There is no shortage of SEO (search engine optimization) tips, guides, and books from which we can learn best practices. The problem for small business owners isn't in finding trustworthy SEO information, but rather knowing how to apply SEO elements to your own business website.
Article SEO refers to on-page techniques that you use to control elements—like the page title, keywords, and meta description (to name a few)—within each page of your site. To help you get started, Small Business Computingasked business and marketing experts to explain a few important article SEO tactics. Here are four SEO tips to boost website traffic.
[Related: 6 Essential Small Business SEO Tips]
Article SEO Tip #1: Choose the Right Keywords
One SEO element mentioned frequently is the keyword (the main topic or focus of an article). When choosing words and phrases you want to be found for in search, remember that your business is not the only one using that keyword. In fact, there may be many millions of pages in search results for the keyword you choose.
Eric Bowen, digital marketing coordinator at BroadbandSearch.net suggests that small business owners start with keyword research, because there are different ways to convey the same message.
"Do your keyword research through Google or any third-party keyword tool to find out which terms people search for the most, and make sure you regularly repeat a variety of those terms throughout your webpage or article," Bowen says. "This will help search engines associate your website with the searcher's queries."
A tool like Google's Keyword Planner can easily show which keywords people search for most and which keywords are the most competitive. Bowen recommends that you focus on three to five keywords, making sure the keywords relate both to your business and to the topic of the specific webpage. Remember, people are searching for answers; make sure your page and your keywords relate to get the information they want.
"Ideally, you would focus on two of the more competitive keywords with high monthly searches, two somewhat-competitive keywords with high monthly searches and one non-competitive keyword with either high or moderately high monthly searches," advises Bowen.
He explains the reasoning behind this strategy. "Target multiple keywords so that you appear higher in search results for the less competitive keywords while you build up your website to rank higher for the more competitive keywords."
Article SEO Tip #2: Match Title and Description to Search Intent
When it comes to meta title, meta description, and page titles, many SEO experts have written standards for meta data, and you can find these guidelines just about anywhere online. We recommend the Moz SEO guide if you need to review the basics.
If you're ready to push past the SEO basics, Yev Marusenko, Ph.D., growth marketing manager at OnTheGridAgency, believes that search intent is a top consideration when crafting meta descriptions and page titles.
What's the best way to connect these important article SEO elements? Marusenko advises: the content in your meta description snippet should have a logical flow that connects the search result title to your page headline and to the rest of the page content.
For example, here are two searches that will mean the same thing to many people: inventory management system reviews and deciding on inventory management system.
"What is the intent of the person searching? Does he want to compare different products and services because he's in the early stage of researching information? Or is he deep in the research and ready to make a purchase," explains Marusenko. "The wrong statement in the wrong headline and description combination will result in more bounce rates."
Article SEO Tip #3: Quality Articles and Fresh Content
In some cases, longer articles often rank higher in search results. Small businesses tend to focus page copy on sales, but you can improve visibility in search results by publishing quality expert articles for customers.
"If your webpage topic is bathroom installation, then don't just talk about the cost. Include what's involved, like the hardware and the challenges," advises Marc Prosser, co-founder of Fit Small Business. "Detailed, quality content is critical for SEO. You may want your website to focus on sales and on the value proposition, but Google rewards sites that offer original content with more than 2,000 words."
Continuing with the bathroom installation as an example, Prosser recommends that you include actual descriptions of the installation. Ask clients for permission to include pictures of the work, and provide customer reviews that include each reviewer's town, city, or neighborhood. Adding this information on your page will help people find your business when they search for long-tailed keywords, which often include their location.
Ideally you want to take a two-pronged strategy for long term SEO: publish new articles and update older pages on a regular basis to keep the site fresh for both Google and for your visitors.
Article SEO Tip #4: You Need Backlinks
In SEO, backlinks (or inbound links) are hyperlinks from other sites that lead to your website. Backlinks are an important SEO element, because some search engines give more credit to a website with good, quality inbound links. Creating excellent resources, event pages, and helpful articles will encourage related sites and blogs to link to you, but you often need to do even more to obtain high authority links.
One way that small business owners can gain inbound links is to use digital PR. Luca Alessandrini, digital marketing specialist at Online Optimism, says that a small business can target a news outlet or company with a high authority website and then create content that's worth sharing.
"An efficient strategy for small businesses is to create PR campaigns that align your brand with a cause you care truly about. Finding a message your business believes in is essential, as authenticity shines in the world of PR," writes Alessandrini. "Many small businesses are tempted to spotlight ads in their campaigns, but it's the message that matters. Maintaining a simple, clear message through your campaign is the key to standing out as a small business."
When looking for high authority sites to target for links, Alessandrini also recommends Moz, a tool that you can use as a Chrome web browser plug-in. When browsing sites, the Moz tool tells you the sites' domain authority, which helps you to find niche subject areas where your small business can shine.
Vangie Beal is a seasoned online marketplace seller and avid online bargain hunter. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.
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