If you run a small business, that doesn’t mean you can’t compete with bigger, more established companies online. In fact, your business could be on the first page of Google if you leverage search engine optimisation (SEO).
Good SEO doesn’t have to cost you anything, but it can bring in new customers. Google and other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo, rank pages that have the most relevant content for each search, which doesn’t always mean the business with the deepest pockets.
Relevance is about quality, not quantity
One of the easiest ways to improve your ranking on search engines is to have content on your website that is relevant to your target customers. If you’re a landscape gardener in Melbourne, you don’t need to attract people looking for a swimming pool in Perth. So rather than trying to appeal to everyone, make your website specific to your target audience.
Think about what you would type into a search engine if you wanted to find a landscape gardener in Melbourne, such as “Melbourne landscape gardener”. If you’re not sure, try typing some words into Google and it will show you a list of the most common phrases that people enter. Specific phrases that really home in on what the searcher is looking for are called long-tail keywords. The more specific the long-tail keywords, the more accurate your search result is likely to be.
Once you have worked out the long-tail keywords that are relevant to your business, use them throughout your site. Just remember to use them in a way that’s natural – don’t stuff them into every bit of text. Search engine algorithms can detect when a site is ‘keyword stuffing’, which could lead to the website being penalised (or banned) in search results. Perhaps write some blog posts that offer useful information to your prospects and include the long-tail keywords where appropriate. This will help customers who come to your site and demonstrate your relevance to search engines.
It’s worth noting that while SEO is free, it is possible to pay for ads on Google and other search engines. Also known as SEM or PPC, this advertising can be based on specific keywords that you choose. So if your long-tail keyword is specific to your business, it may not be too expensive to purchase, placing you at the top of the page.
Make your visitors welcome
Once you get people to your site, you can still do more to improve your SEO and their experience. This includes ensuring your keywords are included in page URLs, headers and meta descriptions. It’s also a good way for your visitors to know they’ve come to the right place. After all, no one knows what www.yoursite.com/7893473021093.html is about – but they will have a fair idea what sort of information is on www.yoursite.com/landscape-ideas-apartment-courtyard.html.
Another good way to make your website more user-friendly is to ensure it’s easy to read on mobile devices. After all, 74% of Australians now rely on their phones as much as their desktops when searching for information.
The algorithms of search engines such as Google are also evolving so that they will show more preference towards ranking higher websites that are more mobile friendly and load more efficiently on smart phones.
Expand your networks
When other websites link to your site, it can improve your ranking in search engine results. This makes leveraging your networks or partnering with complementary businesses even more powerful. Ask them to link to your website, driving more traffic your way and giving your website credibility in the eyes of a search engine.
Just be careful to ensure the link is relevant to your business and that it’s done in a way that is natural and not forceful.
If it doesn’t make sense to a search engine, they may penalise your site, which means you’ll rank lower in their results.
Build brand credibility and awareness
As your business creeps up the search engine rankings, the benefits are likely to grow exponentially.
More people will see your business name building brand awareness, credibility and recall. This kind of brand karma will keep on giving long into the future.
Continuously improve your business
Monitoring your SEO efforts can also help you improve your business. Some tools, like Google Analytics, are free and can provide you with valuable information about the search terms people use to find your website and which pages they visit. It can also provide demographic insights on your visitors, such as where they live and what time of the day they search for your services. All this information can be used to improve your SEO efforts and your broader marketing and business activities.
Creating and implementing an effective SEO strategy isn’t an overnight fix, but it can bring in new customers seeking the services your business provides. A solid SEO strategy can reap benefits for your business long after your newspaper ad is being used to wrap fish and chips.
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