This is a guest blog by Arek Estall, Founder & Owner of an SEO, digital marketing and social media agency in South Wales.
When you’re running a small business, you often find there aren’t enough hours in the day. When it comes to marketing your business, or optimising your website for SEO, those things can be pretty low down your list of priorities.
But if you spend just a few hours, you can get really good results and new enquiries through organic Google results – just by appearing higher in Google for things your customers search for.
I recently met up with John Marlen-Summers, the founder of Fusewave, who has been running his SEO agency since 2010 and understands there are lot of SMEs out there who are still unsure how to implement SEO into their online campaigns.
We discussed six areas of SEO that are crucial and he shared some practical suggestions for how to save time and maximise ROI (Return on Investment).
1. Keyword research
Let’s start basic – what is a keyword?
Basically, it’s the word people use to search for a business like yours – for example ‘plumber in London’.
Knowing what your customers are searching for is a vital first step to SEO success. It’s also very important to know how many people are actually searching for different keywords, so you can focus on the right ones.
This process can be time consuming though. John says there are time-efficient ways businesses can do general keyword research:
“Businesses can definitely get a good overview by using a keyword research tool to do this. Semrush.com is a great example as it lets you identify how many people are searching for keywords, related searches and keyword ideas for your industry.”
Once you have identified what your customers are searching for, you can add these keywords into your content on your website.
2. Changing your page titles & descriptions
When you change your page names & titles on your website, you’re actually telling Google what your business does. It’s the next step after keyword research, and it’s a good way to get more relevant traffic.
I asked John if he had any hints that SMEs about this area of SEO:
“I’m always surprised that a lot of businesses with websites ignore this part of SEO. You have to make sure you’re making the most of these on every page, in line with your keyword research. It’s also important to make sure you’re not using exact same ones, as this could confuse Google and other search engines!”
The take-away? Unique titles and descriptions on each page is what can help get higher up the rankings.
3. Link building
Links have a bad name in modern SEO but if you get good ones, then you will go up the rankings. Links remain one of the strongest signals for search engines.
I asked John if he had any tips that a time-poor small business could implement:
“If you’re not ready to hire an SEO agency to help you, but you want to build some links, it can be a tricky and risky business. Stay away from websites that offer free links as they can be low quality – I think my tip would be to ask your friends and network. Everyone knows at least 5 people with relevant sites who could link to them, and that’s a great start.“
John believes you can get credible links in just three hours by going through your contact list. The beauty of these links is you may also get more enquiries, as you tap into a whole new target audience on someone else’s website.
A lot of businesses use directories to get higher rankings on Google, and there are numerous directories available for businesses.
I asked John what directories actually make a difference in helping SMEs gain higher rankings:
“You have to make sure that you’re using good quality directories, as using low-quality sites is worse than not using any. I recommend going through the well-known ones such as Yell.com, 192.com, Thomson and freeindex. These directories allow you to add descriptions of your business and each can reach large audiences.”
A word of warning: when businesses outsource their links for cheap prices, and you get a lot of low-quality links, Google can punish your business by dropping it down the rankings.
5. Be social
The majority of SMEs use social media now to promote their products and engage with their audience. Social media is also a ranking signal – so being social means more Google traffic.
I asked John what the most time-efficient way of using social media for SMEs is:
“I’d suggest using a tool like Hootsuite which allows you to schedule your social media. Make sure your link to your website is on your bio for each of the social media platforms, and that at least 20% of the content that you schedule links back to your site. If you have a blog of your own with your own content, then you could increase this to 60% by linking back to your articles.”
By scheduling your content through Hootsuite, you can condense your activity on social into fewer, longer bursts – allowing you to focus the rest of your time on growing your business.
Blogging is a great way to stay relevant and gain higher rankings for your business. But what should a small business blog about?
The answer is quite simple – you should be blogging about what your customer base wants to know about. For example, if you’re selling vinyl records then you should be blogging about reviews, interviews and so forth.
I asked John how often should a SME post blogs to their customer base:
“You should blog around once a month as a minimum. But if your industry is competitive, you may want to consider blogging more. A realistic aim could be once a week for a small business.”
As long as it’s good relevant content related to what your customers are searching for, and you link to other pages on your site, you should get good results in the search engines.
You get what you put in
So it’s still a case of putting some hours in. But follow these 6 tips, and you’ll supercharge your online rankings. Check out John’s Fusewave blog for more handy tips and advice.