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SEO Packages: A beginners guide to SEO services for the small business owner

Michael Draper
April 7, 2021

This article will arm small business owners with enough basic SEO knowledge to make an informed decision when selecting SEO packages and services from agencies.

What is SEO?

What is Technical SEO?

What is On-Page SEO?

What is Local SEO?

What is Off-Page SEO?

SEO is crazy complicated. It’s technical. It’s nuanced. It’s competitive. And to top it all off, it’s ever-changing. 

You’re a small business owner! You’re too busy running your business and sharing your expertise and passion with your community! You’re trying to keep your employees and customers happy and engaged. 

You don’t have time to properly learn how to minify your CSS, write out and implement all of your alt-text, test page speeds, research keywords, build citations with your NAP, or go through an EXTENSIVE technical SEO checklist that details meta-descriptions and the importance of H1 headers and write 2000 word blog posts to boost organic traffic!

Do I think you should outsource your SEO efforts?

Oh, abso-flippin-lutely.

You guys, SEO is hard. But it is CRAZY critical to the success of your business in the digital age. People are using search engines every day. And the ability to show up when a customer needs you most is powerful. Not only for your business but also for your brand.

You need SEO. And you need it done right.

Are there affordable SEO services for small businesses?
 

Yes! But let me break this down a bit.

Some agencies specialize in Enterprise SEO. They manage thousands, even millions of web pages for an organization. And just to give you a ballpark figure, that can cost $15000 to $25000 a month!

Small business owner, you’re not going to need that. 

What you’ll most likely need is a tune-up to your technical SEO. Maybe some adjustments to your on-page SEO and keywords. If you want to take it a step further, you can focus on your local SEO efforts or create blog posts for content marketing or off-page SEO with some link building.

All of these options take different skill sets, focus, and time. 

In this article, I am going to give you the super basic, big-picture rundown of SEO. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll have a clear picture of your SEO needs and the amount of work involved. When an SEO agency quotes you a price, you can deem it affordable for your needs. Or not. 

And if they hit you with the jargon hammer, you’ll know what the hell they are talking about. 

Want a beautifully designed website built with SEO in mind? Let’s chat

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization


What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell, it’s optimizing your website and online presence, so Search Engines rank you higher in search results. This drives free and organic traffic to your website. It’s a super-powerful tool for your digital marketing efforts. 

Here’s the kicker, though. You don’t want just any traffic. You want qualified traffic. Getting visitors to your site doesn’t help if it's not what they are looking for.

75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines

SEO is more than just stuffing keywords and crossing fingers. Google's algorithm is complex and continually changing. Here is a quick and dirty run-down of SEO’s fundamental aspects, so you can know what your business needs. 

On a suuuuuper basic level, four facets would directly affect your small business.

  1. Technical SEO
  2. On-page SEO
  3. Local SEO
  4. Off-page SEO

Let’s dig into this a bit.

Technical SEO infographic

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is the process of optimizing your website to help search engines like Google find, understand, and index your pages. It directly relates to the “non-content” elements of your website. 

Let’s think of your website as a car for a moment. Technical SEO is like giving your car a tuneup. You make sure it has all of its fluids, the tires are at the correct air pressure, gas in the tank, clean air filter. This kind of maintenance makes your car run better. 

For a website, you’re “getting under the hood” on the back end to make sure things like page speed, responsiveness, crawlabilty, indexability, and security are working correctly.

What is Page Speed? 

Page Speed is the amount of time that is taken for a web page to load. A few factors can influence this: the site’s server, page file size, and image compression. The faster your site loads, the better Google will rank it. And that makes sense, right? 

Google doesn’t want a slow loading site near the top of results. Waiting on load times frustrates the user.

What is Responsive web design?

Does your website retain usability on mobile and tablet? A responsive website does what the name implies — the website is developed to respond to the device’s screen size. It has dynamic content that changes - like spacing and image sizing, on the device. It relies on mobile operating systems for functionality. This increases the user experience (UX) and makes it less likely someone will get frustrated and leave your site. 

