How to do ‘SEO’ for the website of a new offline business

A friend of friend asked for some advice on how to do ‘SEO’ for the website of a new (offline) business he was launching.

Here are the broad pointers I gave to him:

There are 2 types of search engine marketing paid (PPC) and organic (SEO), they are very different but are both ways to get people to see your website in Google. For both the  first step is to identify what terms or phrases people who search for services like yours  are searching with. You can do this with Google’s Keyword Planner.

Paid search (PPC)

Google has a service called adwords to pay for ads on google. This can be expensive, but has the huge advantage over other forms of advertising that it can be measured very accurately. Essentially you associate an ad with keywords and then Google will show them to people based on how much you bid and several other factors. There is a significant amount of work in refine your list of keywords and its also important to limit it geographically and to exclude unrelated keywords. The big advantage is you will get immediate results and customers to your website (which is very helpful to validate how the website performs).

Organic search (SEO)

SEO has 3 elements: ensuring the content on your site is correct to Google, ensuring that your content is relevant to your audience and getting others to link to your website. Ensuring your content is correct to google is basically following good web development standards. Ensuring your content is relevant is writing quality content relevant to what people search for. Getting others to link to your website would involve adding the website to any online directories for your sector and writing guest blog posts on others people websites, etc.

There is a cost in doing organic search properly – you have to spend time writing relevant content. Frequently people outsource to external people to write content for them. Many web business also pay to have links to their website added to other people website  – this is a bit of a black art and I would avoid considering for now.

Organic search is a long term investment – it will take you months or years to reach anywhere in the search results as many of the incumbents are well established and have good content.

Which to do first

To start, I would recommend doing some PPC to learn about what keywords are effective then considering tailoring the content on your website or adding some new content targeting those keywords to attract organic traffic.