Finding Customers Online - What Is SEO
The internet is one of the best ways for small businesses to find new customers. There are 2 main reason for this.
It does not take a lot of money to compete for most industries.
The internet is where everyone goes to find new services or businesses.
20 years ago, when a local business would want to get new customers, they would go to their local yellow pages company and take out an add in the phone book. Today however, customers have ditched the thick phone books for a digital version... the search engines.
Consumers now go mainly to search engines to find new businesses and services. And just like the yellow pages, there are ways to make sure you are found under the category that everyone is looking for. But first things first, let's take a step back and fully understand what SEO is. Because without understanding what SEO is, it will be hard for you to do it for your balloon business.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It literally means to optimize your website for the search engines so you have a better chance of showing up when someone searches for you. When someone goes onto Google and searches "Balloon Decor Salt Lake City Utah" (insert your city here), how exactly does Google determine which sites are going to show on the top of the search engines, and which ones they will bury pages deep where no one actually goes?
There are also hundreds of search engines out there. How do you know which search engines you should focus on? Theres Google, Bing, Yahoo... and many more sites that help you search for website. The answer to this is simple... Google! Google accounts for over 80% of all search engine searches. And generally the rest follow in Google's footstep so if you aim to please Google, you will also please the other 20% as well
There are hundreds of different factors that Google looks at to try and determine which websites to rank. There are also hundreds of red flags they look at as well to punish you if your doing things that are known to be bad. We are not going to go into detail in everything Google looks at, mainly because no one actually knows exactly what they look at. There are tests that can prove certain things that help, but Google holds that algorithm close to its heart and doesn't let anyone know what it is.
How Google Determines Your Website Category
The first thing that Google does is try to put your website into a category, or phrase that people will search. It does this by sending out little "bots" that will read your website and report back to Google what content is on your website. But the bots are not able to see all your content, the main content it sees is the text on your website page, as well as the page title, description & url.
The url is the domain name that someone goes to to find your page. So if you have a page for balloon arches, you probably should have those words in your url. Something like www.yourdomain.com/balloon-arches. Having the words balloon and arches separated by a hyphen, not only is easy for the user to enter if they need to go there, but it is a good indication for Google what the content of that page is about.
The title and description are not actually visible on your website. It is code that is in your pages HTML, that the search engines read, but is hidden from the website when you actually view it. The page title and description is what Google will use when it shows your page on the search engines.
So while it is not public on your website, it will be public on the search engines. And again, if your page is about balloon arches, you better have those words in your title and description.
Controlling the url, description and title are generally pretty easy. Most platforms understand the importance of these and make it easy for you to edit, but how you do it depends on the platform of your website. If you have a website through Balloon Suite, this is easily updated on every page and post in your customer portal. If you have any questions how to do this, feel free to reach out to us.
Google will take all this data, and compile a list of all the words on your website, ignoring words like "of", "and", "is" and other words they know to not have meaning. It will rank your words in order of how often they are used, those used most often at the top. And for the most part, those will be the main keywords, or the category that google classifies you in for that page. Every page will have their own keywords and rankings, so you can have one page with the keywords of "Balloon Arch" and another page with the main keywords of "Balloon Columns". This is why you want to separate your services into separate pages, so google can then rank each page independently. If you have a general services page that has all your services, it will struggle to find a main keyword, and if it does the rest of the services will never show on the search engines since that page is not categorized for it.
How Google Decides to Rank Your Website
So now google has keywords or categories for every page on your website, but how does it know which companies page is the best to show? If there are 10 companies in the area that have "Balloon Arch" as the main keywords for a page, which one is going to be shown first?
Ranking your page is similar to how they crown king and queen at a high school prom. In high school they go to your peers and ask everyone who is the best person for king and queen. They tally up all the votes and crown the person with the most votes as your king and queen. Google operates in a similar way, except instead of crowning just a king, they rank all websites in that category in popularity. The page that is the most popular will be at the top. Now you first have to be in correct category, that would be like running for prom king or queen at a school you do not attend. Your never going to win. But once you have the right category, you need to work on your popularity.
In later posts, I will go into further details on things you can do to grow your popularity. The reason I am not saying anythign here, is you first need to understand the difference between regular SEO and Local SEO. As local balloon artists we are going to want to market to our local areas. Google has a seperate solution for local businesses. In nexts post we cover what is Local SEO and ways to get your site listed at the top.
For this week, I want you to make a list of all your services. Then a list of what you would search online to find those services. Ask your family and friends what they would search. Get a strong list of all the searching phrases for each service. Then go back to your website (or start writing content for your website) and update each page to have those keywords on your page.
Then use a tool like this to check the pages keyword density. Make sure the keywords at the top of the list are the keywords you want. Just be careful to not over use words. If one of the keywords are used more than 5% or so, you risk being marked as spamming the page with keywords... and you do not want that. Just make sure your top 5-10 keywords are relivant keywords for the service/page that you have.
My goal is to help you be popular online. That is why I created Balloon Suite, because I noticed that so many balloon artists struggled with their online popularity. I have spent years helping other people find success online, I found it for our balloon business and now I want to help you with your business. Everything I will cover is independent of where your website is built. I want to help you succeed, even if you do not have a Balloon Suite Website (even though I think every balloon professional should).