80% of users used a mobile device to search the internet in 2019

Whatever platform your web designer uses will directly affect if your site is responsive. We use WebFlow, so every site we make is optimized for desktop, mobile, and tablet.

What are crawlability and indexability?

Crawlability describes the search engine’s ability to access and crawl content on a page. Indexability refers to the search engine’s ability to analyze and add a page to its index. 

Think of it this way. When you perform a search, Google doesn’t search the world wide web. It searches its own index of the world wide web. To be a part of Google’s index, you need to submit a sitemap to them.

A sitemap is basically a road map detailing your site’s pages and how they are all linked together. This allows Google’s crawling software to index your page correctly and quickly.

For a deeper dive into this, check out this video.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Mouthful right? 

You’ve most likely seen HTTP at the beginning of a URL. 

http://www.websiteyoulike.com

Well, HTTPS is an encrypted version of HTTP. 

https://www.websiteyoulike.com

See the difference? 

HTTPS protects the communication between your browser and server. It encrypts things like login credentials and payment details. This provides confidentiality and integrity for the traffic on your site.

Which makes it reliable and safe. And Google likes that for its users.

That is the (very) basic overview of Technical SEO. 

For the DIY’ers, this comprehensive checklist from SEMrush is fantastic.

Want a beautifully designed website built with SEO in mind? Let’s chat

On-page SEO infographic

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages. On-page SEO has a heavy emphasis on keywords and the actual content found on separate pages across your site.

I’ll cover a few technical details, but for the most part, it’s all about lining up your keywords and content with a user search query. Is your content relevant to what a user is looking for?

For On-page SEO, you’re optimizing keywords, URLs and Slugs, page titles, meta descriptions, H1 & H2 tags, optimizing images and alt text, internal and external links, and readability. 

Let’s start with the foundation of On-page SEO. Keywords.

What are Keywords?

The folks at Moz said it best.

Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. They're the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called "search queries." If you boil everything on your page — all the images, video, copy, etc. — down to simple words and phrases, those are your primary keywords.”

Keywords strategy influences everything on an individual page. URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, headlines, and even the copy directly on the page are tied to keywords.

After researching your business sector and your competitors, you’ll align your keywords with your brand’s messaging and use them throughout individual pages on your site. 

Remember this. Websites don’t rank for keywords; individual pages do.

After selecting keywords you want to rank for, you’ll build pages around those keywords. 

Let’s take a flooring contractor in Virginia, for example. 

On their homepage, some possible keywords they would want to rank for would be “flooring contractor” or “flooring contractor Virginia.” In their page title, meta description, H1 header, and body copy, they’d want to use those keywords.

But let’s say they also want to rank for “carpet installation.” A feasible keyword strategy would be to create a services page on the site and use the keyword “carpet installation” in the URL slug, page title, meta description, etc. 

What are URLs and Slugs?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. In normal person speak, it's the web address. And if you can get a keyword in the URL, excellent. 

An easy way to do this is by starting a blog. You can create great content around a targeted keyword and add a new page to your site using that keyword in the URL slug. The slug is the bit of text after the .com/ in a URL.

Take this article, for example. The main keyword I wanted to rank for is “SEO packages.” The URL is www.twowolvescreative.com/blog/seo-packages. The slug is /blog/SEO-packages.

What is a page title or title tag?

A page title, also known as a title tag, is a short description of a webpage and appears at the top of a browser window and in SERPs (search engine results pages.) 

The hope here is to have a keyword that directly relates to the content on the page. This helps google return relevant information for search queries, and it also lets users know they are in the right place. 

The best practice is to keep these under 60 characters. Google only displays the first 50-60 characters in a search result.

What is a meta description?

A meta description is a brief explanation of the content found on a web page. This description is what appears in search engine results. You have an opportunity to not only get in a relevant keyword(s) but with some great copywriting, sell someone on clicking through to your site.

The best practice is to keep these between 140-160 characters and unique to each page. 

What is an H1 tag?

Neil Patel said it best.

