Search engines are one of the most common places consumers look when seeking out products or services online, so making sure your business can be found easily and appears near the top of a search engine results page is crucial to any online strategy.
A tactical approach to search engine optimisation, or SEO, will offer your business the power to directly influence online position.
Here are my top five tips for small businesses to effectively and efficiently increase their SEO without spending a large amount of money.
1. Refresh your content
The best way to ensure you remain near the top of a search engine results page is to make sure online content is fresh and relevant.
This can be easily achieved by keeping websites, social media pages and business listings up to date with quality content and new information. Make sure online contact details are kept current and new services or offers are refreshed in real time.
Listing your company on business listings websites such as TrueLocal is a reliable way to ensure search engines are picking up new content as these sites are constantly ‘indexed’ by Google, Bing and Facebook.
2. Increase your presence on social media
Online conversations, comments and reviews happen all across the web, all day every day, and any mentions of your business can have a huge effect on search engine rankings.
Make it easy for customers to interact with your brand online by creating and maintaining a presence on social media platforms. Mentions on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube and Pinterest all have a huge influence on online positioning, so I strongly recommend engaging with your audience directly on these platforms.
3. Know your keywords
Knowing your relevant keywords and understanding how to use them is still one of the best ways to increase online visibility and is what SEO agencies specialise in (refer to point five). However, gains can be made from just doing some of the basics in-house.
For example, running various web searches or using tools such as Google Analytics, can help you build a good keywords list used by your target customers. With this information you can then create your content specifically to include these terms in your online media channels.
It’s also worth following your competitors on their social media channels and read industry publications to find out what the new and popular topics are.
4. Encourage reviews
The popularity of consumer reviewing and its power to influence consumer purchasing decisions is exploding. According to Nielson’s latest online consumer report, 71 percent of people read online reviews when considering a new product or service.
Whilst reviews are not always easy to ask for, think of subtle ways to encourage customers. You’d be surprised how willing people are to show thanks after a good experience and by engaging again with your brand, these customers will continue to keep you in ‘front of mind’ when it comes to their next purchase.
5. Invest in an SEO agency
The word ‘invest’ doesn’t necessarily mean big dollars, particularly when referring to investing in specialist agencies who focus on enhancing business SEO. It can be surprisingly cheap. The work these agencies do is often very technical so to some extent you do get what you pay for. A lot can be gained just from ensuring keywords are in the right places and optimising the overall structure, which is what they call a basic ‘front end code’ review.
An agency may also be able to advise on what content and tools are helpful for your specific business. For example, creating ‘how to’ guides and social plug-ins that link back to your site.
You do need to ask yourself if these things will be useful to your customers otherwise the costs may outweigh the benefits.
It’s important to acknowledge that SEO is not a replacement for more traditional advertising and marketing, and is certainly not a substitute for great products and effective customer service. But by using these five tips, you can be confident that you are well on your way to driving more online traffic to your small business’ website without breaking the bank.