As a small business owner, SEO can be difficult to understand and to achieve. When I first looked into SEO I was daunted by the jargon. The term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ simply means reaching high search rankings via search engines. It determines your visibility online – when a potential customer searches (‘Googles’) a term relating to your business, do they find you?
You could have the most beautifully designed website but this is futile if your clients or customers cannot find you online. Not having SEO working for you on your website is like not having a postcode for your house… how will anyone find you?
Some businesses invest a lot of money in trying to improve their ranking in search results but there are also many tips you can implement to improve organic (unpaid) SEO. As an expert in digital marketing, Pamela Angley of Angley Digital Media has been supporting my business and was more than happy for me to share her top ten tips to enhance your organic SEO.
SEO is not just about your website, a social media presence is very beneficial for SEO. When you have a strong presence on social media and engage with people, search engines like Google pick up on this. Also, your social media business page should have a link to your website (URL) and the text should offer some key search terms. Likewise, your website should also have icons that link to your social media, often with SEO, it is all about building trust.
A blog on your website is a lovely way to tell people more about your services, share hints/tips or even information on local events. Blogs, however, are also great for SEO. If the article you write is describing your services then it is a chance to incorporate more search terms into the text but also an interesting article will mean more traffic to your website and an increase in traffic gets picked up by search engines.
Having a trusted source to refer to (by having a link to their website in your text) or to guest blog on your website also verifies your business in the search engine world. Again, it’s about trust and quality, if you are linking to another business it is like a ‘word of mouth’ in the digital world and is the equivalent of an unwritten testimonial. Think of it as that blue tick (verification) you see on social media with famous or business accounts; the more business links you use, the more you are proving to the search engine bots that you are the real deal, and you are receiving an invisible ‘blue tick’ from them. Just in case you are wondering what a bot is, it refers to web crawler software, they gather data through a website to build a searchable index for search engines.
Create a Keyword List
It is helpful to create a ‘keyword’ list of approximately 20 search terms to track your SEO performance, this is a list of potential search terms that the public is using to find your services.
How do you do this? A keyword list should comprise of a couple of words per search term, ‘long tail’ keywords are popular with search engines. This list can be created through research of your competitors’ websites, Google Adwords (just sign up to any account without spending) and your personal knowledge of your business.
When creating your keyword list, you should consider these two questions: What do you want to sell? and Who do you want to sell it to? Sometimes bringing it back down to basics can help.
As referred to in blog writing, the overall content on your website should contain your search terms. Bots pick up these in-text keywords and in turn, the pages these terms appear on will start to rank on search engines. A copywriter can play a valuable part in creating website content, they can write fantastic text which includes your marketing and unique selling points. Therefore, if you have a keyword list you can provide them with, then you will have a great formula to improve your SEO.
Your text on your website should also make use of the ‘Heading’ format (Heading 1, Heading 2 etc). The rule of thumb with this is; with a page of content the main title should be in Heading 1 and as you continue down through the text the subsequent headings should be used. Search engines pick up the Heading format and this gives the page a better chance of ranking. Something to also remember with these titles or subheadings is to try to expand on the words, think in terms of a search engine and what will stand out from the crowd.
Behind a Website
This part can be a little technical as it involves logging in ‘behind the scenes’ of your website. However, SEO plugins can greatly help here (such as Yoast, All in One SEO Pack, Semrush) or you may already have SEO capability as part of your website (like Wix etc.).
Meta titles are basically the page name, for example when you search for a certain service in an industry this will be the first heading you see eg. ‘About Us’. You must remember simple text like ‘About Us’ is not really going to satisfy those search engine bots (as many people will use that title). The bots are looking for a bit more detail so you should include your business name and one of those fantastic keywords you’ve put together.
Each page of your website should also have a unique short description and again introducing a keyword if possible.
Meta tags are similar to tags you see on social media or blogs, they separate the categories in search terms that are again picked up by search engines.
Google Analytics and Search Console
An important part of SEO is tracking your leads. If you are putting your time and energy into all these different elements of improving your SEO then you want to see more traffic on your website. The way to view this is through Google Analytics where you can track everything from the number of people on your website over your chosen period of time to demographics. Another valuable tool is Search Console (found in Webmaster Tools, also created by Google), this will highlight any errors that may be on your website and make some recommendations on how to adjust this. There are also extra insights into website traffic on Search Console. If you haven’t yet set up your free business profile on Google then follow these steps as this is very beneficial for SEO.
Errors on Site
Search engine bots regularly scan websites to determine that it is of good quality (visually and grammatically) and it will pick up any errors on your site. Many errors that are not remedied will reflect poorly on your rankings.
As stated above, Search Console will pick up technical errors but there may also be other issues; the speed of the website, pages with overlapping images etc. Free SEO evaluations are available online (eg. Seoptimer) and will give you an idea of some of the issues but remember this is only a small bit of insight into your website and it is also a good idea to have an expert evaluate it.
All websites now must be responsive to satisfy search engines, this means that your website can be viewed in high quality across all platforms (mobile, tables, desktop etc). A conversation should be had with your web developer to determine that your website has this functionality. Responsiveness is essential to SEO because search engines like Google are now looking at user experience primarily on mobile. Over 52% of the globe now view websites on a mobile, the stats for this on your website can be viewed in Google Analytics. Google even has a tool to check how mobile-friendly your website is.
Search engines highlight the importance of good user experience when viewing your website. What does this mean? You should have an easy-to-navigate website.
To strike the correct balance; remember not to overdo anything – images, text, graphics should all complement each other. The bots are looking for high-quality content that is visually aesthetic and readable. It is a good idea to have someone (even friends and family members can help) to analyse your website or you can set them tasks to determine navigation (eg. Find the services page).
Angley Digital Media is a digital marketing agency based in Maidstone, Kent. Specialising in SEO, Content Marketing, Analytics, Digital Marketing Strategies, Consultations, Training, Social Media, Website Maintenance/Editing and much more. Get in touch with Pamela for any digital advice via email@example.com