“The H1 is an HTML tag that indicates a heading on a website.”

Basically, the H1 tag is a headline on a web page. 

For example, the title of this blog post would be the H1. It’s the most significant piece of text, and the very beginning, telling Google and users what is on this page. Get a keyword in there!

(There are also H2’s, H3’s, H4’s, and so on. But for the sake of this article, we’re going to stop at H1’s because they send the most significant SEO signals.)

How do I optimize images?

Optimized images. Woof. This is a big subject. Here is the oversimplified explanation.

Images that are too large will slow down page load speeds. 

Google dings ya for slow pages.

It’s the bane of photographers and designers alike. I’m sorry.

To reduce image file size, they need to be compressed. But this can affect image quality, so it needs to have a balanced approach.

You need to ask yourself, “Does image quality directly reflect my business?”

Meaning, if you are a photographer and your website is primarily a portfolio, image quality is a big deal. Your photos need to be top-notch to showcase your skill. 

But, if you’re a plumber and your service doesn’t rely specifically on how well an image looks, you could compress your images slightly. (Images should still look nice on your website if you’re a plumber too. No cell phone photos, please!)

If you want to dig deeper into this, check out this article. Alex breaks it down beautifully. And offer great suggestions and tools for image compression and site speeds.

What is image alt text?

Image alt text is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load.

Why is this important?

Google pulls images into search results! If you put “green frog” into a google search, not only will you get a Wikipedia article, but Google will also pull a pack of clickable images! 

When writing image alt text, be descriptive and specific. And keep it under 125 characters. If you can get a keyword that is appropriate to the page content, excellent. 

If you want a deeper dive into best practices, check out this article from Hubspot. 

What are internal and external links?

An internal link is any link from one page on your website to another page on your website.

You can have a couple different types of internal links. Not only links on your homepage or site menu, but you can also add links within your content. Those are called contextual links. You’ll see this a lot with blogs that link related content together from one post to another. 

Internal links directly affect crawlability and indexability (you just learned about those smarty pants!)

Ok, on to external links.

If another website links to you, this is considered an external link to your site. If you link out to another website, this is also considered an external link.

External links are important because Google uses these signals as a third-party vote. In other words, an outside website is vouching for the reliability, trustworthiness, and content of that page.

Someone else is saying, “Yeah, this is a good place to get information.” And the ol’ Googs will rank you higher for it.

What does readability mean?

Does your piece of content sound like a person wrote it so that another person could read it? 

Is it enjoyable to read not only because of flow writing but because of relevance to the user?

Or... 

Is it thick with jargon, fragmented sentences, poor spelling, and improper punctuation?

Does it sound like a keyword stuffing robot, writing for SEO and not for a user's experience, wrote it? 

Keywords stuffing is a big no-no. 

“Interior Designer Michael went to Interior Design school with talented Interior Designers. After interior design school, he became an interior designer at an interior design firm.”

Yikes. If it sounds like a robot wrote it, spammy or unreadable, Google's Algorithm will sniff it out and ding ya for it.

This is why hiring a great copywriter is vital. 

Keep content relevant to your keywords. Write in short and snappy sentences. The average American reads at a 7th Grade level, so keep words and sentence structure simple if possible. 

Want to learn more about great copywriting? Check out this list of copywriting books from our good friend (and excellent copywriter), Jacob McMillen. 

Whew. We covered a lot of ground. Pat yourself on the back. Up next, local SEO.

Want a beautifully designed website built with SEO in mind? Let’s chat

Local SEO infographic

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and online presence for a specific area. This is great for brick and mortar businesses or service-based providers who work within a region. 

Have you ever searched for “coffee shop near me” or “general contractor Portland”? 

The businesses that show up at the top of those searches and Google Maps results have optimized their website and online presence for local SEO. 

There are some general on-site practices and a few things you can do off-site to optimize local SEO.

Local SEO services best practices

When looking into an agency offering Local SEO services, you’ll want to make sure they are engaging in the following practices.

