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SEO White Paper

What is SEO?

According to a number of different studies, more consumers are turning to search engines to find companies to fulfil their needs for a specific product or service. And with more Internet enabled devices filling the hands of consumers wherever they go, small businesses need to have a website in order to stay competitive. But to make a website effective, there is much more that must be put into it than just some graphics and basic text.

Build it and they will come. This strategy applies to some industries, but is far from the case for websites. Every website must start somewhere, but to make a website strong, there are continuous strategies that must be implemented to keep it relevant and interesting in the eyes of the search engines and consumers alike.

For a number of small businesses, this is a significant challenge. While they know that there is a need for a presence online, having the knowledge about what exactly must be done to bolster this online image can be confusing, to say the least. Turning a website from a group of images and a few pages into a sales machine is an art. For small businesses that want to harness the power of the Internet, and use their website to help attract more customers and ultimately drive sales, knowing how to optimize their pages to be found on the search engines can feel harder than the process of starting their own company.

This whitepaper is written as a way to help small business owners, who are overwhelmed and frustrated with the ever-changing online world, get a better idea of what search engine optimization is and why their website needs it in order to be effective.

What Exactly Is Search Engine Optimization?

To understand why optimizing a website for search engines is so important, you must first know what search engine optimization means.

According to Dictionary.com, search engine optimization, or SEO, is the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a Web site in results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site.

When people search the Internet for something specific, they rarely look past the first page of results, and even more rarely look further than the second page.


Source: Jupiter Research, LLC

For this reason, small business owners know that it is crucial to their success that they appear in the top ten search results. With solid SEO strategies, this is possible.

Top 3 Benefits of SEO

Knowing what SEO means is important, but more crucial to the success of small business owners is the understanding of the benefits it provides. For consumers, so many of their purchases start with a search engine.


Source: Hubspot

The following are three of the most important outcomes of these customer interactions.

Higher Rankings : Ranking high is the ultimate goal for small business websites so that they can get their brand in front of the eyes of potential customers.

More Traffic : Once they are in front of the eyes of potential customers, the website will, in turn, see a natural increase in the amount of traffic to the website.

Increased Sales : This increase in traffic leads most often to an increase in sales and revenues for the small business.

What do all those SEO Terms Mean?

When a small business owner sets out to start planning their strategies, one of the first things they do is look to experts to try to find out what has worked in the past and what they can do to help with their SEO efforts. This can be confusing when met with a bunch of jargon that means very little. To help get a better grasp on the various elements that go into a strong search engine strategy, here are a few definitions of some of the most commonly used terms.

Title Tags : The title tag is the first headline shown in the search engine results. It is typically only about 60 characters in length before the search engines cut it off, and is the first impression of what your site does.

Meta Descriptions : The meta description is the summary found underneath the title tag of what the person will find if they click on the link your website from the search results. This is typically only 160 characters, with spaces, and must also be filled with strong text to entice people to want to read further.

Domain Names : Your domain name is essentially your home page web address. This is the first part of any web address or URL for pages on your website.

Keywords : The keywords are perhaps the most important part of your SEO strategy, as these are the terms that people are using to search for your product. Incorporating these keywords in a smart way through search engine optimized content on your website is one of the top ways search engines know if your website is relevant for the person searching.

Search Friendly URLs : As you build pages on your website, your website URL will get longer. When you build search friendly URLs, you are building a URL that shows the search engines exactly what your reader will find when they reach your website. Various pages should have URLs that contain your keywords for the best results.

Linking : Websites each have internal and external links. To be search engine friendly, you will want to have both links within your website from one page to a different, but relevant page. You will also want to obtain links from external websites that are relevant and ranked highly by search engines. The anchor text, or the words that link to your website, should be relevant to your keywords or product name to have the most impact.

Conversions : A conversion happens when a person comes to your website and performs the action you want them to. This can be purchasing a product, filling out a contact form, or downloading a whitepaper, such as this one.

