Achievable steps that will improve your search engine ranking.
Let us begin by painting a picture.
At present, over 152 million blogs circulate the internet, with a new article being published every 0.5 seconds. In fact, by the time you would have finished reading these first few lines, the number of published blogs could be as high as 200. Something worth thinking about, right?
In the past, only the big industry players could compete, now, however, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has leveled the playing field. While larger organizations may still have an edge, smaller businesses with the right strategy can muscle their way into the big arenas.
So, how can small businesses eliminate the risk of sinking in the vast content ocean? You may need to dedicate 4 or 5 hours to write a good piece of content but the 30 minutes that you spend optimizing it is the key to results. The simple truth is that SEO is imperative for success but the good news is it is not as daunting as you might think it is.
In this guide, we are going to dive deep into the searching sea and uncover the secrets that will help you to stay afloat among the 2.2 million Google queries that appear on a daily basis.
SEO in All Its Glory
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is a process through which you can organically rank your brand high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In layman’s terms, effective SEO ensures an online presence and that the right people can find your website.
For many, Google and other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo are just other websites and for the most part, this is true. However, the results that say, Google distributes from a search query are determined by a crawler. According to studies, more than 70% of users will click on the top 5 websites that their query returns. For every search term, there is a pool of brands that are competing for a top position, and those who win the race are those with an effective SEO foundation.
This is where the fun begins. SEO can be broken down into 3 main avenues:
- On-Page Optimisation: Also referred to as organic rankings, these brands’ efforts to optimize their site for both users and search engines. On-page refers to the optimization of both the content and HTML source code of a website page. Key factors to be considered include Alt Tags, Meta Descriptions, URLs, and Keywords.
- Off-Page Optimisation: Using external sources to promote your brand is also a proven strategy to get search engines to understand the purpose of your brand. This usually takes the form of paid advertising, influencer outreach, forums, and link building.
- Local Rankings: The process of raising brand visibility for geographically related queries. You can find more information in our comprehensive guide for Local Search Engine Optimisation best practices.
While your website is your foundation, a combination of all 3 avenues is essential to combat search engine algorithms and improving your bottom line.
How Can Small Businesses Benefit From Practical SEO?
Now that you know why SEO needs to be a top priority for small businesses, we will discuss how you can benefit from implementing it. The obvious benefit is that by being on top of SERPs, you are more likely to be ‘top of mind’ with your customers. Nevertheless, there is a much bigger picture and SEO tactics benefit small businesses in many other ways. Let’s find out how:
- Cost Management: According to the Search Engine Journal a company’s lead generation costs can be lowered by 61% through inbound marketing. SEO lessens the need for advertising. Through top positions in SERPs, brands depend less on pay-per-click campaigns to drive traffic. Furthermore, blogs, referrals and link building can all contribute to SEO success while costing little or no money to execute.
- Lead Generation: Inbound strategies are considered the most effective lead generators for both B2B and B2C businesses. SEO and content marketing both form part of this category, and they do in fact, go together like peanut butter and jelly. So, you will find it difficult to find one without the other. If you are struggling to generate leads into your sales funnel another player could be getting your slice of the pie. Effective SEO activities will counteract this problem since SEO leads already have a purpose in their mind. Statistics show that on average 14.6% of closed deals are SEO leads in comparison to 1.7% that originate through outbound tactics.
- User Experience is naturally going to be enhanced with SEO because brands are focused on providing relevant content be it through images, video or written format. Other factors that increase user experience and are imperative for SEO success are responsive design and page speed. Happy customers equal a happy brand, which brings us to our next point about increasing leads and conversion rates.
- Brand Awareness & Credibility: Practical SEO ensures that your brand is easily found. Ranking in the top 5 search results for chosen keywords creates the illusion that your brand is one of the key players within a particular industry. Maintaining this position means that people will be able to see your brand more often, resulting in increased awareness.
- Synergy & Consistency: SEO success contributes to a brand’s overall marketing strategy So, email, content, website management, and social media are all important aspects that improve your overall ranking. When all marketing tactics are aligned towards a common goal you can rest assured that a positive ROI will be achieved.
Actionable Steps Small Business Can Take to Improve Their SEO
Now consider this, the opportunity is limitless. Brands are presented with a myriad of options worth exploring in the digital realm. With that in mind, what can a small business do to ace their competition?
Google My Business
This should be your first step. This platform has so much potential to drive traffic to your website. Having a Google My Business account will give your brand the opportunity to display important information and give better search visibility. Furthermore, Google allows you to answer questions and add posts to your profile. Other great benefits include.
