A Guide to SEO for Managing Directors & Small Business Owners

When done well, SEO can transform a business. SEO is something all managing directors and small business owners need to have some understanding of, and how it can help grow their business online.

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and essentially refers to the practices of ensuring your website ranks well in the search engine results pages.

SEO has never been more complex and deep – but the good thing is that getting started with SEO is simple.

SEO has become a long term strategy that helps improve the visibility of a website and specific pages for specific terms will help generate traffic, sales or leads.

But why does it matter how well your website ranks in Google? Can’t you send out email campaigns, create ads, and generally rely on traffic coming from other means?

Why is SEO so important?

Searching on the web has become a daily task for many people. Whether it’s looking for a restaurant, a particular product, specific services, the latest football results or anything else – many people start information discovery with a search engine.

Ensuring you appear when people search for relevant terms to your business can make a significant difference to the success of your business. You can guarantee a number of your competitors are investing heavily in SEO – and these are likely the competitors appearing at the top of Google.
Appearing on the front page of Google for key terms can improve your brand visibility, increase the traffic you receive from Google and other search engines, and help contribute to your overall business revenue.
So what pillars hold up the practices of search engine optimization?

On-page optimisations

There are many ways to optimise your website, and ensuring each individual part is properly optimized is the key to good SEO. Ensuring the copy has the keywords you want to rank for is important. Having content that is informative is important. Having all the necessary tags, such as H1s, H2s etc, are important.

But there’s a lot more to it. Optimising HTML code, optimising your URL structure, optimising your images, etc.

Title tags

This is what people will see in the search results as a link through to your site. This tells the user what the page is all about, and is integral to encouraging them to click your listing. Your title tag needs to be concise, and include keywords necessary to rank.

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are displayed below your title tag in the SERPs, and describe what your page is about to the user in more depth. You have more space to describe your page, but it is still limited.

Content & blogging

Content marketing is another channel entirely, but it all helps with SEO.
Content marketing will help your website rank overall when done well, but also helps you rank for different terms that your main website may not have the potential to rank for.

For instance, if you ran an online shoe store, ranking high for “men’s leather boots” or a specific pair of boots would be great for business if it led to the relevant category or product page.

But what about people searching for “how to care for leather boots”, or “best mens leather boots for winter”? Well, if you wrote a detailed, informative blog post on the matter, you would be attracting a new audience.

One that is perhaps easier to obtain in the search results, if you can find a particular niche (as that search term is still most likely very competitive, but is just an example). The point is, there will be an audience searching for that, and these will be people interested in that particular product. They will then be exposed to your brand, and may well be influenced to engage with your brand in the future, or potentially even there and then.
This all comes down to the SEO strategy.

Schema markup

Schema markup is a more complex, technical SEO tactic. But in essence, it is markup that tells Google what is on your page.

This all helps give Google indications of what terms to rank your page for, and whether the page is relevant to the search term. The more information Google has, the more likely it is to rank your page for specific, relevant search terms.

Off-page optimisations

The biggest off-page SEO element consists of backlinks. These are links from other sites that go to your site or content.

The idea is that if you create content people genuinely find useful or informative, they will link to your website. But of course, you can also utilise outreach to gain links yourself, more quickly. But there is a fine line between doing this legitimately, and getting spammy-links that could see you penalised. Quality is much better than quantity, here. Links from highly regarded websites are far superior to numerous ones from lowly ranked websites. The links should also come from relevant sites, rather than entirely different ones.

The idea is that if you create content people genuinely find useful or informative, they will link to your website. But of course, you can also utilise outreach to gain links yourself, more quickly. But there is a fine line between doing this legitimately, and getting spammy-links that could see you penalised. Quality is much better than quantity, here. Links from highly regarded websites are far superior to numerous ones from lowly ranked websites. The links should also come from relevant sites, rather than entirely different ones.

Where to get started

Keyword research

Select the keywords most relevant to your business. You may know the terms potential customers search for, but it’s important to do keyword research. You could find specific phrases or terms that people are searching for you may not have thought of.

Competitor research

When looking at keywords, it’s worth considering what your competitors are ranking for, or trying to rank for. There are a number of tools available for this, but you can also look at their website and see how it is set up to rank.

Develop a strategy

After seeing the search demand, and what your competitors are up to, it’s time to create a strategy.

Which terms will be most relevant, how can you optimise your site best in order to generate business? What search terms will be difficult to rank for, and which ones easier? All of this thinking should go into a strategy before simply optimizing pages at random.

Consider what content you can produce – both in format and how you will optimise for them. What topics will they cover, what questions you will answer, and what queries your customers need answering.

Implement optimisations

Choose the right key terms, and then go about optimising the right product or service pages to rank for these. Alternatively, create new pages that are relevant for these terms.

Do not try and get pages to rank for irrelevant terms, i.e. don’t attempt to make your page serve a purpose it is not fit for. Google will recognise this, and so will people who click through. This will damage your rankings more than it will benefit them.