In the past, SEO was considered optional, or at the very least, more important for newer businesses without substantial referral business. Over the past five years that has changed; small business owners know they need SEO. The thought of not being on page one of Google’s search results keeps most small business owners up at night as they need a steady stream of new customers to keep the lights on.
The biggest challenge facing most small business owners is understanding which strategies to implement as the internet is replete with how-to articles showcasing the latest SEO trends and fads. We recommend that you ignore the vast majority of articles positioning individual tactics as a solution to all your search presence challenges. Small business owners who typically refrain from following a disjointed strategy in other areas of their business will make an exception when it comes to SEO because of the dynamic nature of Google’s ever-changing algorithm.
We ask that you maintain your discipline and not lurch wildly when it comes to optimizing your company’s website. We will review three tips that will work for you over the long haul and produce the kind of results you’ve always wanted.
Tip 1: User intent
Google’s primary mission is to understand the search intent of each search engine user and translate their intent into relevant search results. If Google failed to deliver relevant search results for their users, searchers would quickly turn to other search engines like Yahoo or Bing as well as Amazon and Facebook. If you implement any of the tips in this article, make sure you implement this tip.
The most important thing that you can do is create content that Google views as a valuable resource to show users on their search engine. For example, if you are a dry cleaner you may want to create a blog or video demonstrating how to remove a troublesome cherry pie stain. Equally important is to show up for what we call category searches.
Category searches are typically keywords that include the service you offer and the city in which your business is located. In our dry cleaner example, a typical category search could be “dry cleaner Clearwater” or “dry cleaner in Clearwater.” To understand the kinds of keywords people type in to reach websites in your business category, we recommend that you check your AdWords account if you are running one, use tools such as SEMRush.com and ahrefs.com, and lastly, check Search Console to view keyword phrases searchers used to find your website.
Now that you have completed keyword research, understand which keywords carry searcher intent, we recommend that you create keyword-rich content to help attract users to your website.
Tip 2: Next-level content creation
Adding keywords to your website’s blog posts is only one step in the content creation process. To create content that users will find truly engaging, we need to understand what keeps them up at night. The best way to find information is by speaking to your team. They speak to your customers every day and understand their frustrations, concerns, and what they need to know before making a purchasing decision. Your team will also tell you one more important thing.
They can identify an ideal customer based on their past experiences. You should create content first and foremost for these ideal customers as they tend to bring in 80% of the revenue and tend to have the best customer experience. Use the information gleaned from team meetings to create an editorial calendar for content production. Many small business owners are concerned about giving away valuable information for free; however, our advice is to give away some information that will help clients solve a problem on their own.
Our experience is that the more you give the more you will receive. Not only will Google want to show your content to help their search engine users solve a frustrating issue they’re facing, but users who read your content will also now view you as a thought leader in your space and be more likely to read additional blog posts you create. Building trust with your new readership takes time. Readers may need to read three, four, or even more blog posts before they feel comfortable giving your sales team a call. That is when the magic happens; after you have created a content library of truly useful material for your ideal customer, we find that there’s a flywheel effect that typically takes six months to get started, but once started it is hard to stop.
Tip 3: Machine learning
Google introduced machine learning in 2015 to further improve the relevancy of all kinds of search queries. Google named their artificial intelligence platform “RankBrain.” Only the three tips below will make you a RankBrain favorite.
- Link building: Links are important as Google views links from other sites to your site as an indicator of content quality. Google’s RankBrain is able to determine how many websites link to your website and the quality of other websites linking to your content.
- Keyword research: When optimizing for Google’s RankBrain, we recommend that you focus on medium-tail keywords. Medium-tail keywords are typically three to four words in length and convert at a higher rate due to their increased specificity.
- Content creation: As highlighted above, it is important to create quality content targeting your ideal customer and positions you as an expert in your field.
We recommend integrating these three tips into your current SEO efforts to accelerate your results for the remainder of this year and into 2020. Our last tip is to apply the three tips above consistently over the long haul. Many small business owners give up after only 30 or 60 days. That time frame is not adequate to position yourself as a thought leader in the eyes of your customers and a valuable resource in Google search results.
Adam Stetzer holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has published on the topics of Internet marketing, absenteeism, employee and customer satisfaction, productivity and safety, and culture. He has founded several technology firms, and is currently CEO at HubShout, a white label SEO reseller firm. In his 25 year career he has worked with companies such as General Electric, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Verizon, AT&T, Ford, LendingTree, American Express and ChevronTexaco. Adam has advised over 1,000 small business owners and blogs frequently.