Most SMEs know that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) should be a key component of any marketing strategy. But can you dominate search results with content and tools you control? The answer is yes, but remember great organic rankings don’t happen overnight. Anyone who promises to get you to the top of Google in a short period is likely lying or wildly optimistic.
However, there are at least 5 key things you can focus on to increase your SEO ranking on Google and other search engines.
1. Claim (and complete) your Google (and other) business listings
An important and effective way to boost local SEO, is to ensure you claim and update your business profile across third party directory websites. Websites such as Facebook, Google and Yelp provide local listings and are a common starting point for people seeking information about your business or niche.
Google and other search engines are also continually scanning these sites to build a deeper understanding of your industry. When a business isn’t listed—or information is incomplete or incorrect—there’s a strong chance your ranking in search results is much lower than it needs to be.
Don’t just claim the listing. Make sure it’s updated with relevant and accurate information. Complete all fields you can with readable, interesting content. Where possible, add relevant keywords, so search engines pick them up to positively impact your results.
Confirm your business is listed in the right categories so it can be properly optimised for search engines.
Don’t just go through the motions — make your listing stand out with photos and videos and ensure it’s as attractive as possible to budding customers.
Where your business has several locations, build listings for each locality and make certain that your business name, phone and address posted are accurate. Consider getting a virtual landline number to receive calls on the go. This is a national or local landline number that diverts calls straight to your mobile.
You can choose a local 01/02 number if your business is based in a particular city, or should you service nationally, choosing a 0330 national telephone number may be a good option.
2. Optimise your keywords for search intent
Do keywords even matter to search engines anymore? The short answer is: they do.
But it’s important to develop quality content correctly organised for targeted keywords. You should take advantage of every opportunity to include your targeted keywords on your website without obviously spamming.
It’s common to think of on-page optimisation as just dropping keywords into the copy, but good SEO goes much further. This means including keywords not only in body content but also titles and meta descriptions (and anywhere else you can think of).
3. Research Competitor
Competitor research can go a long way. Who are they? What are they doing online, and how is that affecting their search engine ranking?
You should be most interested in competitor’s websites that appear on the first page of Google search results for your targeted keywords.
When doing a competitor analysis, there are several tools you can use. You can use these tools to discover what competitor sites are ranking for, how many pages they have indexed, their website structure and the quality of their backlinks.
A few useful tools to consider for this task are Ahrefs, SEMrush, Majestic Site Explorer, and Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
As Google’s ranking algorithm rates page speed very highly, you should also run their landing pages through page speed tools such as PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix or Pingdom. Find areas of strength and weakness and compare them to your own website.
Are they loading faster than yours? If so, why?
4. Compress Your Site’s Images
For SEO, compressing your images’ file size doesn’t at first glance appear as if it should be a top priority. But when you consider that image file size is one of the main factors which directly affects your website’s page load speed, and this is one of the ten most important Google ranking criteria, image size takes on greater importance.
The bigger an image’s file size, the longer duration for a web browser to load that image, which increases your website’s overall loading time. The longer your website takes to load; the more likely Google will penalise you for it.
And they’re not the only ones. Research shows that even a tiny 1-second delay in load time can cause a huge 7% loss in conversions.
JPG, probably the most common image file type is compressed by blending similarly coloured pixels into single pixels to reduce the image’s resolution, and file size. While extreme compression will be noticeable in file quality, low to average level of compression will barely be noticeable to the casual viewer.
To get a fast website, many tools are available. At the higher end you can use long-established software such as Adobe Photoshop, online tools such as Squoosh or website based plugins such as reSmush.it, an image optimiser for Wordpress.
5. Write for humans
For too long businesses have become obsessed with keywords, to the point where their importance has eclipsed the desire to grow real engaging, valuable content. Filling your website with spammy keywords everywhere makes the content unenjoyable and virtually unreadable.
Don’t forget your most important audience, potential customers, are actual humans searching your site for information about your business. Search spiders are scripts—they won’t be making purchases.
Rather, consider creating content for human visitors who read, will purchase your product and may become long-lasting customers.
An SEO optimised website levels the field
Once, an SME had limited ability to compete on the same footing with big players in their industry (unless they were lucky). Search engine optimisation offers a way to level the marketing playing field. A bit of know-how, a long-term strategy, patience and hard work, and you can wiggle your way into a large competitor’s space, on and offline, and poach their customers.
Even if you’re a start-up launching your first website.