The mere mention of SEO can elicit many different reactions from marketers. Some feel totally confident about it. Others dread the process and reluctantly include it in their content marketing plans. No matter how you feel about it, you need SEO tactics backed by real data to help your website rank on search engines and attract more leads to your business.
SEO doesn’t have to be scary, though. It’s our goal to give you a game plan that will make optimizing your website for search engines more manageable.
Looking to get started? During our recent Level Up With Keap event, Keap’s SEO manager, Mikey Brazile, provided five SEO tips every small business owner should know.
Before we dive in, let’s start by exploring what SEO is and why it matters to your small business.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing a website’s pages so they’re ranked higher by search engines. Essentially, search engines like Google analyze the content on a web page and decide how it should rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). When your website ranks higher, search engines are more likely to display your web pages to users when they enter a specific search query.
For example, if you own a life coaching business and want to start showing up in Google when people search “health and wellness coach,” then you will need to use SEO tactics to optimize your pages for that particular phrase.
How can SEO help a small business?
SEO is crucial for helping businesses of all sizes get discovered. It especially helps small businesses get in front of people who may never have found them otherwise.
Mikey put it best when he described the two main ways SEO can help small businesses:
- It ensures your business is visible online and ranking for the keywords your target audience is searching for
- It enables small businesses to attract more traffic and generate more leads
Think about all the people who use Google to solve problems or find services. Don’t you want your business to be one of the first they see when they search for something in your industry? If your small business is ranking on search engines, it means more visitors to your website and more leads who can become happy customers.
A common misconception of SEO
Although it seems intimidating, SEO is something that every small business can conquer if they use the right tools. Before you can do that, it helps to clear up any lingering misconceptions.
The main myth Mikey describes is that many people assume there is a magic formula to SEO that, once uncovered, will have your business ranking number one forever. “In reality,” Mikey explains, “SEO is an ongoing effort that needs refreshing, particularly as it relates to keywords.”
So how can you really have a shot at ranking number one? Mikey’s five tips are the perfect place to start:
#1 Ensure your website is built for success
The first step on your SEO journey is making sure your website is ready for visitors. It sounds simple at first, but there’s more to it than just having a published website. Mikey emphasizes that your website should be:
- Cleanly coded
- Mobile friendly
- Pass Google’s PageSpeed Insights
First and foremost, a cleanly coded website goes back to how your website was built. Your website should be coded in such a way that Google can easily “crawl” it, meaning that Google can discover, navigate and understand your pages. If your website isn’t cleanly coded, Google won’t be able to find and rank the content you produce. This is why Mikey suggests having a professional code your website.
Make sure your site looks good on a mobile device while remaining intuitive and easy to use. Having a mobile-optimized website is only getting more and more necessary as time goes on. According to Statista, in 2022, 59.16% of web traffic came from a mobile device. That means there’s over a 50% chance that someone will view the mobile version of your website, and it’s crucial that your site can keep up.
Quick load time
What good is a beautiful website if it doesn’t load quickly? The loading speed of your site and its pages will play into your SEO ranking, so Mikey advises you to check your load times with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
“This is really important because you can have the greatest content and great products and services, but it’s all wasted if they can’t get to your website and clearly go through it to get what they want,” Mikey explains.
#2 Research and use relevant keywords
Finding your business’ keywords and tactfully using them in your content, metadata and URLs is central to getting your website ranked.
SEO keywords are the words and phrases in your website content that allow searchers to find you in SERPs. As a marketer and small business owner, it’s your job to find out the top keywords your target audience is searching for. To do this, Mikey suggests using Google’s Keyword Planner. This free tool will help you make a clear list of what keywords are relevant to your business so you can start including them in your content.
Already have some keywords in mind? Mikey cautions business owners against haphazardly choosing their own keywords without going through the research process. Instead, he stresses the importance of “using the keywords that people are actually searching for to find your product or service, even if it’s not the keyword you would want to use.”
