5 Things every business owner should know about SEO

SEO is a marathon not a sprint
These days, pretty much every store or business, big or small, is part of the online shopping world, whether they think so or not. No matter what you’re selling, from tasty snacks at your neighborhood café to cool cars, you gotta let people know what you’ve got. And where does everyone go to find stuff? Google, that’s where.

A lot of folks try to get noticed right away by paying for ads that pop up when you search for something. This can get pretty expensive, and as soon as you stop paying, poof! No more ads.

But then there’s this thing called SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. It’s a bit like planting a garden. You have to keep watering it and taking care of it, but eventually, it grows and attracts a lot of visitors, more than those paid ads in the long run. Even if you take a break from working on it, your garden doesn’t disappear all at once; it just starts to get a little less attention while others keep growing theirs.

For someone running a business, getting the right kind of visitors to your website is super important. It’s like having a safety net. When times are tough, and people aren’t spending as much on ads, having a steady stream of visitors from your SEO efforts can really help keep things going. It’s a lot better than suddenly finding out you’re invisible because you stopped those expensive ads.

So, if you’re running a business, there are some things about SEO you really should know.

1) It’s a marathon not a sprint

The first thing you need to know about SEO is: it takes time…but it’s worth it.

We all want traffic and we want it now. That’s why some companies run online ads, which is a great way to start getting traffic for a brand new website.

However, traffic gained through SEO takes time to build up. How long? It’s sort of like asking “how long is a piece of string?”.  There are so many questions:

  • Is your website brand new?
  • How much content do you have on the website?
  • Is the content high quality with descriptive images?
  • Is the website responsive (mobile friendly)? As of December 2021, 63% of searches are done on mobile devices.
  • Can page load speeds be improved?
  • …and more

There are a number of questions I ask clients before I can give them a rough estimate on how quickly they can expect to get more traffic on their website. Even then it is often necessary to do a full website audit first. In some cases, there can be significant traffic improvements within a few months. In other cases it can take 6-12 months before you will see a difference.

2) Content quality and quantity is non-negotiable

Keyboard with hands writing representing SEO quality content
Having a significant amount of high-quality content on a website is necessary for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, it establishes credibility. In an era where information is abundant but often of questionable veracity, a site rich in well-researched, accurate, and insightful content stands out as a trustworthy beacon. It’s not just about the volume but the value it offers to the reader, which in turn, builds trust.

Moreover, quality content is a linchpin in engaging and retaining visitors. It transforms a website from a mere stopover into a destination. People return to places where they find value, where their questions are answered, and their curiosity is stoked. This engagement is crucial not only for building a loyal audience but also for encouraging conversions, whether they’re defined as sales, sign-ups, or any other action beneficial to the site’s objectives.

Additionally, in the algorithm-driven world of search engines, quality content is a key factor in achieving visibility. Search engines aim to serve users with the most relevant, informative, and authoritative content available. By providing comprehensive and well-articulated content, a website signals its relevance to these algorithms, thereby improving its chances of ranking higher in search results. This visibility is critical for attracting new visitors and expanding the site’s reach.

3) It’s about relevance

Definition of relevance for SEO

What do we mean by relevance?

In terms of SEO, relevance means “related to” or “pertaining to”.

Let’s say your website is a blog about the “Health benefits of exercise”. If you write a blog post about “How to warm up before a workout”, this is totally relevant to the theme of your website. However, if you write a blog about “The time my car broke down in Singapore” Google will get confused. Is this website about traveling by car in Singapore or health?

The same rules apply to backlinks. Using the above health related website as an example, let’s say we get a backlink from Men’s Health magazine. Perfectly relevant. One health related website promoting another health related website. Now let’s say you get a link from a website focusing on “Best iPhone accessories”. This link has a far lower value in Google’s eyes because it is not coming from a health related website.

How to measure relevance as related to backlinks

In the above example:

  • Best links would come from websites that are specifically about “health”.
  • Second best would come from websites that have a specific section related to health such as a “lifestyle” or “sports” website.
  • Third best would be from general news types of websites.

4) Technical SEO is important

Image representing technical SEO

What do we mean by technical SEO?

Technical SEO refers to optimizing the website and your server so search engine spiders can more effectively crawl and index your website.

This type of optimization relates to website speed, responsiveness (aka mobile friendliness) and site structure.

To properly cover what technical SEO encompasses in detail we would have to write a 5,000+ word blog post. Suffice it to say that we ask questions like these:

  • Are your images optimized (not too large so they load quickly)?
  • Is your site secure?
  • Is your site structured so both humans and search engines can easily find things?
  • Are there many 404 (missing pages)?
  • Is your sitemap accurate and up to date?
  • Is your robots.txt file optimized?
  • Is your content unique (not duplicated throughout the website)?
  • Have you incorporated schema markup?

Some of the above terms may be foreign to you but they are all very important parts of SEO. Google likes websites that pay attention to these details and will reward them with higher rankings.

5) It’s about referring domains and authority

Image of a sale concluded as a result of good domain quality

What is a referring domain?

A referring domain is any domain that links to your website.

Let’s say you have 5 backlinks to your website from a single domain (website). This means that one domain has referred to your website 5 times, but it’s still just one domain.

If you have 5 backlinks from 5 different domains this equates to 5 referring domains.

Put simply: if you have 5,000 backlinks from one domain it carries much less value than 5,000 links from 5,000 different domains. Would you rather have one friend recommend your business 5,000 times, or 5,000 people recommend your business one time each? Which example shows how well-known your business is?

In simple terms, Google views each domain as a “person” on the internet. The more “persons” that recommend you the more weight that carries with Google. But some recommendations are more important than others. What do we mean?

Let’s talk about domain authority

What we’re really talking about here is “reputation” or “authority”.

Let’s say your business is called “Amazing Vitamin Products” and you sell vitamin supplements. A 20 year old kid who works at the local sandwich shop tells his friend “you should buy from Amazing Vitamin Products”. You MIGHT get a sale out of this one referral.

Alternatively, let’s say a top olympic athlete mentions your product in a television interview. We both know which of these recommendations is better for business.

Now let’s apply this to how Google views your website.

A small time blogger posts a blog about your product, recommending it to his 500 readers and places a link to your website in the article. We appreciate the recommendation, but it’s just one recommendation from a relatively unknown blogger.

Alternatively, Men’s Health magazine recommends your product in one of their articles and links to your website. Now a heavy hitter has recommended your products. Which website is Google likely to put more faith in? Backlinks (aka recommendations) from highly regarded domains carry far more weight than unknown persons. One backlink from say the New York Times will push your website up much faster than 50 links from mediocre websites.

Bottom line – it’s important to get links from highly respected websites. This reputation, or “authority” is passed on to your website and you stand a better chance of outranking your competition. When you acquire enough of these high quality backlinks Google begins to view your website as an authority on your topic.

Summing up

Real SEO is complex. I could add thousands more words in this blog about all the aspects of “on page” and “off page” SEO, but the above represents some of the most important fundamentals. If you get the basics right, you can build on that foundation and traffic will increase.

Got questions?  Contact me.

If any of the terms in this article are foreign to you, here is a glossary of SEO terms that may help.