You know search engine optimisation (SEO) is important. But where do you start? And how the heck do you find the time?
If you’re anything like me, you probably decided to start your own business so you could spend your time doing what you’re passionate about.
But here’s the truth of soloism: while you may have set yourself up as a Dog Masseuse or Gourmet Quiche Maker, the time you can actually spend grooming dogs or whisking eggs is minimal.
Running your own business requires you to be a bookkeeper, marketer, salesperson, web developer, creative and now – an SEO expert.
In case you don’t know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and is the process of tweaking web content to gain high rankings in search engine results.
You can outsource your SEO, but you may have to pay a costly monthly fee, which is tough for many small businesses to justify. And from my experience, many of these expert SEO companies are woefully poor at explaining both what their fee covers and what it means to your business. Do you really want to pay for something you don’t understand?
So the only other option is DIY SEO.
And that’s where the overwhelm starts.
Every second website you visit has an essential SEO e-book for sale. And it seems anyone who can spell ‘Google’ has decided that qualifies them to offer to an e-course for a costly fee.
Let me save you all a bit of time and money by telling that you they all advise the same four things:
1. Ensure your site is technically sound
2. Write engaging content and post it regularly
3. Build back-links in a non-dodgy way
4. Share content on social networks
So how can you tackle each of these tasks without having a nervous breakdown?
Want more articles like this? Check out the SEO techniques section.
Well, it isn’t easy. That’s why large businesses employ a full-time SEO person or team. The only way a soloist can cope with the SEO onslaught is to break it down in to digestible chunks.
How do you eat an SEO elephant? One bite a time.
Chunk 1: Ensure your site is technically sound
Find an SEO consultant you trust to run a technical audit of your site that lists all of its issues and what you need to do to fix them. If your site is built in WordPress you’re already off to a good start, and you might just need to install a few plugins to fix things up.
You can also try some of the free site-audit tools on Moz.com, or sign up to a monthly subscription for advanced SEO bits and bobs.
Chunk 2: Write engaging content and post it regularly
Either hire a copywriter on a monthly retainer to create blog post content, or write your own. Find sites similar to yours and see what they’re posting. Review which articles get the most likes, shares and comments, and write more along the same lines.
Try a variety of post types – news, tutorials, opinion, case studies – and experiment with rich media such as videos, audio and images. Encourage engagement by asking a question or being controversial.
And don’t panic. A blog a week is fine. A blog a fortnight works too.
Chunk 3: Build back-links in a non-dodgy way
Don’t buy links. Ever. Instead, try:
- Listing yourself on free directories
- Approaching sites with pre-written guest posts
- Partnering with other complementary business and exchanging links
- Commenting on blogs that interest you
Yes, there are heaps of advanced back-link tactics you can fiddle with if you have the time. But an honest, natural link profile will beat a sneaky one in the long run.
Chunk 4: Share content on social networks
Set up a Google+ profile, Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest account and LinkedIn profile. The priority of these depends on where your primary audience ‘lives’. Yes, you may feel a fool tweeting at first. But in time it will feel more natural. Too many businesses give me the ‘social media is not for me’ line, which reminds me of the businesses who were saying ‘the internet is not for me’ 10 years ago. The only way you can learn how to use a social network is to use it. To try, fail, and try again.
And that’s it. Simple, right?
To break it down even further, here are the essentials:
1. Fix your site. It’s not worth doing anything else SEO-related until you know your site is cool.
2. Write one blog a week, and get help from a copywriter or proof reader.
3. Spend 10 minutes a day a doing ‘something’ on social media – sharing posts, liking pages, commenting, tweeting, joining Google communities, and otherwise getting involved.
4. Try to establish one new link from another website every week.
5. Aim to write a guest post once a month.
This won’t deliver overnight results. But when it comes to SEO, slow and steady usually wins the race.
Do you struggle with SEO? Is your SEO outsourced, or are you doing it yourself?