Almost every small business owner decides to give search engine optimization (SEO) a try at some point or another. It’s not hard to understand why: with more than 4 billion searches a day, Google can send you more business than you could ever get from a billboard, mailing campaign, or referral network.
While the benefits of a strong SEO effort might be obvious though, the path to a high Google search ranking isn’t so clear. In fact, most of the new clients we talk to will admit that their past campaigns yielded little or nothing in the way of results. That’s true despite the fact that many of them put a lot of time and money into improving their search visibility.
We don’t want to see you put your resources into a project that doesn’t pay off. So today, we want to share a set of easy steps you can follow to get huge value from your small business SEO campaign. It’s not difficult, but it does take a bit of focus and patience. Let’s take each of the things you’ll need to do one at a time…
Know Your End Goal
We meet too many entrepreneurs and managers who don’t have concrete goals for their search engine optimization plans. To be sure, they want to see more visits coming from Google, but many can’t identify the end business result they are hoping for in any kind of specific or measurable way.
To have any value, your search engine optimization campaign has to result in something that moves the needle for your company. That could be more phone-in leads, foot traffic in your store, online inquiries, new appointments, or something else altogether. Without an end goal that means something, though, you’re just creating more work without any definable positive outcome. That’s not a good use of your energy or resources.
Design an Online Sales Funnel
There isn’t any law that says more traffic to your website will generate new revenue for your company. People can come and go looking for information without ever sharing their email address or credit card number. That’s why you should have an online sales funnel in place – a series of steps or offers that brings someone from their first stop to the outcome (that sale, lead, or visit we mentioned before) you’re hoping for.
Your sales funnel can be simple or complicated, depending on how expensive your product or service is and how long it takes a buyer to do their research. Either way, though, you don’t want to leave things to chance. Leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs prospects can follow and you’ll end up with more conversions from the search traffic you’re going to bring to your pages.
Begin With the Basics
Many business owners like to jump straight into what they consider to be the “work” of search engine optimization. They want to see keywords being added to their pages, for example, or meta descriptions being altered to fit search terms precisely.
Those steps are important, but only after you’ve taken on the basics. Specifically, we’re referring to keyword research and website auditing. Research is useful so you can figure out what it is your customers are actually looking for, and what your competitors are up to. By auditing your website, you can figure out what your technical strengths and weaknesses are, and determine what your existing search visibility profile looks like.
Without these important prerequisites, your SEO campaign will always be haphazard and based on luck. That’s a good way to waste time and money, which we’re trying to avoid.
Get Into the Code
At this stage, it’s time to start actually making changes to your website. You (or better yet your web designer) can go in and make changes to page titles, headings, internal links, and many other parts of your pages.
This is the easiest step in the search engine optimization process to understand, and it’s the simplest from a strategy perspective. However, if the other pieces aren’t in place – or if you work with a web designer or SEO consultant who rushes through the work – it isn’t going to make a long-term difference in your search visibility. And unfortunately, you probably won’t see much of a return on your investment.
Consider Testing Everything
After your website has been optimized for search visibility and conversions, you might want to strongly consider testing your SEO campaign. The best way to do that is with pay-per-click (PPC) search ads.
With just a few dollars, you can run text ads that target the search engine optimization phrases you’ve researched. That way, you can get prospects on the same pages organic searchers would se