What does SEO do for me?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, can be a confusing, mysterious, and rather intimidating “entity” for most small businesses, especially for new business owners. But honestly, it truly is a nuts and bolts, steeped-in-reality business approach. We all need to be mindful of what it is, what it does, and consistently work on improving it over time. Like all things in your business, good SEO requires commitment, but it is totally worth it when your ideal customers consistently find your website and your business grows as a result.
Did you know that, according to Digital Commerce 360, online purchases now account for 20% of US retail sales? And that e-commerce grew 44% in 2020 over the previous year? That alone is an indicator that buyers are going to the Internet to do their business. Did you also know that, according to Google, there are 200 million active websites on the Internet? That is a lot of websites that you are competing with for attention. Therefore, it is critical that your website is optimized for SEO – so you can be at the top of your game - and be seen online before your competitors!
You might have just gone live with the most aesthetically pleasing website you’ve ever seen, but that’s got little to do with SEO. Unfortunately, unlike in the “Field of Dreams” movie, websites are not a case of “If you build it, they will come!” SEO cares about the behind-the-scenes part of your website and that is what search engines crawl (or index) - not what your ideal customers see online. The biggest obstacle to being found online is balancing the look and feel of your website with the page descriptions, headers, keywords, image size, pop-ups, and general ease of use of your website in the “mind” of the search engine. And here’s the kicker: you must update your website on a regular basis. Adding new and relevant blog posts, images, products, and services will help keep it current in the eyes of a search engine.
The Right Keywords Bring You Results
Knowing your ideal customer and what they use for searches is huge! Consider your website the hub of your business and the epicenter of your marketing plan. Pointing your social media accounts to your website will help refer traffic from your existing followers. But to truly build your business, you will need to grow that circle of influence, and getting your website on the screens of your ideal customers is the tipping point. Keywords used in your content, blog posts, and page descriptions will help bring your website up in search engine results pages. Therefore, it is key to know what keywords and queries people typically use to find yard card businesses like yours, keywords like “yard cards”, “yard signs”, “happy birthday signs”, “congratulations signs”, “graduation cards”, etc. Using the right keywords throughout your website, INCLUDING with the names of your packages, is vital to building good SEO. But keywords are just one part of the process.
In May 2021, Google moved user-friendliness to the top of the list for what their algorithms look for when completing searches. User-friendliness refers to page load speeds, mobile responsiveness, security, font legibility, data accessibility, and more - basically anything that impacts how easy it is to use your website and find what the visitor is looking for. For example, two of the issues Google specifically called out as negative factors in their May 2021 update were pop-ups that block data and not having a security certificate (SSL). Page load speeds are also high on this list, and rightfully so since speed is so critical for a positive user experience. Unfortunately, we are limited on what we can do on most platforms in terms of page load speeds. However, optimizing your images for mobile, hosting videos on YouTube instead of your website (and linking to them), and avoiding RSS feeds or social media feeds on your website will all help page speed. Some other factors that can improve SEO include: alt text on all images since search engines can’t “see” an image; improved accessibility (ADA-compliance techniques); backlinks to your website, especially from websites with extensive traffic; and using a proper hierarchy in terms of headings on pages of your website.
Good SEO is not something you can buy – you can’t PAY to show up first. As a matter of fact, Google can’t even pay or force their own sites to show up first in Google searches! It’s ironic, but Google owns and runs over 7,000 websites and even they must implement solid SEO strategies to show up first!
Have you set up your FREE Google Tools for SEO yet? If not, we offer a Google Tools Setup package. Tools such as Google My Business, Search Console, and Google Analytics are key to telling Google your website exists and how to find it. Google My Business is also great for getting more attention on your business, even more so than social media in many cases. We encourage all businesses to post regularly to Google My Business, especially with yard cards because your business is so visual, and images are great for promotion on Google!
One very important thing to remember about SEO is that it is not something you can do once and forget about. As we have said here, there are many things that need to be done upfront to get to the level you want, but it also takes ongoing improvements and maintenance to continue to improve and to maintain your standing once you get there. In addition to everything listed here, a significant part of SEO is staying on top of all of the changes being made with algorithms and search engine criteria then implementing improvements in accordance with those changes. Once you achieve the SEO goals you want, it is also critical to understand how you got there so you don’t undo the progress made. For example, one of our clients had her website listed on a very popular website, which significantly helped her ranking. Without realizing the impact, she cancelled the subscription, therefore removing the listing, and is now several pages deep in searches instead of on page one as she was before.
It is also important to understand that SEO takes time, typically 3-6 months, to see real results. The worldwide web is enormous, and any changes must propagate across multiple servers and an enormous amount of data. Think of it like a huge filing cabinet where 200 million-plus websites are indexed and filed, and every change must be re-filed. In short, it is not an instantaneous or easy process, which are the main reasons we recommend getting help! This is one of those areas where we encourage you to let us take on these technology challenges we love and excel at while you focus on what YOU love and are passionate about!
Your First Steps for SEO
There are some steps you can take today, though, that will help your SEO:
- Complete the SEO page titles and descriptions on your website – every page and every title. And make sure the SEO page title is NOT the same as the page URL.
- Google Tools – You need Google My Business, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console set up and tied to your website.
- Pictures, pictures, pictures – Constantly update social media and Google My Business!
- Keywords – Pay attention to what works and doesn’t work through watching analytics and update your website and advertising accordingly.
- Use Backlinks if possible – This means having a connection to your website through someone else’s website. You should request a link to your website on the website of anyone you do business with, any group or chamber you are a member of, or any businesses who you share customers with!
- Reviews – Make sure you are getting reviews from your customers on Google.
- Make sure your site is secure with an SSL certificate.
And get help if you don’t have the time or ability to do it yourself! We’re here to help.
At BizBolster Web Solutions, we offer several LOCAL SEO packages for yard card and other local-based businesses. You can find the details for these services at https://www.bizbolster.com/seo - and you can also request a full SEO report while you are there! If you’re not sure what you need, we recommend a free call with Lori to discuss what options make the most sense for your business. To set up a call, select “Breakthrough Session” on our “Let’s Chat” page: https://www.bizbolster.com/connect.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lori Osborne, is the Founder & Chief Solution Architect for BizBolster Web Solutions as well as a speaker and published author. She specializes in helping busy, frustrated, and/or overwhelmed small business owners improve their digital marketing solutions to catapult their business to success! Lori has 30+ years’ small business and Information Technology experience and has been a small business owner for 15+ years. She is married to the love of her life, and they live in Florida with their two wonderful fur babies.