Some of these will sound familiar because we covered them above. But they’re relevant here too. I’ll keep these brief.

Keyword research

What do you currently rank for? What do you want to rank for? What do your competitors rank for? If you want to rank for “ice cream shop Sacramento” you’ll need to incorporate that keyword into your on-page and technical SEO.

On-page practices for Local SEO

Incorporate your locale-specific keywords you researched into title tags, meta descriptions, H1’s, alt text, copy, and URLs if possible.

Local Business Schema Markup

Schema is a significant topic in itself. Here is an oversimplified explanation. 

Schema is a little bit of code you install in your website’s backend that helps search engines better understand your website’s information. 

There are many schema types, but for this article, we’ll focus on Local Business Schema.

You can use a schema generator and answer some basic questions about your local business. Like your business name, address, phone number, price point, hours of operation, logo, business founder, reviews, and email address. After your information has been entered, it spits out a little snippet of code. Install that code on the backend of your website. Your web designer will be able to do this.

When Google understands your business on a deeper level (like your location), it serves better results to searchers.

Want a beautifully designed website built with SEO in mind? Let’s chat

Local citations

A local citation is any online mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number, also called a NAP (name, address, phone).

This is often accomplished by using local business directories like Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and Bing Maps, to name a few (there are hundreds). 

What Google is looking for is consistency across directories. Let’s say your NAP is the same across Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, Bing Maps, Yellowpages, Chamber of Commerce, and Hotfrog. This signals to search engines that you're a reliable and trustworthy source. 

Search engines are all about Expertise, Authority, and Trust.

And you guessed it! Citations build trust. 

If possible, get your NAP into the footer on your website as well.

Geotagging Images

As discussed earlier, optimizing images by including alt text and using proper file sizes can make a massive difference for your SEO. 

But you can take it one step further for Local SEO by geotagging images. 

Geotagging is the process of embedding geographical location metadata into an image. Basically, you’re associating a specific latitude and longitude to an image. 

These geotagged images are powerful when you upload them to your Google My Business account. They help give search engines a sense of where your business is located. 

If you want to geotag images yourself, you can use a site like GeoImgr. Upload your desired images, tag them with your desired latitude and longitude, and download them again with their new metadata.

Requesting and Responding to reviews 

Oh, the almighty review. Love em or hate em; reviews are essential.

Social proof plays a huge part in how we as customers make decisions. When people are making choices between multiple options, take into account other people’s opinions. Like, testimonials and reviews. 

You need to be requesting reviews for your customers. Include it on your invoice, receipts, automated thank you emails, wherever it makes sense for your business. 

Make it as easy as possible for your customer. If you’re sending a digital invoice or a thank you email, include a clickable link that sends them to where you’re collecting reviews. 

We recommend Google My Business. Google My Business makes this super easy. From your dashboard, you can copy a review link to then paste wherever you need to.

If a happy customer takes the time to give you a review, respond to them! Not only is this a nice thing to do, but it also shows search engines and potential customers that you are actively engaged. 

Pro-tip. When you respond to a review, use a keyword if possible. 

Let’s pretend you’re a contractor and a happy customer leaves a review raving about the remodel you finished for them. An example of getting an SEO-friendly response to the review would be, “We’re so glad that you love your kitchen remodel!”

See how we got “kitchen remodel” in there? Always be SEOing. I just made that up.

Holy smokes, you guys. This is a ton of info, and you’re still here. We’re in the last leg of our SEO basics run-down. Welcome my friends to...Off-page SEO.

Much like the rest of this article, this will be a high-level and super basic overview.

Want a beautifully designed website built with SEO in mind? Let’s chat

Off-page SEO infographic

What is Off-page SEO?

Put simply, off-page SEO is any SEO tactic you use that takes place off of your own website. 

Some tactics include link building, content marketing, social media, appearing on podcasts, landing reviews, building local citations, and more.

The purpose of these off-page activities is to send traffic to your site, helping build your site’s authority and trustworthiness. Outside sources sending traffic to your site (external links, which you know all about!) act as a third party vouching for your Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.

