Internet marketing can be a minefield for small business owners. Many of us start with a basic website or a Facebook page, before we soon learn that our simple presence just isn’t going to cut it in the competitive online market.
If you’re at the stage where you’d like to start expanding your business and being a bit more competitive, perhaps its time you started looking at doing some SEO to your website.
Not all business owners can afford to pay a marketing agency for SEO, but many have time they can dedicate towards their own marketing efforts. If you’re in a similar situation, instead of spending countless hours posting to Facebook pages for minimal return, why not start learning about SEO and taking steps to improve your brand’s online visibility?
The team at BrisDigital have always helped local businesses whenever they have needed advice or guidance. We even set up a Facebook group to act as a forum where small business owners can ask questions about any digital marketing issues they may be having – feel free to join! We have advised so many business owners on the basics of doing their own SEO that we’ve decided to put it all down on paper so we don’t need to keep repeating ourselves.
Following are the basic requirements necessary to building a strong presence online and getting your site ranking higher (or at all) on Google.
Step 1 – Build a Quality Website
This may seem blatantly obvious but many small business owners scrimp on getting a decent website built. Websites built in Wix, GoDaddy, Vistaprint, Yola or any number of easy DIY builders often look templated, cheap and give a poor impression of the business to visitors to the site.
Shopify is a step up on the aforementioned and is a good option if you run an online store, but in terms of SEO it still has many shortfalls. We recommend getting your site built in WordPress. Not only is it versatile and a great platform for SEO, but it is also easy to edit and update once you have an understanding of the basics. If you are planning on setting up a WordPress site, find a suitable local host and have your site built on there. WordPress do offer free websites/hosting via www.wordpress.com, however these sites do contain the functionality of a self-hosted WordPress site, and you will end up paying for additional features regardless if you choose this path. It also doesn’t look very professional having a www.yourbusinessname.wordpress.com domain name, which is a feature of the free hosted WordPress.com sites.
Your website is one of the most important indicators to people about the quality of your service and your products.
You wouldn’t put advertising on the side of a rusty, beat-up Datsun, so you shouldn’t showcase your business on a website that looks like it’s from the 1990s.
Build a decent website that is mobile optimized. You can check to see if your site is mobile friendly here. Google are rolling out an algorithm update this week (20/4/15 – 26/4/15) which will penalize sites that do not show nicely on mobile devices.Don’t let yours be one of them.
A properly designed website will look modern, with high-resolution photos/images and clear and concise buttons for a better user experience. Contact details should always show on the front page and contact forms can be utilized to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get in touch with you.
A beautiful website is an indicator of the quality people can expect from your business services and products. If you’re unsure if your website is up to scratch, take a look at some of your competitors’ websites and compare the nicer ones to yours.
All other things being equal, 9 out of 10 times a consumer will prefer to do business with the company with the more aesthetic website. Do you want that 9/10 to be in your favour or against you?
Step 2 – Find out What Keywords your Customers are Searching For
The next step in getting your site ranking and found on Google is to find out what your potential customers are typing in to the search bar. Log in to Google’s Keyword Planner (It will ask you to sign in to AdWords, but just log in with your Google account and then click the link again to go to the Tool).
Click on Search for new keywords and ad group ideas, and input some of the keyword you think people looking for your products or services might type in. Remember to set you Targeting to the region you want to focus on, and then click Get Ideas.
When inputting keywords remember to put in locations as well as the products or services offered. For example, while lot of people search for ‘SEO’; ‘SEO Brisbane’ and ‘Brisbane SEO are also keyword which yield a number of searched each month so if we were developing a keyword list for ourselves we wouldn’t want to miss those as well.
Once results have populated click over from Ad group ideas to Keyword Ideas and scroll down the list to find any keywords that are relevant that you didn’t think of initially. Use the Add to plan function on the right hand side of the suggestions to populate a list of target keywords. Try to keep a fairly tight focus with your keywords and only choose the words with high levels of search traffic or the ones that are extremely relevant to your business.
Once you have a list of words you can copy to the clipboard and then paste them into a tool to track your rankings.
Step 3 – Track Your Rankings
This is how you can gauge how any SEO or marketing campaign is going. You can check your rankings instantly and at anytime on What’s My SERP or you can set up an account so you can easily log in and check your rankings at any time with ease on Pro Rank Tracker. They allow tracking of up to 50 keywords for free and you can log in and view your constantly changing results anytime. Once you have a way to watch your rankings and peruse the impact of any work you might be doing, you are ready to start optimizing your website.
Step 4 – On-site Website Optimization
This is where things start to get a bit technical. I could write another 2000 words just on this alone, but I’ll try and keep it short and sweet. If you want to learn more about any particular aspects of on-site optimization you can always find plenty more about it online. The main things you want to do in relation to your on-site are:
- Add in keyword relevant, individual, and original Title Tags on every page
- Add in META Descriptions to each page to entice people to click through to your site. You can check that both of the above are the correct length using this tool. Descriptions and Title Tags should always be different on every single page.
