Search engine optimisation for SMES

The world is full of entrepreneurs and Sussex certainly has its fair share. We have the most innovative and creative traders right here on our doorstep some with actual shop-fronts and others with online shop-fronts. How to you drive customers to your website? Should you be looking at search engine optimisation (SEO)?

What is SEO?

Start with the basics

How functional is your website? Is it easy to negotiate, does it engage your customers, does it use a good clean code? At this point, most people would give me one of those incredulous looks, the kind that says ‘I haven’t looked lately’ or ‘I don’t know’ or, ‘I’ve left it to the someone else to do.’

So we take a look, discussing the need for clear titles, headings and content that, should ideally be fresh, but generally hasn’t been updated in the last couple of years. It is a real challenge to run your own business and, to play marketer, in addition to running a business can be quite demanding and often the one thing that is left over until some spare time is found.

We look at the site from the point of view of the customer, if it is visually pleasing to the target market, can they locate what they are looking for quickly, purchase online or fill in a form for more details. Do remember, when looking at the site, check it out on your mobile phone – is it responsive or, are you pinching and stretching to reveal the content?

How long does your site take to load? Ideally, it should load in under 4 seconds but 3 seconds is the figure that most website designers try and aim towards.

Link building

You have probably heard that search engines establish your trustworthiness by the number of links to your site. With all the changes on how Google sets their algorithms, it is hardly surprising that smaller businesses struggle to keep up.

The links that Google is interested in are the quality links from authoritative sites and this takes time and effort. The old methods of spamming links, known as black-hat tactics, can be detected by Google and in-turn, you will find your business has a penalty. A Google penalty is not something you want to incur.

Think of link building as a relationship. Something you have to work on and much more like traditional PR.

Keywords

Do you know what your keywords are? What words are your customers typing into Google to find you? Use these words or synonyms within your content to ensure your pages reflect what your customers are seeking.

Remember that it is important to optimize your website for user experience but you don’t actually have to write the exact search terms as your content should be written well enough that the search engines can direct people using different phrases to your site.

Search engines have wised-up to practices such as keyword stuffing, they prefer to rate a well-focused page with clear titles, headings, and sub-headings.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is an essential navigation tool which technically lists all of your pages. This is essential if you have a large site with lots of content and this will play an important part in your overall rankings.

Using analytics and webmaster tools

In addition to the obvious, Google Analytics, both Bing and Google webmaster tools can provide valuable insights into the source of your website traffic. They can reveal how people and search engines navigate around your site, what works and what doesn’t work.

Websites need constant attention, performance can be measured, improved and refreshed. Google’s tools are free to use and can give you some excellent feedback.