Wanna know the secret to a ridiculously successful small business?
Hint: it isn’t print marketing, billboards, branding, or social media marketing. It’s SEO.
The best companies on the web are making millions (no exaggeration here) from top search rankings, and you can too.
Not sure where to start? In this 5-minute small business SEO guide, you’ll learn everything you need to start dominating Google. Let’s get going!
The Basic Truth About Small Business SEO
Most experts will try to tell you that SEO is a ridiculously complex process, but in reality, it’s not too difficult to understand. Google only really cares about two things:
1. The text and images on your website. If you’re trying to rank #1 for “custom t-shirts” and your site has the words “custom t-shirts” included somewhere on the page, Google will rank you more highly.
2. The number of other websites that are linking back to yours (these are called “backlinks”). An example of a backlink: Visit ABCTShirts.com.
Google uses links to tell which sites are reputable, and which aren’t. The more links you have, the higher Google will rank your site.
So how do you boost your search rankings?
It’s pretty simple: have better site text, and more websites linking to your site.
Step 1: Find out where you stand.
First things first, we need to find out well your site is currently performing. Lucky for us, there’s a great, free tool to help us measure how many backlinks a website has: the MozBar.
Click here to download the MozBar for Chrome or here to download it for Firefox. Installation should just take a few seconds after you click the button to add the extension. Once you’ve installed the toolbar and restarted your browser, click the blue-backed M icon at the top right-hand corner of your browser window.
Now you should see a toolbar at the top of all pages you visit (note: you can disable this toolbar when you aren’t using it). Let’s try it out!
First, visit www.guitarbots.com (a site offering a game that helps you learn guitar online). Take a look at the top of the screen, and you should see two scores – PA and DA. These scores measure how many backlinks a website has, from 0-100. The higher the score, the more links the page has.
The page authority (PA) of this particular page (based on the number of backlinks it has) is 42/100, and the domain authority (DA) of the entire site as a whole is 33/100.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THESE SCORES?!
If you have higher scores than your competitors, you will probably rank above them. In general, scores above 60 are typically top ranking sites on the first page, between 30-59 are at the bottom end of the first page, and sites below 30 generally rank on the 2nd-4th pages of Google results (this varies widely from industry to industry).
NOW, LET’S CHECK OUT THE COMPETITION…
The MOZ Toolbar can also help us to see SEO scores right in the middle of search results. That means we can easily see how competitive different keywords are. Here’s what I mean: If I Google “learn guitar online”, the first two results have Domain Authority scores of 56 and 40 (pictured below). If we can get a similar score on our site, and include the proper keywords, we should expect to rank in a similar way.
2. Find Perfect Keywords.
Finding the right keywords is the difference between a goldmine and a total flop, but how do you find great keywords? It’s simple: ask Google! Google offers a “Keyword Tool” that allows us to see what keywords are most highly trafficked, and how difficult it will be to rank for them.
SIGNING UP FOR THE KEYWORD TOOL
To get to the Google Keyword Tool, we need to sign up for Google Adwords – Google’s ad system. Click here to sign up now. Note: Google will ask us for billing information, but we can avoid it!
Enter your email address and website into the form:
If you don’t have a Google account yet, you’ll make one at this point.
Next you can fill in nonsense as I have below, or perhaps real
information if you plan on using AdWords for advertising.
Once you get to billing, you do have to provide a credit card, but you can cancel immediately and completely avoid any charges.
Okay, we’re finally almost there. On the final page, just accept the terms of service and click the button to Create Campaign. Now click Explore AdWords.
Important: Click the Green light next to your campaign name, and “Pause” your campaign and avoid all Google charges!
Now, skip past the step-by-step pop-up that wants you to click Campaigns. Instead go to Tools → Keyword Planner. Once inside the keyword planner, you have several tools at your disposal. We can find new keyword suggestions, see search volumes for terms and more.
Click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas, and enter some keywords that you think people are searching for. Press the Get Ideas button when you’re done:
NOW CLICK THE KEYWORD IDEAS BUTTON, AND TAKE A LOOK AT THE COLUMN ON THE LEFT
WHAT KEYWORDS ARE WORTH TARGETING?
Most valuable keywords are extremely competitive, and tough to rank for. What we’re looking for are terms with reasonable amounts of traffic, but still give us a chance to get into the top 10 results. As a rule of thumb, the best keywords have:
- At least 500 searches per month
- At least one website in the top 10 results that has a PA of under 25 (aka, a site that we could possibly overtake)
Once you’ve found some solid keywords, it’s time to…
3. Incorporate the keywords into your site.
Now that you have your keywords, it’s time to tell Google that your website is perfectly equipped to rank for them. The best way to do that? Putting keywords in your website’s text.
Your keywords should be included in:
- Your site’s title (the one displayed on the title bar of your browser)
- The biggest headline on your page (for you web nerds, this is called the <H1> tag)
- Your page’s text (preferably at least 2 or 3 times throughout the page)
Remember: we don’t want to stuff your page with keywords. Not only is it tacky to the reader, but Google hates keyword stuffing and will penalize your site for it.
4. Build Backlinks
Remember those backlinks we talked about earlier? Now it’s time to put them to good use.
The more backlinks we get, the higher Google will rank our pages. So how do we build backlinks?
There are hundreds of great techniques, but here are some of the most effective:
1. WRITE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES (LIKE THIS ONE)
If you can find a way to write an interesting and enlightening article about something, you typically will be able to get people to link back to it.
“How-To” articles are notoriously good for driving backlinks because they’re so sharable, but just about any informative piece of writing will do.
2. DO A FAVOR.
If you come across semi-important blogs in your industry, it may be worth your while to offer them a favor in exchange for a backlink or mention somewhere on their site. Note: exchanging links is typically frowned upon by Google, and so is the act of buying links, so tread carefully here.
3. MAKE A VIDEO
Google owns Youtube, and they tend to rank Youtube videos considerably higher than most webpages.
4. WORK EXISTING CONNECTIONS
If you know other website owners, try to convince them to include a link on their site.
And that’s it.
If you keep building backlinks and improving the content on your site, you can rank for literally any keyword. Remember: if another site ranks higher than you do, they must have either better content on their page, or better backlinks.
[Editor’s note: a reblogged article from my new affiliated web design company: Plato Web Design]
Looking for more than just SEO tips?
Contact us now for help with boosting your website’s search capabilities. We offer some pretty inexpensive monthly plans, and we’d love to work with your business!