Demystifying SEO for Business Owners: Your Guide to Online Visibility

SEO Overview

When it comes to boosting your business’s presence on Google, nailing down effective SEO is the game-changer that can either make you visible or, well, invisible. It’s not just about randomly picking keywords you think your audience might search for and bombarding your pages with them (and here’s a heads-up: Google won’t appreciate that).

Now, the real win in SEO? Keeping people on your website. If you’ve been intentional in choosing keywords and crafting content, you’re not just showing up on Google – you’re answering your audience’s questions, making them stick around, and dive deeper into what your business has to offer.

There are four main SEO pillars and as web designers, our focus is on the first three:

  • Keyword Research
  • Technical SEO
  • On-Page SEO
  • Off-Page SEO

Why does grasping search intent matter for your business?

Understanding search intent is like unlocking the key to your customers’ needs. When someone types a query into Google, they’re essentially on a quest for a solution. Now, imagine your business being the one that provides that solution. By optimizing your website strategically, you can ensure that the right page, addressing their specific problem, pops up in their search results.

Google’s mission is simple: to offer its users the best possible service by presenting the most relevant answers. So, if your content not only tackles the problem but also aligns perfectly with what users are searching for, Google rewards you with a higher ranking.

Here’s the thing: if you choose keywords that don’t sync with the intent of your content, your potential customers might not find what they’re looking for. Even worse, they might leave your website without engaging, moving on to the next result. We definitely want to steer clear of this scenario, as it contributes to what’s known as the ‘bounce rate,’ a negative signal to Google that your site’s content didn’t quite hit the mark for that specific search.

Keyword Research – where to start:

Keyword research is not just about finding the right words to target for your business; it’s a compass guiding you through your audience’s online landscape. This process goes beyond mere keyword selection; it can reshape your entire site structure for optimal results.

While SEO tools for keyword research often come with a hefty price tag, fear not. I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve to help you uncover a wealth of keywords for free. Let’s dive into the basics of keyword research:

Step 1: Single focus keyword

Choose a single focus keyword for each page of your website. Consider topics closely tied to your services, products, and what your customers are actively searching for. Take a chiropractor, for instance:

  • Location chiropractor (ideal for the About Page)
  • Chiropractor treatment (perfect fit for the Services Page)
  • Chiropractor vs. osteopath (great match for the Why Us / FAQ Page)
  • Treat lower back pain (ideal for the Conditions Page)

Ever wondered why sticking to one keyword focus per page is crucial? It’s to avoid a phenomenon called keyword cannibalization, where Google gets confused about which page to prioritize if the same keyword is scattered across multiple pages.

Step 2: Phrases

Let your ideas flow and jot down as many phrases as possible. Group similar words under your main topics, and organize them using a spreadsheet. We call this method ‘creating a keyword cluster.’ This approach strengthens your SEO and optimization efforts, allowing you to include all related keywords on one page:

  • Chiro location (variation for the About Page)
  • Chiropractor services (variation for the Services Page)
  • What does a chiropractor do (variation for the Why Us / FAQ Page)
  • Improve posture (opening doors for multiple Condition Pages).

This strategic approach ensures your content aligns seamlessly with your audience’s search intent, enhancing your website’s visibility and performance. Ready to supercharge your SEO? Let’s make it happen!

How to find the right keywords

Sure, premium SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or KWFinder can be game-changers for refining your keyword strategy, but let’s explore some budget-friendly avenues to uncover keywords independently.

1. Leverage Search Results

Crafted a potential keyword? Google it and delve into the “People also ask” and “Related searches” sections in the results. This offers valuable insights into what Google considers as similar searches, shaping your keyword approach.

2. Harness Free SEO Tools

Explore these free tools to enrich your keyword clusters and fortify your page’s SEO:

    • Ubersuggest: Input your main keyword, and voila! Receive a list of keyword ideas along with data on search volume and keyword difficulty. Peek into other well-ranking websites for the keyword to identify gaps and enhance your content strategy.

