My Hot Take on Search Engine Optimization
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, I chimed in a little while ago about my thoughts on SEO for websites for independent businesses. Though I realized once I saw someone else tag a similar engaging post #postthatshouldhavebeenablog, I should probably be blogging this content, too!
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, but you probably knew that already. One quick search online can connect you with SEO experts, strategists, consultants, etc etc, and it’s all very overwhelming for small businesses who want to rank well on search engines but don’t quite understand exactly what SEO entails. You can get sucked in to an information vortex about best practices and what platforms have the best SEO, keywords, and phrases… but it’s really simpler than the pros are letting on.
That page 1 ranking that SEO “guru” is promising you? Frankly, ranking on the first page of a generic search is a pretty impossible promise for a small business, but it’s also pointless.
There’s a quote I recently read from Seth Godin: “Be the one they want to find when they go looking” . I love this quote because it implies that if your business isn’t something worth specifically searching for, no amount of generic SEO is going to significantly help you in the long run. If your people aren’t raving about your business and recommending it by name, what good is a page one ranking?
SEO really only describes the best practices you should use to help Google index your website. Other than that, your brand and your product should be worth searching for. Build your business to a place where people are searching for YOU specifically.
Yes, your website needs to be optimized for search engines and there is a correct method to do that, but splitting hairs on the Best Way to SEO(TM) isn’t going to be what fuels your business in the long run. However, I will say that there are a few things you can do to help Google work in your favor:
A few things that will help your SEO:
Relevant content (like blogging) with targeted keywords and phrases
Use header tags properly (ie H1 for main headers and H2 if there are multiple sections on the page)
Use descriptive and relevant ALT tags on images
Make your content easy to read and skimmable (this is from a human perspective more than SEO, because you’ll lose the reader’s attention with long paragraphs)
A few things that won’t help your SEO
Choosing a particular platform based on its reported SEO performance and relying on that to help your site perform well
DIY-ing a website without researching keywords or page structure
Posting shallow content, or content with lots of long paragraphs
My main goal with this post was to try to knock SEO off it's pedestal a little bit. Yes, it IS an important tool to help search engines translate and index what’s on our websites, but at the same time, the process doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be what keeps you up at night. Post your relevant content, make sure your page structures are consistent and sound, and let Google take care of the rest.