Marketing Academy: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
What is SEO?
SEO can be thought of as the process of optimizing a website for search engines, similar to how a farmer might optimize their crops for maximum yield. Just as the farmer needs to carefully consider factors such as soil quality, water and sunlight exposure, and pest control to ensure a successful harvest, website owners must consider factors such as keyword usage, website structure, and content quality to make sure search engines can easily understand and rank their site.
Why is SEO important?
In the same way that a successful harvest can bring a good return for the farmer, ranking well on search engines can bring a significant amount of organic, or non-paid, traffic to a website. This can result in increased brand awareness, leads, and sales. With the majority of internet users relying on search engines to find what they are looking for, it's crucial for businesses to invest in SEO to remain competitive and reach their target audience.
Let's start with an overview!
Let's say you own a bakery that makes the most delicious croissants in town. But, unfortunately, not many people know about your bakery yet. That's where SEO comes in! SEO, or search engine optimization, is like a recipe for making your bakery's website more visible and appealing to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
First, you want to make sure your website is well-designed and easy to navigate, like a beautifully presented croissant. Use relevant keywords throughout your content, meta tags, and image alt tags, like the ingredients in the croissant recipe.
Next, you want to get other websites to link to your site like customers spreading the word about your bakery. These links act like "votes" for your website, telling search engines that other sites consider your site to be valuable and relevant, like customers recommending your croissant to their friends.
You can also use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote your bakery, like giving away free croissant samples to attract more customers. Getting a croissant through social would be amazing!
And lastly, you can use Google My Business to manage your bakery's online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can help customers find your bakery, know what you offer and when you're open, and leave reviews.
By following these SEO best practices, your bakery website will gradually start to rise in the search results for relevant keywords and attract more customers to your business, just like how your delicious croissants will attract more customers to your bakery.
Now you're asking, what if all the other local bakeries are using the same tactics
What do I do to stand out? Well, here are a few additional strategies that can help your bakery rise above!
Here are a few more fun and creative SEO tactics to help your bakery stand out on search engines:
Get sweet with keywords: Use specific and unique keywords that relate to your bakery, like "homemade croissant," "organic bread," "gluten-free pastry," etc. This will make your bakery stand out and easier to find for customers looking for specific products.
Be the rising star: Make sure your website is optimized for "voice search" by using long-tail keywords and natural language phrases that reflect how people may ask for your bakery when using a voice assistant, like "Where can I find the best croissant in town?"
Use images: Use high-quality images of your pastries and cakes on your website and social media platforms. This will make your bakery more attractive and will make your customer's mouths water.
Use schema markup: Schema markup is a type of code that you can add to your website to help search engines understand the information on your pages. This can include things like your bakery's opening hours, menus, and reviews.
Get social: Engage with your customers on social media platforms and encourage them to leave reviews and ratings on your Google My Business page. Positive reviews will improve your online reputation and make your bakery more attractive to potential customers.
Be responsive: Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on a small screen. This will make it easy for customers to find your bakery on the go, whether they're searching on their phone or tablet.
Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep experimenting and fine-tuning your strategies and before you know it, you'll be the top-ranked bakery in town!
That's great, now I need specifics!
Determining the right keywords to use for your bakery's website can be a bit tricky, but there are a few strategies you can use to identify the most effective keywords for your business. Let's assume you are in Des Moines, Iowa. Here are a few tips:
Use keyword research tools: There are a number of free and paid keyword research tools available, such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz Keyword Explorer. These tools can help you identify the most popular and relevant keywords for your bakery, as well as the level of competition for those keywords.
Think like your customers: Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and think about the types of phrases and keywords they might use to find your bakery. For example, "bakery in Des Moines," "homemade croissant in Des Moines," "best bakery in Des Moines," etc.
Focus on local keywords: Since you're based in Des Moines, Iowa, make sure to include the city and state in your keywords. This will help your bakery show up in local search results for customers searching for bakeries in Des Moines.
Look at the competition: Check out the websites of your local competitors and see what keywords they're using. This will give you an idea of what keywords are working well in your area.
Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and longer phrases that are less competitive and easier to rank for. For example, "homemade croissant Des Moines Iowa" instead of "croissant."
Once you've identified a list of potential keywords, you can use them in your website's content, meta tags, and image alt tags. Also, you can use them in your website's blog posts, your social media post, and your Google My Business listing. Keep in mind that SEO is a continuous process, and you may need to adjust your keywords based on your website's analytics and the results of your SEO efforts.
What are some common phrases that a bakery would use for SEO?
Here are a few examples of common phrases that a bakery might use for SEO:
Bakery in [city name] - e.g. Bakery in Des Moines
[Bakery name] - e.g. "Sugar & Spice Bakery"
Homemade [product name] - e.g. Homemade croissant
[Product name] near me - e.g. "Cake near me"
Best [product name] in [city name] - e.g. Best croissant in Des Moines
Organic [product name] - e.g. Organic bread
Gluten-free [product name] - e.g. Gluten-free pastry
Wedding cakes [city name] - e.g. Wedding cakes Des Moines
Bakery delivery [city name] - e.g. Bakery delivery Des Moines
Bakery shop [city name] - e.g. Bakery shop Des Moines
It's important to note that the phrases you use for SEO will depend on your specific products and location. It's also important to not only focus on the product but the experience that you are offering, like "homemade croissant" or "organic bread"
How do I use Google to explore keywords and keyword phrases?
