Is your website a wasteland? Follow these great search engine optimisation tips to give it some vavavoom.
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From content marketing to local search, there a few neat SEO tricks small businesses can apply without a big outlay of time and money.
1. Revisit existing content
The internet is saturated with content. The rise of ‘content marketing’ has largely resulted in a flood of tick-box content that really underwhelms. This opens up a great opportunity for smart businesses who take the time to revisit older content to make it better.
Check for content that drives traffic to your website already and, if you can, check what keywords are driving traffic to this page and where you rank. You can use Google’s Search Console to see what keywords are sending you traffic as a free option.
Use free tools such as Answer The Public and Google Trends to explore keywords that are also relevant to your user. These typically include questions (how does, what is, etc) as an example.
Take these questions and provide the answers. This not only packs out your content but offers real value to your user. Supplement this with strong imagery, videos, and other rich media and you’ll soon see the results.
Whilst others are obsessed with getting the next piece of content out, you’ll be building on your existing content and making it stronger, resulting in a more relevant result for the user, a more informative piece for others to link to, and therefore a more relevant result for the search engine to display.
2. Locally does it
So many businesses fail to register/claim their business online, and this can lead to missed opportunities when it comes to ranking locally. Use the free local listing checker from Moz to check if your business is on the map with some of the more influential directories out there.
Ensure that you claim your listings, and make sure that each profile is up to date and that the information displayed is consistent. Fill out the profile with extra content such as photos, brochures, opening times, etc.
Local search will be big in 2017
It goes a long way to help signal to the search engine that you’re a real business and by correlating the data, it can help to establish what your core products and services are so that you benefit from improved visibility.
3. Pretty pictures, powerful position
Link building is hard. It’s time consuming and needs a lot of attention, and doesn’t always end in good news. One fantastic tip for link building is to focus on creating really strong imagery for your content. The idea here is to make it so strong and useful, that others will want to use it. This is particularly powerful for diagrams or explainer images that help to communicate a particular problem or solution.
Use Google Image Search and make a reverse image search by uploading your image, to find others who are using it. As the creator and owner, you can contact these websites and ask that a credit link is used in exchange for usage of the image.
Most people will be very quick to oblige, since the image is already adding value and it’s a lot more effort to create one from scratch.
4. Optimise for voice search
With the huge rise in mobile searches, there really isn’t any excuse for ignoring it any longer. Research has shown that we’re becoming more confident and savvy in using our smartphones to find what we want. More of us are using virtual assistants such as Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, to find the information we need.
It’s noticeable by the data being gathered, that we use more words when searching for things by voice. We speak in a conversational tone as opposed to a shortened keyword search, since it’s more natural to do so.
For example, we’re more likely to type in ‘Thai restaurant London’ when typing a keyword searches we’ve become more web savvy over the past few years. However, when using voice search we’re more likely to speak more naturally, for example, “What are the best Thai restaurants in London?”.
By answering frequently asked questions for your users on key service and product pages, you’ll be able to capture extra traffic.
Vocal search, SEO is no longer just about text
5. Watch your speed
A common problem amongst small business websites is a lack of awareness for page speed, and the positive (quick speeds) and negative (slow speeds) effect that speed can have not only for your users, but on your rankings too.
Google has indicated that page speed is a ranking signal, and they provide a free tool to measure ‘PageSpeed’. You will be able to identify how fast or slow your website is, and can take the necessary actions to improve it.
To start with, make sure that you’re optimising your images for web using Photoshop, Pixlr (free) or similar. These programs will help to compress the image size right down with only a little loss in quality. Many cameras take photos that are around 3-5mb in size and uploading these direct to your website can slow it down considerably.
Removing plugins from content management systems such as Wordpress can also be a quick win. If you’re not making good use of a plug-in, then it’s best to get rid and save yourself the loading time. Similarly, look for other plugins that do the same job, but load quicker.
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load and 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. That’s not a lot of room for error! However, it’s also an opportunity to provide a better experience than your competitors and to get in the fast lane (sorry) to online success.
Alex Minchin is the founder and managing director of digital marketing agency, Zest Digital. Zest leverages search engines, data, and design, to fuel business growth for their clients through increased leads and sales.