The Web Writer

The complete small business guide to writing SEO content

The complete small business guide to writing SEO content

Rocket flying into space

 

If you run a small business, it’s vital your website shows up in search results or your customers won’t find you.

But the way Google ranks pages is complex and evolving. Tackling SEO can be overwhelming – especially if your time and budget is in short supply! Can your small business improve your google rank to compete with bigger companies?

Yes it can, and I’ll show you how.

This complete guide to writing SEO content has everything you need for your small business to meet Google’s key ranking factors in 2018.

First off, some SEO basics:

What is SEO, exactly?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the process of improving your Google rank so you’ll be seen by people searching for the product or service you provide for free.

With so many businesses fighting for the top spot, hitting the first page of the search results doesn’t happen overnight. But you can boost your SEO over time by writing content that meets Google’s key ranking factors – the ways Google measures your web page to assign it a rank. Here’s how:

1. Write each page to resolve a query

Before you write anything, step inside your customer’s shoes and identify what they search for.

Think about what problems they will be seeking an answer to. What language do they use? Do they intend to learn something? To buy something?

Aim to answer your searcher’s queries in your content. For example, someone seeking info on a topic will want an article or blog post, while someone looking to make a purchase will want to read a product description page.

Keep in mind Google serves individual pages in response to a search. If you’ve 2 pages on the same topic, it won’t know which to choose, and might not choose either one! To avoid this, each page on your website should answer a different query.

And its important to stay on topic, too: Google gives the highest rank to content it thinks is most relevant to the query – so everything on your page must be laser-focussed on giving that answer.

2. Write unique content

If you can provide something that’s not been written about before, Google loves you, because it aims to give the searcher a variety of results to choose from.

So you can give your small business the edge over larger competitors by identifying what makes your business unique. Have you got a niche product, or specialist knowledge?  Write about it!

Do some googling of your own to see what content you’ll be competing with. Is there some info that’s missing from the search results? Or can you write about your topic in a way that’s more helpful to searchers, or from a fresh perspective?

Moz  points out a little personality goes a long way, too. Write with a fun, unique tone and people will enjoy your content and come back for more. You’ll get a ranking boost and the style will do wonders for your brand identity.

3. Use the right Keywords

Keywords are the terms people enter into Google when they search. Include these in your content, and its a signal to both Google and your readers that you’re a good match.

For each page, choose one primary ‘long tail’ keyword that closely describes your topic. For the broad term ‘’hats for sale’’, a specific long tail version would be ‘’vintage hats for sale in Manchester’’.

Long tail keywords are low-hanging fruit for a small business. Less people search for them, so fewer websites are competing for them, too. And this makes them easier to rank for.

Include your primary keyword in your title and the first 100 words of text, but don’t repeat it too often – you’ll get a penalty.  Instead, sprinkle related ‘LSI’ keywords in your content – terms that have similar meanings to your primary keyword, and are relevant to your topic.

LSI terms indicate you’ve in-depth, helpful content, which gets you a big thumbs-up from Google. Also, Google uses these related keywords as context to clarify what your content’s about.

For example, the phrase ‘’gourmet coffee’’ could refer to an online supplier of beans or a local cafe. LSI terms like ‘’beans for UK delivery’’ and ‘’buy premium coffee beans’’ signal the page is about the supply of beans.

So including LSI’s means your page will be ranked higher for searches that are most relevant-and more likely to convert.

Check out my keyword research guide for the low-down on how to choose the best keywords for you small business.

4. Engage your reader

Google measures how long people stay on your page. If you write content that engages your reader to stick around it’s judged to be more helpful and up you climb.

But writing engaging content online is tricky. People are impatient for answers, and it’s oh-so-easy to hit the back button and choose a rival from the search results!

Here’s how to make your content engaging:

Start strong

Hook your reader from the start. In just a few words, your page’s h1 title needs to grab attention, convey what your content’s about, include your primary keyword and connect emotionally so your reader is compelled to read on. I know, it’s a tall order!