    • Free SEMRush Tools: Another heavyweight contender, SEMRush provides a fabulous set of free SEO tools, including keyword research. With 10 searches a day, it’s more than plenty for a small business site.

    • Google Search Console: Ideal for existing sites, GSC reveals the search terms people use to find and click on your client’s website. It’s a goldmine of insights for refining and optimizing your pages further.

Which keywords to use?

    Now that you’ve got a bunch of keyword clusters for your pages, the next step is figuring out which ones are the real gems to target. 

    Keyword Difficulty

    This nifty percentage (ranging from 1% to 100%) gives you the lowdown on how tough it is to rank for a particular keyword. Easy ones (0-10%) could show results in 3-6 months, medium ones (10-40%) might take 6-18 months, and the hard hitters (40-100%) are long-term goals (18 months+ with consistent SEO efforts).

    Search Volume

    Simply put, this tells you how many folks are searching for a keyword monthly. Filter it by location or country. Anything over 100 searches a month is a green light for a small business.

    The game plan? A mix of easy to hard, low to high volume. Jumping only on high-volume and competitive keywords won’t cut it, and solely low-volume ones won’t get you enough eyeballs. Aim for the sweet spot—keywords with decent search volume but still doable to rank for (say, 30% difficulty).

    PRO TIP:

    Blend in broad search terms like ‘qualified chiropractor’ for top-level pages and sprinkle some long-tail keywords like ‘what does a chiropractor do?’ on supporting pages and blogs. It’s a smart move—easier to rank for and beefs up the SEO for your top-level pages.

     

    On-page SEO

    On-page SEO is the process of optimizing the content on your page for the keyword you’re targeting so search engines will find and display it on the search results. In practical terms, this means strategically adding your keyword (and supporting keywords from your cluster) in certain content areas of the page and in the metadata… Basically, anything you can do on the page itself to improve rankings.

    Content:

    • Naturally, integrate your primary keyword into the content and weave in supporting keywords from your research.
    • Place the keyword within the first 100 words and then periodically, maintaining an authentic flow.
    • Tailor your content to the intention of the keyword, adding how-to sections or product/service benefits as needed.
    • If ideas run dry, peek at the top-ranking pages for your keyword, but make your content stand out and be more helpful.

    Metadata:

    • Craft a URL that’s short, clear, and features your keyword, signaling a match to search intent.
    • In your page title, kick off with the keyword and follow with a compelling description in 65 characters, using separators.
    • The meta description (50-155 characters) is your chance to entice clicks by succinctly presenting your content and answering the user’s question.
    • Employ header tags wisely to structure content for Google, with the focus keyword in h1 and scattered in h2 and h3 tags.

    Images:

    • Resize, compress, and purposefully name your images before uploading, aiming for sizes under 100 KB. Read this blog to learn more about it.
    • Opt for intentional file names relevant to the image and incorporate the page’s keyword.
    • Assign descriptive ALT tags to images for both accessibility and contextual information for Google’s crawlers.

    Linking Strategy:

    • Internal linking enhances navigation and aids Google in understanding the relationships between your pages.
    • Aim for each page to be reachable within three clicks from the Home Page.
    • External linking, though sparingly, can build trust and offer valuable information, always open in a new tab and link to trusted sources.

     

    Technical SEO

    Alright, diving into the nitty-gritty of Technical SEO – an area that often gets the side-eye from business owners, and I get it. It sounds a bit tricky, but trust me, it’s worth understanding. This is about ensuring your site is like a well-lit path for search engines, no obstacles in the way, just smooth sailing.

    Site Structure

    Think of it as your website’s blueprint – how everything’s laid out. The goal? Make all pages reachable within three clicks from the home page. Link logically, like from a service overview to specific service pages. Avoid orphan pages, the ones floating without links—they’re like islands, and Google’s ships might miss them!

    Site Speed

    Google loves speed. A slow-loading site is a frown-inducer for Google. Aim for less than one second loading time. Tool recommendation: Pingdom. Big images can be the culprits, resizing and compressing them could significantly improve your site’s speed. Also, hosting videos on third-party platforms can speed things up (like Vimeo or Youtube).

