If you’re a small business just starting out, SEO might be the last thing on your mind. It’s enough work sorting out your e-commerce website and stock, not to mention setting up your social media.
Some SMEs have never heard of SEO and how it fits into digital marketing. In short, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) helps your website appear higher up on Google. For example, you want your startup company ‘Debonaire Doggos’ to appear if someone searches for ‘cute hats for my dog’.
To achieve this, you need SEO. It’s an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. Because there are a lot of businesses selling cute hats for dogs, even in an average-sized UK city.
SEO encompasses a wide range of technical practices – Google algorithms take many factors into account when deciding who appears at the top of their search results. From making your website fast and easy to use, to targeting the exact phrases your customers search for online, it can become a big to-do list.
So, because we’re kind, here are some top-level SEO tips to get your business going:
1. Make yourself easy to find on Google Maps
Do you have a bricks-and-mortar business? If you don’t appear on Google Maps, local customers may second guess your very existence. Set up a Google My Business account and ensure your open hours, telephone number, email address and website are accurate. Customers will also have the chance to write (hopefully positive) reviews about you.
How does this help? People instantly find you and know when you’re open and how to contact you.
2. Design a user-friendly website as good as your product
If someone likes your product, don’t put them off buying it with a bad company website. Slow loading times, confusing layouts, and even typos can contribute to people changing their mind about spending their money. Even worse, bad web design can affect Google rankings. Make it easy for search robots to crawl your site, and easy for users to find what they’re looking for.
How does this help? People and search robots can crawl and understand your website more efficiently, which helps with how your site is perceived (and ranked).
3. Don’t pay for dodgy backlinks – Google sees through it
It’s hard to think of marketing products without pestering bloggers to link to your website. But Google has wised up to sponsored posts (they’ve even introduced a specific tag so they can better identify and discount them) and they have little-to-no positive effect on your rankings. Better to spend time creating great content for your own website which people want to share naturally. Make something worthy of being shared and linked to.
How does this help? Less time sending the same begging emails with little results, more time to develop content that your audience actually wants to read, share and link to. Which leads us onto…
4. Create amazing digital content around real search terms
The words and phrases your potential customers actually search for on Google may surprise you. Find the real search terms people use – don’t guess. Target long-tailed keywords rather than just generic one-word terms, for example ‘cheap dog bow ties in london’ rather than just ‘bow ties’. Then make unique, engaging and trustworthy content around those words.
How does this help? Your content has more chance of being found on Google.
5. Find your niche and do it better than anyone else
Heard of skyscraper content? Digital marketing is competitive, and it’s difficult for startups to compete with giants. Skyscraper content is where you take inspiration from your competitors, then do it better. Take ‘5 well dressed dogs’, but make it ‘10 well dressed dogs and how to steal their style’ then make it the most well-researched, comprehensive guide on the web.
How does this help? Always go one better than competitors – be the go-to source.
6. Do a Google search for yourself on the internet
If you can’t find your own company website and web pages on Google, what chance will your customers have? How you look on Google search results pages affects whether people click on them. The preview page title and meta description must encourage people to pick your page. Avoid overly long and automatically generated info.
How does this help? You’ll see whether you stand out from your competitors.
Get more customers online
You may already know the basics of SEO, but simply don’t have the time or resources to do the work. If that’s you, you may wish to find out more about our SEO services and how we could help – give us a call today on 0800 292 2410.
Natalie is a digital marketing copywriter and SEO, with a focus on creative content. She enjoys researching blog posts and dislikes overlong sentences.