For many small businesses on-page SEO is possibly one of the most important area to get right, especially when if you are in a relatively non-competitive market. However, all too often small businesses get this wrong.
Brand awareness is important, as is a good catchy sales pitch that will encourage readers to pick up the phone or fill out an enquiry form. However, brands and sales pitches may convert customers but they are rarely successful in getting the customers to your website in the first place.
For a small business website to really work well it needs to ensure that it provides a healthy balance of brand and sales with the needs (i.e. search terms) of the potential customers. So what precisely does this mean?
Think Like Your Customers
I was recently looking at a small business with the aim to increase its visibility in the search engines. The business has a nice clear logo that displays the business name in the header of the site. This is good as it boosts brand awareness immediately, people visiting the site for the first time will know where they are and hopefully remember the company name.
However, the main header on the page repeated the company name and the only other headers were "Made To Measure" and "Latest News". These may look good from the point of view of a marketing manager that has worked extensively in the printed media, and maybe new customers upon finding the site will be impressed. But, for their products nobody searches for "made to measure" items. They may well search for custom or programmable, but not made to measure.
Combine The Corporate Message With Client Language
So the first step in trying to bring together the corporate message and sales pitch with the needs of the customers is to replace some of the traditional terms with keyword focused words, without disrupting the overall corporate message or interrupting the all important sales pitch.
This is actually very simple to implement, once you know what words to use. There are really two ways to determine what will work:
- Check the web logs for search terms people are currently using
- Pick up the phone and ask current clients to describe in their words what your product is
Ideally you should know both of these already, but they are often easy to overlook. It is always a good idea to see what is currently working and build on that. If some keywords are bringing in some customers now, then strengthening their position could be a better investment than trying to win some new keywords. Also, if you have won the top positions in Google with little or no thought to SEO this means that competitors could just as easily take the top keywords from you. So defend what you already have first.
Asking customers how they would search Google for your service may also give you a good boost in the search engines. Many small businesses are focussed on products and brands to the point that they fail in answering search questions such as "how to .... ?" Getting this right can quickly win new organic search customers.
For a business website to bring in more search traffic it has to be worded in the same way that potential customers search for. So instead of "Made To Measure" you need to write something like "Custom Made Product Name / Service". If the business name is repeated, you should instead replace it with a product name or service. "Latest News" should become "Product Updates" or similar.
Take a look at your site from a customer point of view. Do some searches in Google that you think a customer may type in and see if your business appears. On page SEO is really about being customer centric - put the needs of your customer before the wants of your marketing team.
I believe that content is king and all other SEO comes second. Build an awesome website and write brilliant content first, then your readers will do the SEO work for you.