If you own a small business, just keeping the thing running can be hard enough. Promoting it can be something you say “you’ll get to” when you have a slower day, but that never seems to happen.
On the off chance you’ve had a second to look into some marketing options, you’ve probably heard of SEO (search engine optimization), but maybe it sounded too difficult or complicated.
It’s not, and it’s a great way to get new business. It brings you free traffic, so for your time/money, it may be the best option out there.
According to a recent Fleishman-Hillard study, 89% of consumers use search engines to research a product/service before they buy. Let’s put that in numbers we can all understand. If you planned your 40 hour work week based on these percentages, you’d work on the non-search engine customers until 1:30pm on Monday. The rest of the week would be devoted to the search engine users. That’s a big opportunity.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a super savvy computer/internet person to do well in Google. Even in our increasingly-technical age, I imagine a majority of business owners are not comfortable with working on their own websites. This article is designed for that person, and to show you that it’s not hard. If you can use an email program (like Gmail or Outlook), you can do some basic SEO.
If you’re already pretty savvy, you can use this to make sure you’re on the right track.
The First Step: Start Tracking the People on your Website
(Hopefully you’re already doing this. If so, feel free to skim. If not, read on.)
The first step in any online marketing program is to learn where the starting line is. Working on your SEO can increase the number of visitors to your website, but you’ll never know by how much if you don’t know how many you currently have.
The easiest way to learn this is by using Google Analytics (I’ll call it GA from here on out). It’s free and very easy to set up. Once you’ve done so, you can look at how many people visit your website every day, what your most popular pages are, what cities the people are visiting from, etc. If you learn the basics of the program (which are no harder than any basic email app), you’ll have a good idea of how you’re doing on the web. Then you can learn how to get better.
Here is a step-by-step process for getting it running. Give yourself 15-30 minutes and a cup of tea, that should be all you need!
GA Setup – Step 1
Go to google.com/analytics. It will look something like the screenshot below. Click on the “Access Google Analytics” button in the top right.
GA Setup – Step 2
Read the pretty pictures if you want to, and click “Sign Up” when you’re done. Easy so far.
GA Setup – Step 3
Fill in your website details. This is where it might get intimidating, but just do what it says in the screenshot below and leave everything else alone.
If you’re the type of person that wants to read all the details, feel free to read the whole page and click all the links. If you just want to get it over with and don’t want to get confused, make the three changes as fast as possible and click the big blue button at the bottom!
You’ll be prompted with a Terms of Service Agreement. Same rule applies–read or just skip it. Nothing abnormal here. Hit “I Accept” when you’re ready.
GA Setup – Step 4
This is the last step (already? I know!). You’ll see your website information in the top left and your account number toward the middle. There are some “help” tips shown by default–once again, if you’re the want-to-read-everything person, feel free to read them. If not, click the button in the top right to de-clutter your screen.
That’s it! Now that we’re set up in GA, all you need to do is put the code it gave you on your site. This may sound out of your abilities, but I promise this has been made super easy and accessible to even the most computer-illiterate among us.
I imagine there are two scenarios here: 1) either you have a friend/associate who built/manages your website for you. or 2) you built/manage it yourself. Let’s look at how this is going to work for both of those scenarios:
If someone runs your site for you, this is very simple. Send them this exact email (just replace the account number/code paragraph with the one you just got):
“Hi friend/associate who runs my website, (feel free to personalize this line!)
I’d like to start tracking the visitors to my website, so I just set my site up in Google Analytics. I know, you’re super impressed.
Can you add the code to the site? My account number is UA-48081780-1 and the code snippet is below:
ga(‘create’, ‘UA-48081780-1’, ‘yourwebsite.com’);
It needs to go in the header, on every page of the site. You can manually add it there, or if we’re running WordPress or another website software, there should be plenty of plugins that can do it for us.
That should be all you need!
This should take them no longer than 15 minutes. If they bill you for longer than that, tell them I said that’s not cool.
If you run the website, you’ll have to add the code yourself. As mentioned in our “fake” email, if you’re running WordPress or some other website software, there are plenty of plugins and help articles that will help you along the way. I’ll show you an example as if you’re running WordPress.
WordPress GA Setup – Step 1
Log in to your WordPress, and go to the “Plugins” page. Click on “Add New” at the top.
WordPress GA Setup – Step 2
This will bring you to the “Install Plugins” screen. Search for “google analytics for wordpress”, and click “Install Now” on the first result.
WordPress GA Setup – Step 3
It will ask you if you’re sure, so click “Yes”. The plugin will install and bring you to the activation screen. Click “Activate Plugin”.
WordPress GA Setup – Step 4
A screen will pop up, asking you to let the plugin collect data to improve the program. The guy who runs the plugin (Joost de Valk) is a good guy, so just click “Allow tracking”. If you’re skittish about that kind of thing, feel free to hit “Do not allow tracking”. Just know that a developer loses a Red Bull every time that happens. Then, to access the actual plugin, go to Settings > Google Analytics.
WordPress GA Setup – Step 5
Last step! At the top of the plugin screen, there will be a prompt to verify your website–to make things easy, just skip that and click the “Manually enter your UA code” checkbox right below it. Grab that account number we created earlier and paste it into the box. Then, click the “Update Google Analytics Settings” button.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do. The GA code should be running on your site now. Look at you, you’re a regular computer whiz!
If you’re running a different software (Wix, SquareSpace, etc), just google “[software name] google analytics” and you’ll find a nice help article, I’m sure. If you’re running the site manually, you can copy the GA code block into your header–just make sure it’s going to run on every page of the site.
You officially have a full featured tracking program up and running on your website. Once you’ve set it up (or your friend/associate tells you they set it up), wait a couple days and go back to google.com/analytics. Click into your website and you should see your first couple days of visitor information. For a relatively young website, having a few visitors a day is totally normal. If you have more than that, well done!
I know we haven’t talked about SEO at all yet, but this is the first step in that direction. Once you have a week (or ideally a month) of baseline traffic numbers, we can begin to optimize your website for search. That way, we can compare it to the original numbers and see how well we’re doing! I’ll put together another post soon on the next step. In the meantime, click around in your GA program and try to get to know the reports.
Until then! Cheers.
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