What Basic SEO Skills Should SMBs Have?
In Conductor’s 2023 digital marketing salary report, SEO is listed as the top skill sought by small and medium-sized businesses hiring digital marketing roles. Not only this, within enterprise companies, SEO is its own team 59% of the time. What both of these statistics highlight is that SEO is a key focus area for growth in businesses of all sizes.
As you might be aware, Australia is in the midst of a skills shortage, so recruiting SEO specialists is off the cards for many without the budget to compete for talent.
The option to outsource comes with pros and cons, so even those SMBs that do partner with SEO consultants and agencies should have some understanding of the topic if they want to avoid hampering SEO progress.
The good news is, despite the jargon that tends to come hand-in-hand with SEO speak, learning the basics of search engine optimisation is not as difficult as you might think. And it’s definitely not a channel you should be scared of.
Whether you’re a business owner, marketing generalist, or a specialist in other fields of marketing, gaining basic SEO skills is achievable when you focus on the areas that are most relevant to your job role.
Contributing to the company blog? You should know how to craft search-friendly content that’s keyword focused but written for humans, first and foremost.
Uploading new products to your ecommerce site? There are key SEO considerations you should be aware of before hitting publish.
Reviewing an SEO report provided by an outsourced marketing partner? It pays to have enough of an understanding you can not only skim through the terminology but ask informed questions.
Whilst some of the technical elements of SEO are best left with web developers and specialists, in our opinion, most in-house marketers (or business owners who are involved in day-to-day marketing) should be skilled in the following SEO-related areas:
- Viewing organic traffic in Google Analytics
- Doing keyword research
- Optimising web page content
- Crafting meta titles and descriptions
- Treating website images correctly
- Managing broken/deleted web pages
Of course, the foundation of understanding these tasks is to know how search engines rank web pages and the many ranking factors that affect where your website sits in organic results. So if SEO theory isn’t something you’ve given attention to yet, consider that your first priority!
Learning the basics of SEO may seem overwhelming if you’re relying on Google and self-education, but there are many training options available including formal certifications and personalised training created bespoke for your business.
Why these SEO skills?
Viewing organic traffic in Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free software that tracks your website visitors and their behaviour. The most recent version, GA4, is designed to be easier for non-technical users to read and interpret reports. There’s a lot that can be learned from Google Analytics but if you know nothing else, at least learn how to view reports on the channels driving traffic to your website.
In the context of SEO, being able to confidently jump into Google Analytics and see how your organic search sessions are changing over time is a fast way to know whether your in-house or outsourced SEO efforts are having an impact.
Doing keyword research
Call us nerds but we find keyword research really interesting. Keywords are the words and phrases searchers use within search engines like Google to find what they are looking for.
Doing keyword research means using online tools to see the typical search volumes for different keywords, along with their difficulty or competitiveness score. The purpose is to fully understand the language searchers use and where there are opportunities to try and rank your website, rather than guessing or making assumptions.
With the ability to compile your own keyword research, you not only understand your customer better for improved marketing messaging overall, but you are also able to create website content that directly answers their questions and search queries.
There are lots of keyword research tools out there and most are super simple to use, it’s just about learning how to use them and the best processes for choosing and recording the keywords that matter to you.
Optimising web page content
Whether it’s a blog article, service page, or product listing on an ecommerce site, there are best practices to follow when publishing a new web page. These include using keyword research to craft content that is written for humans first and foremost but focuses on a specific keyword and optimises towards this.
There are particular places that Google and other search engines pay more attention to when crawling a page, such as the page title and URL, so anybody writing page content or uploading to the site should be skilled in tailoring these specific areas
However, they also need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of over-optimisation, such as keyword stuffing; the process of shoehorning a keyword into a page repetitively solely to influence rankings.
Crafting meta titles and descriptions
Every web page has a single meta title (sometimes called an SEO title), and a single meta description. These are the titles and descriptions we see in search engine results pages that help us choose which page we want to visit.
If these are not customised in the backend of your site, search engines will use the page content to automatically display them for you. However, it’s best practice to provide tailored metadata so you can ensure this:
- is keyword-optimised.
- uses persuasive copywriting to entice users to click your result over another.
For the record, meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor for Google but can indirectly influence rankings by attracting more clicks to your site, helping the search engine to recognise yours as a quality listing.
Treating website images correctly
This SEO skill is important for all those within your team uploading images to the website, be it for blog posts, product listings or banner photos.
Search engines cannot ‘see’ images, they just know from the page source code that an image is included. This means the way you upload images to the site matters because you can aid search engines in understanding the relevance of your image to the page content.
If you’ve ever heard the term ‘alt text’ and figured it was something overly technical that your outsourced SEO team needed to do, that’s not necessarily the case. ‘Alt text’ is simply descriptive text and once you learn how to input descriptive text for your images, along with the best formats and file names to use, you’re pretty much there when it comes to optimising images.
Managing broken/deleted web pages
Of all the SEO skills we’ve covered so far, this is probably the most technical. A broken page is known as a ‘404’ page and you’ve likely encountered a few ‘Oops, this page doesn’t exist’ errors on your travels around the internet. Broken pages happen when the original page has been deleted or the URL has been changed.
Google does derank broken pages over time but they can still be a nuisance, a health issue for your site, and provide a negative experience for users.
Ecommerce sites that haven’t been managed by somebody with SEO skills can sometimes be the worst for broken pages, as products are removed so frequently.
However, there is a simple process you can follow to ensure that any page removed (or URL changed) on your site is handled properly. With training that uses your own website CMS for demo videos and guidance, you can easily learn this process and stay on top of broken pages internally, rather than paying an outsourced partner to fix them all for you.
Keen to learn these SEO skills?
We work one-on-one with SMBs in Australia to ensure a base level understanding of SEO for in-house marketers and business owners. When you train with Insourced, you’ll receive fully personalised training tailored to your business strategy, job role, and current skill level.
Intrigued? Send us a message and let’s have a no-strings-attached chat.