Putting the Pieces Together: Getting Started with SEO

Our tech-driven world is ever-evolving, bringing the most basic concepts of business into the 21st century right along with it. Where word of mouth and newspaper ads used to be enough to drive business to proprietors, there are now millions of competitors vying for the same spot, and they’re all over the world.

Shoaib Khan

The internet has made so many more things possible than once were, and that goes double for the world of business. Small businesses, entrepreneurs, and ecommerce stores now have access to a whole new world of customers, sales, and profits that our forebears could never have even dreamed of!

But how does this work, especially when there’s so much competition out there? How do businesses even get noticed on the giant world wide web among all the others? It’s thanks to three letters that can make or break your business and knowing how to use them to your advantage. What might those letters be, you ask? Yep, you guessed it: SEO.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s essentially the way your business, ecommerce store, blog, website, or service is found by Google, through a filtering process that involves millions and millions of listings globally. How? Through the use of keywords that stand out amidst your content, that match with the search terms a user has entered. But what does that mean, exactly?

Let’s put it this way: Say you’re searching for a bakery that specializes in gluten free wedding cakes. The search terms you’d enter would probably be something like “gluten free wedding cake bakery,” or “wedding bakery gluten free cake,” or something like that. Google would then match your search with the most compatible websites for wedding cake bakeries, and those websites would have your search terms “sprinkled” throughout their website copy. 

That first page of listings would be considered “high-ranking” in SEO terms, as they’re the most visible as well as the best match to what you’re looking for. However, there’s more to SEO than keywords, and there are processes that determine which keywords are the best ones to use in order for your content to become high ranking.

SEO analytics tools help to determine which keywords are most commonly searched in specific fields, as well as what users like and dislike, what’s trending, and what to stay away from. They can help save you time, money and hard work through automated processes that tell you what you need to know.

While there are a number of ways to get super technical with SEO, there are also some simple things you can do to incorporate SEO into your business right away. The three points on this list will get you off to a good start, and don’t involve anything too complicated. If you’re unsure about how to incorporate SEO and aren’t incredibly tech savvy, give these ideas a try and watch your traffic increase naturally:

Be Organic

There’s nothing worse than churning out recycled content that’s jammed with keywords in all the wrong places. Ranking high is of course important, but so is creating content that readers/users will actually gain value from. While you want to be sure that your content is visible and attracts as many views as possible, it’s also important to structure it in a way that actually makes sense and isn't obviously all about SEO in the eyes of the reader.

But how does this work, when you need to insert your keywords a number of times in order to rank? It’s actually not as difficult as it seems at first, as long as you do a little prepping before setting out. Figuring out your keywords ahead of time will allow you to structure your content around them, versus stuffing them in at the last minute. Depending on the context of your content, you can usually incorporate them quite easily, and without much extra work involved.

For example, say your desired keywords are “natural remedies for keeping your garden pest free.” You can use that entire sentence, but you can also break it up when it doesn’t quite fit with the content surrounding it. So, you could use pieces of it like “pest free garden,” keeping your garden natural,” or “natural remedies for garden pests,” and still rank for your keywords. This contributes to your content feeling more natural, while also meeting your SEO requirements!

Do Your Research

A decent amount of research is necessary when determining which keywords you’ll be using. You need to know what ranks and what doesn’t so you can create your content around the most popular search terms. This isn’t to say that you need to change up your whole focus, just tweak it to match your desired visibility. There’s a niche out there on pretty much anything you can imagine (and millions of people to search for it), so no matter what your topic is, interested readers will find you if you’re ranking well!

This is especially important for small businesses and digital marketing, as you’re selling your product or service to consumers/customers. Your website needs to rank in order for said customers to find you, otherwise they might not even know your business exists. Doing your homework before launching your website (or at the very least, soon after) will save you down time when first starting out, and help you attract a steady flow of new customers that are interested in your products/services. 

So, how does this look in practical terms? Say your ecommerce store sells beauty products, and you’re marketing toward a target age range of customer — like 30-50, for example. Searching “beauty products for women 30-50" should yield you some pretty good answers on who your biggest competitors are, as well as the SEO strategies they’re using.

You could do the guess work yourself and see what works, but there’s an easier way: research your competitors through the use of SEO research tools to boost your results. Many of these are free and easy to use, which will save you time, money, and effort in the long run. You’ll have a better idea of what’s working in your field, and the best chance of hitting the ground running.

Focus on User Experience

Providing value to your customers/readers/followers is essentially the best way to ensure success in your business. Why? Because without these people, your business has no meaning! Of course it makes sense to focus on them. While you may be running an ecommerce store or focused on digital marketing, your user experience (UX) isn’t any less valid. In fact, it’s even more important, as they don’t have a physical point of contact (you) to make their experience worthwhile.

Figuring out what works for your community and what doesn’t can also be done through the use of SEO tools, most of which are easy to use, and many are free to low cost. A UX analytic tool will be your best bet here, as you’ll gain the best perspective on what’s working well for your users. You’ll learn about important elements like dwell time (how long users stay on a page), UX signals (behavior of users once they click on your pages), and how upping your load speed (how fast a page loads) is fundamental to your user happiness in the long run.

Other things you can do to provide the most value include being authentic, connecting with your customers/readers/users personally, and providing as much support as you can to ensure their satisfaction. If it’s within your capabilities, hiring a dedicated person (or team) to handle UX and SEO for you will take some of the work off your plate, but it’s not always necessary (as long as you have the time to handle it yourself). Above everything, being visible on Google and catering to your users as best you can are the most effective ways to drive traffic, sales, and profit to your business.

Final Thoughts

While there are technical aspects to SEO, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems. A little research, some helpful tools, and an open mind can all help you to get going in the right direction, and with less effort than you might think. When in doubt, referring back to the above three points will help you set some solid groundwork, and you can build on it over time.

Keyword stuffing, recycled content, and an inauthentic brand voice are the direction you don’t want to go. They create an environment of distrust, which is detrimental to your business! Better options include creating organic content, doing your research, and focusing on how you can provide the most value to your community. This will all set you up for growth and profit in the long run, not to mention ensuring your first page presence!

Shoaib Khan
Shoaib Khan is the Founder of Clearoute Inc. and has led the agency for over 20 years.