Increase Discoverability with SEO
When it comes to digital marketing, search engine optimization or SEO sounds like a magic word. In fact, content is key, and SEO is the process of making sure your content, including copy and images, is compatible with search engines. However, when starting your own business or blog, it can be confusing to continue with SEO. That's why we created this guide on how to increase your brand’s discoverability with SEO, so you can get the basics down and get started.
As a small business owner trying to switch to an online business model, you have a unique opportunity to use SEO and improve your website from day one. The peculiarity of SEO is that it is free. Also, it helps to increase organic traffic to your website, improve Google ranking and free search results. Considering that most of your website traffic will come from Google search, it is best to put some effort into improving your site's SEO.
A Guide to SEO
If you primarily work with a YouTube channel and are looking to increase your number of subscribers, know that YouTube is also a search engine and SEO can play a big role in your success. Optimizing your YouTube channel for SEO can help you rank higher in search results and improve discoverability.
Install a SEO Plugin
The first step in our beginner's guide to SEO is to install an SEO plugin on your website. Several are available in the market. Some are completely free, others have a paid version. Some plugins will offer generic SEO guidance, while others will help you focus on local SEO or video SEO.
Yoast SEO, for instance, is a popular plugin that gives you a checklist in every blog post of things to include, improve, or remove. The plugin serves as a guide and is very useful for beginners. Premium plugins allow you to add your keyword and synonyms and related keyword phrases. Thus, it helps you better distribute key phrases in your content to target many variations of your keyword.
Yoast SEO, or any other SEO plugin, will help you analyze your content and improve it where needed. The plugin will also make sure that you adhere to SEO best practices. However, checking all the boxes and getting the plugin's green dots is not enough to confirm that your website is on point for SEO - you’ll need someone to monitor it consistently.
Pick a niche
Step two of this beginner's guide to SEO: find your niche. If you're a small business, your "niche" is the product you sell within your industry. If you are a blogger, your niche is the topic or field you will focus on, ie mental health or book reviews.
Although choosing a niche is not compulsory and some niches are quite large (i.e. lifestyle), it will help you narrow down what your content is about and give you direction. Focusing on a particular topic will help you create comprehensive, informative, and useful content that people are specifically looking for.
While you will have a main theme, you can also branch out a bit towards more specific topics that are still within your niche. For example, if your niche is gluten-free recipes, you can initially offer generic recipes. Then you can add a category of vegan gluten free recipes to your blog. Under that umbrella, you can have vegan gluten-free desserts, vegan gluten-free cookies, etc.
Choosing a niche not only gives you direction and something to focus on, but it will also help you become a reference in your field, an expert, and an authority in that particular niche.
Find related keywords
Once you've chosen your niche, or know what your content will be about, you can start making a list of related keywords. You need to find a mix of short tail keywords and long tail keywords.
The first are search phrases with only one or two words. Their length makes them less specific than searches with more words. Because they are so generic, they are also very competitive and your content may not rank easily for them.
The latter are three and four keyword phrases that are very, very specific to whatever it is you're selling. Whenever a customer uses a very specific search phrase, they tend to search for exactly what they are going to buy. They are less competitive and easier to rank.
Once you have your main keywords, you can also find variations and synonyms and related keyword phrases. This will allow you to show up for more terms in search results and target multiple variations of your original keyword.
Use keywords across your content
To make sure Google knows what your content is about, you need to spread your keywords, synonyms, and related key phrases evenly across your copy. The repetition of keywords and synonyms will send a signal to Google about what your content is about. So you can only suggest it in a related search query.
However, it is also important that you do not stuff your content with keywords, as Google can detect this and penalize you for it. This is why it is so important to use synonyms and related key phrases.
If you use an SEO plugin, the dashboard at the bottom of your blog post or page in the editor will tell you how many times your keyword appears in your text. If you add a synonym or key phrase, you'll also get the corresponding information.
Format posts and pages for SEO
Let's move on to the fifth part of our guide to SEO for beginners. SEO goes beyond using keywords in your text. Legibility, headings, and paragraph length will also play a role. An SEO plugin will also tell you if you need to improve those three elements:
- Title tags – Title tags help you break your content into smaller parts, indicating what each one is about. H1 is the title of the blog post in WordPress. H2 is in the body of the text announcing what it is about. H3, H4, H5, and H6 further help you break down your text and give it more structure. They should all be keyword rich.
- Paragraph length: Google doesn't like long, big paragraphs. Neither do the visitors. Google likes shorter paragraphs because they help break down the content and because they are easier to read. The ideal size is 150 characters.
- Readability: Google wants to show the best results, the most useful and the easiest to use. Therefore, readability will affect your ranking. If the algorithm finds your content hard to read, it won't rank it high. SEO plugins can help you adhere to readability best practices.
Optimize images for SEO
Images are just as essential to SEO as copy. They make articles come to life and good images make a big difference. Your blog post is searchable via Google image via your featured image. Therefore, it is important that it is also optimized for SEO.
Images should be relevant to your content and clearly illustrate what your post or page is about. It must be of high quality and compressed so that it does not affect the speed of your site. Add a title and alt text containing your keywords to make it easier to search.
Internal links are hyperlinks that go to the same domain. It helps Google find, index, and understand all the pages on your site. Internal links can also help send page authority to important pages. Bottom line: internal linking is key for any site that wants to rank higher in Google.
Internal linking is also great for improving blog visit length, traffic to your website, and lowering your bounce rate. By linking blog posts to each other, you can encourage a visitor to click on another post and spend more time on your blog.
The anchor text you use to link to another page on your website must be relevant to the content on that page. Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in an HTML hyperlink. For example, if you like our five reasons your small business needs Pinterest for marketing blog posting, your anchor text should reference Pinterest.
Don't use the same anchor for two different pages and try to vary the phrases and word combinations when linking multiple times to the same page.
Make your content shareable
We are nearing the end of our beginner's guide to SEO. It is important that your content is shearable. If people share a lot of your blog posts on different platforms, Google will see it as a sign that your content is really very qualitative, informative and useful.
Actions are basically social proof on social media. Although social media is not a direct SEO ranking factor, the correlation between social signals and ranking position is extremely high. Social networks can amplify the ranking factors that Google considers, as sharing adds more visibility to your content.
You want to encourage your readers to share your content and optimize your website as much as possible. Enable the social sharing buttons at the top and the button on your blog post. The easier it is to share, the more likely people are to do so.
Promote on social media
The last part of our SEO guide is social media promotion. As mentioned above, social media is not a direct ranking factor for Google. However, Google uses shared links on Facebook and Twitter as a ranking signal. Social media links don't count individually, but there is still a correlation with search ranking.
Social media is one of the best ways to promote content and get found online. Which is ultimately what SEO is all about. Also, social profiles definitely influence the content of search results. People are just as likely to click on a social network as they are on a website. Social networks are also search engines (Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter) and people can find you through a hashtag or targeted search.
If you have a small business looking to increase organic traffic to your website, paying attention to SEO is a safe and free way to do it. SEO plugins will help you get familiar with all the basics to optimize your content. However, SEO is also something you need to take care of on an ongoing basis. In fact, as Google's search algorithm, content requirements, and seasons change, so should your content.
If you're not sure how to get started with SEO, we offer a fully managed SEO service at AHA! Get in touch today!