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16 Small Business SEO Tips for 2018

16 Small Business SEO Tips for 2018

Posted 23rd February, 2018 by Aliysa

Contrary to what many search consultants would have you believe, SEO isn’t black magic. Good SEO is simply the consistent application of a content strategy that’s sympathetic to what search engines are looking for.

Every search engine, from Google to Bing, is doing its best to put relevant and valuable content in front of its users, and they each value certain criteria over others (you may have heard this referred to as a search engine’s ‘algorithm’). So, if you’re going to get your pages to the top of search engines, you will need a company-wide commitment to meeting these criteria, and toward making your content as SEO-friendly as it can be.

Sadly, though, for many small and medium-sized businesses, SEO is seen as too expensive and time-consuming, and they miss out on the huge benefits ranking highly can bring—but it doesn’t have to be this way.

In this post we’ve highlighted 16 quick tips to help you take control of your SEO strategy, and elevate your content to the next level.

1. GO TO GOOGLE

No search engine will promote the exact criteria that make up its algorithm, for fear of the system being gamed. But what they will do is give you a broad idea of what makes pages SEO-friendly, such as this general SEO guide from Google. It’s worth reading through this material to give you a feel for what a search engine is looking for.

2. STAY UP-TO-DATE

Over time, certain SEO factors will become more important, or have their weighting downgraded, and so it’s important that whoever is overseeing your SEO is up-to-date with the latest algorithm news. Search Engine Land has a fantastic landing page where you can stay abreast of the latest Google algorithm updates (which, as an aside, is also a great example of how to apply good SEO).

3. RESEARCH KEYWORDS

Using Google’s Keyword Planner tool you can check the search volume of keyphrases that you may want to target (a keyphrase is something like ‘Best HD TV’ or ‘Best food in London’). At this stage, it’s easy to start playing the numbers game, and you might decide to target search terms with the highest volume. This is fine, but it’s always worth taking a look at the key phrases that come a little lower down the list, too. There’s a good chance that competition will be lower for these terms, making it easier for you to bag the top spot. (To see variations around a certain keyphrase you can use an app like Keyword Tool.)

4. TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS

This is very simple, but you’d be surprised how often appropriate titles and descriptions are overlooked by businesses seeking to rank well on Google. (A good starting point is to acquaint yourself with how your pages will look when returned by a search engine, which you can do by entering your URL into the Google search box.)

A <title> tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is, and it should be placed within the element of the HTML document. According to Google, you should create a unique title for each page on your site, and try and keep them under 60 characters in total. You can write more in your page’s description, which can be as short as a single sentence, or it can stretch to a short paragraph (aim for 50-300 characters). The HTML for a description is:

<meta name="description" content="A page's description, which can be 50-300 characters"/>

In both instances, you should try and include any keyphrase you have targeted, but make sure it feels natural, and is related to the content of the page. And if you want to see how others do it, simply install a browser extension like MozBar, which enables you to view these details for any site that you visit.

5. KEYWORDS STILL MATTER

Including keywords in your page titles and beyond isn’t about shoe-horning SEO keyphrases into your content, but identifying keywords and then adding them within valuable content. Elements of a page such as the title and headings hold particular weight when it comes to SEO, so keep that in mind when you come to write them.

6. ONE PAGE, ONE KEYPHRASE

If you’re going to target a specific keyphrase, then make sure that you select a single page that you are going to optimise, and check your search traffic in the Google Search Console to ensure other posts on your site aren’t competing for the same keyphrase.

7. REVIEW AND UPDATE

Using the Google Analytics Spreadsheet add-on you can create a table of URLs in Google Drive, which will pull in live data from Google Analytics. This enables you to keep an eye on how a post is performing, and you can also keep tabs on when a post might need updating.

8. CREATE UPDATABLE CONTENT

As we’ve mentioned above, if at all possible your SEO focussed pages and posts should be created in a format that can be updated on a regular basis. Google and its users like content that is kept fresh, and by regularly adding to a list post, say, you are illustrating to Google that you are an authority on a given subject.

9. FOCUS ON TIMING

According to Garrett Moon, CEO and co-founder at CoSchedule, when you are creating your publishing calendar there are certain times that work better than others.

“Publish your posts at 3pm GMT (10am EST). This enables you to still hit your UK audience whilst they are at work—and more likely to read professionally targeted content—and to also hit your US audience at the optimum time,” says Moon. “ Research has also shown that Monday and Tuesday are the best days to boost page views (although Facebook shares peak at the end of the week), which gives you the opportunity to promote core content (SEO posts) for the remainder of the week. However, at 10am the following day you should still give the post a big social push, which will ensure that you capture UK users who might have missed it the day before.”

10. BE THE SOURCE

There are certain markers that Google goes gaga over, and one of them is when you become a referenced source, resulting in a bucketload of inbound links. Sam Robson, an SEO specialist for both Time Inc and Future Publishing believes this is key.

“What you really need to do is be a source of a news story. Either you could do a study or a survey on something relevant, or it might be the data already exists within their day-to-day,” Robson explains. “It’s a slightly off the wall example, but the best people at this recently have been PornHub. It's a strategy that's been used for years, but some smart person who worked there figured out that stats involving porn would get loads of coverage, resulting in stories like this.”

11. GET THOSE LINKS

The other factor that can boost your ranking is, of course, links. Inbound links still have a massive say in where you will rank, but the quality of these links is also very important. Google gives more weighting to established media outlets, as well as areas such as education, that reside on .org domains.

“After trying out a lot of other stuff, links have really come back en vogue for Google so make a huge difference,” Robson tells us. “But the quality of the link is more important than ever.”

12. MONITOR KEYWORDS

It’s important that you have a way to track the performance of your keywords, and to do this you can use a tool such as Authority Labs. Tools such as this usually require a small fee, but it is worth paying for a tool that—if you’re serious about SEO—you will be using every single day.

13. OPTIMISE IMAGES

Images have become increasingly important when it comes to how Google views your page or post, and by making sure that you include some key information when uploading images, you can greatly increase the chance of Google paying attention to your content.

14. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

Add a Google listing for your business. It’s free, takes a matter of minutes, and it’s another way for Google to establish your authority in a given area.

15. SPEED UP YOUR SITE

With millions of people now browsing the web on their smartphones, via mobile connections, the download speed of a website has never been more important. Google doesn’t want its users frustrated by slow websites, and so it has gradually increased the importance of page size in its algorithm. So much so that Google even provides a free tool called PageSpeed Insights, which helps you improve your site speed.

16. DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE

Despite blackhat SEO techniques often promising overnight success, and shortcuts that you’d simply be crazy to pass up, don’t be tempted by them. Although a blackhat technique can provide a quick boost, you can be sure that Google is doing everything it can to close the loophole. And if you’re caught partaking in blackhat SEO, you will eventually get penalised.

A few things to remember:

  • Focus on the audience. Google now measures this really well. It’s not just about someone clicking a link, but how they engage with your content once they’ve done that
  • Get people to link to your content, especially authoritative domains (news sources, universities etc.). How do you do this? You make original content, that’s authoritative, well-written, and can be used as reference material that others will link to
  • Include targeted keyphrases within the heading and opening paragraph of a post are still important elements of optimising your SEO content (whatever Google says) -Longer articles do better. The common thinking is that articles should be between 1200-1500 words to get Google excited
  • Decide on a publishing schedule. How many days will you post content on? Decide who, within the business, is happy to take on SEO responsibilities Allocate the amount of time that can be spent on SEO updates each week

Categories: Tips, SEO

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