As a small business owner, you know that you have to maximize the use of your resources to promote services or items for sale better than your closest competitors. Search engine optimization can make the difference between keeping the lights on and going out of business, after all.
When it comes to marketing, the most successful owners have figured out how to prioritize and amplify the SEO content of their online materials. Here are seven secrets that you can start using today to help you write rich content that is optimized for search engines.
1. Brainstorm for Keywords Your Customers Care About
What comes to mind when you consider the items or services you sell? Think like a customer who is about to type a query into a search engine. In many cases, customers will add geographical details, such as the name of their city, state or ZIP code, so you should use location terms as keywords in your SEO content.
The names of your products and terms relating to problems and solutions customers care about are just the tip of the iceberg. Meet with your staff to hold brainstorming sessions where you write down everything they say without judgment. Then, evaluate the list to determine the best terms to use in your content.
2. Examine how Competitors Approach SEO
Whether you have been in business the longest or are the new kid on the block in terms of competition, it’s possible that your closest rivals have discovered useful keywords to lure more customers your way.
Study the websites, blog posts and social media updates of your competitors. Are they writing content using terms you have never considered using before? They may have just conducted some market research that points them to new ideas that you can profit from as well.
3. Place Your Keywords in the Material as Naturally as Possible
Don’t overdo it when it comes to keyword placement. Search engines can see through this tactic and you may wind up actually going down in the rankings if it looks like you are resorting to stuffing keywords. Loading up on keywords makes for unnatural copy that is designed more for search engine robots than actual humans.
Use keywords in the title of a web page as well as in the headline. When it seems natural, use keywords for the headline of a blog post, its introduction and maybe a few times in the body and once at the end.
For best results, write for people first and search engines second.
4. Get to the Point
Your readers are busy. Don’t write a 1,600-word blog post if 450 words will suffice. On the other hand, it won’t help you to rely on short bursts of text, such as a 115-word blog post that you dash off during a coffee break.
Search engines will tend to give better rankings to longer pieces of content because of the additional details and insight that will benefit the readers.
5. Organize the Material for Easy Reading
Don’t subject your readers to huge, unbroken blocks of text. The sight of a massive wall of words may cause them to close your page and turn to the next item of interest, such as one of your competitors.
Remember that consumers are increasingly relying on their smartphones to do research and find new products or services online. Breaking up your text into smaller sections makes sense when you consider how many readers will be viewing it on a tiny screen.
Begin with a catchy title that encourages readers to click to read more. Make sure to include a keyword whenever possible.
Craft a compelling introduction and then use subheadings to divide the material into sections. Vary the length of sentences to provide rhythm and excitement.
6. Proofread and Edit
Proofing and editing your material is crucial, especially if you are not a professional writer. One extra set of eyes at minimum should be checking all material. Don’t rely on your word processor’s spell-check feature, because it can miss common mistakes, such as “insure” when you mean “ensure,” “its” instead of “it’s” or transposing a number in a date, such as 2061 instead of 2016.
Read the copy aloud to get a fresh perspective after you’ve read it to yourself silently.
If no one on staff has the writing, editing and marketing skills that a project like this requires, you either need to hire someone or outsource the work to professional marketers.
7. Conduct A/B Split Testing
Sometimes you just won’t know how a particular piece of SEO content will perform until you actually test it out on readers. This is why so many marketers rely on A/B split testing.
Essentially, you create two different versions of some text, such as the copy for your landing page. Steer some searchers to version A of the page and direct other searchers to version B. Then, keep track of how many people visit each version and which one keeps visitors reading for longer or gets them to take an action, such as to call or click for details.
No matter how well you are doing in your marketing efforts, never let your team grow complacent. Assume that SEO requirements will continue to change and evolve as search engines adjust their ranking algorithms. Stay on top of industry best practices or if you lack the time, partner up with marketing professionals who can monitor SEO developments for you.