The Basics of SEO

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by Erin Robbins O’Brien

Creating revenue with a small amount of resources and the unlimited number of tasks associated with running a business are challenges every entrepreneur faces – and they aren’t likely to change. You are likely short on time as you try to get your brand off the ground, create findability, and build an organization – which means you lack the bandwidth to learn and execute the daily tasks associated with every role.

When it comes to SEO, a few important basics can greatly improve your presence in the increasingly crowded online space.

Since SEO has evolve to include a content-centric view of rankings and incorporate social media and local engagements, there are fewer shortcuts and a larger focus on quality. While it sounds time-consuming, quality content has benefits that reach beyond SEO, as good content is useful across all marketing mediums, and forces you to think through messaging from a topic and keyword perspective – ensuring you’re honing in on what actually matters.

Below are a few things I think are important:

Know Your Audience(s) and What They’re Looking For

This is a helpful exercise regardless of whether or not you care about SEO. You’ve got to know who would buy your products or services, and what they’re looking for, in order to find them. Your initial assumptions may be accurate, but you may also be missing things that could drive additional traffic, potential messaging opportunities, or new market segments.

You’ll want to do some research up front (if you haven’t already) and map an audience to the keywords, topics, and phrases they’re using in and around your industry. It’s also helpful to map the keywords and topics back to your content and the ways people are sharing it so you’ll know what types of content perform best on each channel.

If you don’t have the time to go through that exercise in its entirety, a look at how people are currently finding your content using your analytics provider (like Google Analytics) is a good start.

Map Competitor Content

If you’re looking for increased traffic, and not just any traffic but relevant traffic, you need to know what you’re up against. Mapping out your competitors’ content will help you understand what’s already out there, what’s missing, and how similar products and services are being messaged.

To get started, create a spreadsheet with the following information:

The competitor name (e.g. Acme)
The keywords / topics that you’re targeting that they are also ranking for (e.g. “anvils”)
The content they’ve created that is currently ranking above yours or in the top 10 on search engines (e.g. “how to trap a roadrunner” – be sure to include the title of the content as well as the URL.)
Note any key elements of the content such as videos, images, long-form content, lots of discussion on the post, etc.
Armed with this information, you can better allocate the limited time and resources you have to create content that truly stands out against the competition.

Certain tools will do this for you automatically, and will also highlight things like search and CPC data, which can be a great option if you have a highly competitive or volatile market.

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