Search Engine Optimization — it can be so confusing and yet it is one of the most important aspects of small business marketing! Whether you are a one-person shop or have a few employees helping you out, none of you get paid if you don’t have customers. The Small Business Association says, “These days, consumers and B2B buyers alike find new businesses primarily by searching online. That means your website has to do some heavy lifting to attract new customers.”
Here are some SEO tips that you can use to increase your search rankings and therefore make it easier for potential customers to find you on that big world wide web.
- Claim your Google My Business listing. Be sure to also keep the information up to date.
- Blog. Search engines like sites with frequent updates and fresh content.
- Know your keywords. Then use those keywords in page URLs, headings, content, and meta descriptions.
- Keep all your directory listings consistent. Whether on social or a review site, everything should list the same information.
Although those four things will help, it just isn’t enough (and yes, we do know how time-consuming it all is). Regardless of whether you are trying to run your search engine optimization yourself or hire some help to increase and maintain your search engine rankings, you should know the terminology. We found many of these great terms on the HIVE Digital Strategy blog (along with A LOT of other digital marketing and agency terms). Let’s start with the big definition:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The process of helping your website get to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). The process of SEO includes keyword research, on-page optimization of content, meta content (content that search engines use to understand what your pages are about), back linking campaigns (links from other websites to yours), directory listings, and more.
Now, here is an alphabetized list of most of the important SEO terms.
301 Redirect: A permanent redirect from one URL to another. This is commonly done when a website URL has changed or is no longer applicable. A 301 redirect will also redirect any SEO power that the original page had to the new location.
Alt Text: The text that helps search engines accurately index photos and images on a website. Since search engines cannot see an image, the image’s ALT text is what is used to index them.
Back Linking Campaign: An initiative that creates web links that originate from other website and link to pages on your website. Sometimes this is called link building or a link building campaign.
Canonical URL: A single URL that is essentially the master copy of the page. This allows search engines to accurately index your page and content without running the risk of getting a duplicate content penalty.
Directory: A popular and often free location online that you can list your business and website. There are dozens of reputable directories out there (social networks, maps listings, review sites, and listings sites). Directory listings are valuable and important, especially for local SEO.
Directory Listings: Information on a directory site that lists your website URL and any other information allowed by the directory.
Domain Authority (DA): This is the ranking of the authority, power, and trustworthiness of each domain. All domains are ranked on a 0-100 scale and the higher the domain authority, the more trustworthy a domain is in the eyes of search engines. Scores of 0-10 are considered poor/risky – though these can just be new websites as well. Scores of 10-30 are considered good. Scores of 30-70 are considered very good. Scores over 70 are elite. The higher the domain authority of an external link to your website, the more impactful it will be for your website.
Domain Name Service (DNS): The service that translates your domain name into an IP address. (An IP address is a numerical location where the alpha website address lives.) This is also where you will add information on how your domain should handle things such as website location, verification, and email.
Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6): Headings are important in helping search engines understand what your page is about. The lower the number, the more important it is to search engines. As a best practice, each page should have exactly one H1 tag (no more, no less), no more than three H2 tags, and heading tags should be used sequentially (no using an H4 unless you’ve already used an H1, H2, and H3).
- Note: It’s a common mistake for websites to use heading tags just for the font size (the lower the number, typically the larger the font). This is a mistake. Heading tags should be used strategically. If you need to change font size, simply change the font size, don’t rely on heading tags.
Internal Link: An internal link is a link from one page on your website to another page on your website (excluding navigation). Internal links signal a connection between the two pages which can create a topic cluster (more on this later).
Keyword: Words or phrases in your website’s content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines.
Keyword Research: According to Moz, you should use keyword research to determine which strategic keywords to target in your website’s content, and how to craft that content to satisfy both users and search engines. You perform keyword research with a tool that provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions like: what are people searching for, how many people are searching for it, in what format do they want that information.
Link Building: The process of acquiring links from other websites in order to rise up the search engine rankings. Sometimes this is called back linking or a backlink campaign.
Local SEO: Utilizing local directory listings, on-page search engine optimization, keyword research and back linking that allow your business to be included in results when potential customers search online.
Long-Tail Keyword: A very targeted search phrase that contains three or more words. It often contains a head term, which is a more generic search term, plus one or two additional words that refine the search term. Long-tail keywords are more specific, which means visitors that land on your website from a long-tail search term are typically more qualified, and consequently, more likely to convert. There is also typically less competition to rank for long-tail keywords.
Meta Tags: This term consists of multiple pieces (meta descriptions, titles, and keywords). Meta tags provide information to search engines about your page and help them categorize your website pages accurately. Meta tags are not seen by anyone that visits your website (used only by search engines), but meta descriptions are visible in search engine results.
On-page Search Engine Optimization: The practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic through search engines. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized. Sometimes called on-page SEO.
Pillar Page: A pillar page is a long form page (typically around 2,000 words) that gives an in-depth overview of a specific topic. This page is at the center of your topic clusters.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The page of results that is shown after a user searches a term in a search engine.
Sitemap: A listing of pages on your website that you want search engines to index. Typically the sitemap is not used by visitors to your website, but it helps search engines to accurately and efficiently crawl your website.
Topic Clusters: A cluster of pages and content that surround a specific topic that are all connected to the topic’s pillar page through internal links. The reasoning behind this concept is that if one page sees a bump in search engine ranking, the other pages in that topic cluster also receive a bump.
URL: This is a website address. A URL can be to a homepage (ex. nike.com) or to a specific page on the website (ex. store.nike.com/us/en_us/pw/air-max-720-shoes).
Web 2.0 Link: A back link that is directed to point to a page with an external link that is pointing to your website. The idea here is that a web 2.0 link helps build the authority of a web page that is linking to your website, making it more valuable.
Is SEO feeling like more daunting of a task than you have time or bandwidth for? Check out our Directory Listing or Local SEO services. We love providing agency quality services at small business pricing because you deserve to make your business BUZZ without breaking the bank.