, by using the right keywords and putting them in the right places, and by creating content with the end user in mind, you’re content is well setup to start ranking in the search engines.
The secret here is to go for more specific topics which are less competitive. (ie don’t try to rank for “SEO” rather, try to rank for “SEO tips and tricks” just like I’m doing here)
By going after these specific topics (also known as long tail keywords) your odds of success improve dramatically.
And over time you will build up a collection of long-tail keyword content that will bring a steady and consistent supply of links, traffic, and leads for your business.