Here’s an example – the tech review site CNET has a stonking title for its article on brewing coffee:

7 tips that will change the way you brew coffee at home

Curious to find out what the 7 tips are? Me too! It includes the keyword ‘’brew coffee at home’’, it’s short and to the point.

The best way to come up with a great title is by jotting down lots of different versions (even if they’re terrible), playing with the words until you’ve got one that ticks all the boxes.

Be concise

Screen glare makes reading online hard work, so keep words, sentences and paragraphs short, and signpost each point with headings. Check out my post on how to write a compelling web page for more tips.

Add media

Images break up your text and provide visual cues. Another great way to boost your engagement is to embed a video. Everyone loves them, and people will stay on your site to watch one.

5. Keep your info current

Google favours current content as more helpful than a stale webpage that’s 5 years old. And posting new stuff signals to Google that your business is still active.

Don’t have time to create new content every week? You don’t have to.

Badly written, rushed content will do more harm than good. Instead, add a quality post every one or 2 months that will genuinely help your visitors, and save time by updating your existing content.

Review your older posts, and substitute info that’s out of date for recent developments. Do this regularly, and:

  • Your content stays helpful to readers
  • You can include ‘’updated’’ in your title to make it more enticing
  • You get brownie points with Google.

Win-win!

6. Get more clicks

Google measures your click through rate – how many times people visit your page from the search results for a query.  The more traffic to your website, the higher you rank, which in turn will give you even more traffic. Which in turn…you get the idea.

To improve your CTR, you need to give the searcher a reason to click on your site from the search results page. Treat the info about you that shows up in the list of search results like an ad, enticing the searcher to click on you instead of the other results.

This info is called your ‘meta tags’, and most website hosts have option to download a handy plugin like Yoast SEO to edit your tags without having to code.

Meta tags have 3 sections. Here’s what to include for each one:

  1. The title, or ‘title tag’ can be up to 60 characters long. It can be the same as, or a shortened version of, your page’s H1 title.
  2. The webpage address, or URL, should be short and clearly identify the page’s topic.
  3. A short summary of the page’s topic, or ‘meta description’ can be up to 160 characters. It should explain why your page has the best answer, with a call to action persuading your reader to click.

7. Include links

Links are the text that you click to send you to another web page. Internal links (links within pages of your own website) help Google and your readers find their way around. They encourage readers to check out other pages of your website, which Google recognises and rewards.

Linking to external sites shows your content’s been well researched, and improves your site’s authority – in your visitor’s eyes and for Google, too.

Backlinks

External ‘backlinks’ are links from other websites to your own site. And they’re really important for your Google rank. They’re endorsements that tell Google you’re trusted by other sources on the web.

The best source for backlinks are websites related to your industry. Reach out to business contacts and ask them to include a link on one of their blog posts. You could also approach people you don’t know and invite them to add a link, perhaps in exchange for a social media mention.

And the final step…

8. Vary your content’s length

Recent studies show longer posts (1000 words plus) rank higher than shorter ones. Longer posts go into more depth and are deemed more helpful to searchers.

But don’t worry if you haven’t the time to write War and Peace every week! Your post needn’t be long for the sake of it.

Think quality over quantity: waffle will make your visitors leave in a hurry, which will hurt your rank. While blog posts can go into depth, people will expect to scan product pages on your website quickly.

Best practice is to vary your content’s length, offering a mix of easy to follow articles, at a glance product info and long-form in-depth guides.

And that’s everything you need to create a DIY SEO content strategy for your small business. Now you’re all set to write quality SEO content Google and your readers will love. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Focus on one topic per page
  2. Write unique content
  3. Write engaging content to keep readers on your site
  4. Include keywords
  5. Update your site with fresh content
  6. Boost your click through rate with meta tags
  7. Ask for backlinks
  8. Write long (and not-so-long) content

I hope you find this guide helpful! And if you did, why not give it a share on your favourite social media?

Do you have any SEO tips that have worked for your business? Got any questions about SEO? Have your say in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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