Life can be unpredictable, but for those out there putting blood, sweat and tears into a small or medium sized enterprise, there is one eternal truth: there are never enough hours in the day. If this sounds like a problem you identify with on a regular basis, you might find yourself switching off when the world and his wife are banging on about search engine optimisation (SEO). After all, it’s more than likely that your content marketing activities are already eating up a substantial proportion of your week so its no wonder the idea of optimising your content to make it more SEO friendly might simply drop down the priority list.
However, the bottom line is: SEO matters. If you have ever felt stuck in a rut where, despite your social media channels, your online presence feels like an exercise in futility, it’s highly likely that you are neglecting one of the key digital channels in town – the search engines. The mysterious power of Google has the ability to push your business to the fore, boosting your visibility to potential customers. However, it also has the power to bury your pages back where nobody is going to see what you can offer. It goes to follow that a little SEO best practice goes a long way.
Here are five top tips to get you started…
1. Keywords are key
It’s all in the name really – think about the words which come to mind when customers are searching queries related to your business. Identifying these keywords are crucial to SEO success so that you can add them to your content and allow Google to recognise you. In the interests of saving time, a keyword research tool is invaluable. For example, SEMrush will help you identify keyword ideas and related searches for your sector as well as revealing how many people are searching for specific keywords – this helps you focus on the most important ones. But don’t get too smart and think it’s all about stuffing in as many as possible – the search engines will notice this and it will do you more harm than good. A different keyword every 150-200 words of content ought to do it.
2. Don’t forget your title tags and descriptions
An area that many SMEs simply ignore, title tags and descriptions are an essential consideration. They tell the search engines what your business is all about. They are also the words that appear in the internet browser tab and direct the customer to click so ensure you use a top keyword or phrase and keep them short, sweet and unique – copying the text for different pages could confuse the search engines.
3. Optimise your images and videos
It’s just as important to optimise any visual content you might be using on your website as well as your text. How? Use alt tags and change file names to tell search engines what the images are. Use plain English, remember to incorporate keywords and reduce the file sizes of your images – Amazon found that should their page loading time slow by just one second, they lose $1.6 billion per year as people simply do not have the patience to wait around. Read our (not so) brief guide to image optimisation here.
4. Include internal links in your award-winning content
Maintaining a company blog with internal links to multiple pages within your site is one of the best ways to climb the search engine ranks. Your first consideration needs to be that your content is high quality, and relevant i.e. based on topics your target audience is interested in. Also, you need lots of it. Why? Because you want to create internal links to lots of lovely pages. The theory is that this tactic distributes page authority and ranking power throughout your website by laying out a clear path for spiders, keeping users engaged for longer and forming a strong network linking your content together. Steer clear of simply linking to the top level pages such as the home page – instead link deep and ensure that each link is relevant to the reader.
5. Stay social
Many SMEs are savvy to the fact that dedicating time to managing social media channels is essential. But social media is not only integral to networking, promoting your business and engaging with customers, it is also a key ranking signal. Remember to ensure the link to your website is included in each different bio and that a percentage of the content you post also links back to your site – a general rule of thumb would be between 20% and 60% depending on whether the content is your own. The time-strapped SME would do well to schedule their social media time with a tool such as Hootsuite; alternatively, consider outsourcing to experts who can handle your social media while you get on with what you’re best at: growing your business.