Sometimes, small business owners don’t have the required budget or time to create and implement an SEO and social media strategy for their company. Some business owners manage the SEO of their websites by themselves, without realising the complexities and details that can potentially result in a website receiving a penalty from search engines. A good SEO and social media strategy can help small and ‘boring’ businesses to have a competitive advantage by using these important SEO tips:
1. Optimise well for local search
Local search can be really beneficial for small businesses and this opportunity should not be wasted. A really high percentage of people use search engines to research or find local companies. The Venice update has changed local organic search completely and this has introduced many new ways to improve your online presence.
You can optimise for local search by using various link building methods. Commenting on local blogs could be one of those tactics. If you know your local keywords well, it is easy to research for blogs that are talking or writing about your niche or industry. Keeping variations of target URL, for example, Google Plus business profile, company website, etc. can help to get more promising local rankings. Another method could be offering and writing guest posts on local and relevant blogs. This would require a good outreach email and useful content. Providing something useful like interesting content, sponsorships, donations, educational support to local and influential organisations, companies, universities, blogs or listings in a high quality local business directory can help to improve your local rankings considerably. If your business has more than 1 location, then having separate landing pages with content about specific locations would be ideal.
2. Do keyword research regularly and use many variations of keywords
Focusing on just one list of keywords for a long time isn’t ideal. Even the high traffic generating keywords cannot promise the same results all the time. Risk assessment and keyword research should be carried out regularly to see any change in the search pattern. People use different variations of keywords to search a specific product or service. Expanding your focus on keywords and experimenting with different variations might not be successful instantly but this method would provide an insight into users search patterns and potentially uncover profitable new keywords.
3. Make sure that the technical set up of your website is SEO friendly
Use Canonical tags and 301 redirects
One of the common SEO mistakes that website owners make is not realising that their website URLs can be viewed as both ‘www.example.com’ and ‘example.com’. In this case, search engines identify two addresses of your website with same content on them. A 301 redirect should be used to resolve this issue. Search engines also need to know which page or pages are preferred so that other pages with similar content can be ignored to avoid any duplicate content issues. A canonical tag must be used in this case.
Use image alt tags
An “alt” or alternative tag should be used on all images on a site to describe them with the help of a keyword. This is crucial for search engines and others to identify the image.
Don’t use multiple H1 tags
Even though this is quite basic but I’ve noticed more than one H1 tag on some websites lately. All other content can go under H2, H3, etc. but H1 tag should be just one. This basic mistake could damage your on-site SEO.
Don’t write long meta descriptions
A Meta Description tag should not have more than 156 characters to describe the company. The description must be short and to the point as this has limited visibility in the SERPS.
Update sitemaps regularly and minimise page crawling errors
Every website owner should use Google Webmaster Tools regularly to check how Google identifies or crawls their site. There could be many crawl errors that might be keeping your website from ranking within the SERPS. A sitemap helps search engine bots to visit the site and gather information about your website. Sitemaps need to be updated regularly to get pages indexed quickly by the search engine bots.
Avoid keyword stuffing
If your business is specialising in ‘solar panels’ and your website has the word ‘solar panels’ written too many times or in too many different forms, then you could be a potential victim of a Panda penalty.
Complete page titles and keywords
Using keywords in page titles is imperative to your SEO strategy. For example: Using ‘Support’ as page title for your support page would be wrong and ‘Company name | Support’ would be good. Adding your brand name in the page title shows legitimacy and your willingness to stand by what you are selling or trading in.
4. Have a better internal linking structure
Internal link structure can provide good value to the website and this aspect is often underestimated by businesses. A website should have a clear linking pattern of old content or posts with new posts to fully utilise all the content on the website. Referencing old and relevant content in new posts can help to provide complete information to a visitor. Make sure you update your sitemaps, add recommendations of relevant products and link to relevant old posts on your website. This strategy won’t just help to improve SEO of your website but also improve the visitors’ on-site experience.
5. Get social
Creating a social media strategy and utilising all possible social media platforms to promote your small business should be a definite yes. This is the most important way to engage with your existing and potential customers and this opportunity must be adopted to increase new and repeat visits to your website which will lead to increased profits and customer satisfaction. No niche can be ‘too boring’ to have a successful social media strategy.
6. Take the less competitive path
Apart from doing the obvious and common, like having a presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, businesses need to tap the less used path by the competitors. Research your industry and your competitors and then analyse which factors about your business can be used to gain a competitive advantage. Various ideas can be used in the form of hub sites, social media campaigns on Pinterest or being on top for data visualisations.
7. Focus on regular original content
We all know that having regular and interesting content on a website is a must. This will not only provide useful information to visitors and web surfers but also increase traffic, improve rankings, engage customers and visitors, improve social media profiles, gain powerful and natural links and improve the overall online presence. However, there are some dos and don’ts for content strategies which I mentioned in my last post.