As a business owner and entrepreneur, you’ll have heard about SEO: whether it’s dead now, changing, super relevant, difficult, cheap, necessary or a total mystery. It seems like nowadays everybody is speaking and writing about SEO. Truth is, my intention is not to talk about something I consider neither irrelevant nor dead for your projects. SEO is alive and kicking; we just have to take some of our time to understand how it works and how it could help your small business grow. But I will tell you upfront something vital about SEO: it requires a lot of patience. The bright side is, the results of SEO done right can be long-lasting!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”. We know that the majority of internet users search for everything they need on Google, right? But it´s not the only search engine out there. For example, Bing and Yandex are two alternatives for search engines rather than Google.

When we talk about the optimisation aspect of the definition, we mean crafting websites in such a way that they can appear at the very top of search engine results for a considerable amount of time and bring you leads. This is the main goal of thousands of people. But there are diverse aspects to consider in this process, being these three the most important ones:

  • Content: Even though SEO is extremely dynamic, there are some generalities to apply to what you write, and how you structure it. The latest content trend is to write clear, short and conversational-like sentences since voice search is getting more popular over time. That means people are literally searching for things exactly how they speak. So, it´s unnecessary (and counterproductive to Google´s eyes) to overcomplicate yourself with grammatically complex writing.
  • Design: If your website is attractive, it will ensure that visitors come back any time they need something from your niche. Users are also looking for fast loading sites where they won´t have to navigate so much to find important information, like for example, your social networks or a contact form. This can´t be hidden or too difficult to find.
  • Link building: The more links you have referring to your site (“backlinks” to be more precise) the higher your page will rank on search results. Even though you could totally pay for this, it´s not advisable since Google will not like it. Why? Because it all comes down to value. This means other website owners will only link you if they find a certain value in what you have to offer. And certainly, this is not something that you can buy. Websites that are not following certain rules or standards can be rapidly banned even though they made it to the top results, so taking shortcuts to make money faster can be a big problem.

Organic vs. Paid Traffic

As we had inbound vs. outbound marketing, we have SEM and SEO. What´s SEM? It stands for search engine marketing and it works through paid advertising. That leads me to explain to you what organic traffic is! When we talk about organic we mean natural, without being paid. We can refer to “organic traffic” (people found you because of your content and your great link building for certain phrases) and in social networks, we´re going to talk about “organic followers”. (The ones you didn´t buy and followed you because they just saw your posts through other accounts).

To understand the difference between SEM and SEO, if you search for something, like “yoga classes in London” you will find that the first results are paid ads and the rest are not. The first results illustrate what SEM is and the others, what SEO is.

As it happens with inbound and outbound marketing, SEO and SEM can be two complementary marketing techniques that make up for your strategy, not enemies. Sometimes new businesses decide to go for SEM first and then they start with SEO when they already had quick profit as SEM brings immediate results (unlike SEO), but that´s totally up to you.

More Basic Concepts

Short Tail Keywords

What´s a keyword? A keyword is an important word connected to what you’re looking for on search engines. We consider keywords only content words—we don’t take into account words like articles or prepositions. We´ve mentioned yoga before. “Yoga” would be an example of a short tail keyword because it is an extremely wide concept for the online world. We could be talking about yoga classes, or maybe yoga history, why not yoga outfits?

Long Tail Keywords

But when we search for “yoga classes in London” we’re being quite specific. However, if we search for “Ashtanga yoga classes in Lambeth” we’re being much more precise. A long tail keyword is a phrase with at least two important words that are relevant to your niche, and of course, they make up a sentence and have sense.

Why are keywords so important for SEO? Because part of an optimisation strategy for a website is understanding which words are going to be keywords, this is how users and future visitors look for products and services they need.

Have I already mentioned that you need to have a clear consumer persona in mind? That way, you would be able to put in their shoes and understand what and how they search for things. And that’ll make your SEO adventure much easier.

At SEO level, it´s more difficult to rank high for short tail keywords, such as “yoga”, “health”, “nutrition”, or “business”. So, if you narrow it down and you start producing high-quality content around this long tail keyword (“Run an online business on a low budget”), in tandem with excellent website design, good speed, and other important ingredients, you´ll eventually rank higher and higher. But this process can take months or years.

More About SEO

What are the other important ingredients? There are piles of information about SEO, this is just an overview for beginners. There´s a lot to do and to read if you want to get hands on. I found this article useful because it briefly describes the profiles of different SEO experts that can throw more light on this somewhat tough topic.

I wish you the best of luck with your internet marketing efforts!

Comment below about your experiences with SEO or SEM.