Small businesses have been competing with larger brands for customers since the birth of the big-box store. Now, in addition to the brick-and-mortar battlefield, small businesses with an online presence are working just as hard in the digital space to stand out and build a loyal following.
One of the many ways businesses seek to attract and keep the attention of potential customers is the use of search engine optimization or SEO. How does it work, exactly? Search engine optimization—specifically through the use of keywords on a website—helps those websites show up in a consumer’s search for products and services on the web.
It sounds simple enough: Find out what search terms (keywords) customers are using when they browse the internet for goods and services, and write copy using those keywords. But, like any business building strategy, gaining solid sales leads from SEO requires time and effort to be successful.
So where does a small business start? If you’ve got a live website that you update frequently, you’re already on your way.
The next step? Research.
Keyword research is, well, key to knowing what SEO terms will bring customers to your virtual front door. You can research keywords in a number of ways, including Google Ads. This function can show how often a particular word is searched for, what geographic region represents searches, and any related words and phrases.
One thing to note is that the most popular keywords aren’t necessarily the right ones for your business. If everyone is searching for a “fidget spinner,” then every site that offers a “fidget spinner” will pop up.
You want your website to lead the pack, so focus on niche keywords that reflect your offerings. Using “mini fidget spinner” or “fidget spinner made in USA” will draw out the sites that offer those specific types of spinners, for example.
The number of keywords in your copy also matters when playing to Google search strengths. Between one and four keywords for every 500 words of copy is ideal. This ratio allows the Google algorithm to detect whether your site’s copy provides a relevant context for the keywords. The language of your site should be simple, descriptive, and sound natural.
The phrase “Looking for a durable, inexpensive mini fidget spinner? We have several trendy colors and popular styles to choose from!” provides context and delivers a descriptive summary to your potential customer.
Location, Location, Location
Now that you know which words you want to use, and how many you’ll be using, the next task is to figure out where they should be placed. Using a keyword in a title or product description header is crucial, as is placing at least one keyword in a list of items (bulleted or numbered).
Navigation bars, URLs, and company information pieces are also important locations for keywords because the search engine’s algorithm will be able to see that the keywords you choose truly are integral to your site’s content.
Start at the Top
The title tag and meta description you choose for your site can help you break into the list of results that make the first page of search results. Think of your title tag and meta description as an elevator pitch for your website.
The title tag should contain a keyword that speaks directly to what you offer customers and reflects search intent. The meta description is a concise but detailed explanation of your website’s and/or company’s offerings. It should inform and interest the customer.
Once on your site, users will benefit from seeing keywords that are hyperlinked, allowing them to quickly navigate to the content they seek. For example, if a search engine brings a user to your website’s home page, a hyperlinked keyword such as “mini fidget spinner” in text will take the user directly to that product for viewing. If you’re ready to welcome new customers and move up the search results ladder, now is the time to improve your SEO.