- Access to a wealth of insights about consumers
- Can add credibility through encouraging reviews
- It is a great communication channel – not only can you interact with prospects and customers you can promote products and services.
The best of all this is completely free and easy to setup. If you have not already, what are you waiting for?
Keywords are a crucial element for rankings and the creation of great content. Ideally, you will choose your keywords before writing any piece of content and keyword research will play a significant role here. For example, the keyword “Search Engine Optimisation” is related to this article and so the content is heavily optimized for that term.
It will be the center point for all SEO fixes, ask yourself:
- Have you optimized your Metadata with actionable keywords?
- Are your web pages optimized with content that is keyword relevant?
- Do you have a balance of Long-Tail Search queries and Short-Tail keywords? For example, “Practical SEO”, “Search Engine Optimisation” will be short-tail keywords associated with this article but to reap full benefits we will also optimize for search queries such as “How Practical SEO can help small businesses”.
- What keywords are profitable for competitors? Google AdWords is an effective tool to analyze this.
Your aim is to provide a solution to a consumer pain point, be sure to include the problem’s search terms in your keywords so that they appear as a solution. Google’s algorithm is always changing. It has become increasingly smarter over the years, so as much as it is important to use keywords throughout your content, avoid overpopulating it with them, as this can actually hurt your ranking.
White Hat vs Black Hat
White hat and black hat refer to the strategies used by businesses to increase their website ranking. White hat techniques are audience targeted as opposed to search engine driven. These strategies include keyword research and analysis, effective backlinking, link building, and improving website architecture (meta tags, alt tags, and URL structure). Quality content that is human-centric is important to white hat techniques as it showcases uniqueness and search engines deem the site relevant. Black hat techniques, on the other hand, are techniques that all businesses should avoid. These include keyword stuffing, link farming, hidden text and links, blog content spamming. These techniques are deemed unethical and pose consequences for brands, such as de-indexing and banning a brand from search engines.
While the black hat is typically used for a quick fix, a white hat is a best practice as it is best suited for those looking to make a long-term investment on their website.
Content, Content, Content
There is continuous debate about whether or not SEO and content marketing are integrated. The simple truth is that they are very much connected and in fact, you might even say that SEO is all about content marketing.
Bill Gates once stated that “Content is King”, and this is the golden rule of the SEO industry. The great thing about content is that you can stray away from the sales pitch approach. It gives brands the opportunity to showcase thought leadership and share information that their target audience wants to read. It can be difficult to keep a constant stream of content, particularly for small businesses. However, content cannot only be pooled in advance but curated from other sites which in turn present great cross-linking opportunities, boost SEO efforts, and gives you more time to spend on other tasks.
Nonetheless, brands often make the mistake in thinking that more content equals more views which means more leads and more money, but not everyone can be a “king” and not every piece of content will boost your ranking. Ho-hum content can hurt your search engine rankings and potentially damage your brand. Quality content is the lesson here.
While content is king, context is queen and the queen rules the roost. The context in which people view content has vastly changed. For a long time, brands believed that the content produced was what they lived and died by, but, if the context within which people are viewing that content is not right then their efforts are wasted. For instance, 89% of social video is viewed with the sound off, thus, if your video is heavily reliant on audio a huge amount of value will be lost when people are viewing it within this context.
Webbiz Wisdom: What works on TV may not resonate on mobile devices. Place your customer at the forefront and context will automatically fall into place.
The Power of Social Sharing
Social media marketing is an integral part of a company’s overall digital marketing strategy. The relationship between SEO and social media can be complicated, but no doubt it is also a complimentary one. Social media plays a major part in boosting websites organic traffic and is important for a number of reasons:
- Social Media Content Gets Indexed
- Drives Traffic
- Profiles Rank in Search Engines Results
- Improves Your Content Reach
- Social Media Platforms are Search Engines
- Social Media Helps Build Authority
- Social Media Helps Engagement
- Get More Quality Backlinks Opportunities
- Build a Strong Audience or Following
To help you navigate the weird and wonderful world of social media you can read our blog post on The Role of Social Media in Your Digital Marketing Strategy.
Webbiz: Your SEO Expert of Choice
The proof of the pudding is definitely in the eating. Thanks to our very own SEO ninjas and content specialists we have provided SEO services to many businesses – from multi-location gyms and e-commerce companies to law firms; our team uses proven SEO development strategies throughout our projects.
Our team has a deep understanding of what is needed to meet your requirements. Indeed, here at Webbiz we look after all your SEO needs so that you can focus on your core business functions.