If you want your audience to find you through search engines like Google, then you need search engine optimisation, otherwise known as SEO. Simple.
What’s not so simple, is getting to page one of the search results for your chosen keyword phrase, especially when you’re a small business with a limited budget.
It’s not an impossible feat, but it does take time, energy and persistence.
If you’re thinking that it’s not worth the effort, then remember this:
Google is where most consumers start their search for a product or solution, making SEO a core part of the vast majority of successful marketing strategies.
If you’re new to it, SEO might feel intimidating, but luckily we’re here to help.
We’ve rounded up some of our top SEO tips and tricks to get your small business started.
Ready to take on the challenge? Then read on.
Before we reveal all of our tips and tricks, let’s get you acquainted with some of the terminologies you’ll need to be familiar with before you begin your SEO journey.
The word or phrase that people type into search engines to find what they are looking for.
These are keywords or keyphrases that are longer and more specific than more common keywords. E.g. clothes-rental vs designer-clothes-rental-near-me.
Stands for “Search Engine Results Page” – the page that displays search results.
Ordering search results on the SERPs by relevance to the query.
A search engine ranking score that predicts how well your website will rank on the SERPs.
An incoming hyperlink from an external website to your own.
Research and planning tips and tricks
Heard the phrase failing to plan is planning to fail? Well, the same goes for your SEO.
It may be tempting to just ‘get started’, but if you want great results, you first need to put in some groundwork.
Here are our top tips on how to start researching and planning your strategy.
Step one: Research your audience
The first step is to understand who your target audience is and what they are searching for.
This will allow you to target keywords and phrases that will drive the right people to your website.
Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself:
- What questions do they have that you can answer?
- What are the pain points that you can help them to solve?
If you’re not sure where to begin, try entering your service into answerthepublic.com. This will pull out some of the most searched-for questions related to your service.
For example, if I search for digital marketing, these are the results:
These answers will help you to generate content ideas and inform your keyword research.
Top tip: Create a comprehensive buyer persona to really understand what makes your audience tick. You can access our free template here.
Step two: Conduct a competitor analysis
Once you’ve done your audience research, it’s time to take a look at what your top competitors are doing.
Start by looking at their SEO strategy and seeing what keywords they are targeting.
You can use free tools like Ubersuggest to help with this. Simply enter your competitor’s URL into the search bar, and it will pull out a list of their top keywords.
It will look a little something like this:
However, for more in-depth competitor research (such as position tracking and gap analysis), you’ll need to check out paid-for tools like SemRush.
Top tip: Don’t just do this once. Conduct a deep dive on the keywords your competitors are ranking for at least once every quarter (or every time you update your content plan).
Step three: Conduct your keyword research
Once you know what your audience is searching for and what competitors are ranking for, you have the information you need to inform your own keyword research.
You can also do this for free on Ubersuggest. To get started, enter a relevant keyword.
Uber Suggest will pull up the SERP stats related to the keyword, along with a list of keyword ideas that relate to the word you have entered.
A couple of figures you’ll need to look out for include traffic volume and keyword difficulty (this is a mark out of 100).
If you’re in a highly competitive industry, you can expect search volumes and the difficulty score to be high.
Once you have your list of keywords, you can begin incorporating them into a content plan, which will help you to stay on track with producing regular SEO-optimised content.
Top tip: If you are operating in a competitive sector, start by targeting long-tail keywords, which are much easier to gain traction on.
Step four: Plan and write your content
Once you’ve conducted your research, it’s time to begin generating some content!
If you’re not sure where to start, check out our 6 tips for writing great content, which covers everything from finding the perfect structure to nailing your spelling and grammar.
Remember, it’s best to create a plan that ideally includes at least one article a month to keep you on track
Top tip: If you don’t have the time to write one a month – don’t worry – do what you can! Some content is better than no content at all.
Time to optimise
Step five: Add your on-page SEO
The next step is to get your content uploaded to your website.
Once it’s on there, you can begin to share it on social media and through your email marketing to expand its reach.
However, to start generating organic traffic, you first need to make sure that your on-page SEO is fully optimised.
This means making sure that each piece of content contains the relevant keywords (without overdoing it), as well as optimising your titles, headings, and meta descriptions.
If you’re new to SEO, this is a lot to take in.
Luckily, (if you have a WordPress site) the free Yoast SEO plugin.
This allows you to enter your chosen keywords, and edit your meta descriptions and slugs.
It also gives you a list of what you’re doing well and what aspects of your SEO you can improve:
If your on-page SEO is up to scratch, you can expect to see this guy:
If there’s still room for improvement, the face will appear amber. Red means there are some problems you need to fix before hitting the ‘publish’ button.
Top tip: Remember to optimise any images before uploading them to keep your website quick and SEO-friendly. We recommend using BulkResize.
Time to analyse
Step six: Measure your results
It’s super important to track the progress of your SEO strategy over time to ensure that it’s delivering results.
This will allow you to stay ahead of the curve, and deal with any issues before they become a bigger problem.
There are a number of different ways you can do this.
Free tools include Google Analytics (GA) for data on the people visiting and interacting with your site and Google Search Console for tracking keyword rankings, impressions, organic traffic, average position, and click-through rate (CTR).
However, systems like GA can be difficult to understand and navigate (especially if you’re new to SEO).
For a more user-friendly analytics system, you’ll need to invest in tools like SemRush or Megalytics.
The downside to these platforms is that they can be quite expensive for SMEs. If you’re set on accessing paid-for analytics, it may be worth outsourcing your SEO to an agency that already uses (and pays for) them.
Top tip: Review your results every month and take note of any trends. For example, if one of your articles is generating a significant amount of traffic, analyse what made it so successful and try to replicate that in your other content.
Step seven: Keep on top of your site health
You can put all the time in the world into finding the right keywords and making sure your content is beautifully written and optimised.
However, if you haven’t taken the time to ensure your site’s health is up to scratch, your efforts will be wasted.
That’s why understanding and taking care of your website’s health is an absolute must.
A healthy website is a fast website, which is essential for SEO as site speed is a ranking factor.
It’s also important for user experience; if your site takes too long to load, people will click off and go elsewhere.
There are a number of factors that can affect your site’s speed, including large images, unoptimised videos, and so on.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to check your site speed is by using GTMetrix.
This is a free tool that generates a report showing what’s slowing your site down. From there you can figure out where you need to focus your attention.
The second step is to reduce as many site errors and warnings as possible.
We rely on SemRush to manage ours, however, we know many SMEs simply do not have the budget to pay for tools like this.
There is a range of free tools that can tell you where some errors are occurring, including Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, Ubersuggest and so on.
The tip of the iceberg
And that’s it! We hope you found our SEO tips and tricks for SMEs helpful.
But we have to admit…
This article only covers the tip of the iceberg when it comes to generating sustainable organic traffic (it would need to be a whole book to cover everything – and we know you have other things to be getting on with!).
This guide is a great place to start, but the reality is that you’ll need to spend a lot of time and effort on it to make a real impact.
So what’s the answer?
To get the most out of your SEO, we always recommend investing in the help of a specialist who knows the best SEO practices like the back of their hand.
If you’d like to find out more about what SEO can do for your business or need a hand in getting your strategy started, get in touch.