Does this sound like you?
We’ve all been there. Trust me.
New clients often tell us that they have tried SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and it didn’t work.
Almost always there is no hint of surprise or irritation. Just a resigned sigh of defeat.
“What SEO exactly did you do?” I ask, “What sort of thing were you doing that didn’t work?”
“Not really sure. A blog post and something else. I paid someone to do it for me but it didn’t work so I stopped it.”
“You need to stick with it you know… it doesn’t happen in a matter of weeks.”
“I know, but it’s too much bother.”
“It’s too complicated”
We’ve heard these two stock responses many times.
It does take time.
SEO is technical and you do need a strategy.
It is not cheap and it is not quick.
Just weaving your chosen 3 keywords into your text over and over is not going to do a thing, other than make most of your text unreadable and unprofessional.
I’ve even seen professional copywriters websites weaving awkward sentences together to get ‘professional copywriter cardiff’ into a sentence 5 times on the same page.
But giving up is pointless.
Everyone in business has a website. You know that. Everyone starts their search for a service, or a product, on the internet.
This could be on their PC, or a smartphone. It could be in business hours, or in the middle of the night. Your website is essential, and that’s a given.
But no-one finds it.
Even you can’t find it, even when you’re typing in things you know people search for.
If you built it yourself you start to think you did it wrong.
If you paid someone you now think they haven’t done their job.
But just having a website doesn’t mean it ranks.
Then one day an email pops up in your account.
The headlines scream “Do you want more traffic? We can get you on Page one. Guaranteed!”
So you reply to the email, and end up signing up for a couple of hundred pounds a month for something you have no idea about.
They mentioned something about backlinks, meta-something, blog comments and keywords and sounded like they knew what they were on about.
It sounded an awful lot of work and as you do not know how to do it, it makes sense to get them to do this.
The problem is a couple of hundred pounds a month is a cost you can ill afford. However, it seems a good deal, and it did sound right, even if you didn’t know what they were talking about.
So you sign up.
After 1 month you’ve spent £200 and the phone hasn’t rung once. You see no results.
The website looks no different.
“Are they actually doing anything?”
You speak to the SEO company and they urge you to stick with it and again, mutter about backlinks, blog posts, keywords, and titles.
They send you an email and it says they are adding hundreds of bookmarks and article comments and a whole lot of words you have no idea what they mean. Sounds good. Hundreds? Bargain.
Nothing happens overnight you are told.
So you run another month.
A month later it’s the same result – only now you have spent £400 and still the bloody phone hasn’t rung and your website is languishing somewhere out there.
“It’s a con. I knew it” you say and cancel the contract on the spot.
Yes. We’ve heard that story a lot.
“You get what you pay for”.
Heard that a lot too. To death.
When it comes to SEO here’s a pretty good rule to follow.
If it’s cheap.
Your business is your livelihood, yet you trust someone to market it based on who can do it for the cheapest cost. Your business is worth more than that.
What appears to be complicated and confusing needn’t be. It’s knowing where to start.
Educating yourself so you can make an informed decision is essential. As buyers we do it when looking to buy a new washing machine or car. We research the goods. We discover why the product is good and why people use them.
Or we think ‘That’ll do and for that price if it lasts a few years I suppose it’s alright’.
Sadly this is rarely the case when it comes to websites and small businesses and their SEO.
Learning to implement, or at least understand, your own SEO strategy is the most cost-effective way of promoting your website to generate leads, visitors and customers.
It’s not something you do for a month or two and then stop. It’s ongoing. Every month. For ever and ever.
It does take time.
It is technical and you do need a strategy.
It is not cheap and it is not quick.
So what things can you, as a busy small business owner, implement yourself?
What is a Business Citation?
A business citation is:
‘Any web-based reference of your local business’ name, address and phone number’
Right now you are online. You are reading this. It’s either on a desktop PC, a tablet or a smartphone.
Whatever you search for next will probably be using a search engine such as Google or Bing, Google or Apple maps, or a social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
All of these provide businesses with the opportunity to create a listing of their business.
