5 effective SEO tactics for small businesses
What is SEO and why should small businesses invest in it?
Did you know that 87% of adults in the UK are online each day (according to the ONS)? Most of the remaining 13% are over the age of 70.
But only about 67% use social media each day (according to Statista)?
Many of those who aren’t on social media are big online users. I know quite a few busy professionals who shop online (for both services and products) a lot. They don’t have the time to have a mooch around shops – lunchtimes are spent grabbing a sandwich so they can get back to work. Groceries, Christmas presents, birthday presents, clothes, anything for the house, restaurants, dog walkers – all found online. They tend to have more money to spend and they’re less price sensitive…
These people are like gold for many businesses.
Can you afford to ignore them?
They search for the goods and services on Google (or other search engines – but mainly Google).
So putting time and effort into getting your business found on search engines is worth doing. This process of improving your position on search engines is called Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO)
How to improve your position in Google
The most important thing to remember when it comes to SEO is that Google is a business. Just like yours (well maybe a bit bigger!). It is successful because it gives its customers exactly what they want. You know you can go to it, type in a search term and the results will give you an answer. If you type in “website designer Sevenoaks” you’ll get website designers in Sevenoaks – not, say, personal trainers in Manchester.
Every time Google changes its algorithm (and everyone moans), it is just to get the best set of search results for its customers. Usually reducing the impact of any sneaky tactics to artificially promote your business.
Where you rank is determined by the Google algorithm. Which is just a fancy term for a formula that takes all the web pages that Google has crawled (ie seen) and when someone types a search into Google decides which pages should be shown and in what order.
The Google algorithm is a secret. No-one outside of Google knows what it is and it changes regularly. There are allegedly over 200 factors that Google takes into account.
Whilst we don’t know the algorithm, we do know some of the factors that Google take into account. They’re actually pretty obvious when you think that Google is a business that just wants to return the best set of search results for its own customers (so those customers come back – and they can sell advertising).
These are the ones we consider to be the most important and that every small business can improve. These aren’t just good things to do for SEO purposes. They’re good things to do for your business too…
1. Write about what you want to be found for
Most importantly, the website page should be highly relevant for the keywords or phrases your customers are likely to be searching for. The best way to improve your website rankings on any given keyword or phrase is to write about these. Yes, “content”. If you want to rank highly for “fidget spinners”, then write about them – how to customise them, how to use them, why it is good to use them, accidents which have resulted from them, 10 facts about fidget spinners (facts tend to get shared more than other content), videos of old ladies dancing whilst spinning their fidget spinners, pictures of cats mesmerised by them – you get the picture.
Make sure you use the exact words too – especially in the title, some of the sub-titles and in the text. Then Google knows what this page is about. Don’t try and talk in code. But don’t overdo it. You want people to read the content, not immediately come off the page because the content is rubbish. We do want some of the visitors to become customers and we want everyone to have the right impression of you after all.
If I said SEO every few words SEO on this website SEO it might rank well on Google SEO (well it wouldn’t actually) but you would SEO get bored rather quickly SEO (ok I’m bored of this now too!).
It’s also helpful to ensure you have some related words and phrases. If you write about apples, for example, you need to help Google out by referring to fruit trees and that they’re rich in antioxidents if you’re referring to the fruit. Or talk about watches, iPhones and iPads if you’re referring to the consumer electronics giant.
So basically, write about what you want to get found for.
2. Ensure your website is up to date
There is nothing worse than a website which has not been updated for eons. Is it still in business? The search engines reward those who update their websites frequently so change your images, add new products, blog, edit your text or do something different on your website, at least once per month.
3. Speed up your website
We’re not talking about Ferrari speed necessarily, but customers get bored waiting. So the search engines want to return results which load more quickly.
How can you speed up your website? Clean out any unused “stuff” (images, code, text), use smaller images (less than 300kB) and use a speedy host (we are with and recommend Siteground). It will help your SEO.
Seriously one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your SEO is to go through your website and reduce any large images (or at least on the pages you want to rank for).
4. Ensure page descriptions are “click worthy”
Technically this does not help your SEO, but bear with me as I explain…
When you search for something it isn’t just the page that comes up but a few lines of text which explain what that is. This is called a “meta description”. You can control what is in the meta description. If you have a wordpress website and your theme doesn’t give you this option you can install a plugin (Yoast SEO is probably the most popular) which allows you to do this.
Whilst Google ignores it for SEO purposes, it does make a difference in terms of which search result people click on. You want people to click on yours rather than any others on the page. Search engines don’t ignore what people click on (they also look at how long people spend on the webpage clicked on – so “click bait” headlines don’t work). If people are clicking on your result rather than any others Google will notice this and push your result higher.
5. Demonstrate your website is trustworthy
This is probably the most time consuming to action but crucially important. The search engines look for links from other websites they like. Google considers links as an endorsement. Lots of backlinks to good websites is considered a positive, whereas links to poor websites are, at best, ignored and, at worst, considered spamming.
Not all links are considered equal but initially just concentrate on getting some links from “good” sources.
Avoid the multitude of free directories (a few is fine – choose carefully) and the purchasing of backlinks/reciprocal arrangements. Instead, write articles for other websites, blogs etc with a link to your own. If you are a member of a professional association they often have directories which will link to your website – use these.
Another option is featuring in a “news” publication. Share your story (make it as interesting as possible) or research with journalists. Or try to get your products featured in gift guides with a link to that product on your website.
Finally, create good, insightful, original content on your website which can be shared (linking back to your website) and let everyone know it is there. Don’t just think about blog posts – videos, infographics, market research have a much better hit and sharing rate. Yes, it is hard work, but it is so worth it (not just from an SEO perspective)…
Conclusion – what you can easily to do to improve your SEO
There are hundreds of things you can do to improve your SEO. You could spend your entire working week (every week) working on SEO. But it’s a balance – you have many things to do in your business.
You can of course outsource this. But it can be very expensive and, to be honest, not the best use of cash for a small business that is budget constrained (one of our websites is a much better use of your budget!!)
Make some effort – take the low hanging fruit. It’s not just your position in search that will benefit. All these actions are good for your customers too…
1. Write about what is relevant
2. Add new blog posts, images, products etc to your website regularly
3. Check image sizes on the pages you want to rank for and resize any that are too large and slow down your website
4. Add “meta descriptions” to the pages you want to rank
5. Get backlinks from other good websites
And once you have done all that and have the energy to continue? Then check out other websites that have SEO tips. Try Google. They usually give pretty good results…
If you liked this then try our other blog posts.