By Anna Seacat
If you’re an owner or marketing manager at a small business, a do-it-yourself guide to SEO may be just what you have been looking for, especially since marketing is expensive, as is website development. Have you just spent a good chunk of the marketing budget on an expensive website that is supposed to be “optimized for search,” but you are wondering why your small business doesn’t rank for important keyword phrases in search results? The answer to this question is simple: An optimized website does not guarantee premium placement on the first search engine results page. When your web designer claims to have built a Google-Friendly or SEO-friendly website, this simply means she or he has included very technical aspects of website design that, at the very least, will not cause search engines to penalize your site.
To actually improve your small business’s search engine rankings and presence on social media, a bit of marketing work is required. But, don’t fret. You do not need to dig deeper into your advertising funds. In fact, below it will be shown that SEO can be enhanced through do-it-yourself projects. This “DIY SEO Guide: 3 Easy Steps a Small Business Can Take to Improve SEO” is straight-forward and simple to implement. So, grab your paint brush…ahem, your camera, and let’s get to it!
DIY SEO Guide Step 1:
“Scrapbooking” – Create an Online Media Room
Do you have pictures from your small business’s grand opening or grand re-opening? Did a local reporter write an article about the ten year anniversary of your business? Has a blogger reviewed your restaurant? Did one of your employees just make the front page of your local paper for participating in a Walk-a-Thon? Was one of the products that you sell recognized for being the best-in-class? Anytime anything is written about you, your business, your products, or your employees, whether it be in print or online, gather all of these clippings and screenshots into a robust media room, a.k.a. your scrapbook.
A few DIY tips while working on your SEO Scrapbook project:
- You don’t need to pay your website design firm to create a new page on your website to improve your small business’s SEO efforts. Instead, create a free blog on WordPress or Blogger to showcase mentions of your business in the media. Or, to create the full effect of a digital scrapbook, create this online media room on Pinterest. By creating a new site of content on a social media platform, rather than hosting it on your website, you are making it easier for your audience to share and comment on the content. And, of course the objective of SEO is not to just get your small business’s website ranking high on a search engine results page, but to earn many spots on that page. Using a blogger site or Pinterest board will help you achieve this SEO objective (more details at http://www.bingdigital.com/magento-agency/).
- Never, never, never copy and paste other people’s (or your own) articles, blog posts, or pictures to re-purpose on your site. Instead, take a screen shot of the blog post or photo of the newspaper article to use an image for your Pinterest board, write a keyword-rich description about why it is meaningful to your small business, while giving the author a lot of credit, and share a link to the original article or a link to the reporter’s social media profile.
- Provide compelling reasons for your audience to click on a link leading back to your small business’s website within the image’s descriptions. It is through these types of links that the SEO potential of this do-it-yourself project will be maximized.
DIY SEO Guide Step 2:
“Organizing” – Create an Industry-Specific Glossary
Regardless of whether your small business sells window treatments, jewelry, lawn care services, or real estate advice, there is most likely industry jargon that customers would benefit from knowing and understanding. As a matter of fact, this jargon might be the source of many customers’ questions, which you and your staff answer on a routine basis. One critical aspect of SEO that small business owners should understand is that a website, which is professionally optimized for search, is designed to answer searchers’ questions. Therefore, it is easy to see how an industry-specific glossary, which answers common questions that customers have about your business, would drive traffic to your site. Now that you understand the SEO power behind your small business owning an online glossary, below we’ll offer a few DIY tips for creating one.
A few DIY tips while working on your SEO Organizing project:
- Creating an online glossary, ideally on a content management service like WordPress, that organizes industry jargon for your small business’s customers is truly a do-it-yourself project, because you can actually delegate this task to non-marketing staff. In fact, anyone who regularly answers customers’ questions can start making a long list of those questions as they naturally come up. It is recommended that you give this task to all of your customer-facing employees and delegate one as the person to round-up and organize all the questions into one document.
