SEO is often seen as an illusive art that requires a high degree of technical skill to succeed at. Although certain aspects of SEO call for expertise, there are some basic steps you can take to ensure your site is SEO ready. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you may or may not need to hire a professional to increase your traffic. Read through some of the following to see what you can do on your own.
Keywords are the words, terms and phrases that help you rank in SERP. The more efficient your keywords, the better understanding Google will have of your business and the more likely you are to rank in relevant searches. In order to choose the correct keywords, you need to determine what your audience is searching for. There is no point using words that sound nice, if they do not match the search intent of your target market.
So, how do you find the right keywords? It does require a level of work, which we have outlined in our Keyword Research blog post: (include link).
One of the main things you need to take into consideration is a keyword’s competitive score. A competitive score tells you how easy/difficult it is to rank for a given keyword. Keywords with a high competitive score are in hot demand, while keywords with a low competitive score are easier to rank for.
Another way to test the effectiveness of a given keyword is to look at the search volume, i.e. the amount of organic searches the keyword attracts per month. Search volume is also a useful tool to use in the long-run, as it shows you the ebb and flow of a particular keyword, which allows you to change tactics if a keyword is no longer gaining enough traffic.
There are some great free tools out there that help you conduct keyword research and keep an eye on how they perform. We suggest trying:
Titles & Descriptions
51% of search traffic is organic. This means your page’s title and description should be a priority. Choosing an effective title, which simultaneously informs and encourages the reader to click, will have a marked effect on your SEO ranking. Do your keyword research and make sure your keywords appear in both your title and description. Avoid stuffing your keywords in your content, however, as Google is likely to penalise this.
Google measures your traffic levels and how people react when they visit your social media profiles/website. They ask questions such as:
- Are users clicking through from search results?
- How much time do they spend on each page before returning to the search results (known as ‘dwell time’)?
- Did they get what they wanted?
If you want to keep those clicks flowing, then maintaining an updated social media footprint should be a top priority.
Google My Business
Google My Business is Google’s latest feature to help businesses get noticed in their local area. Your business profile offers prospective customers a taste of what you do. It therefore needs to provide answers to potential questions right off the bat.
In order to optimise your Google Business Profile, you need a Google My Business Account, which is easy! We’ve even written a step-by-step guide, which you can find here (link).
With more and more ‘zero-click’ searches, it’s important to provide as much information about your business as possible.
Here is a short checklist to get your started:
- Make sure your name and address are correct, and do not vary across the web
- Include your business’ phone number
- Include a link to your website
- Keep your opening hours updated
- Include an accurate pin on Google maps, so customers can find you
- Write a compelling ‘from the business’ description
- Include your attributes and categories
- List your services and products
- Answer questions
- Respond to reviews
- Post regular updates
- Post photo updates
Reviews are among the most important elements of your Google Business Profile. Think about it, when you are choosing a business on Google, which do you go for, the business with no stars or the business with 4.7 stars? That’s right! Reviews are a powerful indicator for potential customers. So ask people to leave you a review. You will be surprised by how many respond.
A final ranking factor that you should be considering is whether or not people click on directions. While this one is more subtle, research shows that there is a definite connection between driving directions and reviews, i.e. the more people looking for directions, the more people sampling your product/service (https://www.gmbcrush.com/google-map-driving-directions-seo/#driving-directions-as-a-ranking-factor).
As you probably know there are lots of search engines out there: Google, Microsoft Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo to name a few. You’re probably also aware that within this sphere Google dominates.
Having said that, it’s important to optimise your website for multiple search engines. But how do you do this? Luckily, most search engines offer search consoles, which allow webmasters to index their websites and keep a tab on metrics, so that their website is at peak visibility.
