Using SEO as a Community Builder
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still an elusive concept for many small business owners or even many large corporations for that matter. There are various interconnected parts and strategies in play that it can be daunting to even try to take the time to understand it, much less tackle it for your own business. It doesn’t help that SEO is ever-changing with rank qualifications adjusting constantly, the evolution of content standards, and the fact that if even one small piece of the puzzle changes (social media, UX, etc.), your entire SEO strategy is affected.
Make no mistake, as difficult as the concept of SEO and its ROI can be to grasp, it is imperative to the success of any business, particularly small businesses. This is why we have to look at SEO as a community builder. By using SEO effectively, you will find a community building up around your business of customers who will return again and again, share your content and website with others, and ultimately champion you to success. All of the elements of SEO have to be in play for ultimate success, here we share those pieces and walk you through building your own SEO-fueled community.
SEO: Before You Start
First, you need to have an idea of where you stand with SEO currently. An audit by a qualified professional will determine where your website is lacking both technically and with regard to content. This process, though it may not seem like much, really is imperative to getting down to the nitty-gritty on the backend of your website (you know, the part you don’t really look at) and determining what portions need triage and what can be built over time.
Pro SEO Tip: If the person you are turning to for your SEO doesn’t suggest an audit or doesn’t have a plan to show you the audit after it is complete, then you should run the other way.
SEO: The Basics of Building Your Community
What does SEO include? Too many things to list (and to be honest, the algorithms are changing all the time, thus, so is SEO).
There are, however some basics that you can begin to work on today.
- Keyword research – This is the first step in SEO and should be done continuously to ensure your small business has up-to-date keywords or phrases. These will help with ranking for search engines like Google as well as social media platforms like Twitter.
- Reduce your image sizes
- Optimize the user experience of your site – This means the colors, design, site speed, and how easy (or difficult) it is to find something.
- Build up your small business’ social media presence and engagement on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Add to the community by blogging. Blogging is a great way for small businesses to create content that will be shared across all of their social channels while also improving SEO through link building.
- Improve customer experience – This includes not only reducing bounce rates but making sure customers have everything they need at any given point in time (e.g., contact form). For instance, does your small business sell items online? Make sure you’re getting reviews and feedback from happy consumers! Review sites such as Yelp are another good candidate for this type of interaction with potential customers/users.
Use an SEO Plugin and Optimize Meta Data
I recommend adding an SEO plugin to your website to help make the process much easier and more universal. If you have a WordPress site, Yoast SEO is a stellar add-on. Then the fun begins; creating a set of keywords and compelling content on each page of your website is paramount. Use Google’s keyword planner to discover what the best performing search keywords are for your industry and make sure you incorporate them into your website. Don’t pick just one or two, but work with the top 10-15 to ensure you are spreading the love and not focusing too much on only one option.
Ensure that the words are incorporated within not only content (packing content full of keywords for the sake of the keyword is a no-no in Google’s book these days), but also headings and meta-descriptions. Yes, you do need to be using these features. Meta descriptions appear when someone is searching for or sharing your content. If your description is missing, wrong, or doesn’t give a decent summary of your webpage then the likelihood of Google putting it high in search rankings is low, not to mention no one will be enticed to click on it and even less so to share it anywhere.
Search phrases are just as important as individual words, maybe even more so. If searching for a motorcycle in Austin, the chances you would only type ‘motorcycle’ into the search engine is slim. The search would most likely look like ‘Harley Davidson motorcycle in Austin’, or some such variation. Do not stop at keywords alone or you will find yourself attracting people who have zero interest in actually taking advantage of your service, and your search results will not turn into clicks or viable business for you. Broad keywords will keep you from ranking appropriately and keep you at the bottom of the barrel, which, unlike the proverbial fish, you do not want to be.
Pro SEO Tip: Use header tags with your keyword(s) for some great on-page rank building.
Write Quality Content
Writing quality content is a key SEO ranking factor. Many of the top-ranking pages have long-form content because it shows expertise in the subject matter.
Write long-form quality content that ranks high on Google’s search engine list. This blog post, for example, does just that with its 1600+ words on small business SEO strategies and how to build communities around businesses through SEO tactics. We also provide tips such as writing meta descriptions for your website or social media posts so customers can find those pages more easily online with their query searches–a crucial step when it comes to building relationships with potential new customers who might not be searching for your product specifically but could become interested once they see what you have to offer.
Blog regularly about topics related to your small business in order to continue an ongoing discussion. Engage readers on social media and encourage them to share posts and follow you on Facebook or Twitter where they will receive special offers only available from their favorite small businesses. Encourage reader participation throughout the discussions as well so that interested readers stay engaged.
How much does content length matter? Well, while a page can certainly get too long eventually; a little more content is better than less. Articles that are over 1000 words in length will rank higher on search engine pages and, as mentioned above, provide a better user experience.
Check out this data from MonsterInsights.
Use Social Media
Get social! You know that Twitter account you set up five years ago but gave up on after trying to use Twitter for all of ten minutes? It’s time to revisit it. Being present, active, and relevant on social media still means something to SEO. Not just in “bot land” where robots rule and tell Google, Bing, and the like how interesting you are, but also as part of the community-building piece I mentioned. Your fans are looking for you to guide them in their decisions, and the more engaged they are with you, the more likely you are to see them visiting and sharing content to your website.
SEO is a community builder. Make no mistake, as difficult as the concept of SEO and its ROI can be to grasp, it is imperative to the success of any small business. This is why we have to look at SEO as a way for small businesses to build up their communities around them. By using SEO effectively you will find that your small business has an ever-growing group who are sharing content about your company on social media sites like Facebook or Pinterest. It all starts with doing some research into what keywords people are looking for when they go online; those search terms then become part of the content you produce on blogs and articles so that interested people find them and share them.
Pro SEO Tip: Talk to others with whom you have done business and ask to link to them and vice versa to give your website visitors the best resources (make sure they are relevant to your business or industry) to choose from and boost your on-page SEO.
Keep track of your results!
As soon as you start using a new keyword or phrase notate when it was put in use and compare your SEO results. Make sure you have Google Analytics set up for your business in order to watch increases and decreases in traffic. But don’t just watch, ACT! If you see that you have adjusted your SEO and little is happening, tweak the keywords. If you find that you added a set of keyword phrases and your traffic increases, pay special attention to those terms and continue to expand on them; ensure they are where they need to be on the site. Your site and the success of your business will live and die by the tracking of your website results.
Success in SEO looks different for every industry and business, but for many businesses will be in the increase of return visitors. If you are creating a community through excellent content, backlinks from other website partners, and social media engagement, you will find more and more loyal and committed customer partners who are invested in your success.
Want to start making SEO improvements like – yesterday? Read up on the five things you can do to help your SEO here.
My philosophy is more than just words or data, it is finding a way to marry content and SEO strategy with dynamic advertising to build online equity in our clients’ businesses. Writing is my passion, using it to help others is my pleasure and part of my mission at Hot Dog Marketing.