For small businesses and freelancers just starting out, SEO is the scariest set of three letters that ever graced the Earth (well, maybe the second scariest after VAT). SEO, what it is, how to do it, what is it supposed to do for you: these are all questions that everyone thinking about e-commerce nowadays has asked themselves. And the answers are often confusing. The only thing everyone seems to agree is that SEO is very important.
It hasn’t always been like this. During the Internet’s salad days SEO used to be a quite straightforward. People soon figured what were the main factors to get to the top of Google organic results: keywords and links. And so, people used and abused the system, using it to get their sites to the top regardless of content and quality. Google soon got fed up and said, “no more.” Enter Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, the updates to Google’s sorting algorithm that to this day haunt SEO experts all around the world. These updates started punishing those that abused the system buying links from other sites and abusing keywords, pushing their sites to the bottom of their search results.
Google algorithm has gotten so complicated, and sometimes so punishing, many are timid to use traditional SEO techniques at all. There’s a fair amount of guesswork and even superstition. Self-proclaimed SEO gurus sell themselves as modern day alchemists. They’d have you believe SEO is magic.
However, at its heart, there’s nothing arcane or obscure about SEO. It’s not high tech. It’s not witchcraft. The core foundation of how to get good Google organic results is today the same it has always been:
Content. That’s the secret.
It’s simple, and yet it’s still the most effective way to get to the top. Relevant, quality content. Providing value to the customer. Old-fashioned tenets, yes, but they’re guaranteed to shoot you up Google’s PageRank.
Good content, however, is not easy to come by. Luckily, there are plenty of tools online devoted to make it easier for small companies. Sites like Market Domination Media help you craft relevant, SEO friendly content, design an adequate website and prepare a sound marketing strategy.
It’s also very important to publish new content regularly. Google loves fresh content. Make sure to keep your website or blog up to date, making regular publications with information of interest to your target clientage. A quick and easy hack in this regard is to freshen up old content. Change the date of publishing of your copy to a more recent date and Google will already look kindly on your website.
You should also make sure your customers have no problem navigating your website. Keep in mind that most people nowadays prefer to use their phones to check Internet sites than a computer. Google’s sorting algorithm is known to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than the rest. Make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. Small details like these are crucial for your success in the organic search result page.
It’s also vital to be mindful of social media. Have a profile on all the main platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn and especially Google+. On this topic, one of the most frequent SEO mistakes to avoid is having inconsistent info on your different profile. Make sure to keep updated every change in phone number, address, company name, etc. Consistency is key to get recognized by search engines as a single entity.
That said, don’t forget the old-fashioned essentials of SEO: keywords and links. Yes, lately has become quite punishing lately, but only to those who cheat. High-quality links still play an important role in SEO. The key is not going for the spammy strategies so popular just a few years ago. Instead, go for quality over quantity: shoot for links on respected websites. Guest blogging is a very popular way to build links these days, as is infographic distribution.
The same principle of quality over quantity applies to keywords. The days of stuffing your content with non-relevant, overly general keywords that send useless traffic to your website are over. To avoid getting punished by Google’s algorithms, make sure you use targeted keywords that are relevant to your business. Be as specific as you can. If, for example, you own a home improvement company in Dallas, don’t use the general keyword “home improvement.” Instead, you want something more precise, like “Dallas home improvement.” This will send you the kind of traffic that is specifically looking for you, therefore raising your overall SEO performance.
You might think that even having this in mind, you still don’t know how to craft good content. However, there’s no excuse in the Internet age: there are plenty of tools and sites, like Five Technology, that can help you optimize your content and bring the tech-savviness your business needs.
These are the basics of modern SEO practice. OF course, there’s much more to it, but following these guidelines you’re guaranteed to get a competent organic search position for your website.
Rachel Summers has been a social media manager for seven years, working for a variety of companies, both big and small, including Top Canadian Writers, a leading custom writing service. In her free time, Rachel also helps and advices a variety of small and start-up businesses on their social media strategies.