Google offers several tools that can help you explore keywords and keyword phrases for your website's SEO. Here are a few ways to use Google to research keywords:
Google Keyword Planner: Google's Keyword Planner is a free tool that allows you to research keywords related to your business and see how often they are searched for on Google. You can also see how much competition there is for each keyword and get ideas for new keywords to target.
Google Trends: Google Trends allows you to see how popular a certain keyword or phrase is over time. You can use this tool to identify seasonal trends and to find out which keywords are gaining popularity.
Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to see how your website is performing on Google. You can see which keywords are driving traffic to your website, and which pages are performing the best.
Google Autocomplete: When you start typing a query in Google's search bar, the search engine will suggest related keywords and phrases based on the most popular searches. You can use these suggestions to identify potential keywords to target for your SEO.
Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a powerful tool that allows you to track your website's traffic and see which keywords are driving the most traffic to your site. You can use this data to identify which keywords are working well for you and which ones you should focus on in the future.
It's important to note that while these tools can give you an idea of the keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business, it's also important to think like your customers and use the phrases they might use.
This sounds like a lot of work, where do I start?
SEO can seem like a lot of work, but it's important to remember that you don't have to do everything at once. Start by focusing on the most important tasks and then gradually work on the rest. Here are a few things you can do to get started:
Optimize your website: Make sure your website is optimized for both search engines and users. Use relevant keywords throughout your content, meta tags, and image alt tags. Use a clean, easy-to-navigate design and ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
Create high-quality content: Regularly update your website with fresh, unique, and informative content about your bakery, such as blog posts about new products, recipes, or behind-the-scenes looks at how you make your bread.
Claim your Google My Business listing: Make sure your bakery's information is correct and updated on Google My Business, including your name, address, phone number, website, and hours of operation.
Build backlinks: Reach out to other local businesses, bloggers, and websites to ask for links back to your bakery's website.
Use social media: Use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote your bakery and engage with customers.
Monitor your progress: Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics to monitor your website's traffic and see how well your SEO efforts are working.
As you become more comfortable with the basics of SEO, you can start experimenting with more advanced tactics like schema markup and voice search optimization. The key is to start small, be consistent, and monitor your progress, this way you can see the results and make adjustments as necessary.
I don't have the time, skill set, or the right employees to handle this. Who should I call?
If you don't have the time, skill set, or the right employees to handle SEO for your bakery, it may be worth considering hiring an SEO professional or agency to help. An SEO expert can help you identify the most effective keywords for your business, optimize your website, create high-quality content, and implement other SEO strategies to improve your bakery's visibility and ranking on search engines.
When hiring an SEO professional or agency, it's important to find someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, and has a proven track record of success. You can ask for references and case studies from previous clients, and also check their online reputation. Also, you can check the SEO professional's or agency's website to see if they have any certifications or awards.
Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term process and it may take several months to see significant results. However, a good SEO professional or agency should be able to provide you with regular updates and progress reports so you can see how your website is performing and make any necessary adjustments.
What web traffic growth can I expect if I follow all these tactics?
It's difficult to provide specific data on how much web traffic a local business like a bakery might grow by using SEO tactics, as it can vary depending on a number of factors such as the current level of web traffic, the competition in the area, and the effectiveness of the specific SEO strategies used.
However, according to some studies, small businesses that invest in SEO can see an average increase in website traffic of up to 55% within the first 6 months of implementing SEO strategies.
It's important to note that SEO is a long-term process, and it can take several months before you start seeing significant results. However, by following best practices for SEO and implementing strategies such as optimizing your website, creating high-quality content, building backlinks, and using social media, you can expect to see an increase in your website's visibility and ranking on search engines, which should lead to an increase in organic traffic to your website.
Also, it's important to keep in mind that SEO is a continuous process, and it's important to monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed. Regularly tracking your website's analytics can help you identify areas for improvement and measure the progress of your SEO efforts.
What budget should I expect to spend if I hire an SEO company?
The budget for hiring an SEO company can vary depending on a number of factors such as the size of your business, the level of competition in your industry, and the scope of the SEO services you require.
On average, small businesses can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $5000 per month on SEO services, while larger businesses may spend $5000 to $50,000 or more per month.
It's important to remember that SEO is a long-term process and you should expect to budget for it over several months, or even years.
Some SEO agencies offer a flat monthly rate for their services, while others charge based on the number of hours they work. Additionally, some SEO agencies may charge a one-time setup fee.
Keep in mind that SEO is a continuous process and it's important to monitor your progress and make adjustments as necessary. An experienced SEO professional or agency should be able to provide you with regular updates and progress reports so you can see how your website is performing and make any necessary adjustments.
It's also important to be aware that there are many companies that offer SEO services, but not all of them are reputable or provide high-quality services. Be sure to do your research, ask for references and case studies, and check online reviews before making a decision.
Moreover, there you have it, folks! With these tips and tricks, you'll be well on your way to becoming the top-ranked bakery in town, leaving your competitors wondering how you managed to rise to the top of the search engine rankings like a perfectly risen croissant. Just remember, SEO is a constant process, so don't forget to have fun with it, and don't be afraid to bring in the experts if you need a little extra help. Just don't be surprised if your website starts getting more traffic than your actual bakery!