The web has the power to make or break your business. As time-poor individuals, it’s increasingly where we turn first for every single need, and as a small business, it’s your shop window to the world, connecting you to millions of potential customers all over the world – if only they can find you. Winning online is all about visibility. With the average time people spend scanning search results being 15 seconds or under, being visible can literally make or break your business. That’s why a considerable allocation of your resources should be spent on creating and maintaining that, and trying to tap into some of the 3.5 billion plus searches processed by Google every single day. Having a solid strategy for your search engine optimization is more important than ever, and yet it’s a complex space to navigate, meaning many under-resourced start-up businesses are falling at the first hurdle. And yet rising up the ranks to achieve a high position for your particular best-fit key words and phrases doesn’t have to be impossibly complicated or hugely expensive. There are a number of small, incremental improvements which you can make, starting today…
Do Your Keyword Research
Number one on the list should be understanding exactly what you want to be found for. If your website is ranking well for terms that your potential customers aren’t even searching for, then even if you have an impressive volume of traffic it won’t necessarily reflect in your bottom line profits. Your whole search engine optimisation strategy needs to be built around keywords that your customers are actually using. Crack the code by investing in some thorough keyword research before even considering bidding on any terms. Think about what your target user is trying to achieve, and how your product or service helps them with that. There is quite often a major disconnect between the phraseology we use to describe what we do, and that which the customer uses. You need to prioritize changing the language on your website using a content design approach – so that it is all geared around helping the customer rather than making them jump through hoops trying to find you. Keyword discovery software and tools such as Google Trends and AnswerThePublic are an easy way for you to see what popular searches are out there and how people are looking for your sector. Keep an eye on search volumes – you want to aim for a sweet spot where there are enough searches to make it profitable, but be aware that high volumes don’t necessarily always translate directly to purchasing intent and that you could well be better off targeting slightly more specific search terms, which may have a lesser overall volume but are more likely to deliver a high rate of conversion as the searches are more specific on the customer’s side. Also keep an eye on the competition for the keywords you’re targeting – this can equate to higher spend on paid-for search, which your PPC agency may not necessarily tell you about! Using a site like Ubersuggest can help you to understand the context of the phrases you may consider targeting.
Create Stunningly Good Content
The answer to everything on the modern web? Great content. It’s the single biggest improvement you can make to your site without spending a tonne of budget, it will help you to connect with casual browsers and convert them to customers – and eventually brand advocates – and boost your search rankings into the bargain. Google is all about ‘high quality’ content and reserves the premium spots at the top of the search rankings for website which deliver this. It can be hard to interpret what exactly that means, but one of the parameters is around how well you can solve a user’s problem. If you think about it, this is Google’s sole purpose as a search engine – and if you enable them to deliver that to their customers, then your site will be rewarded with a great position. Make sure that you ask yourself why a user is visiting your page as you put it together. You could look at tools such as heat mapping to find out exactly what people are trying to do when they get to your site. Taking an approach led by user stories can help you to define what it is that visitors need to do, and help you to get them to that point much quicker. Concisely, written, descriptive content which acts as a marker towards key activities on your site will make the user experience much smoother. You could consider working with an affordable search agency to rebuild your site around these activities and ensure that you rank more highly for key terms. If you do have pages which are necessary, but that doesn’t provide much content, you can use the ‘noindex’ and ‘nofollow’ attributes to prevent Google from indexing them.
Make Your Content Shareable
Once you’ve created all this amazing content? The next step is to make sure that it’s easy for people to share it. Whether it’s short videos, infographics, a blog post or a really beautiful image – if it’s a useful asset, then people will have ample motivation to share it – which is exactly what you want. It’s a very simple thing to do, and can have a big impact on your visibility. Adding social sharing icons to all your content should be done as standard. They may not formally contribute to rankings, but they are getting your company name out there and getting your brand associated with the right things, and in front of potential customers who may not otherwise have seen what you have to offer. Social shares can boost the visibility of what you do on these platforms and earn you more inbound links, which have an SEO value. It’s fairly easy to add to any site, and there may even be plug-ins available which do all the hard work for you on platforms such as WordPress.
Make Your Images Work Harder
Your content marketing campaign almost certainly includes images, but these can generally be working much harder for you. Many small businesses are unaware that images can also be optimized to provide added value to your search rankings. Again, this is a quick fix which can have a big effect. The only ask is that you title each image correctly, write an accompanying description which is both accurate and contains keywords, include alt tags to help with accessibility standards and a caption which categories the image on your page. If you take the steps above then your image will be indexed and searchable by Google Image Search. It isn’t the most direct route, but it can still generate a steady flow of traffic to your site and expose you to customers that you haven’t interacted with before.
Go For A Structured Mark Up
Another area which many businesses don’t realize can really affect the visibility of their website is using a structured mark-up scheme within your site’s coding. This can sound complicated, but really it’s just a way of categorizing the information contained on your site to help Google index it. For example, if you’ve recently performed a search yourself and found an answer on the search page which includes something helpful – like an encyclopedia entry, a short summary answer or a little calendar, then these are results which include a structured mark-up – directly answering the query that you have posed. Schema.org is the best place to go to learn about these different types of rich snippets and how to get your site featured.
All of this is just a starting point, and there’s so much more to learn about SEO and getting your site seen – take the time to learn a little and you could go further than you ever thought.