- Ensure all your images are high-resolution and add in ALT Tags for each of them.
- Try to have only one H1 Heading Tag per page, and if you can try to have a keyword or two in it. ‘Welcome to Our Website’ is not a good choice for an H1 Heading.
- Minimize use of H2 tags, and if you can have them around some keywords as well. Google views these headings as a primary ranking factor so it’s important you utilize them correctly. H3 and H4 Tags are also important but the higher in number we go, the less importance is placed on them.
- Ensure you have a phone number/contact form/email address on the front page of your site (those are in order from most important to least important). While you may have the details listed on a Contact Us page, if you don’t make it as easy as possible for people to reach you, you will lose potential customers.
For conversion optimization a landline is better than a mobile phone number as businesses with the former are seen to be more trustworthy. It is also important that your site is easily navigable and there is clear direction in where you are trying to point your visitors.
Have a friend who has never seen your website before open it up, and get them to tell you the first thing that they see. You want the most important part of your website to stand out the most, be that the Online Shop, a Contact Form, or a Download Button. Obviously your phone number should always be large and obvious to make it easy for people to call you should they not wish to search your site for the information they are after.
Step 5 – Content, Content, Content!
Google loves content. You’re heard it before, but what does it mean?
If two companies are selling the same product how are Google going to know which one should rank higher? If all other things are equal, Google will choose the site with the most content relevant to that product over the one with less. So a 500-word page on any particular topic will outrank a 200-word page on the same topic, given that the overall authority of the websites is the same.
This is why content is important. Not only do you want to have more words about your products and services than your competitors do, they also need to be original! Do not ever copy content from any other source and use it on your site, as this can get you flagged with a penalty from Google. An exception here is for ecommerce product descriptions, but if you really want to get the most out of your website you should write intricate descriptions of all your products, even if there are hundreds of them.
The more words you write for each of your products and services, the better the chance you have of ranking for related keywords. Be sure to mention all of the keywords you are tracking in the text on your website, but don’t keyword stuff – a process where the same keywords are repeated over and over in text that reads unnaturally. This method of trying to manipulate Google no longer works and can even get you penalized.
There are a ton of ways you can add more content to your website without making it seem unnatural or misplaced. A blog is a common method but you can also add in instruction for products you sell, a page about the history of your business or product lines, a page with industry news and updates, or any number of other ways. Try and be creative!
Here at BrisDigital we have just added in a Q&A section to our website where business owners can come and ask us questions relating to their marketing and SEO. It a great way for us to help our local community and it also keeps our site updated with fresh, new content on a regular basis. If you have any marketing related questions feel free ask us there. Alternatively if you want some help in developing a serious content strategy for your business get in touch with us to find out how we can help.
Step 6 – Backlinking
Also known as off-site SEO, backlinking is the process of securing a position on a website other than your own, in the form of either an image or a text link. When this link is clicked on it will bring the user through to your website. Once you have developed your keywords list, started tracking your rankings and optimized all of your website’s content, you should start working on building out your backlink profile.
This will increase the authority of your website in the eyes of Google and will help propel your site higher up the rankings. Some ways to build new links to your site are:
- Add your site to relevant and commonly used online directories. Yelp, Yellow Pages Online, Hot Frog etc. Also look out for industry specific directories which can also help not only with your rankings but also in filtering traffic through to your website. Stay away from directories that nobody even uses, built purely for SEO purposes. This strategy no longer works and may get you penalized by Google.
- Ask friends and relatives with websites or blogs if they mind linking to you. If they will host a full articles or post up a full page about your services or products it is more powerful than if they only insert a single text link. If the site linking to yours is in a similar or related industry the value passed over to you will be even greater.
- Talk with suppliers, resellers, and other companies that you work with to see if they mind linking to your site. Because these companies are likely in related industries these links can be very valuable.
- Build out your social media accounts and post interesting and relevant content on your pages. You can use a tool such as HootSuite to cross post across all platforms to save you time, and if done right you will accrue more links through shares of your content online.
- Build your brand’s profile and get additional links through sponsoring local community events, donating to charities, and through partnerships with other companies.
These are only a few of the simpler ways to develop your backlink profile, but if you follow all of the above steps you’ll be well on your way to rankings high up on Google.
If you’ve read all of the above and you’re still not sure where to go from here, get in touch with one of our marketing experts on 07 3040 2505 or via the Enquiry Form on this website. We’ll be happy to analyze your website for you and give you a more detailed idea of what specific areas you really need to improve upon to get the best results for your business.
Posted 23rd of April, 2015.