A customer’s first interaction with your brand can happen at any stage of the sales funnel. That’s because search engine optimization, or SEO, places you where your customers are. Why? Well, what would you do if your friends were looking for a good place to eat? It’s likely you’ll turn to Google, Bing or Yahoo to find an answer. Same goes for customers. Improve SEO and customers will come to you.

The best part about search engine optimization: most of the work is already done for you. For example, Google now shows you popular search words and phrases. These are the exact terms your customers are using to look for your business. Amazing! With these tools in arm’s reach, how can you improve SEO to attract more customers? Here are 5 ways to get the ball rolling:

Do Your Keyword Research

Digital Marketing Institute agrees that “keywords are the cornerstone of your SEO strategy.” Developing an SEO strategy starts with knowing who you want to reach and why. Let’s take a prospect who is looking for the right bookkeeping software. They might search for “best bookkeeping software” or “bookkeeping software for small business.” This can spark a blog of the best bookkeeping software for small businesses. Included, you can share how your software helps them and answer some of the questions they may have.

Looking at relevant search terms can also tell you a bit more about how your customers speak. Competitor blogs and news are also great places to browse. Browse headlines and take note of what terms get used most often when creating your SEO strategy. Tools like Moz, Yoast and Serps can help identify specific keywords too.

Help Engines Identify Your Website

Let's talk about how engines rank and categorize websites. This will give you a better sense of how search engine optimization works.  First, search engines read all the labels and data in your website's code. That sounds a little daunting but it’s less scary than it sounds. Simple tweaks to a site’s title, image attributions, and content description go a long way in boosting SEO. All these contain information on the topic of your site.

Search Engine Land calls this “technical SEO.” This type of SEO focuses on describing the content of a website. In some instances, you might need a web developer or design specialist for more complex sites. These professionals can make small SEO adjustments, like adding text descriptions to images, or big SEO changes. Connecting the different pages and content on your site would need a developer.

Optimize Content & Link Up

Search engines also use copywriting and content to rank and categorize websites. This is the content your visitors see most often. Common content pieces are blog posts, news features, and contact or about pages. Sprinkling key phrases into your website copy can help customers find you better. One important thing to remember here is to steer clear of keyword stuffing. Instead, focus on specific keywords and use them sparingly throughout your website.

You don’t just want to optimize your homepage. Remember, customers can find you in many ways. For instance, they may have come to you from another business who linked to content on your site. This is an example of link building or linking to relevant partners and content. Link building is a great way to optimize your posts and build influence in a particular field. Sharing content from similar trusted sources helps connect your brand to other experts. When linking, use content that is relevant and adds to the topic you’re exploring.

Bump Up Your Marketing

SEO can make a world of difference for promo materials, social copy and campaigns. Imagine you’re creating a lead magnet to increase email sign-ups. Take a look at the landing page copy, social media posts, even the language used in your call-to-action.

Another way to improve SEO in your marketing is to use rare and uncommon keywords. “Instead of relying on your main keywords, use long-tail keywords, which carry more weight.” Long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that provide specific details. Using these in your content means you’ll be competing with fewer sites, giving your content the upper hand. Here are a few examples of long-tail keywords:

As you can see, these are examples rich in details. They get so specific that they identify an industry, a target market, or even key influencers. In these cases all three.

Use SEO In Your Paid Media

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter all provide ways for businesses to attract customers. Can only pick two? Then Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are the ones to zero in on. Because of the massive reach, Google and Facebook have, it’s likely your customer is on one of these. Optimizing paid media for search engines is the best way to make sure the right people see your content.

Ads need to appeal to the people you want to reach and need to be published on the sites they frequent.” That’s why targeted SEO marketing in your paid media can attract more customers. By using the keywords and search terms your customers use, you can appeal to them.

SEO in ad campaigns is great too if you’ve got a physical location or local business. This is where long-tail keywords come in handy. Use search engine optimization to create searches relevant to the local community.

Search engine optimization gets a bad rep. But the truth is to attract more customers you can improve SEO in 5 steps. Work with a web specialist on the more technical aspects of SEO marketing. These developers will make sure your website is being indexed. Then take a look at how keywords and phrases play a role in the different aspects of your marketing. Pay special attention to copywriting, promo assets, and paid campaigns. You can even use keyword research tools to create a strong SEO strategy and be where your customers are.