Keyword Research: How to get started with small business SEO (for free).
Part Five of The Small Business Website Guide for Business Owners
This is the fifth installment from the Small Business Website Guide series. Here we’ve covered why websites are important for small business, how to plan for the best website ever, and whether you should hire a designer (or do it yourself). We’ve also talked about what a successful site is made of. Today we’ll be going over the intro to small business search optimization: researching keywords.
Here’s an overview of today’s crash course in small business SEO, how to research search engine optimization keywords for your small business (free!):
- What is search engine optimization?
- Reviewing the target audience
- Reviewing the purpose of your website
- Using free tools to research beneficial keywords
- What to do with your keywords
What is search engine optimization? How can I use it for my small business?
That is a great question! You may or may not know that there are powerful forces at work which drive a great deal of internet traffic. These things are called search engines. Did you know that Google is a search engine? Well, now you do. Some other big players are Yahoo, Bing and Ask.
The question is, how do search engines work? I have an answer to that!
Search engines have little internet robots that follow links around the web. When a robot looks at a page, the data and content of that page gets sent back to the search engine for reference. The robot then lathers, rinses, and repeats this process for each page until it has exhausted all of its links – and then it starts over from the beginning to see if anything has been updated since its last visit.
So we know that the search engine is going to look at your website and log data about it. Well I have news for you – the data it finds is going to determine how you show up in search results.
This is where search engine optimization comes in. You want to optimize your website for search engines like Google to be able to quickly gather the information it needs and catalog it in the right places so that when someone searches for a service that you offer, your business will show above the rest of the crowd in the search results.
Okay I totally get search engine optimization, and I want it.
How do I get started?
Okay this is great! You’re excited!
Don’t run off in a brainstorming frenzy just yet – you’re going to need to go back and review your target audience. It’s important to remember that you need to base your choices on what is going to ultimately make you successful.
Especially if you have a broad target audience, choose the audience most likely to be online. No really, get a piece of paper and write this down.
Once you’ve done that, put yourself in their shoes. What situation are they in that they may be searching for your company, product or service?
Here’s an example:
- You sell slippers.
- Your target audience is stay at home moms.
- Scenario: Their old slippers have worn out and they need a new pair of slippers.
This is a great start! In our scenario we will want to think of keywords or key-phrases which fit into our scenario. Here are some ideas for our example:
- best slippers 2011
- affordable slippers
- slippers free shipping
- home slippers with grip
- no-slip home slippers
If you can, see if you know anyone who falls in your target audience and ask them what they would search to find what they’re looking for.
Get together a decent list of keyword and key phrases that you think will work best for your small business website.
I think I’m getting the hang of this. What’s next?
Time to review the purpose of your website. We need to narrow down your focus.
Are you trying to bring in locals to your brick and mortar store? Are you trying to make online sales? Are you trying to get a phone call or an email from site visitors?
TIP You can append the state, city, or other location based words to your keywords to make them locally focused if you are trying to bring in local foot traffic.
Take the purpose of your website into account when you’re narrowing down what keywords will work best. Do you want someone who is looking how to repair slippers instead of buying new ones? Unless you offer a repair service, then the answer is no. You want to sell to someone who is ready to be sold to.
If you wrote down keywords that do not directly relate to the purpose of your website as far as the intent of the searcher would go, get rid of it.
I have a list of keywords that I think will work great for my website! Now what?
Oh, you’re not done with fixing your list yet. It’s time to measure up how well you did. We want to end up with only 2-4 keywords or phrases. I know, it sounds small. Just remember that you’ll do much better aiming for an vital organ than just generally bashing away like a barbarian with no tact.
It’s time to put your keywords to the test. You can use the following tools to figure out what the best ones are on your list:
- Test your list: Google Keywords Tool
- Test keywords against each other in trends: Google Trends
- Understand search insights: Google Insights
I have 2-4 keywords or phrases that work for me. It’s time to integrate!
Now it’s time to start integrating your keywords in a way that makes them effective. This will involve the following:
- Writing title tags that include your most important keyword or key-phrase
- Including various forms of your keywords or key phrases inside of your content
- Writing meta description snippets that will capture the searcher’s attention when they’re browsing through their results
We will be covering how to do all of that in an organic way without sounding spammy in next week’s blog post.
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