Google’s Search Console is invaluable, not only because it is free and easy-to-use, but also because it provides webmasters with lots of useful information, such as:
- An overview of your website’s health
- A breakdown of how you are performing across Google’s products
- An analysis of your organic traffic
- A list of sites that link to your website
Setting up Google Console is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is:
- Login to Google console using your business’ Google account
- Choose between using your domain or URL prefix
- Verify your account.
Here is a helpful and in depth guide to lead you through the process:
Bing, similarly, has a search console that allows you to track your website’s performance on their search engine.
You can check out their easy guide to setting up an account here:
Analysing competitors’ SEO strategies is a really useful way to strengthen your own SEO plan.
In order to understand your competitors’ tactics, you need to focus on the keywords they use, the links they include and their overall content. In doing so, you’ll gain an insight into what works for your target market, as well as being able to improve upon your competitors’ strategies. With a little bit of research and tact, you’re sure to come out on top.
One key area to investigate is your competitor’s ‘backlink’ profile. Backlinks are any links from other websites to yours. Someone might mention you in a blog, for example, similar to how we’ve linked two step-by-step guides in the ‘Search Engine’ section.
Your competitor’s backlink profile indicates who is likely to link to your website, if you can provide more compelling, competitive content. There are a number of tools you can use online to analyse backlink profiles. We recommend:
Other areas that you should consider, when analysing competitor’s content are:
- The length of the content they provide on a given topic
- The information that is included in the content itself
- How often do they use their keywords?
- The load time of their pages
Your aim is to build and improve upon your competitor’s content. You can use your analysis as a guide.
Link building is essential, especially for small businesses that rely on local SEO. It helps you to rank higher in local search results and allows people to find your business.
But how do you go about getting those all important links? Like every aspect of SEO, it takes a bit of work. A useful strategy, when link building, is to analyse your top competitors’ links. You might ask yourself:
- Who is providing them with backlinks?
- Is it a directory, another local business or a blog?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should aim to employ a similar strategy.
Directories are a great place to start. When you rely on local search results, users are probably typing something like ‘electrician near me’ into Google. While the first three results may provide the individual name of electrician companies, it’s also likely they will be directories.
There are thousands of directories online, so you won’t have time to give your information to each. In this case there you can:
- Use data aggregators (companies that collect and redistribute information about other companies online)
- Submit your information to core sites, such as Facebook, Yelp, Apple Maps and Bing Places
Because these websites have ‘low authority,’ i.e. they do not rank highly, it is best to submit to all of them. Submitting to only one will have little impact. Combined, however, you’re likely to see more results.
It’s also important to reach out in person to local businesses within your industry. Establish a relationship with other local businesses and bloggers to get those citations. Your reputation will steadily grow as you continue to implement your strategy.
There is also the possibility of getting features at events or providing sponsorship, which automatically links your company to the event in question.
As you can see, link building is about strategy and networking. It takes commitment and consistency, but pays dividends.
Create a blog
Blogs are a very useful way to improve your overall SEO. Think about it, you rank for lots of keywords associated with your business, which in turn makes your website more visible to search engines. Blogs also provide a space for you to answer potential questions, demonstrate your expertise and give potential clients a taste of what you do.
We’ve written a guide (include link) to blog writing and posting, which also includes information on how you can optimise your blog. A few pointers to keep in mind when beginning a blog are:
- Know your audience
- Do your research
- Do keyword research
- Format it in an easy-to-read way
- Include images
- Include a compelling call-to-action
Correct URL structure:
A final SEO pointer is to optimise your URL structure. There are a number of reasons this improves SEO including:
- An easy-to-read URL creates a more positive user experience
- A clear URL helps search engines when deciding on SERP
- It makes it easier for people who link your page to understand the destination of the link
As you can see, there are lots of ways that you can improve SEO on your own. However, bear in mind that this is just a brief overview. While implementing some of these tactics will deliver results, each of these topics deserves a blog post of its own. This is why we have created posts that explain different aspects of SEO in greater detail, which you can find here (link to list of posts). Depending on your industry, size and location, you may need professional help.