Must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses
In the digital age, few marketing practices have seen as much attention and devotion as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As a series of practices that aims to rank content in search engines, it boasts undeniable potential. Still, SEO is an extremely deep subject for multiple reasons. From its reliance on Google’s 200+ranking factors to its long-term nature, it can certainly dismay the uninitiated.
Indeed, measuring SEO Return on Investment (ROI) is notably difficult, and not all SEO endeavors fit all businesses equally well. Thus, let us use this article to delve into fundamental, must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses specifically.
How service-based businesses differ as regards SEO
The fundamentals of SEO are identical between service-based and product-based businesses. They are, after all, aligning their websites and content with the same search engine criteria. Thus, where they differ lies in how they approach SEO and where they focus on. In this specific dichotomy, the difference lies in what they’re selling; intangible services versus tangible objects.
Simplifying the difference for text economy, then, product-based businesses can often rely on impulsive purchases from broad audiences. That is, their content marketing strategies can rely more on eliciting emotional responses from a wider customer pool. In contrast, service-based businesses address more specific audiences, which are typically better-informed on, and more engaged with, their service. Thus, they need to emphasize service quality, sometimes rightfully sacrificing tone for substance. Moreover, they need to leverage social credit comparatively more, as customers seek intangible, often long-term or subscription-based services.
In-house SEO versus hiring an SEO specialist
The aforementioned differences aside, a final factor for both to consider is who will handle SEO. DIY SEO does have benefits, such as lesser upfront costs and businesses acquiring first-hand knowledge. However, SEO does have a steep learning curve, and early mistakes can have long-lasting consequences regarding ranking and revenue. Thus, while the final choice will depend on you, service-based businesses do have more incentives to hire outside help. However, should you do so, due research to choose the perfect person for the job is highly advisable. After all, not all professionals are equal, and your unique needs must be met in full from the start.
Must-have elements of SEO strategy
Now, with the above context in mind, we may explore must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses. Throughout most of its history, SEO has delved into 3 key areas of focus:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
None of these subsets are of lesser importance, for service-based businesses or otherwise. Thus, we’ve gathered 2 elements from each subset that should deserve your attention.
1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO delves into on-page elements, as the name implies. These include images and videos, Call to Action buttons (CTAs), and others. The two most crucial aspects of it are, arguably, content itself and CTAs.
It’s not entirely uncommon for service-based businesses to forego content marketing altogether, even if at the cost of additional traffic. For those that do not, content quality is still a profound subject that would warrant its own article. We may, however, consolidate the fundamentals down to the following:
- Factual accuracy. Your content should strive to be as factually correct as possible.
- Visual appeal. Your content should be digestible and enticing. Consider white space, visual elements, and other factors that affect visual appeal.
- Your content should address your audiences’ interests and satisfy their search intent. Consider your choice of keywords to make your content relevant to your audiences.
Clear, alluring CTAs
For all its quality, your content should still facilitate conversions. It does so through CTAs, which are the primary focus of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). This, too, is a very deep subject, whose basics we may distill down to the following:
- Visibility and readability. Ensure your CTAs are always visible, and other on-page elements do not distract from them. At the same time, ensure your choice of font makes them easily readable.
- CTAs that incite urgency or suggest exclusivity typically function better. Consider countdown timers and exclusive offers in this regard.
- Multiple CTAs may induce choice fatigue and hamper conversion rates. Thus, consider limiting each landing page to a single CTA.
2. Off-page SEO
Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO addresses off-page activities such as social media promotions. Among must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses, it encapsulates backlinks and reviews.
Backlinks are links to your content from external sources. SEO-wise, they help enhance your page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA), boosting your ranking efforts. Practically, they generate referral traffic and help build trust – which is crucial for service-based businesses, as highlighted above. To build a healthy backlink strategy, consider the following:
- Content quality and promotion. Producing impeccable content will naturally generate backlinks through cross-channel promotion. Consider the skyscraper technique in this regard.
- Branded mentions. You may scout the internet for unlinked branded mentions to claim backlinks, without additional effort.
- Backlink type balance. A healthy balance between Follow and NoFollow backlinks is advisable. Google values natural-looking backlink profiles, and both types generate traffic.
Similarly to backlinks, reviews are excellent social credit – especially for service-based businesses, whose audiences examine them carefully. They also affect such practices as local SEO, so you may address them in such ways as the following:
- Elicit reviews across channels. You may do so through social media posts, popups, and so forth.
- Feature them prominently. Most customers value reviews highly, so feature them prominently on your testimonials page.
- Respond to them. Many bad reviews may be withdrawn if you can address their grievances, so always try to do so. It will also reassure other customers of your professionalism.
3. Technical SEO
Finally, technical SEO ensures your website’s technical health, as the name implies. While it’s less complex by comparison, it is by no means any less significant. Two among its most notable subjects are sitemaps and breadcrumbs.
XML and HTML sitemaps
In brief, XML sitemaps are reserved for search engine crawlers, allowing them to index your pages. In contrast, HTML sitemaps are visible to human visitors and help facilitate easier navigation to your site. Healthy SEO requires both, so you should:
- Provide Google with an XML sitemap. While it can be a challenging process, third-party tools and such WordPress plugins as Yoast SEO can offer immense help.
- Provide your visitors with an HTML sitemap. Fortunately, creating HTML sitemaps is the easier process of the two, as SEMrush explains.
Finally, breadcrumbs offer visitors a small text path at the top of pages that immediately tells them where they are. They are immensely useful for both search engines and visitors, as they consolidate content hierarchy and ease navigation, respectively. Fortunately, there are multiple third-party tools to help you implement them, such as the aforementioned Yoast SEO plugin. For service-based businesses, there are two main breadcrumb types to consider and choose between:
- Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs. These follow visitors’ journeys from your homepage to subsequent pages and reflect your site’s hierarchy.
- History-based breadcrumbs. In contrast, these reflect your visitors’ journey paths chronologically. Notably, you may also combine the two.
To summarize, there are must-have elements of SEO strategy for service-based businesses across all SEO subsets. For on-page SEO, content quality and pristine CTAs are crucial, as they entice visitors to convert. For off-page SEO, backlinks and reviews are invaluable, as they generate traffic, build trust, and serve as social credit. Finally, for technical SEO, sitemaps and breadcrumbs ensure technical health and cater to both search engines and visitors. These are, of course, only some of the fundamentals of SEO, but we do hope this list served as a helpful starting point for your future research.