It can include a description, images, website address, videos, hours of opening, phone numbers, examples and the best of all – reviews.
Now find out how many of these citations you have. Test it out. If you can – Here are 10 to get you started.
Google My Business
That’s not ‘THE’ list. That’s your starting point.
We add citations on a weekly basis to many websites, 5 years or more down the line. I’ve been adding 2 a month to the Designers Up North site for what seems like eternity. It’s not something you do once and walk away.
You need to be consistent in your approach and ensure each and every citation is exactly the same as your Google My Business listing.
Consistency is key.
Getting backlinks to your website can be a hard slog.
But what if you could create valuable links to your site – from your own website?
Internal linking provides every website owner with the opportunity to link pages of their website together – providing you have enough content. If you do this well, the results can be staggering.
Knowing how to structure your internal links means working with an experienced SEO, or doing a lot of reading.
Diving onto your website and just creating lots of internal links to various pages could end up damaging your site’s SEO if you have no strategy behind it.
The key is research. Research proves vital when planning an internal linking strategy.
If you want to do this yourself then we recommend using Ahrefs, Screaming Frog and SiteBulb for research. We use all 3 to provide a rounded view of a site, but using just one will provide you with a wealth of knowledge that gives you an instant advantage.
What you are looking to do is make your website easier to navigate for your customer. If your article is about SEO (like this one is) and you have another article on your website that shows how you can increase web traffic, link to it. It’s of interest in the context of your article and provides benefit.
The added bonus is it also makes your website easier to crawl for search engines.
Ask your webmaster or web designer to provide you with an audit of your website using any of the above and start planning your internal linking strategy today.
Get a Faster Website
Having a faster website naturally increases your rankings and most importantly provides a great user experience for your visitor.
Through a combination of optimising content, reducing image sizes, caching, minifying and providing a CDN you can achieve an awful lot of improvements to your website audit.
There will only be so far you can push these results without upgrading your web host.
It’s unrealistic to expect a hosting package of £3 a month to be as good as a premium web host that costs ten times that.
GoDaddy currently stop you from adding caching plug-ins which speed up your site. They insist on you using their own version, even though there are superior versions available.
WP Engine are an example of a premium web host. They will make your site as fast as possible for you, using their own system which is controlled server-side.
That means no hassle, managed hosting.
Paying for a premium host such as this can be the difference between a super-fast website or a slow and clunky experience.
Find your website speeds out with Google’s own speed test here >
If you can get 100% from Google, you know you’ve done all you can.
You know you have lots of satisfied customers and clients. But how does everyone else?
Reviews. Dead simple.
Reviews provide a recognised referral from a satisfied customer, and can even work for you if you get a negative one. It’s the perfect opportunity to show your customer service in a reply.
But where do you start to get them?
There are many ways to get reviews, and you can find them everywhere when you start to look.
You can even create a link that takes people directly to your Google review, here’s ours:
We’ve all seen them on Facebook and Google. If you’re a regular user of Linkedin you will see lots of backscratching going on between businesses via reviews.
Depending on your business you could get a wide range of reviews from sites you hadn’t thought of.
If you sell a product then Amazon’s Customer Reviews are the holy grail, if you are in the hospitality industry then TripAdvisor is your best friend, or your nemesis.
What about Trustpilot or Which? Yelp or Foursquare?
You see, reviews can come from just about anywhere but very few businesses actively seek out reviews, which is a shame.
When we’re commissioned to build a website we will often receive some text for a testimonials page. What we often find out is that those testimonials have been received by email, rather than found online.
If you’ve taken the trouble to speak to an existing client to ask for a testimonial, it doesn’t take much more effort to get it as an online review.
Reviews are a definite ranking factor for your website, Google has confirmed this, but just as importantly they can make the difference to your customers.
You’ll tend to see that only companies with a strong review foundation rank in Google Maps.
This example shows that the top 3 results in Google’s Map Pack all have a minimum of 15 reviews each.
Anyone not in those 3 results needs to be working hard to shift those already there.
Following these 4 simple tips would start that journey to build a more solid web presence and increased ranking.