Search Engine Optimisation or SEO – perhaps just reading those words makes your palms sweat and your head feel dizzy. As a small business owner, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the world of marketing and particularly SEO, and for good reason. Just in 2017 alone there have been 8 Google algorithm updates. It’s no wonder the term SEO sends so many small business owners running for the hills. How is it possible to keep up with all these changes when they occur so often? Especially as you’re juggling so many other parts of your business at the same time. Well, run to the hills no more because in this article, we are going to offer you simple SEO tips to help keep give your business the best leg up when it comes to the mystical world of SEO.
Get Familiar with Topic Clusters
No matter how many search engine algorithm changes are thrown at us, one thing has always stayed the same, and that’s that content is king. You’ve probably heard that term thrown around many times and that’s because it’s true. Genuine, informative and relevant content is always going to be favoured in the eyes of search engines. So if you want to stay on top of the SEO game, content is what you should be aiming to focus on.
OK – so we know content is king – but where do you start? If your website is new or hasn’t had a content revamp in a while, now’s the time to start. And, if your website doesn’t have a blog, this is something you should get onto straight away. What you should be focusing on when building your website content is creating a ‘pillar’ page and linking all your content back to that page.
Competition to be found in search engines is fierce, and in its latest updates, SEO has shifted to a topic cluster model, where a single ‘pillar’ page acts as the primary hub of content for a key topic. You then link your content pages back to that pillar page that are related to that same topic and to each other. By creating all these connected links, it tells search engines that your pillar page is an authority on the topic and therefore over time, that pillar page might rank higher and higher for the topic it talks about.
It’s important to remember that pillar pages need to widely cover the topic you’re concentrating on so that it connects with all the cluster content that is linked to it. The cluster content (e.g. blogs) should speak in depth about one area mentioned on your pillar page. For example, if your pillar page is talking about content marketing, a cluster content page might talk about the benefits of content marketing for small businesses.
When creating your pillar pages and cluster content, you need to think in terms of topics and ideas you want your business to rank for, rather than just keywords. Of course keywords are an essential part of your strategy, but the topics are the umbrella under which your keywords function.
Check out this great breakdown from HubSpot about everything you need to know about creating topic clusters and pillar pages!
Create a Buyer Persona
Before you can create your topic clusters, you need to know your buyer and what they want. That way, you can tailor your keywords around the needs of your customers. Everyone’s heard the saying, ‘know your customer’ – and while it might sound like a cliché, it’s a vital suite of information if you want to be successful at marketing. Modern marketing requires you to understand your buyer, which is a process known as developing buyer personas, because as a business owner, it is essential you understand who is looking to buy from you.
So what is a buyer persona? Basically, it is the process of discovering the attitudes and behaviours of your target buyer. It’s learning their pain points, their needs and wants, and how you can provide a solution for them. Creating a buyer persona is a systematic approach to understanding people who are likely to buy from you, what prompts them to begin researching and what kind of information will make them decide to buy from you, or a competitor. Having this insight will significantly help you align your content marketing to what’s important to your target audience and buyers.
Once you have figured out your customers’ pain points, goals and needs, you can tailor your website content to provide relevant and insightful solutions to their problems. If you need help identifying your buyer persona you can start here by asking these eight questions.
Use Your Editorial Calendar Effectively
As we mentioned before, if your website doesn’t have a blog, now’s the time to start! Having a blog on your website not only increases traffic to your website, but it also creates a healthy relationship between you and your customers. Having a blog is an opportunity for you to show your customers just how much you know about your product, highlighting you as an authority figure in your industry.
Furthermore, content is what helps you rank for your target keywords, and it’s often not enough to just have content on product pages, homepages and anywhere on your site. It can be overwhelming to go from having no blog to a fully fleshed out blog, so try starting by creating blogs posts around all your major keywords, and making sure you always link back to your pillar page. You can also start your blog by creating posts that answer the important questions your buyers are asking.
Don’t Forget About Social Media Posts
If you set up your website correctly (i.e. by creating a pillar page, blogging and linking all your other pages back to it) you will eventually find that your website will receive an increase in traffic and hopefully move up the search engine ranks. However, don’t just sit and wait for the results to come to you. Speed up the process by creating engaging social media posts that link back to your website and blogs. Posting relevant and insightful content to social media generates inbound links back to your website, which over time will boost your organic ranking on SERPs.
We could go on forever about the benefits of social media marketing, but here are just a few:
- It generates leads by engaging with people who are dissatisfied with a competitor’s service.
- It allows you to connect with prospects and customers and hear their thoughts about your industry, your competitors and you.
- Provides you a platform to showcase yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
- It helps you build trust with your customers.
- It allows you to promote your valuable content (e.g. ‘How to guides’ and eBooks) to attract leads into your funnel
Don’t get overwhelmed by the complex nature of SEO. Start with the above tips and you’ll have a solid SEO foundation, which you can build upon at a later date.