This is a guest post by Camilla Duggan, client marketing manager at the Profitable Firm.
Have you fallen into the trap of spending a large chunk of budget on high level SEO, without having a real understanding of what it is, and what it can do for you?
You might be avoiding SEO completely after feeling bewildred by an expert, or be paying an SEO specialist every month, unsure what the benefits are for your business.
To bust the myths and misunderstandings, here’s what you can do for yourself today, what you really need an expert for and what to ask when you get to that point.
Like all business acronyms, SEO gets used as if its meaning is obvious to all, but the full term itself can still feel mystifying. SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’. Still a little vague, isn’t it?
We define search engine optimisation with the following equation:
Regular, original content + technical updates = more and better traffic to your website.
You’ll notice generating content comes first in the equation, because content is a vital component. So, if you’re asking whether you need SEO services, we’ll always ask this question first:
You’ll probably have an understanding of the search engine part of SEO. This could be Google, or any other search service available online such as Bing or Yahoo.
The misunderstanding often comes from the second part: optimisation. What do you have to optimise? Well, you can’t optimise something that isn’t there. Don’t get enticed by shiny high level SEO packages before you’ve worked on building up your own content.
Think about the function of Google. Google processes billions of searches per day. The purpose of Google is to provide useful results within seconds, so when you type in a query, you get the most relevant answer.
For your best clients to find you, you have to answer the questions they’re asking. You have to have the content that Google can optimise for you.
So, step one is always to identify your audience and create content for them.
Remember, SEO is a content + technical equation
Even if you don’t have content yet, you don’t have to wait to look at SEO.
We recently spoke with a firm who wanted our help to increase their presence online. We ran them through our marketing map and identified the best path for them started with nailing the foundational areas of marketing first, before jumping to high level paid lead generation. In this marketing map, SEO sits right at the end of the journey because you need content first before you optimise it.
In their case, they were missing foundational areas such as solidifying their brand, creating a website based on that brand and target audience, and building up a bank of content for their clients. It could be at least two years before they reached high level SEO.
The owners asked: “So we have to wait two years before we do any SEO?”.
Answer: no. You don’t. There are things you can do to be seen and heard by Google in the meantime. Here are some basic SEO steps you can take while you’re building up your content output.
1. Set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you analyse your website traffic. It’s simple to set up - just head over here and click ‘start for free’.
You’ll be asked to add a tracking code to your website, which is all explained in detailed instructions here.
From the day that tracking code is added, Google Analytics collects in-depth data on your website visits, providing you insight into your visitors’ behaviour.
Having this data at your fingertips helps you make key decisions about the content you create. You’ll be able to see what your users are engaging with, and how they’re interacting with your site as a whole.
2. Create a Google My Business account
‘Google My Business’ is another handy free tool that allows you to set up your business so that all the vital information appears in the search results and in Google Maps.
You’ll have seen this many times when you’ve googled a specific business - you’re instantly presented with their address, phone number and set of reviews and a link to their website.
Setting up an account is quick, uncomplicated, makes you more visible online and increases your local presence too. It’s a no-brainer.
3. Write better meta descriptions
Just the words ‘meta description’ sounds high level and best saved for an SEO guru. But getting the basics right is simpler than you may expect.
A meta description is the roughly 155-word summary of a page’s content.
Let’s say you type ‘The Profitable Firm’ into Google. When you do, a link to our home page will appear, and the description for that page reads:
“Outsourced marketing exclusively for accountants, accountancy firms, and bookkeepers in the UK, USA, and all throughout the world.”
That summary is the meta description for our home page.
Whenever you create a page on your website, you’ll be given the option to create a meta description for that page in your content management system (CMS). You always want your meta description to appeal to your target market and tell them what they’re about to find on that webpage. If the page you’re creating is for cash flow services for small businesses, tell a small business owner with cash flow issues how you can solve their problems with the content.
There are some areas where you’ll want expert help down the line. This sort of technical high level help is usually beyond the realms of non-specialists.
When it comes to that point, seek help from someone who will look at SEO as part of the bigger marketing picture, combining efforts with your brand, website, and content marketing plan.
Not SEO in isolation, but SEO as support for all of your amazing marketing work.
Camilla Duggan is client marketing manager at the Profitable Firm. She aims to help the tackle challenges accountants face and serve up content marketing strategies to firms who are passionate about offering real value to their clients.
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