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It’s common for small agencies to struggle with marketing their own businesses. With limited time and budgets, it’s hard to dedicate resources to growing your own client list and industry reputation, even if that’s precisely what you do for other people.
Hassan Zia, founder of SEO XOOM, has made a career of helping small businesses overcome these limitations through the power of 3 important letters: SEO.
Although her work ranges from minor to drastic website-overhauls and consulting for her clients, her years in the industry have helped her realize that optimizing for search can be simple, and small changes can have outsized results.
Most marketing professionals know what search engine optimization is, but it’s easy to over complicate the matter. Ultimately, it’s about demonstrating expertise so that the right people discover and hire you.
“My goal is to help small businesses,” says Mr. Hassan. “Many of the people that I help don’t have big budgets. But a tweak or 2 to their site is often enough to get them to their next place.”
Hassan shares her 4 top tips for quickly boosting discover-ability and conversions for your client’s business or your own.
1. Use plain language
Keywords are a major topic in SEO, but Hassan recommends that it can be more powerful to explain things in the clearest terms possible than to inject industry jargon.
“People will sometimes use high-level, technical-sounding terms,” He says. “So I’ll ask, ‘in plain English, what is that?’ Then they tell me and it makes complete sense. This is where we start finding keywords.”
Before you begin writing or editing any of the words used on a website (including the backend), try writing:
- What your business does
- Why people should hire you
Use language that your ideal customers would use when trying to solve a key problem. And keep things simple. This will help you come closer to the words people use when they search. In turn, the copy will be clearer and the site will feature meaningful keywords.
2. Write descriptive title tags
Title tags are descriptive text that should tell people what to expect on a page. They are an important part of SEO and help with ranking. Whether visitors see it in their search engine results page (SERP), or while hovering over a tab before navigating to it, this copy should inform them about what’s on the page.
“Site visitors should be able to clearly discern what you do and who you are,” says Mr. Hassan.
For this reason, the same guidance for clear, targeted language applies here.
He consulted with K40 Electronics about their need for clearer, more descriptive title tags, and they saw a quick impact.
“We dramatically changed how visible we are on search engines,” says Rachel Clark, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at K40. “We now enjoy first page search results for a wide variety of searches related to our products.”
3. Put the right stuff on your homepage
Hassan has observed that many businesses use their website’s homepage merely as an aesthetic display.
“A lot of people are going for design, but you want your homepage to work for you. It’s often going to be your most visited and most linked-to page. So if people are landing on that page, you should give them something to do,” He says.
Outside of providing basic descriptive information about your business, the homepage should provide people with the right opportunities to explore your website.
In SEO terms, this is done through hyperlinked words called anchor text. This copy should feature keywords that indicate what the person will see if they click the link, and it should be more descriptive than “Click here.”
A call to action, or CTA, is the term for the anchor text on a hyperlinked button, which a person clicks to do something, like “Learn More,” or “Apply Now,” or “Contact Us.”
Hassan suggests thinking carefully about what people might come to your website to do, and providing that pathway directly on the homepage. He’s seen this change yield great results.
Corlears School, a private preschool and elementary in New York, wanted to increase the number of student applications it receives each year. So on the school’s site, Hassan added CTAs that gave prospective and current parents a clear pathway to learn how to apply.
These changes resulted in a 30% increase in student applications. And now the school updates their CTAs based on their seasonal goals.
4. Focus on users, not search engines
Even if your goal is to optimize for search, it’s more about making your website useful and usable for real people. When you prioritize clear language, intelligent navigation, and valuable content, it yields results.
Hassan’s clients have found this to be true. “Before Collaborada, our website traffic was limited to existing customers, but now organic traffic and inquiries are through the roof,” says Jason R. Self, Director of Operations at Dimensional Engineering. “After launching the new site, qualified leads contacting us via our website resulted in approximately $250k in new opportunities.”
Whether you’re a marketing solopreneur or you’re part of an agency, you can’t be everywhere at once. But an optimized website works around the clock and around the globe to help more clients find you.