5 Key Components of SEO Every Business Owner Must Understand

Every business and every new start-up should have a website – afterall, according to 2014 research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a staggering 76% of Australia’s 15.4 million internet users made a purchase online this year, and even more than that use the internet to inform their buying decisions.

But once you have a website, how do you make sure that it’s found by the right people? Search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, are where most people go to find what they’re looking for on the internet.

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is what helps your website rank higher in search engine listings. Understanding and successfully implementing SEO can make the difference in who finds your website.

The following tips provide a basic overview of what SEO is, and the starting blocks for how to optimise your website.

SEO Blocks

Keyword Research

Using keywords on your website lets a search engine, and potential customers, know what your site is about. The more specific your content and keyword is, the more likely you are to rank higher on a search engine for that niche keyword.

There are two types of keywords: broad keywords and long-tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific to a company or an industry, while broad keywords are shorter and less specific, and may apply to other businesses or related industries even if they also relate to your business and your industry.

broad vs long tail keywords

Your keywords need to relate to the central topic of each of your core product/service pages. Try typing it into a search engine so you can understand what pages already rank highly for that keyword.

Usually broad keywords tend to attract viewers who are looking for information, and there are a lot more sites competing for high rankings for those keywords. However, customers who already have some knowledge of the subject are more likely to use long-tail keywords, because they’re looking for something more specific. If you’re trying to attract potential clients for your product or service, long-tail keywords may lead to more conversions.

So, how do you choose the best keywords for you?

In general, start-ups and SMEs are better off beginning by aiming to rank for more long-tail keywords, including those with very local qualifiers (e.g. your service in your city or even suburb – i.e. ‘accountant in perth’ or ‘accountant Victoria Park’ etc.).

Throwing money at a very broad keyword from the outset will likely be a wasted venture. It’s better to start with a very particular niche and work upwards as your company progresses. Also, as mentioned, the more specific the keyword, the further down the buying funnel the searcher tends to be. Broad keywords might bring in a higher number of visits, but conversion rates will be low. Long-tail keywords will bring in a lower number of visits, but their conversion rate will be higher.

Imagine the different mindset someone would be in when typing these keywords for example: ‘hair dryers’ vs ‘2100 watt babyliss hair dryer’. While the second keyword will get a significantly lower number of average monthly searches, the detail suggests the buyer knows what they want and are looking for a retailer to buy it from. Meanwhile, the first keyword will get a significant amount of searches per month, but it is so broad the user is likely at the very beginning of their research on what type or style to buy and won’t convert immediately on your site. Or worse still, it could even be someone looking for a picture of a hair dryer for an article or a school project – not the kind of traffic you’re looking for!

Meta Data

A meta title, or a title tag, is a key piece of SEO. Meta titles appear in two places: at the top of your internet browser while you’re on the webpage, and in the search engine results pages (SERPs), along with the meta description.

A well written title tag should:

  • Let the reader, and the search engine, know what your webpage is about
  • Be simple, focused, and no more than 60 characters (aim for 55)
  • Be unique to each page of the site (don’t have the same title on more than one page)
  • Include the focus keyword for that page as early as possible in the sentence
  • Mention the brand name when possible, usually at the end of the sentence
  • Go into a little more detail about the content on a webpage, maximum 155 characters
  • Mention the core keywords related to that page
  • Include one or two key messages or USPs that might influence a potential customer to click through to the site
  • Include a call to action

Be unique to each page of the site (don’t have the same description on more than one page)

Example of a poorly optimised meta title and descriptiongood meta title and keyword example

A well written meta description should:

Poorly written meta titles and descriptions that do not include the above elements, and importantly do not stick to the character count, will not display as you wish them to in SERPs. If there is no meta description added to a page, or the character count goes over 155, search engines will do one of two things: cut off the description mid-sentence, or pull a random sentence from the page and use a section of it as the description. Similarly, meta titles that go over 55-60 characters will be cut off mid-sentence.

This means you won’t have control over the message you are displaying in SERPs (often a potential customer’s first impression of your brand) or be able to convince potential customers to click through to your website – essentially decreasing your rankings, traffic and sales.

bad meta title and keyword exampleLocal SEO

In order to be found online by people in your community, you need to have quality local SEO.

Your contact information, or your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP), needs to be consistent across your website and across all other websites where you have listings e.g. yellow pages, Google Places etc.

This is called your ‘NAP footprint’, and it not only lets potential clients know where you are and how to contact you, but it helps search engines know when to rank your listing higher, provided they know the location of the person searching. That is, if someone is logged into their Gmail or Chrome account, or they’re searching on their phone and have location services enabled, Google will rank places they know that are closer to the person higher in SERPs.

Having a verified Google+ Local (AKA Google My Business or Google Places) will allow your business to show up in local listings, which usually appear somewhere in the top 5 spots of SERPs. This gives a chance to easily get your business on the first page of listings by setting up and verifying your Google+ Local listing and ensuring the URL and NAP details match those on your website.

local serps

Website Content

The most important factor in creating website content that will allow your website to rank higher and gain more traffic and leads is to provide accurate, relevant and convincing content that has value for your potential customers. Be interesting, and know your audience.

While keywords are important and should be in your headings and scattered throughout your text, that shouldn’t be your main focus while you’re writing the content. Inclusion of your keywords and their synonyms will happen naturally while you’re talking about topics related to your services. Concentrate harder on offering engaging and useful content that addresses the need that your product or service fills in the life of a potential customer, and why your product fills this need better than your competitors’ products can.

Every page should include a call to action that encourages the viewer to make a purchase or to contact you for more information.

Keep your content updated. Search engines like fresh, new content. This is why having a blog is great for SEO – it is a platform where your business can engage your audience, provide relevant information, and establish yourself as a reliable resource for information in your industry.

Focus on your target audience, and provide information they’ll be looking for.

Guest Post Writing

Writing a guest post on the blog or website of another person or business can be a great way to grow your audience. The benefits of guest blogging are manifold – it’s beneficial for both the blog owner and you, the guest poster.

Blogs need quality content on a consistent basis. Writing a post for a blog owned by a person or business in your industry will provide great content for that blog, but should also include a link to your blog or website. The quantity and quality of links pointing to your website from other sites is a major indicator to search engines that your website is authoritative. And authoritative websites rank higher.

In addition to getting your name out there, having additional links to your website for readers to click on and find you (referral traffic), and for search engines to see how authoritative you are, you’ll also establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

About The Author

Sorcha Mullis

Sorcha Mullis is an Online Marketing Specialist with White Chalk Road a leading search engine optimisation (SEO) and online marketing firm in Perth, Western Australia. White Chalk Road provides SEO, SEM, PPC and online reputation management services to clients based in Perth and wider Australia. Connect with Sorcha on Twitter or on Google+.