SEO 2014: A beginner's checklist for SMEs
SMEs often don’t have the capacity to hire an SEO expert. However, these 7 simple tips can be easily carried out with minimal resources and will help drive traffic to your business website.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It sounds simple enough, but how do you actually do it? Isn’t it about creating volumes of content, spending hours of time and big bucks developing content? Not anymore.
SEO is about ensuring that as many people as possible find your website through major search engines, such as Google or Bing. A website’s search ranking depends on many factors.
Let’s start with the content on your site. SEO involves ensuring that all text is relevant and includes the right keywords, from titles and photo descriptions to the content of the articles you write and how often new content is added.
Your ranking will also depend on your site performance. This will include how easy the site is to navigate, page loading time and how high the bounce rate is (the percentage of visitors who land on a site and leave immediately before viewing other pages).
Finally, your search engine position will depend on whether others use your site as an authoritative place to get information. Links from someone else’s website drive traffic and push you up the rankings.
Seven tips to improve SEO and drive traffic
1. Understand your customer: Use Google Analytics to help you develop a picture of who your website visitors are, how they get to your site and what they spend their time reading. Think about the keywords that they would likely use to find your site.
2. Develop relevant content: Everyone knows that content is vitally important, but it’s not simply a matter of blogging away and ensuring that there is volume. The key is relevance. Are your articles relevant to your audience? Are they reading them? Make sure you understand what your keywords are and they appear prominently in your material.
3. Keep your customers up to date: Add a blog or latest news page where you can showcase updated content to keep the website fresh. Don't copy and paste information around your website – try to ensure that as much as possible is unique.
4. A picture paints a thousand words: When using pictures, ensure that you use keywords in the labels, both in the caption and the ‘alt tag’ function.
5. Create links: Work with other organisations to develop links back to your site. You can achieve this by writing a guest article for another website, commenting on someone else’s article or being listed in a directory. Don’t spam other sites to get links though as it could damage your reputation.
6. Understand your keywords: If you know the buzzwords that get your audience chatting, you’ll be able to pepper them throughout your website to ensure you draw the right traffic. Try to find your niche and be as specific as possible.
7. Be sociable: Finally, tell people about your site. When you create great content, broadcast it through social media and make sure you have buttons linking to your social platforms. Talk to people, reply to comments in a timely manner, monitor what people are saying and try to develop meaningful conversations.
To really get the most out of your marketing strategy, you also need to build your virtual presence. You need to be able to shout about your achievements, or better still, get someone else to shout about them. Consider which social media channels are right for you, and make it easy for people to find your website through them. If you’re creating content for people to share, make sure you include your web address so that customers can find their way back to your page.
SEO isn’t a static process. Neither is it a tick-the-box exercise. It’s a cyclical process. You may find that you’re constantly tweaking and changing your website to achieve this, but that doesn’t mean you’re constantly getting it wrong. It means you’re persistently striving to get it right.