You may have heard proclamations that search engine optimization (SEO) is ‘dead’ and no longer worth your investment of time or money. Not so, says Kelly Myers. But what exactly is SEO and how can it benefit you as a vegan business owner or entrepreneur?
‘Just Google it’
To understand what search engine optimization (SEO) is, picture a hungry you sitting down after work and considering vegan takeaway options in your area. The chances are you may be one of the 40,000 search queries Google claims it processes every second.
So you begin your search, say for example ‘vegan takeaways New York’. Just milliseconds later, results pop up. In under two minutes you’ve made a decision and there’s deliciousness headed straight to your front door.
But what if there’s a vegan business that delivers in your area that didn’t show up in the search? With 75% of users never scrolling past the first page, the chances are that business just lost a sale. Not because the products didn’t match your needs but because they simply weren’t visible in the search results.
What sets search results apart from social media posts or ads in the paper is that users who ‘Google’ have intentions.
They’re in buying mode, which means they’re looking for a specific product or service. So if your business is front and centre to that visitor’s journey, you’re much more likely to improve your conversion rate and yes, make more money.
How does Google gain information about my business?
Sites such as Google use what are known as ‘crawlers’. Think of them as virtual spiders that are on the lookout to pick up relevant content from websites like yours, which relate to visitor’s questions, queries and desires.
For example, if I’m searching for ‘vegan shoes’, Google will use crawlers to seek out any websites that have content related to my query. So it’s unlikely I’ll see links relating to skydiving or double glazing.
Google is considered a reliable source of information because over 20 billion websites are being analysed every day. That’s a lot of crawling.
The ‘answers’ Google returns are known as organic search results. According to a 2014 study by Web Ranking, these make up 70% of the links search users click on. In contrast, between 70%-80% of users ignore paid ads and 80% of search engine users say they rarely click sponsored links.
These statistics suggest you’ll have more success investing your time and money into an SEO strategy for your business as opposed to buying your way on to the front page.
Say no to ‘black hat’ techniques
In 2013, Google released Hummingbird. This was a change in its algorithm. It did this to combat unethical methods of gaining high-ranking results. Things like spamming. This meant websites would only be rewarded for providing users with content relevant to their search.
Google developed a set of criteria that, if applied correctly, will connect more businesses like yours to your target market.
SEO is about ‘tweaking’ your website so it ranks well. I mean, who doesn’t want their business to be visible when people are looking for exactly what you can provide? There’s no surprise then that 66% best-in-class companies involve search from the start of their content creation process.
3 things you can do to improve your search rankings
1. Use more relevant keywords
Keywords are the words you want your business to rank for. They can be either short or long tail. Think about what people might search for when they are looking for you.
Here’s an example:
Short tail – ‘vegan donuts’
Long tail – ‘vegan bakeries in New York that deliver’
You can do your own keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner here. (Note: Google will ask you to build a campaign: Go ahead and do this without entering your credit card details).
Think of 10 keyword phrases for your business and type them into the planner. This will generate data showing what keywords and search terms people are searching for. Consider how you can place these in your web content and other marketing materials.
2. Put title tags on every web page of your site
Title tags are the words that appear when you hover your mouse over a webpage tab in your browser. These should contain up to 70 characters of relevant and engaging keyword text. Crawlers pick up this information and use it to decide where your website should be ranked.
Let’s use a vegan bakery as an example:
Instead of the title tag saying ‘Home Page’, if it said ‘Vegan Bakery I Gluten Free Bread I Chocolate Cupcakes I Birthday Cakes’, it’s more likely to be picked up and recognized as a vegan bakery.
Give some thought to what people are typing in when they search for the products and services you offer.
Here’s a screengrab showing what a title tag is and how it shows up in organic Google search results for someone looking for an SEO company:
3. Provide visitors with fresh and engaging content: Keep a blog
Blogging is a great way to stay connected to your customers. Not only does it humanize your brand but with Google rewarding websites that regularly update their content, it’s a quick and easy way to bump those rankings.
Keep in mind that your website is your primary online real estate. SEO is a long-term investment in maintaining it, just like you would your home or car. By considering how you can improve your website and therefore your rankings, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
“We can get you to the top of the front page of Google.”
Beware of false claims like this from SEO firms.
No company can do this. Steer clear of anyone making these claims because their ‘black hat’ techniques involve spamming and other bad practices that will negatively affect your website in the future.
Remember, SEO is about putting your website front and centre of your customer’s online journey through ethical practices.
With Google’s trend data showing steep inclines in the the number of searches being made for vegan products and services, there’s never been a better time to ensure you have a strong SEO strategy for your business.