Merchant Capital

SEO: The Basics And How To Use It For Your Small Business

Improving your SEO is a brilliant tool that can quickly get your small business noticed online. What is SEO? This is the process of affecting the visibility of your website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results. The main aim of SEO is to improve both the quality and quantity of your webpage ranking. It is also a way to target unpaid traffic. Improving the quality of your SEO ensures your business and products appear high up on search engines. So here are the core SEO basics you need to know, in order to leverage this powerful tool for your business.

Why worry about SEO?

Traffic can be a very powerful tool to drive people to your product or service. This is not about quantity of leads, but quantity as well. The best SEO draws very specific traffic with a high commercial intent. So if for example you sell jumping castles, would you rather buy an outdoor billboard so that every person who drives past sees your advert, whether they are interested in jumping castles or not? Or would you rather it comes up on top every time someone searches “jumping castles” on Google? Of course the latter. You want to engage with specific people who are searching with a high intention to buy. And you want them to find you so that you can provide them with what they’re looking for.

What works best for driving traffic?

Google is one of the highest ranking search engines out there. So let’s look at how their algorithm works:

  • Google is looking for high quality and relevant information that pertains to the searcher’s question.
  • They decide this by ‘crawling’ or reading your website’s content. They then evaluate this with an algorithm and decide on its relevance to the search. This is mostly based on keywords.
  • Relevance is assessed in a number of ways and one key way is for other sites to be linked to yours. This provides a kind of authenticity from other sources.

How to understand keywords

The first thing you need to do is determine the terms people are searching for. These are known as “keywords”. You have to consider a number of factors here:

  • Search Volume: This refers to the number of people who are searching for that specific keyword. The bigger the number of people, the bigger your potential audience.
  • Relevance: Make sure the term you use is relevant to what you are selling.
  • Competition: Consider the potential costs and the likelihood of success. From an SEO point of view this means gaining an understanding of the competition out there and your likelihood to rank using those specific terms.

What are Meta Descriptions?

While the title tag is essentially your search listing’s headline, the meta description  is another meta HTML element that can be updated in your site’s code, but isn’t seen on your actual page. This is essentially your site’s additional advertising copy. And while Google may not always show  your meta description,  by creating an interesting page description that would entice searchers to click, you can increase traffic.

Understanding information architecture and internal linking

Information architecture refers to the way in which you organise the information on your website pages. The way you do this and link between pages, has a huge influence on how your page ranks. Links are like votes of confidence from other sources and communicates that a site is trustworthy. Pages with lots of reputable links rank highly.

Search engines also consider the actual text used to link to pages. This is known as anchor text. By using a text that describes what the link is about, Google then understands what your page is all about so it knows how to rank you.

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Most people search on their phones. More so than from their computers actually. In fact because Google understands this, they favour mobile-friendly websites on their search engine. The way to ensure that your website is mobile- friendly is by making sure you are using a responsive design.

Update content

It is just as important to add new blog content as it is to repurpose existing content. You should always remove any content that isn’t relevant anymore. While some content may be evergreen, even these may need to be removed or changed due to outdated data or stats, for example. This is because it takes much longer for brand new content to “settle” on the search engine results page (SERP) and gain credibility. So you actually rather update an existing piece of content and enjoy the benefits fairly immediately.

The bottom line

If your business appears online, you need to get clued up on SEO in order to gain valuable organic presence on search engines. While this may seem daunting at first, using this key information you can gain the basics of how to manage this worthwhile process in an uncomplicated and profitable way.

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