In the first part of “SEO Tips for Small Businesses” we covered the need for Search Engine Optimization and our first two tips:
- Build links
- Regularly update your website with fresh content
Continue reading three more important pieces of advice…
3. Recognise the Importance of Social Media
Recent years have seen social media channels like Facebook and Twitter revolutionise the way in which organisations interact with their customers. They can now instantly publish information about new products or services, generate interest in their brand through regular posting and get a feel for the market by simply monitoring what’s going on in the social media community.
If used in the right way, a social media account can also improve your ‘search-ability’. Indeed, making a post on Facebook or ‘tweeting’ on Twitter has become a key element in many businesses’ SEO strategy. This is because search engines like content that is shared, ‘retweeted’, re-blogged or otherwise. So if, for example, a ‘tweet’ containing a link to your website is ‘retweeted’ by 50 people, the robots at Google, Bing and Yahoo will deem your website to be more authoritative and therefore more worthy of a higher position in the results pages. The influence (i.e. number of followers) of those sharing your content also plays a significant role in determining your website’s authority.
Of course the best thing about social media is that it’s free. You can create an account and begin posting immediately. There are a number paid services which can help you boost your following, but these are not essential.
Blogging and Bloggers
A blog can help your search engine ranking in two ways. Firstly, if incorporated within your website it gives you a handy platform for creating fresh new content, the benefits of which are outlined in Tip Number 2. Secondly, if created as an external microsite it can be used to link directly back to your products and services in a way that is both discrete and effective.
Of course, the blog itself needs to have a decent following (or ‘authority’) for this to have any significant SEO benefits, which is why many companies will pay for a more established blogger to do the link-building for them. That person will usually get paid for every click a link receives.
For small businesses this may not be a viable option. An alternative would be to send out one or two products as giveaways and allow bloggers to review them.
4. Sign up to Google Analytics
One of the keys to successful SEO is to know which techniques are working and which are not. This allows you to adjust your strategy in order to get the best results. Tip Number 4, therefore, is to register with Google Analytics – an online application that gives you a clear indication of how your website is performing. It shows you how users are interacting with your website, where they are landing, where they are leaving, and where they are coming from in the first place. Perhaps most importantly it shows which keywords are bringing users to your site.
This is all valuable information that helps you to better understand consumer behaviour. It also enables you to fine tune your SEO strategy. For example: if your website is receiving a lot of visitors from one of the online directories you registered with, then you’ll know to register again next year. If you see that a particular page is causing a lot of visitors to leave your website, then you know you’ll have to review its content. If you notice that most visitors are being drawn towards one particular product or service that you offer, then you know it’s worth your while promoting it.
Remember that the market is very much a moveable feast and the behaviour of consumers is constantly changing. That’s why the performance of your website must be constantly monitored rather than periodically checked.
5. Follow the guidelines provided by Google – and be patient
If there’s one thing you’ll have gathered from this blog post so far it’s that the search engines are the ones who call the shots. It’s their algorithms that determine your position in the results pages, so ultimately you have to do what they say whether you like it or not!
The best course of action (in lieu of bringing them down from the inside) is to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines – these provide detailed advice on the kind of SEO practices that will improve your rankings and the kind that will lead to a penalty and subsequent exile from the upper echelons of the results pages.
Search engines (and particularly Google) are notorious for changing their algorithms, so it’s advisable to keep checking the guidelines and reviewing your SEO strategy accordingly.
You also need to be patient. Don’t expect all your hard work to deliver immediate results. It can take weeks or even months for your website to start climbing those rankings. But if you stick at it and avoid bad practices, it will happen.