Once you start researching online marketing techniques, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes up almost immediately. If you’re a business owner, then you’ve probably been told that you need to incorporate SEO into your marketing plans if you want to be successful in digital marketing.
It’s true that SEO can be a great way to drive new business to your online or brick-and-mortar storefront. But it can also be very intimidating to get started if you don’t know anything about it.
The good news? The basics are simple and can be implemented quickly. If you’ve been interested in adding SEO to your marketing toolkit, here’s a quick intro so you can feel less intimidated and roll up your sleeves.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
SEO refers to the process of optimizing your online presence to appear as early as possible in search engine results for related keywords. Essentially, SEO allows you to prove to the search engines that you can best help people who are searching for certain keywords or topics.
When most people think of SEO, they think of keywords, but there are a number of other factors that go into the search rankings, such as website speed, popularity, and “domain authority,” which largely relies on how many other sites link to your content.
SEO 101: Content Marketing for More Business
The first thing you should know about SEO is that it’s not a short-term strategy. It takes time to build up an optimized online presence and authority with the search engines. However, it’s a great long-term strategy that is extremely affordable, since it isn’t a “pay-to-play” marketing method.
For SEO to work most effectively, you will need to put effort into a strategy known as content marketing. This involves creating optimized content such as blog posts, social media content, and videos, tailored around relevant keywords in your industry. This is content that is available for free to your audience, but it can help build up your authority and get you higher in search rankings over time.
Aside from SEO opportunities, content marketing is important for small businesses in a number of different ways. Great content can help you tell your story and build rapport with your customers. It provides value to current and future customers, which builds trust. It can also answer some of your customers’ most frequently asked questions, improving their experience and saving you time.
The Best SEO Plugins & Tools
The good news about getting started with SEO is that there are now so many great tools available. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to create optimized content or to update your website so it’s fully search-engine friendly. Some of the best SEO plugins and tools include:
- Moz—provides information about a website’s domain authority, allowing you to check your own site, competitors, and those you might want to consider collaborating with.
- SEM Rush—an all-in-one SEO tool that helps you research appropriate keywords and optimize your content to improve your ranking.
- Google Keyword Planner—allows you to look up search volumes for different keywords to plan your strategy.
- Google Search Console—provides monitoring for your website so you can easily evaluate your SEO progress. It’s a great source of data you can use to be more strategic with your marketing.
- Yoast—a plugin from WordPress that provides a simple framework you can use to optimize every post on your website. It’s easy to use and can help you to better understand how SEO works.
- Ahrefs—Another all-in-one SEO tool, Ahrefs allows you to do in-depth analyses, including for backlinks.
The tools that will be available to you will depend on how your website is built and hosted. If your website is powered by WordPress, you have a huge number of tools to help you ensure your content follows best practices.
How to Keep Up with SEO Updates
SEO is always changing because the algorithms powering search engines are getting smarter all the time. Their goal is to provide the information a searcher is looking for. To do that, the algorithms need to understand what information indicates a quality website.
This means that you’ll want to keep up with SEO updates and trends so you can ensure you’re following current best practices. Following SEO experts on social media, signing up for alerts through Google and Bing to send you SEO news, and browsing SEO forums are all great ways to stay up-to-date.
Follow Top SEO Blogs & Newsletters
Another way to grow your SEO knowledge over time is to subscribe to the best SEO content available. Finding reliable blogs and newsletters can help you understand the nuances of SEO and feel more confident in your ability to implement your strategy.
The great thing about turning to SEO blogs and newsletters for information is that you can always reference them again when you need to. Plus, you’ll get new information delivered straight to your inbox.
It’s important to get your information from reliable sources with a lot of experience and results to back them up. You don’t want to end up following the advice of someone who hasn’t had much real-life success in implementing SEO strategies.
Don’t Panic—Just Do Your Best!
When it comes to SEO, the perfect can definitely be the enemy of the good. You can get paralyzed by all the information out there and feel too overwhelmed to get started. The best thing to do, however, is jump in and know that you’ll make some mistakes.
There’s a lot to learn about SEO, but you don’t have to know it all to be successful. Just start with the basics and be open to learning more as you go. Although getting results from SEO requires some time and effort, it’s not necessary to become an expert.
Remember, you can always adjust your strategy later if something isn’t working. Learning to think like a search engine has a bit of a learning curve, but with all the great resources available online, you’ll build your confidence in no time!