Every business needs a website and at the very least a basic online presence. Even if you don’t have an online marketing budget, you can use these SEO tips for beginners to optimize your website when people search for your type of business. You don’t need to be SEO or tech savvy to implement these tips.
Starting with the following SEO tips for beginners, you can make your business more “searchable” and open up your doors to new customers.
1. Use Google Keyword Planner
Make sure you are using the right keywords within the text of your website to describe your business, including the body, subject titles, and URL pages. The more specific you are with your keyword phrases, the easier it will be for you to make your way to the top of the search rankings.
For example, if you search for “los angeles realtor”, you get 12.7 million results with the top results pointing to major websites like realtor.com and Zillow. If you search for “los angeles realtor REO”, you narrow the search down to 413,000 results, and the top results actually show real estate teams in the area who specialize in REO properties.
The Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that you can use to get ideas for keywords and phrases. Just type in keywords and it will generate ideas, provide statistics on how popular and competitive those keywords are, and show the average cost per click for ads. The Google Keyword Planner will tell you what combination of keywords people are searching for, and you should use the tool periodically to make sure your keywords are up to date.
2. Monitor Your Metrics
None of the SEO work matters if you don’t track your results. The one you probably care about is the customer conversion or sale. At the end of the day you want to know how much it costs you to achieve that sale, aka the cost of customer acquisition. From there you can evaluate what’s working and where your strategy needs tweaking.
Using Google Analytics, you can track your visits and conversions over time. I like to track it on a monthly and quarterly basis, and also to see how much of an impact certain events (like a press release or an update to the signup process) may have triggered a spike in web traffic / conversions. Google Analytics gives you substantial insight into your web traffic activity and how it correlates with your marketing efforts.
If you’ve built your own website or have some basic knowledge you can follow Google’s support guide on how to set up the integration, otherwise this is a very easy task your web developer should include in the scope of services for building your website.
3. Update Business Directories
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to get found is to be listed. Start with all the major directories like Google, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, etc. Depending on your type of business, you should also create a profile for your company on LinkedIn and Yelp.
It’s important that your business not only have a website, but also a presence on other reputable websites as well. This helps to show the search engines you’re a “real” business that people are interested in finding.
Additionally you should at least create a profile on the major, relevant social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and as mentioned before, LinkedIn. Not all businesses will benefit hugely from posting daily on social media, but having a profile with some current information will help expand your online presence and often add some credibility for potential customers who are Googling your business.
4. Set a Budget
You don’t need a big budget to get started with SEO. Start small and scale up as you find a strategy that’s working. I recently worked with a first time business owner to launch her home-based daycare. She started with a budget of $1,000 for a 3-month period and within 2 months the daycare was the first listing in the search results for their keyword phrase.
Not all cases will be as quick or low cost to achieve a ranking on the first page, but by focusing on the specific neighborhood and language specialty the school offered, she was able to fill all her student spots and even establish a wait list!
It’s not the size of the budget that counts, but what you do with it. Even with a budget of $0 to $150, you can still use the 3 tips above to accomplish the bare minimum SEO. It’s so easy, that not doing it would simply be a waste.
If you have a small budget to start testing, start with a local web developer / SEO expert who can give you a low, fixed price for basic web and SEO services, and work with them to focus your keywords in the right direction. Don’t commit to anything longer than month to month, but do allow at least 2 to 3 months to see results.
Watch out for overseas freelancers who offer deals that seem too good to be true. Any guarantees to be on the first page within a certain timeframe is a huge red flag. SEO is not rocket science but it does require you to be current and consistent to truly be effective. There isn’t a secret SEO language that only SEO experts know. Any SEO consultant you work with should give you a detailed proposal of exactly what tasks they will be accomplishing and periodic performance reports with how far up in the rankings you’ve moved for your particular keyword phrases.
Again, it might not make sense for you to commit an ongoing budget, but at least get your website up to par with some basic SEO. It makes the most sense to get this done when you first build your website, but it’s never too late to update. If you do anything at all, focus on your keyword phrases and keep your online identity current.