SEO 101: The 2 Steps Small Business Owners Can Take Today to Start a Solid Digital Marketing Campaign

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Dumbfounded by the intricacies of digital marketing? We get it. The internet is a vast (virtually infinite) space, and it takes some carefully crafted and well-synchronized strategies to get your small business website found by potential customers. After all, 93% of all online experiences start on a search engine, so making sure your site is easily accessible to users is critical. That’s where search engine optimization comes in. With a solid SEO strategy, you can climb Google’s ranks, land that coveted first-page spot, and watch your organic web traffic convert into bonafide paying customers.

But with so many factors affecting your website’s performance, where do you start? This article will walk you through two of the most basic but most important techniques you’ll need to master before moving on to more advanced SEO.

Long-Form Content That Matches Searcher Intent

Every small business website needs to have a blog. Acting as a knowledge base for your ideal customers will build trust, establishing you as an expert in your industry. This involves writing well-researched, in-depth blog posts that answer the questions your customers have.

This is where we’ll stop and talk about searcher intent. “Searcher intent” refers to the motivations of a search engine user. When they type their query into the search bar, what are they looking for? For Google to consider your site for the first page of any given search result, your content should address the searcher intent implied in the keywords the searcher uses.

For instance, if a searcher types in “where to buy golf clubs,” we know exactly what they want to find. And Google is determined to help them find it. Perhaps your e-commerce sporting good store is the answer — it’s now your job to prove to Google that it is.

To do that, you’ll need to express why your site is the ultimate answer to “where to buy golf clubs.” This long-tail keyword should appear on your site multiple times, and you may even want a blog post dedicated to answering this question specifically. Your blog as a whole should provide extensive information related to golf, golf clubs, and golf tips and tricks — all information that will benefit your ideal customer. Again, it’s imperative that you set yourself up as an industry expert. Do this with well-written, in-depth, heavily-researched content.

In years past, small business owners would write blog posts under 500 words, and that was sufficient to attract visitors. But today, over 2 million blog posts are published on the internet each day; the web is saturated with content and competition has grown fierce. That means your blog needs to be bigger, better, faster, and smarter. SEO professionals recommend that blog posts contain between 1,500 and 2,000 words, and recent data reveals that most page one listings on Google have more than 1,000 words.

There are a few reasons longer content is more highly regarded by Google. The first is that it provides more room for the author to go in-depth. It’s likely that long-form content will contain more essential information that will benefit users. And Google can certainly tell when text is valuable and meaningful versus when it’s filled with nonsense and fluff. Their 2011 Panda algorithm update was designed to analyze the quality of a page’s content, using grammar and syntax to determine if the text was strong. Thin content just won’t cut it anymore.

Another reason Google responds well to long-form content is that it increases a user’s time on page. Ironically, a longer piece is less likely to be read all the way through than a shorter piece of content. Readers simply don’t have the attention span to take in all 1,500 words; they skim. But long-form content with a solid layout and a number of images is far more engaging. Visitors will skip around the page, allowing the graphics to draw them back in at key points.

So there you have our first essential technique: write in-depth, heavily-researched long-form blog content that addresses specific searcher intent.

Content Promotion for Relevant and Authoritative Backlinks

The internet is made up of two main ingredients: content and links. Now that you have your high-quality content, it’s time to build links to those pages.

Links act as a roadway, bringing visitors to pages all across the internet. But links serve another function, a very important one in Google’s eyes. To Google, a link is a vote cast by one website for another. The more links you have to your site, the more confidence Google will have that your site is strong. However, not all votes are created equal. Some links hold more weight — the best links come from websites that are considered “high authority” are highly relevant to your website. Let’s talk first about authority.

Website strength is measured in terms of domain authority (DA) or domain rating (DR). Both of these are numbers between zero and 100. The higher the DA or DR, the stronger or more authoritative the site. Google trusts these sites, and so when one links to your site, Google trusts their judgment and ranks you just a little higher as well.

However, a link from a high authority site that has little or nothing to do with your website will look suspicious. A fitness blog links to your e-commerce sporting good store? Great. A horoscope website links to your store’s site? Odd. Relevance is important.

Now that we understand why links are important, let’s discuss how to get them.

SEO experts suggest spending 20% of your content marketing time on content creation and 80% on promoting that content. After all, links don’t create themselves. Like campaigning for votes in an election, you have to do some outreach and shameless self-promotion to get people to vouch for you. One way you can get links to your content is through email outreach.

Despite what some people say, email marketing is not dead. After all, email is one of the most pervasive communication platforms in existence today. Sure, it’s been around for a few decades, but there’s a reason it’s still present in our everyday lives — it works.

Start by curating a list of opted-in email addresses — people who value what you have to say and will welcome your content. One of the most effective ways to do this is through an email capture pop-up on your site that offers a promotion; people who enter their email addresses will receive a free sample, whitepaper, or coupon in return. These people are already interested in you, so they should be the first people you address when you publish a new piece of content on your blog. Their comments, likes, and shares will act as a social signal to Google that your blog is valuable.

Then, reach out to influencers in your industry, those with high authority websites whose links will give your site a boost in the rankings. Offer to write a guest post for their sites. In exchange for an in-depth, well-written piece of content that will benefit their users, many site owners will allow you to insert a link back to your own website.

Strong content and an authoritative backlink profile are the building blocks of a healthy SEO campaign. Of course, the Google algorithm takes many other factors into consideration when ranking websites, but if you’re looking for a simple way to start, give your blog the attention it deserves. To go more in-depth, consult a white label SEO firm today.