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Since the term first appeared, SEO has been shrouded in mystery.  It was a race to the top, literally and figuratively, as marketers struggled to uncover the best tactics to achieve top rankings on search engine result pages. Then popped up SEO companies vying for money from unsuspecting business owners. Penguin, robots, CTR, and a slew of other terms added even more depth to the equation and now we need a dictionary just to keep track of everything. Yes, SEO is here and it’s here to stay.  For the small business owner, SEO can be very daunting. So, in an effort to clear some of the fog, we’ve shared a few things that perhaps you didn’t know.

The Good and The Bad

There are underhanded, unscrupulous methods to ranking your page, (Black Hat tactics) and there are upstanding organic methods to ranking your page (White Hat tactics).  The latter is the more preferred method because it ensures that your site will continuously rank without penalty. Although black hat methods may produce quicker results, success will more than likely be short-lived and will quickly be diminished as routine quality control measures facilitated by search engines catch and penalize such sites utilizing these methods.

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Fresh Means Relevant

We tell our clients to just keep posting. Small business websites have a tendency to be stagnant. As business owners find success in certain messages, they often stick with what’s working. However, if a search engine detects low activity coming from your site it will assume that your site is old and therefore not relevant.  We recommend a small business blog with a regular posting schedule.  Keywords can and should be added throughout, but just keep posting.  A good rule of thumb is to post content regularly 2 to 4 times a month. At least one of those content pieces should be an extended authoritative blog post regarding something relevant to your industry and target market.

There is a trick to Keyword Usage

Speaking of keywords, there is a special trick to how they should be used.  You can’t just haphazardly throw keywords into your content and hope that something sticks.  It’s not rocket science, but a good SEO strategist employs a certain amount of technique when it comes to keywords and the best keywords are those with a long tail.  For example, if you are a fitness trainer in Boston, a typical keyword might be ‘lose weight’. However, a long-tail keyword would be a phrase that will not only drive traffic but drive converting traffic such as ‘help losing weight in Boston.’ This phrase targets LOCAL people wanting to lose weight who are actually ready to take action on doing so. It’s a long phrase but it will attract the right people. Put the phrase and others similar to it in a well-written story or blog post. Take this keyword strategy a step farther by including this phrase in the url slug and the headline.  The beauty behind this strategy is that your website will match this search term perfectly and will get you high rankings fast.  

Learning Your Customer is Better than Learning SEO

Top SEO companies like to imagine that their service is rocket science and it takes a professional to get top page rankings.  While a good SEO team is not a bad idea, it is not required to achieve high page rankings. In fact, with just a very basic knowledge of SEO you could still achieve high page rankings if you focused more on creating an in-depth ideal customer profile. Find out everything you can about your best customer – their habits, their hobbies, their problems, where they hang out, who they look up to, their culture, their favorite movies, where they work, how they spend their downtime, their frustrations and so forth. If you invest resources into getting to know your customers, you would be able to come up with endless content that would attract them to your site day in and day out without the need for SEO science. You would have natural organic content that your ideal customer craves.

Although the world of search engine optimization is full of complex tactics and terminology, the ultimate goal is to get the right information to the right people looking for it.  By all means, we recommend that you get a basic understanding of how things work and what you should do on a basic level, however, don’t put all your efforts into SEO. Things shift very quickly in this industry, but if you hold to investing in knowing your ideal customer, you will be just fine.

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