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SEO Basics for Startup Business Owners

Aspiring business owners are likely thinking about how they will market their new businesses. If they aren't, they should be. But of all that marketing encompasses, one thing they're glossing over is search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to enhance your business's online visibility, boost brand awareness, and build customer relationships. That said, there are levels to SEO. And with a clear understanding of what it is and how to do it, you will be able to navigate those levels successfully.

Before we outline three SEO best practices for new business owners, let's get the basics out of the way.

What is SEO?

SEO is the process of improving your website and content to rank better on search engine results pages. The better your website pages rank, the more traffic you get.

When you focus on creating quality content, using keywords and phrases appropriately, and everything else with SEO, your visitors will likely be more qualified leads than random people.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is also the process of bettering your website and its content to rank better on search engine results pages, but for queries that indicate local search intent. For example, when someone types in "restaurants near me," they demonstrate local search intent.

Simply put, local SEO focuses on those looking for a specific service or business in a particular area.

SEO Best Practices for New Business Owners

With the definitions above, we've got the first step of successful SEO. You know what it is. Now, how do you do it?

Understand that there's a lot to learn and do with SEO. But new business owners shouldn't try to learn and do it all in a day. Instead, start with mastering these best practices.

Comprehend On-Page and Off-Page SEO

Let's start with off-page SEO since it's the less-discussed side. Off-page SEO refers to all the things a business does outside of creating, updating, and publishing content to improve its site's ranking on search engine results pages.

To work on off-page SEO, start by:

  • Guest posting to establish authority and brand awareness
  • Establishing relationships with industry leaders and influencers
  • Commenting on other blogs and leaving a link to your site to drive traffic to it
  • Posting and engaging in forums related to your industry and the products/services you provide
  • Answering questions on Q&A sites to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry

On-page SEO refers to everything you do directly to your website content to improve your ranking in search engine results.

To work on on-page SEO, start by:

  • Engaging in the thorough keyword and phrase research
  • Incorporating high-authority external links and internal links
  • Ensuring your pages load quickly with the content on it
  • Optimizing the captions and alt tags for images and videos
  • Using keywords in your title, URL, meta description, alt tags for images, introduction, body, and conclusion

Do an SEO Audit and Create a Strategy

There's no way around doing an SEO audit if you want to improve your rankings. Without understanding where you're currently at with your SEO efforts, improving will be a long, drawn-out process.

So, if your website is live or you're in the middle of creating it, take a step back and look at how you've incorporated SEO so far.

What keywords and phrases are you using? What's the quality of your website content? Are your pages loading quickly? How are your pages ranking right now? If so, what are they ranking for? How are you promoting your website content? What kind of traffic are you seeing with your current efforts?

Once you grasp where you are with SEO, create a strategy for moving forward. Write down or digitally document the following to put together a strategy that generates actual results:

  1. Your goals for SEO (i.e., build brand awareness, drive traffic to a specific page, etc.)
  1. You'll track the metrics and key performance indicators to see if you're reaching those goals (i.e., daily site visitors, keyword ranking, click-through rate, etc.)
  1. Which pages do you want to focus your SEO efforts on
  1. The keywords and phrases you wish to use for each page you're focusing on
  1. The kind of content you need to create to support your SEO goals
  1. Who's involved in the content creation and overall SEO efforts

Dig Into the EAT Acronym

Content is one of, if not the most important element to pay attention to in your SEO efforts. Without high-quality content, tangible results will be few and far between.

EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. All of your website content should be backed by expertise, authoritative in nature, and should be accurate and true. Checking these boxes indicates to Google that your site is top tier and worth a high ranking.

Adhering to EAT is especially critical if your business and content fall under the "Your Money or Your Life" (YMYL) category. If what you do and write about directly impacts a person's happiness, health, safety, or financial stability, Google expects more of you than non-YMYL businesses and content.

For example, let's say you're a health-centric business. True, accurate, and detailed health information is required to help your readers develop health literacy. Putting out inaccurate or untrue content can seriously alter someone's health, and not for the better.

So, go the extra mile to establish EAT by citing only credible sources. Lean on perspectives from doctors and other medical professionals. Rely on detailed studies, statistics, articles, books, and other reliable sources to ensure you're providing the most accurate information possible.

Search engines and your readers will reward you for it.

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