- After you have the organized list of questions, you or a person good at written communication can simply start a new page on your WordPress blog or website and formulate the questions into glossary-style definitions, such as this sample template for a window treatment glossary below. Notice that in order to maximize the SEO potential of each listing in your glossary, hyperlinked text should be provided that links back to your site. Additionally, each listing should conclude with a clear hyperlinked “call to action” (CTA) to click for more information:
WINDOW TREATMENT GLOSSARY
What is a WINDOW VALANCE? A window valance is a short curtain or piece of drapery that is hung across the top of a window. Window valances come in a variety of styles including [insert hyperlinked text to styles on your small business’s website] and can be customized to match the décor in your home or business [insert hyperlink text to fabric options on your small business’s website]. Popular uses of window valances include [insert hyperlinked description of uses that link to the gallery page on your website]. Are you looking for custom window valances? Reach out to us on Twitter or our Facebook page. We are eager to make the perfect window valance for you.
DIY SEO Guide Step 3:
“Vlogging” – Create a Steady Stream of Personalized Videos
You may have noticed the first step to improving your small business’s SEO efforts was photo-based and the second was text-based, so it’s only right that the final step address the importance that videos play in search engine optimization. Much has been written about the powerful influence that video has in search engine optimization. A search engine marketing expert, Neil Patel, who Forbes named one of the top 10 online marketers, explained that creating YouTube videos “can get a distinct leg up on your competition” on search engine results pages.
Don’t be intimidated by video creation and publishing. Video production used to be a marketing tactic that only large companies with large advertising budgets utilized. However, today “vlogging” and other user-generated video formats have created an environment where consumers prefer raw video and distrust overly-produced, slick commercials. David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” (2013) suggested that “the trend toward casual [video-based] content means consumers want to get closer to the organizations they do business with” (p. 305). So, grab your digital SLR or mobile device and use these three tips to get your video blog started today.
A few DIY tips while working on your SEO Vlogging project:
- Empower your employees. It is very likely that your employees are active on social media and comfortable with taking short videos with mobile devices. Do not hesitate to take advantage of their “expertise.” Keep in mind, the modern consumer is most inclined to connect online with other people not businesses (Bernoff & Li, 2011, p. 137), which appropriately positions your employees as your small business’s best advocates. Encourage them to pick up your product and tape themselves talking about why they love it. Ask them to give a video tour of your storefront. Allow them to interview you and each other about their jobs, how their hobbies relate to their jobs, and what they enjoy the most about your customers. Finally, give them the time at work to upload their videos to social media platforms.
- Unfortunately, the uploaded videos, alone, are not enough to enhance your small business’s SEO efforts. You or your designee will need to make sure that the videos’ titles and descriptions are keyword dense and lengthy. An uploaded video on YouTube is meaningless in terms of SEO, unless it is accompanied with a very lengthy (think mini-blog post) description.
- Don’t forget to embed all of your videos on your website or blog. This is where the “Vlogging” component comes into play. It is essential that all of the videos are housed on one site that you own, which will serve as your small business’s video diary. Again, here, you cannot just simply copy and paste the video’s original YouTube description onto your website. To maximize the SEO benefits of this tactic, write a fresh take on why this video is meaningful to your customer. And, as with the first two steps, include clear CTAs within each description.
DIY SEO Guide Summary
As you may have noticed by now, the technical aspect of your website – the parts designed by a webmaster to be SEO friendly — will not guarantee that your small business will turn up as a result for valuable keyword phrases. But, with a little do-it-yourself mentality, your small business will be well on its way to achieving SEO greatness. So, the next time you hear one of your fellow small business owners remark that they don’t have the marketing budget to improve the SEO of their site, just direct them to this DIY SEO Guide.
LEARN EVEN MORE!
Download our free DIY SEO Infographic:
Bernoff, J. & Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social
1. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review.
Scott, D. M. (2013). The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online
Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, New Releases, & Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers
1. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Category: Advanced Tactics