Once you find the right keywords, you’ll want to implement them throughout your website. When it comes to how often to use your keywords, “there’s no magic number,” Mikey says. “Just talk to your audience using those keywords in a completely natural, conversational way.”
#3 Write content that answers questions
A lot has been said about writing content and using your keywords in what you create, but how do you find out what content is worth creating in the first place? How can you write content that will best serve your audience and improve your SEO efforts?
The solution is to write content that answers the questions your target audience is asking. Start by doing some research around what those questions are.
“A free way to do this is to go into Google and search your already identified target keywords,” Mikey says. “With most results, you’ll see a ‘People Also Ask’ box. There, you can see questions people are asking about your keywords and verticals.”
This process will give you plenty of content ideas, and help you narrow down what questions your website and its content should be answering.
#4 Optimize your website structure
The content you write is important, but even more critical is ensuring the website it lives on is well-optimized so it’s easy to navigate. Ease of navigation will allow search engines to quickly crawl your site and begin the process of indexing, which is a fancy way of saying the search engine is organizing your website’s information in its database. If your website is in disarray and your content can’t be indexed, then it has no chance of ranking in search engine results.
An optimized website is not only necessary for search engines, but also for your visitors. After someone arrives on your site, you don’t want them to get so frustrated with the user experience that they leave without getting what they came for.
According to Mikey, the goal of your website is simple: “People should be able to get to what they want in as few clicks as possible.”
When your website’s structure is organized, it means a better experience for your visitors and a better chance of ranking higher in search engine results.
#5 Pick the right KPIs
Once you’ve gotten to work implementing these SEO tips, you’re going to want a way to accurately track your success. Mikey’s instructions? Start by choosing the right key performance indicators (KPIs).
Your KPIs should measure the goals that are most important to your business. Maybe you’re looking to see an increase in traffic to your website, or maybe you’re hoping to grow your revenue. You know your business best, so take some time to think about what goals you have, and use what you come up with to pick your KPIs.
Tools to get you started
- Google Analytics
This is one of Mikey’s must-haves. You’ll be able to see exactly what’s happening with your website all in one place. After implementing an SEO strategy, Google Analytics is a great place to track your SEO progress by looking at the number of users visiting your site and where those users are coming from.
- Google Search Console
This tool is best for drilling down into the specific keywords people are using to get to your website. Mikey suggests revisiting this tool every 3-6 months to see if the keywords people are searching for have shifted. Then, you can update your SEO strategy accordingly.
Bonus: This tool will also show you your most popular pages. This matters because “you want to make sure that you’re using the right keywords on the most trafficked and relevant pages,” Mikey notes.
SEMrush will streamline your keyword research by uncovering relevant keywords and revealing what questions people are asking surrounding those keywords. This tool isn’t free, but it’s certainly worth the money with advanced features like competitor analysis. With competitor analysis, you’ll be able to see which of your competitors are ranking for certain keywords and who is getting the largest share of traffic overall.
If you’re interested in backlinks (links from other sites that link back to your own) and internal links (links on your website that send users over to other pages within your site), Ahrefs is for you! This tool will help you as you grow and have more and more links to keep track of.
- Yoast SEO
This WordPress plugin will integrate easily into your website and help you craft keyword-optimized titles, meta descriptions, and content. Yoast SEO automatically scans your content and reminds you of SEO best practices so you don’t have to keep track of all of them yourself.
Time to optimize!
Now that you have Mikey’s top tips and the tools to help you implement them, you’re ready to hit the ground running. Before you go, you can make your SEO process even easier with a little help from Keap’s small business marketing automation tools:
- Landing page builder
Create custom landing pages with SEO-optimized content. With Keap, all you have to do is plug your keywords into a custom landing page, and you’re ready to go!
- Lead-capturing forms
New leads will be visiting your website thanks to your SEO expertise. Keap’s forms can help you capture, tag and track those leads so you can turn them into customers in no time.
Keap easily integrates with Google Analytics so you can track website traffic and user behavior all within one app.
You can also hear more from Mikey the SEO expert by watching the replay of our Level Up with Keap event below.