SEO has quickly established itself as one of the most viable inbound marketing, with 57% of B2B marketers affirming that SEO is their best lead generation channel. This is unsurprising considering that with 93% of online experiences starting with a search engine query.
Ready for the shock of your life? Google handles 5.5 billion searches per day! This incredibly accumulates into 2 trillion searches per year.
Now, a significant percentage of these searches are by people seeking information to influence their purchase decisions.
This means that your prospective customers are currently searching for your services online. Therefore, if you are not leveraging SEO to show on their search engine results, you miss a lot.
With SEO never been so important, famed SEO expert and author of best-seller SEO for Growth, Phil Singleton collaborated with Lyndsay Phillips to educate you on SEO for small businesses in the contemporary digital space.
How is SEO changing?
There has been a significant evolution in SEO from the very early days of search engine marketing in 1991 when the first website was published online.
Since then, Google has energetically stepped up its game to cater for the billions of searches it receives daily, striving for maximal user satisfaction for each of its users. There has been almost an overhaul of the SEO space compared to what was obtainable back in the 1990s.
Many of the SEO tactics that worked back then have been blacklisted, with Google becoming ever punitive anytime it smells black hat SEO tactics. Let us explore some of the drastic changes that occurred in SEO since its infant days.
Search engines no longer tolerate link schemes
According to Phil Singleton, SEO used to be more about volume-based backlinks (and under-the-hood technicalities) in the very early days. This is no longer tolerated as search engines like Google are relentlessly probing the genuineness of every link you pick up.
Google will most likely interpret a comprehensive attempt to manipulate your search rankings via suspicious accumulation of links as a link scheme. This would get you whipped.
This is good news for the online community because, by the late 2000s, there was an alarming profusion of spam-based link-building. One of Google’s major steps to invalidate such a black hat link building wave was the Penguin update release.
With Google’s algorithms becoming markedly more intelligent, Google now had a more accurate way of identifying value-based linked accrual and rewarding them proportionately while punishing spammy link acquisition.
This is why, unlike before, you now see the explosion in genuine link building and guest posting with websites trying to barter value for backlinks.
Keyword Stuffing is now forbidden
Around 2005, keyword stuffing was the order of the day. With everyone scrambling for the SEO cake (in the form of increased rankings), website owners couldn’t care less about user experience.
Back then, it was the norm to unnaturally laden your website with keywords to increase its visibility on search engine results.
Indeed, this used to be more of websites producing content for search engines than the website visitor’s genuine satisfaction.
Google effectively stamped out this criminal practice in 2011 when it successfully released the Panda update. This was a gamechanger radically transforming the paradigms of keyword optimization.
The emphasis was transferred to the genuine quality of the content (in terms of the extent to which it satiated the readers) instead of overpopulating keywords.
SEO is becoming more holistic
Before now, SEO was extremely one-dimensional. All you needed to do was pile up some links (by any means possible), stack up the keywords on a page, and some more advanced SEO technicality.
Fast forward to 2020, SEO has shed off that exclusivity, becoming far more interconnected with other digital marketing channels.
Today, your SEO rankings are affected by external factors like social media activity, reviews on 3rd party platforms like Yelp and Facebook, video, and email marketing. Search engines are increasingly pivoting to give the user maximum value for their search queries.
Consequently, we now have factors like website UX design contributing significantly to your search engine rankings. Precisely, your page loading speed is crucial today.
Slow-loading websites are deservedly sentenced to the bottom of search results. Loading speed is even more critical today with an explosion in mobile searches.
Would you mind juicing things up with some statistics?
47% of your prospective website visitors want your website to load in less than 2 seconds. Anything longer is almost sure to get them jumping off your website in horror.
Page speed is so decisive that just a supposedly forgivable 100-millisecond delay in load time will trigger a 7% in your conversion rates.
Of course, longer loading websites inevitably translates into shorter average user sessions and spikes in bounce rates. You can be sure search engines are taking note and adjusting your SEO ranking accordingly.
How should we handle SEO with podcasting?
Podcasts are gaining more prominence today, especially with its unmatched promise of giving users valuable content on-the-go.
Expectedly, it is becoming more crucial for podcasts to focus on SEO to increase their visibility on search engines and platforms like iTunes. How can this be achieved?
Strive to increase dwell time
This involves making available the podcast transcripts or documenting keynotes in the podcast for your audience. One other smart idea Phil shares with us is by asking people that booked you for a podcast appearance to give you a positive review.
Undoubtedly, this will increase your credibility and ultimately enhance your SEO.
Leverage compelling titles and meta descriptions
Meta descriptions enhanced with strategic keywords are mandatory for every page on your website. Traditionally, meta descriptions are best when short and direct.
This should be two straightforward sentences that reasonably explain what that page or podcast entails. That is the brief snippet that shows when you appear on search engine results. Ultimately, your meta should be appealing to compel people to click on your website on the results of their queries.
Also, your title should extensively map what your podcast is about. Just like meta descriptions, your title should be short (while being appreciably descriptive) and sweet, enticing your audience to listen.
Your title should also incorporate the major keyword that podcast is built around. The same applies to your podcast episode titles. Also, make judicious use of categories.
Strive to get your podcast on directories
Your podcast’s online visibility is directly tied to the number of directories where your podcast is listed. It helps your search engine rankings to get your podcast vastly distributed across directories.
Google – just like other search engines – are attentively curating the number of times your podcast is being mentioned across the internet and accordingly calibrating your search ranking.
Aside from podcast directories, blog directories are attractive destinations to get listed. For podcast episodes you optimize into blog posts, you can strive to build high-value backlinks to such content. All these increase your search engine ranking.
What are some of the big SEO mistakes small business owners make?
Digital marketing is fast evolving by the day, and taking an old-school approach is sure to get you knocked out by your competitors.
According to Phil Singleton, one of the most notorious small business SEO mistakes is treating your website as a “digital brochure”.
This means a business owner treats his website as a digital complimentary card that is eternally static and just needs to be there to satisfy all righteousness. This is ridiculous and almost lethal for those businesses.
They publish their best content on external destinations like Facebook, LinkedIn, or other websites. No, your website should fundamentally be your central digital hub. This is where every aspect of your digital marketing should be tied to.
Your website visitors want to know you are an authority in that industry. This is why blogging on your website is crucial to demonstrate your exquisite subject matter experience in your niche.
Indeed, this is an effective way to build credibility in contemporary internet space increasingly built on trust.
Unfortunately, business owners are not prioritizing their reputation; they are not seeking external validation. Furnishing your website with credible reviews is crucial to enhancing your trustworthiness to your prospective customer.
The internet is swarming with fraud, and website visitors are becoming far more scrupulous. It isn’t shocking that today’s average online buyer reads at least ten online reviews before making a purchase decision. Everyone wants to get it right at the first shot.
You can scream all you want about how impeccable your services are, but they will never convince your prospective customer as much as just one positive testimonial from one customer.
Isn’t it interesting that 92% of consumers trust non-paid recommendations more than any kind of advertising you do?
SEO for small businesses has come a long way, and it is essential to be abreast of emerging developments. Regardless, topnotch content will always remain the foundation of SEO. By putting your audience’s experience ahead, search engines will inevitably put ahead in their search results.
Smooth Sailing Business Growth is your all-in-one destination for winning insights on furiously accelerating your business growth. We tirelessly dish you game-changing insights you need to beat the competition in your space via content marketing. Don’t delay your breakthrough any second further; reach out to us today, let us add more digits to your revenues.