We’ve discussed citations and reviews, so let's dig into link building and content marketing.

What is Link Building? 

Link building is the action of getting hyperlinks from other websites to link back your own. A hyperlink (or “link”) is a way for users to navigate between pages on the Internet.

They’re powerful for a few reasons. Like we touched on with External Links, having links from other websites sending traffic back to yours vouches for the content. It tells search engines your content and information are relevant and useful.

But Links can also be used to form relationships with other industry professionals. When you send traffic to other industry influencers, and they send traffic to you, a bond is formed. By helping each other build authority in your field, you get the lovely side effect of referral traffic. 

A good link from a highly-visited website will lead to an increase in traffic to your site. And when you have great authoritative content on your site, and people were sent to your site from a prominent industry source, you establish your brand’s expertise. 

Guest blogging is a great example. Suppose you can provide helpful and relevant content shared by an influencer to their audience. In that case, you can build strong links and raise your website’s authority.

As you can see, powerful stuff.

What is Content Marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute put it best.

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

What is critical here is the word valuable. When your business can deliver resources, information, and experiences relevant to your defined audience, you build incredible brand loyalty and hungry-for-more customers.

Blogging, eBooks, videos, podcasts, infographics are all examples of types of content marketing. 

This blog post is an example of content marketing. Our business is that of designing websites and branding for small business owners. We thought a blog post (a piece of content) laying out SEO principles directed to small business owners who don’t know how SEO works would be valuable. 

Business coaches who release free eBooks online or run a podcast and offer their expertise freely are another example of content marketing. Many times these coaches are making the majority of their money through private coaching and consulting. But by releasing relevant and valuable information through various creative channels, they can make themselves visible to a larger audience. This also presents them as experts in their field, which builds loyalty and drives sales for other products or services they sell.

Now, when you have all of these pieces of content pointing back to your website and driving traffic, that's great for SEO.

Pat yourself on the back! You just learned a whole bunch about SEO. I’m proud of you.

Want a beautifully designed website built with SEO in mind? Let’s chat

What SEO package is right for you? Confused face.

What kind of SEO package is right for your business?

All four of the facets that we discussed affect SEO for small businesses. You want to make sure your technical SEO is dialed in before you start creating podcasts and eBooks for content marketing. But your technical SEO won’t mean anything if no one is visiting your site because you don’t have any content marketing driving traffic!

Start with an audit of your current website. Hire an expert to help you with this. Find out how your technical and on-page SEO stack up. 

Discuss your keywords. Do you not know what you want to rank for? Talk to the SEO specialist you just hired. They can help you choose and track keywords by researching your competitors and seeing what they rank for. With your SEO specialist, you can decide if you want to piggyback keywords competitors rank for or find gaps you think you could take over.

Is your business brick and mortar? Do you have a specific region you service? You need to beef up your local SEO. A Local SEO specialist will assist with keywords, technical and on-page SEO, and most likely will also go through the effort of building citations and creating content around your specific location. 

Do you want your SEO strategy to be content-based? Researching and writing content takes a lot of time and effort. When you outsource it, be prepared to pay for it. Your agency will integrate keyword research, topical research, writing, and editing to create valuable content.

But when your desired audience finds you through valuable content, you’ll see an uptick in sales, retention, and customer loyalty. Your business is speaking directly to them through great content. Listening to and addressing their pain points and desires.

SEO takes time, but it's worth it

You’ll see the fruits of your labor overtime when you generate visits to your website because your content and SEO practices are excellent. 

We hope you found this helpful. If you ever need help with your SEO, reach out.


Book your free strategy session

If you’re ready to create a brand that connects with your customers, book your free 45-minute strategy session. On this call, we’ll cover (and uncover):

What you feel is currently limiting your business

Where you want your business to be

Your products and services

What makes you unique in your market

Opportunities to better connect with your prospects

Suggested next steps to move your business forward

We’ll record the call and it’s yours to keep, even if you don’t move forward with us. Spots fill up pretty quickly, so book now and let's get started.

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