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Small business SEO tips and mistakes

Small business is slowly coming to grips with the reality that Google provides the bulk of traffic to Australian websites and that it’s necessary to invest in SEO over the long term as part of your business’ online strategy.

Small Business SEOWhile it is fairly easy to find blogs, forums and even YouTube videos that explain most of the basic steps and even offer decent advice on how to implement it yourself it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.  One of the great developments over the past few years has been an increasing number of both high quality and enterprise level SEO marketing tools being made available to SMEs such as Keyword Intent, Linkscape and Raven Tools.

The benefit of these need breed of marketing tools is that while previously small business often found they could not always afford a full time staff member to focus on SEO but by using some of these packages it is not always necessary.  Another tip on how business can start to think smarter about SEO is they can now effectively scale their SEO projects according to budgets.  Many of these SEO packages are designed to help you measure and track the true results with better transparency when campaigns are run inhouse or you are using external seo consultants or agencies.

Having seen the consistent problem with projects is that time allocated to implement SEO recommendations can be significantly reduced when unrealistic expectations are placed on reporting schedules. The reporting part of any marketing campaign will always place stress on both the person responsible for the reports but also for the marketing manager who has to understand the information they are looking at as they monitor the progress of the campaign on a daily or weekly schedule.

If you just used tools like Raven Tools for the reporting they pay for themselves but they can also be great for small business to assist with project management and while they guide your implementation but you still have a number of tasks you have to implement.  You still need to make website changes, create relevant content, request links and the more time you are able to allocate the better your results will be.  As most small business is often time poor there are solutions such as reaching out to a seo consulting partner to assist or even hire a part-time employee to implement the project.

While there are some initial basics steps that can provide a good boost to your website traffic SEO is not a one off project or something you set and forget. Small business needs to start thinking of how they can specialise and focus their efforts online and don’t try and be ranked for every possible phrase. There needs to be a move towards tracking SEO as part of your general marketing campaigns and budgets need to be increased if you want to be successful.

[Next: Three common business SEO mistakes]

Three Common Business SEO Mistakes

1)     We should be #1 – One of the common mistakes that commonly arise in discussions is the assumption that Google should rank you because you believe you are number #1 at what you do.  SEO requires more effort than just claiming you have great content on a particular business or service, you need to prove this to the search engines, SEO doesn’t work on belief it works on hard work, focus and patience.

2)     Rank us for anything – Another common mistake is focus on ranking for unrelated terms on the chance that it might deliver enough business to make it a profitable product or business in the future.  This doesn’t often work well because your SEO strategy is not focused and you are competing with fewer resources, less relevant material and more focused competitors. You need to stick to a niche and dominate it and expand it from there to cover complimentary products.

3)     We pick the keywords – The final nail in the coffin is that you pick the keywords based on gut instinct as it is common that you will use industry specific terminology and acronyms that your clients may not understand.  The caveat is that insight from a business owner is often accurate but there has to be a commercial focus and not just that’s what I want to be found for or that’s what I would search for.

How to rank better?

Everyone who is involved in your business can contribute towards helping you building quality content you need to also measure your actions and understand how particular actions improve your search results.  You need to put in the hard work to rank in competitive areas but a number of businesses just have to do a little bit more than the bare minimum to get results.

Don’t Forget Bing!

While Bing has a smaller portion of the Australian market with around 5-10% of traffic when combined with Yahoo it also offers far less competition for being #1.  To provide webmaster with a better insight on how their website is performing Bing also offers Bing Webmaster Tools.

Just like Google Webmaster Tools these are provided free to help you better understand how the search engines crawl your site, what pages are included in the index and some insight into what keywords are driving traffic and estimate what portion of that you receive.

Don’t forget measure everything!

One of the key parts for small business to remember is to measure everything within reason using platforms like Google Analytics Goals, AdWords Conversions, links attained, articles written and social media interest.  As you can import your Google Analytics data into your Raventools account you are able to provide it with more data and simplify reporting on campaign results quickly so there is no reason not to get results.

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David Iwanow

David Iwanow

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