    Mobile Responsiveness

    No excuses here – your site must play nice with mobiles. Google’s all about mobile-first indexing. Use platform tools to check how your site looks on different devices. No warped images or wonky animations messing with device width. Keep that font at a readable 16px minimum.

    Duplicate Content

    Copy-pasting might work for notes, but not for SEO. Having the same content in multiple places confuses Google. Unique, valuable content is the SEO jackpot. Duplicate content dilutes your efforts and confuses Google about which page is the real MVP for a search term. Keep it original, always.

    How to do Technical SEO on your website?

    Submitting Your Sitemap

    Think of it as giving Google a roadmap to navigate your website. Most SEO plugins can handle this, but I prefer the hands-on approach via Google Search Console. It’s free, easy to set up, and allows you to ensure each page gets indexed properly. Remember to resubmit the sitemap after any significant content changes.

    PRO TIP: If you use Yoast SEO plugin, you can download your sitemap from there and upload to Google Search Console easily.

    Controlling What Google Sees

    Sometimes, you don’t want certain pages showing up on Google. Use the no-index tag via your SEO plugin to keep those hidden. It’s handy for pages like gated redirects.

    Redirects

    When revamping a site or changing URLs, set up 301 redirects from the old to the new. If a page is removed entirely, redirect it to the home page. This ensures a seamless transition for both users and search engines.

    Dead Links

    Broken links are a big SEO red flag. Regularly check for and fix broken links, both internal and external. Create a custom 404 page to guide users back to popular pages if they encounter a dead end. 

    Want to know how to use 404 pages strategically? Read this post and increase your ranking.

    Website Hosting

    Invest in quality hosting, especially if your clients have image-heavy sites or run eCommerce. Fast-loading pages are a must. Ensure your host installs an SSL Certificate for free – it not only enhances security but also builds trust with visitors. After all, we don’t want any “this site isn’t secure” notifications tarnishing your client’s professional image!

    Off-page SEO

    Once your website is up and running, Off-Page SEO becomes a client-driven venture, but here’s a nudge to set them on the right path – a little extra effort here enhances our on-page SEO game!

    Google My Business

    Even if your business doesn’t have a physical store, a robust Google My Business profile is gold. Ensure every field is filled, naturally incorporating keywords. Encourage customers to leave reviews; it’s a signal to Google that your site is trustworthy. Regular posts keep the account active and relevant.

    Citation Building

    Get listed on relevant and reputable industry directories. This not only boosts SEO but also provides valuable backlinks (yes, we’ll dive into Link Building next). Look at Google competitors to discover potential directories for your industry.

    Link Building Magic

    Backlinks are SEO power moves! These are links from reputable sites to yours, boosting credibility and domain authority. Encourage your client to secure spots on other trusted websites through guest blogs, being listed as a resource, or featuring on podcasts. Valuable links signal to search engines that your content is top-notch.

    Social Media Brilliance

    Beyond links, a strong social media presence exposes your brand to potential customers seeking solutions. Shares and engagement act as signals, indicating that your content is valuable. Plus, it opens the door for more people searching specifically for your brand. Socials are not just about visibility; they’re about creating a buzz!

     

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, the digital realm demands a holistic approach to maximize your online presence. On-Page SEO intricately weaves keywords into meaningful content, ensuring that your website not only attracts but genuinely serves its audience. As the foundation of your digital footprint, it’s about more than just optimizing for search engines; it’s about authentically connecting with those seeking your offerings.

    Venturing beyond, Off-Page SEO amplifies this digital symphony. Google My Business becomes the beacon for local visibility, industry citations build credibility, and strategic link-building cultivates authority. Social media, the modern town square, not only directs traffic but also broadcasts the resonance of your brand. Together, these elements form a dynamic strategy to carve out a lasting and impactful presence in the vast digital landscape.

    Orsi

    Product, Brand & Web Designer

    I help businesses create great websites that attract more customers and increase sales. I use my skills in consulting, design, and e-commerce to tell your business’s story and improve customer service. We’ll work together to understand your business and create a website that meets your goals.