How to Find the Right Keywords

As mentioned, keywords are one of the most important parts of your SEO strategy, as these are the terms that your users type into the search box to try to find the product or service that you provide. The job of the search engines is to deliver the most relevant and current results to their searchers, and when your website uses these keywords effectively, you will be the website displayed in the top search results.

It’s important to know that over the years, keyword lengths have shifted.


Source: One Up Web

Finding the right keywords is one of the places that many small business owners are challenged. While they know what their product or service offers, knowing exactly which keywords are being used to find their products is difficult. To help, there a few tips and tools you can use.

Narrow your keyword : To start, you want to find the best keywords that you think are relevant to your business. For small business owners, it is not uncommon to think that using as broad of a definition as possible will reach the most people. This is not the case. By using more narrow keywords that are specific to the product or service offered, businesses can reach more people and get stronger leads visiting their website. In turn, this can lead to a higher conversion rate of a visitor to an action performed.

Use a tool to find more keywords : Google offers their own keyword tool to help small business owners find other keywords that are relevant. This tool gives approximately 100 other variations of a keyword. In addition, it shows the competition for each of the keywords used. This is important because it allows small businesses that are new to SEO to use less competitive keywords and get found faster by more people. It is important to use a combination of both competitive and non-competitive keywords for the best results.

Use analytics to determine which keywords are best : The only way to truly know what the strongest keywords are for any website is to test. Analytics tools can show which keywords people are using to find a website, which can give more insight into how the site is being found. Once a business knows how their website is being found, they can focus on those keywords more or strengthen their SEO strategy to include other keywords and boost their rankings for those search results.

How to Get Found Online

Once a small business has their keywords, the next step is implementing them properly so that they can get found online. Keywords as an SEO strategy have been shown to be more effective than paid ads on search engine.

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Source: Enquisite

There are three primary ways to use keywords to boost SEO and get found online.

1. Create Content Surrounding the Keywords
Content comes in a variety of forms. The most common is the text found on the various pages of a website. This can include product details, service overviews, discussions about the company itself and more. By having relevant pages that have a natural usage of keywords throughout the text, the search engines will know where to send their searchers.

Another form of content that is frequently used is a blog. Blogs provide small business owners an easy way to continuously update their website, showing the search engines that they are still current and therefore relevant to their searchers. In addition, blogs give websites an opportunity to incorporate more keywords in a natural way into the content, providing a richer website as a whole.

2. Build Links with Keywords as Anchor Text
Links are important for SEO as they show search engines that a website or webpage is relevant to a specific keyword. In the past, some small business owners purchased links for inexpensive amounts from spam type websites that had no relevance. This, however, is significantly more harmful than helpful.

Instead, to get links from outside websites, there are other far more effective strategies to be used. Doing guest posts on the blogs of other websites is an easy way to bring attention to a database of prospective customers while also linking keywords back to a webpage. Adding links to reputable directories, such as Yelp or Yellow Pages. is another good way to get relevant links back to a webpage. Many businesses also seek out reviews of their product or service as a way to get links to their page and gain attention online. All are effective.

3. Engage in Social Media Using Keywords
While this will not have a direct impact on how search engines view a website, there are certain ways social media interaction can be used to strengthen SEO strategies. One of the most effective ways is by promoting keyword rich content. When visitors continue to arrive on the page with a search engine optimized URL that has a keyword in it, the search engines see this content as timely and relevant. The more visitors that arrive, the more search engines know that there is something of value on the web page, and the more likely they are to drive their searchers to that page.

The Future of SEO

Gone are the days of keyword stuffing web pages and buying links on cheap websites. The algorithms used by search engines to determine which websites are relevant and which are not are constantly being updated to stop this behaviour and force website owners to create a website that is more relevant to searchers. This requires small business owners to be vigilant and continuously improve their websites so that they remain in the top ten results on search engines.

The most important things that small business owners can do is to keep their website up to date, and to continue to generate high quality content geared toward improving their search engine strategies. This is best done by continuously providing relevant subject matter on web pages, such as through articles or blog posts, and making updates to the website frequently. When a small business provides their visitors with useful information, the content of this information is typically filled with keywords that naturally show the search engines that the website of the small business is relevant, current and good for their searchers.