How many times a day do you turn to Google for help?
The monolithic search engine processes more than 40,000 different queries every single second (that’s 3.5 billion searches a day) and the chances are that your query is one - or more - of those.
The potential is huge, but when 75% of searchers don’t venture further than the first page of results, it’s disheartening for small businesses that sit steadily on the second, third, or eleventh pages.
Dragging your humble business past mega-corporations to get to the much-coveted top spot can often feel like climbing Everest - something the majority of small businesses don’t have the time or money for.
However, with 85% of websites claiming that SEO is the most effective customer acquisition tactic, the whole thing suddenly becomes more than just a fight for the gold medal (a.k.a. position number one on page number one).
If you’ve ever Googled (see what we did there) what SEO services you need to be integrating into your strategy, you’ll have been bombarded with millions of results like a cold, hard slap in the face.
Cue a stomach-dropping wake-up call. Cue burying your head in the sand.
To cut through the noise, we’ve put together a simple list of the SEO services you do need to get your rankings in a more respectable range and the services that you can forget about.
1. Technical Optimization
Optimization sounds like an empty word web “gurus” throw around, but it’s actually pretty simple.
It essentially means making sure your website is the best it can be. Simple, see?
For many, it boils down to keyword research.
Google uses prompts from keywords to determine what a page is about and what kind of information it will give the searcher. The aim of keyword research is to choose the right keywords that your prospects are using and then sprinkling them round your site so that Google knows what it’s all about.
So, you could say that researching these keywords is the 21st-century version of market research.
When it comes to actually picking which keywords to use, there are three different varieties to mull over:
- 1-word phrases that often have a high search volume and, therefore, increased competition
- 2-3 word phrases that dig a little deeper and have a mid-range of competition
- 3+ word phrases (also known as longtail keywords) that get really specific and often have a relatively low rate of competition
As a small business that likely doesn’t have the resources or the history of a mega-corp, you want to stick to the last two varieties where there is less competition.
Find out how our unique approach to keyword research can give your business the boost it needs here.
What You Don’t Need:
- High-Volume Keyword Targeting: You categorically don’t need to gun for the high-competition keywords simply because everyone is using them - that’s the whole reason they have high competition. Targeting these keywords is costly and ten times harder than targeting lesser-searched variations.
- Keyword Stuffing: This SEO tactic was a firm favorite of yesteryear. Basically, brands stuffed their sites full of keywords, making sentences difficult to swallow. First of all, this shady system turns prospects off, but it also angers Google who wants to share great content with its searchers, not mediocre content stuffed with the same few words every couple of sentences.
2. Content Marketing
There are plenty of arguments these days that tout content marketing and SEO as basically the same thing. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, Google cited content as one of its three main ranking factors.
But many businesses make the mistake of thinking about them as two separate entities - when really (lean in closer because this secret will blow your mind) they are inextricably linked.
At its core, content marketing is publishing content that serves your prospects. The higher quality that content is, the more it will be deemed relevant by Google and the more quality backlinks you’ll get (more on this in a mo).
If people keep coming back to your site Google clocks that it’s got good information which, as a knock on effect, pushes up its search engine ranking.
And - hey! - by populating your site with juicy, much-needed content, you have the potential to increase the number of pages you have search engine-indexed by 434% (which means more chance of someone landing on your site). This content can be a varied pot of goodness, too, from case studies and reports to long-form blogs and videos.
What You Don’t Need:
- Spam Blogging (or article spinning): This dubious practice refers to two things. Firstly, it can mean pushing out way too many short, needless blog posts a day just to get your number of pages up, but it can also mean turning one blog post into hundreds of others on the same topic by running it through a “spinning” site. These are both detrimental to your search rankings because Google knows that low-quality content like this is not worthy of first-page grandeur (or even second or third page).
3. Link Development
Google has named links as the most important factor in Google rankings. Basically, the more links you have coming in from reputable brands and high-quality businesses, the more Google will see your site as valuable.
In one study, link acquisition was a major part of SEO campaigns for small businesses, with link building forming up to 50% of most strategies.
Get a couple of hefty links from big-name news sites and organizations can mean the difference between the top spot and not even making it to page one.
Find out how we can help you attract high-quality links and coverage here.
What You Don’t Need:
- Broken Link Building Opportunities: There’s a fad doing the rounds at the moment where SEO companies are hunting down broken links on big-name sites and trying to replace them with their clients’ links. This isn’t a sustainable model and requires a lot of time and energy, which is why we know it’s an SEO service you should avoid.
- Paid Links: Paid links are a thing of the past. Google is all about organic growth, and brands that buy the love of bigger sites are starting to get hit by Google’s penalties.
Keep Your SEO Services Simple
The key piece of advice we can give you is don’t overcomplicate things.
Google’s two main ranking factors are content and links, so by focusing solely on growing these in an organic, authentic way, you will start to reap the benefits in no time at all.
Testing out shady systems and techniques from yesteryear will only leave you high and dry - especially when Google is getting smarter by the day.