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7 quick and free SEO hacks for SMBs

7 quick and free SEO hacks for SMBs

Posted 14th August, 2018 by Aidan

When you run a small to medium business your to-do list can often seem bulkier than War and Peace. And where does search engine optimisation aka SEO sit on that to-do list? If you’re going by War and Peace standards, the answer is probably closer to the penultimate chapter 360 than number 1, that’s for sure.

Search engine optimisation, however, is key to making your website more visible in the search engine results pages, and to driving more customers or readers to your website as a result.

How the top dogs do it

The big guns in business employ entire teams to work on their website SEO. It’s easy to understand why they do, too. Internet users don’t like to wait. When they enter a query in a search engine like Google, they want an instant answer. Most users will click on one of the top four or five results in the search engine listings. Only 20 per cent of people regularly scroll down.

Parlez-vous SEO?

When you haven’t got an in-house team of experts or the money to spend on SEO consultants, the only option is to do your own SEO. Of course, this can be daunting. There’s so much jargon involved in SEO that getting started with it can feel like learning a new language. The good news is, you don’t need to become fluent in SEO to be able to make a difference to your own website.

Tip time

Below is a selection of top SEO tips that have been cherry picked to suit the needs of small to medium businesses. They don’t require a master’s degree to carry out, and they can be done by setting aside an hour or two every week.

Tip #1 – localise

Whether you’re searching for an Italian restaurant or a plumbing company, you’ll find a selection of local companies listed close to the top of the Google search results. You can up your chances of appearing in these search results by setting up a Google My Business profile.

Setting up a Google My Business profile is easy. Head to the dedicated website and simply follow a series of easy steps to set-up your profile.

If you have a bit more time when you’re done, make sure you’re listed for your services on other big local listing sites, like Yelp, Foursquare, and Facebook Local, too.

It also helps to have all your local business details clearly marked on your website – so ensure your landing page copy features your business address, opening hours or hours of operation, directions, and clear contact details.

Tip #2 – use keywords naturally

The term keyword is enough to drive fear into any small to medium business owner’s heart. However, SEO experts MOZ call keyword research ‘one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field’, so you can’t really ignore it.

Keywords – aka relevant words spread naturally throughout landing pages and website content – help Google send internet users to websites that are best suited to their needs. Imagine you’re a company that sells nothing but black shoes – one of your keywords is most likely going to be ‘black shoes’. If you’re a yoga studio meanwhile your keywords might be ‘yoga’, ‘yoga for beginners’ and ‘yoga studio London’.

Some keywords are highly competitive. Going back to the black shoe company example – if you’re a SMB, there’s not a lot of chance of you outranking the big businesses like Clarks for that term. That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable for your business, though.

Keywords Everywhere is great free tool to help you find out what sort of terms and words your potential customers are searching for on the internet. Understanding these keywords can help you tailor the wording on your website and create blog content.

Long-tail keywords are also important. Long-tail keywords are the longer phrases that users type into Google to find a specific product. An example is ‘cheap vintage style black shoes for women’. Long tail key words are becoming increasingly important as more and more people start to access the internet using voice search.

Tip #3 – optimise your site for mobile

Depending which industry you work or write within, between 25 and 60 per cent of your visitors will use a mobile device, like a phone or tablet, to access your site. That’s why Google had been boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results since 2015.

There are simple ways you can test the mobile friendliness of your website. Google offers its own free tool called Test My Site. All you need to do is enter your website address into the web page and it will tell you how good your loading time is. You can also download a free report on how to speed up your site. This report will include advice on things like compressing images and making a quicker first impression.

Tip #4 – use content to make people stick around

You won’t find this tip written in stone, but SEO experts believe that the longer people stay on your website pages, the higher your pages will appear in the search engine rankings.

There are a few ways to get people to stay on your website for longer. Firstly, you can make sure that there’s plenty of action orientated copy on your website and make useful calls to action more prominent. Another way to get people to stay on your site for longer, is to give them rich and useful content in the form of how-to articles or blogs.

Including good quality images and videos on your site can also encourage visitors to hang around. Just make sure the file sizes of said images and videos aren’t large enough to slow your website down. Label your images correctly, too, in both the picture captions and alt text, and you could get keyword brownie points to boot.

Tip #5 – get links

Getting other reputable and established websites to link to your site is one of the biggest challenges of SEO. It’s one that often requires a sizeable time investment that most SMBs don’t have.

However, if you can spend some time trying to get people to link to your website, it’s incredibly valuable.

Guest blogging is one way of getting links to your site. Spend a little time looking through the blogs you like to see if they accept submissions. If you’re strapped for time, only apply to be a guest blogger through the sites that allow you to submit ideas by filling in a form.

Other tips include name-dropping influencers in your blog posts with the hope that they’ll share your article. You could even ask to interview an influencer in the hope that they will share that interview. Of course, make sure the content of anything you write is relevant to your audience.

One final tip, although again it’s time consuming, is to scroll through important industry blogs for broken links. In other words, read a few articles and see if you can find any links in them that don’t work anymore. If you find one, you can approach the publisher to see if they would consider replacing that broken link with an article on the same topic that you will publish on your website.

Tip #6 – reviews

While it takes time, effort and a good deal of networking and prospecting to get worthwhile backlinks to your website, it’s a little easier to get linkless mentions. It’s thought that Google treats linkless mentions as trust signals. One form of linkless mentions are reviews. If you have a business page on Facebook, enable the review section. If you’re in the service industry, make sure you’re listed on TripAdvisor and make sure you engage with your reviewers.

Tip #7 – Move from HTTP to HTTPS

HTTPS certificates are counted as a lightweight ranking signal by Google. That means the search engine gives them a small boost in the search rankings compared to similar HTTP sites. All you need to do to upgrade your website from HTTP to HTTPs is purchase and apply and SSL certificate from your domain or hosting seller.

Categories: Tips, SEO

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