How to boost your business up the search engine rankings

SEO may seem like a ‘dark art’ but there are some simple steps you can take to make your business more visible to prospective customers.

Small business owners are often told that they need SEO to grow their business, but many don’t know why they need it, how to go about it, or even, in many cases, what SEO actually is.

If this sounds familiar, then read on. SEO might seem like somewhat of a ‘dark art’, but it is something that you can easily learn and put into practice. We’ve put together some advice and guidance to introduce you to the SEO basics and help you make SEO work for your business.

So, what is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In a nutshell, this basically means optimising a website so that it ranks as highly as possible on search engine results pages.

Think about how you use the Internet. These days, most online experiences begin with a search engine and, generally speaking, the first five results that appear get the majority of clicks. So, if your website is languishing on the second page of a google search, it’s very difficult for prospective customers to find you. And if your customers can’t find you, they may find your competitor instead.

There are a number of elements to SEO, some more complex than others. Here are some of the more basic steps to get you started on your SEO journey

Choose your keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases that people might use when searching for a business such as yours, and when it comes to SEO success, selecting the right keywords is crucial.

For the best results, you should select words and phrases that your customers already use to talk about your business, so consider carrying out some simple market research with your customers such as a short survey or some face-to-face questions.

Ideally, you’re also looking for keywords that have a high search volume combined with a low-medium level of competition. Test your preferred keywords by entering them into the free Google Keyword Tool.

Don’t forget to also include key phrases which include your local area and variations of that area. For example, Essex digital marketing company, SEO Essex Co, explain that you should target a range of keywords, which include your county, local town, and a variety of services in combination with location searches. Danny Hall says: “Always think about where your customers are and what they will search for. You might be based in the main town, but many people will first search for services more local to them, so develop a campaign that covers your entire geographic region”.

Optimisation

Once you have decided on your keywords the next step is to start optimising your website content. Search engines favour certain page fields, so by putting the right words in the right places you can help to improve your search engine rankings.

This is pretty easy to do and simply entails ensuring that a page’s keywords and phrases are included in the page title, body copy and URL. It’s also important to complete a keyword-rich meta-description for each page.

Free tools such as Boostsuite can help to flag up pages which need further optimisation.

Create regular content

Google has a preference for websites that are updated regularly, and writing relevant and engaging blog posts is a great way to keep your site updated.

Create a content schedule to keep you on track and don’t be afraid to ask other people to contribute content, whether it’s a post from a staff member or a guest blog from someone in a related field. Don’t forget to include links to relevant sections of your website where you can.

This is also a good opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your field, so make sure that the content you post is well-written and useful to potential customers. Good content also garners more views and shares on social networks, which leads us on to…

Go social

Google likes websites and business owners who are active on social media, and it tracks your social interactions such as likes comments and shares. With this in mind, it’s important to dedicate some time to social media if you’re serious about boosting your SEO.

Aside from improving your search engine rankings, having a good social media presence also offers you another way to connect with potential customers and make useful contacts.

Look past your own website

Successful SEO doesn’t just entail focusing on your own website. Looking further afield can also pay dividends.

Obtaining backlinks from trusted, quality websites can really help to improve your SEO and there are a number of ways in which you can do this. Get in touch with suppliers or people you’ve done business with and offer them a testimonial for their website if they can provide a link back to your site. Another option is write guest blogs, which has the added benefit of getting your name known in your industry.

And don’t forget your competitors. You can pick up some useful tips for your own business by reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ digital marketing activities

Taking it to the next level

Basic SEO can be pretty simple and straightforward, but it does require a fair amount of ongoing time and effort. And, as a small business owner, you may not have the resources available to dedicate to SEO activities in the longer term.

With this in mind, if you want your business to really compete in the search engine rankings you should think about calling in the experts.

SEO and digital marketing specialists come in all shapes and sizes, and can offer a number of different services. Perhaps you want to commission an agency to help you develop a SEO strategy that you can then run with, or maybe you would prefer to hire a company to devise and create regular content for your online channels.

Whatever, you’re looking for, you can be sure that a professional digital marketing company will have the expertise and resources needed to help you take your SEO to the next level.