The way we shop has changed dramatically, and modern businesses need to follow suit, that’s why SEO fundamentals have become so important for small business owners, and why I hope this list of SEO fundamentals will help you (and your business) make the most of the Internet marketing in 2017.
First up, let’s talk about the elephant in the room and say that in 2017, the salesperson is no longer the expert. People come to your business armed with information, they’ve researched your product, and right or wrong, they are now the expert. By the time most consumers have walked into your shop, they’re nearing the end of the purchasing journey and it’s safe to assume that they already know what they want. So why then, are they visiting your website in the first place?
Your customers are searching for answers, not sales literature.
Modern customers are turning to the Internet long before they’re stepping foot in a local business, and they’re searching for answers to their questions to help them make decisions on their own. Instead of thinking of this as a negative part of the process, smart business owners are seeing this as an opportunity to help answer their questions before they step foot in your business.
How do you ensure new prospects find you? It’s really very simple, you simply answer their questions earlier in the purchasing cycle.
SEO Fundamentals is all about Content
The old rule that content is king, is still true, but there’s more to seo fundamentals than simply producing great content, you need to produce the right content, and focus that content with the right tags, supporting structure, links, etc. If you’re searching older archives, or reading some outdated books on SEO marketing, you may be tempted to stuff your posts with keywords but don’t waste your time on these outdated tactics, Google is smarter than you can imagine and they’re eager to strip your rankings for cheating their visitors.
Remember, Google’s motivation for ranking you highly is quality content, not keyword stuffing. Google wants people to use their search engine, and they want people to find you if you’re the best source of information available, so instead of trying to cheat your way to the top, be a better source for information!
Keywords and Modern SEO Fundamentals
It would be wrong to say keywords are dead, but there’s more to a modern keyword strategy than simply repeating the same keywords in hopes of search engines picking up on it. In fact, keyword stuffing, the idea of cramming the same words (and variations) in hidden text, or at the bottom of articles, is one of the easiest ways to get yourself in trouble with search engines.
Instead, think of keywords as a tool for users to reference the contents of articles on your website and find similar articles across your site. This article for example is about small business, and search engine optimization (seo), so you’ll notice that I’ve referenced the terms a few times, without forcing them. Remember, the best way to create content is to focus your website on one subject and tie your articles together with consistent keywords, like a glossary of terms for your visitors to access.
So instead of using keywords as content in your posts, you can use keywords as the basis for your posts, and a way to quickly write great content! For example, you can search various keyword tools to learn how people are looking to fix things, and help them learn, while also presenting them a value proposition for buying new, or if they’re searching for travel to your area, help them find things to do, while offering to help them.
How to Write Valuable Content for Your Market
The first step to creating truly valuable content for your prospects, and existing customers, is to understand what they’re actually interested in learning from you. It’s easy to mistakenly rely on your website’s analytics for this, but remember that what you’re seeing in Google Analytics is what you’re already attracting people to your website for … it’s not reflective of your actual audience, only the audience that you’re already appealing to.
There are great tools out there, like Google’s Adword Search Terms Report, and Ritetag’s hashtag research tool that’ll help you quickly identify keywords with moderate to high search volumes, and help you better understand not just how many people are searching for a specific keyword, but also similar keywords and phrases, for the best results.
Once you’ve established the right keywords to write articles for, you can begin writing content with a focus on the SEO fundamentals we’ve discussed in this article.
SEO Fundamentals Checklist for Planning an Article
- What is the keyword, or phrase for your article;
- Can you write your post title as a question, using your keyword?
- Use your keyword in headings;
- Write an opening paragraph with your keyword or phrase close to the beginning;
- Have you used your keywords in the url slug of your post;
- Write a closing paragraph, again with your keyword in a strong position;
- Link to at least three external articles about your keyword;
- Add 5-7 keywords from your research, as content for your article body;
- Be sure your keyword is in your description;
- Include your keyword in at least a couple pictures (alt and caption text);
Remember that not every article on your website will be for every prospective customer, so you’ll want to focus your individual posts on the needs of unique markets. For example, my posts about local restaurant marketing and hotel seo may appeal to some readers but not others. While I tend to write most of my articles for a small business marketing audience, the subject often reflects the unique needs of a specific audience.
Once you’ve written your article, take a moment and review it, not just for the SEO fundamentals that we’ve reviewed in the checklist above, but with two basic questions in mind:
- Have you asked a question, that your desired audience is likely to search for on Google?
- Have you successfully answered that question, in a way that your audience is likely to gain value from?
Remember, that’s the key. SEO isn’t about optimizing posts with keywords, or phrases. Those are the bonus items, any yes, they’re required but the key to SEO is asking a question, and answering it.
Never Give Up on SEO!
SEO is an ongoing effort, so never give up! It’s exhausting, it’s sometimes frustrating, it’s easy to get irritated at the results, but at the end of it all, search engine optimization is about helping your audience learn more about your product, and teaching them how to make the best decision possible. That’s a powerful, long term business marketing plan and the biggest secret to SEO fundamentals!