A Guide to Marketing Your Business in 2021Part 1: SEO
This article is designed to explain the basics of SEO and provide you with the knowledge to develop a winning SEO strategy to help you market your business with confidence.
If you own a local business, are thinking about starting a local business, previously worked at a local business, or are currently employed by a local business, you have probably heard the term "SEO" mentioned on several occasions. Like many others, you might also be wondering what SEO actually means and how it can help grow your business.
What is SEO?
In short, SEO stands for "search engine optimization," and represents the steps a business should take to improve its website to increase its visibility online.
What we mean by "visibility" is how high a business ranks in a list of search results when a potential customer inputs as term or phrases related to that business, its products, or its services (ie. "local shoe store" or "best restaurants near me").
Needless to say, the number of new leads or customers that a business generates is almost always linked to how visible that business is on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
How is my Website Ranked by Search Engines?
Similar to how Yellow Pages used to collect business listings and publish them in a massive book that our grandparents would use to find local products and services, search engines like Google are constantly scouring the internet to find new businesses and document their information. This process is commonly referred to a "crawling and indexing," and allows search engines to provide their customers with a list of websites that are most likely to answer their search query.
Below is a list of the primary things that search engines consider when determining how to rank a business on a search results page:
Search engines always want to provide the most relevant list of results, regardless of whether the question has one fairly simple answer, such as “what is the most recent iPhone model?” or several possible answers that may or may not depend on the searcher's own interests, such as “what is the best sports park near me?”
Although it is not possible to determine exactly what will influence a search engine's algorithm for every search query, certain factors, such as person location, search history, and the specific date and time of the search, are likely to impact the results.
Due to advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, search engine algorithms can now read and interoperate content published throughout a website. This includes not only what the content says, but how it is written.
As a result, businesses should try to focus on publishing content that is relevant to the products and/or services that it provides, and follow layout best practices when doing so.
We will dive deeper into content publishing and layout in a subsequent article. Subscribe to our newsletter below for updates.
3. User Experience (UX)
Because search engines crawl and index websites in the same way they believe regular visitors are likely to, it is important to make your website easily navigable, searchable, and relatable. Therefore, when creating your homepage, additional web pages, and website navigation links, think about how your friends, family, and potential customers will interact with your website. For example, what information would they want to see first (possibly something general about your business, or the products and/or services that you provide), and where should that information lead them to?
We will dive deeper into User Experience and Website Navigation in a subsequent article. Subscribe to our newsletter below for updates.
4. Site Speed
The speed at which web pages load is becoming increasingly important, especially as the rate of searches on mobile devices continues to rapidly increase. Because of their size, mobile devices have much less processing power than desktop computers or laptops. Therefore, it is important to make sure that all of the photos and videos published on your website are compressed properly.
We will dive deeper into Site Speed in a subsequent article. Subscribe to our newsletter below for updates.
5. Device Compatibility
Device Compatibility, also known as Responsive Design, refers to designing a website in such a way that the content looks good on a variety of different devices and screen sizes. For example, when viewing a webpage that is not responsive from your mobile device, the content will be squished to fit the screen size and the text will be nearly impossible to read. However, a website that is properly responsive will automatically adjust the content and layout of its pages to make sure it is user-friendly on any screen or device size.
We will dive deeper into Responsive Design in a subsequent article. Subscribe to our newsletter below for updates.
6. Title, Description, and URL
Every webpage had a Page Title, Page Description, and Page URL. These are often the first things that customers see before heading to your website because that how search engines present your website and web pages in a list of search results.
We will dive deeper into web page Titles, Descriptions, and URL's in a subsequent article. Subscribe to our newsletter below for updates.
How Can I Get Started Optimizing my Business?
The first and easiest thing that any local business owner should do is claim and update their Google My Business profile.
Google My Business (GMB)
A Google My Business profile is a free business listing that gives business owners and managers the ability to provide specific information about their business and allows them to engage with their customers online through images, videos, descriptive copy, and reviews. It also creates a direct link between the business itself and Google, which, seeing as Google has over 86% of the global search market share, is not a bad thing. Also, recent studies have shown that "customers are 70% more likely to visit businesses with a complete Google My Business listing".
We will dive deeper into Google My Business and how to leverage your GMB profile in a subsequent article. In the meantime, head over to the Google My Business website to claim your business listing, and subscribe to our newsletter below for updates.