on page SEO for micro businesses

what is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is a popular service provided by those who specialise in digital marketing. The general idea of investing time and money into SEO is for your website to rank higher in the search engines, for a particular search term or keyword.

The popularity of search engines such as Google and Bing to name a few, have given rise to a whole industry of digital marketing professionals who obsess over ranking factors and changes in Google’s algorithm.

wtf is SEO?

A lot of business owners who we speak to, reference SEO as a dark art and something that if you know how to do it then you’ll automatically rise above in rankings. It’s not as simple as that, but it is simple, and you definitely don’t have to be a ‘digital marketer’ or an SEO expert to rank yourself competitively in the search results.

how to understand SEO?

When looking at where to start with SEO, we find it helps to break it down into the following categories:

  1. On Page SEO - How search engines read your website/web pages (internal)
  2. Off Page SEO - Who links and shares your website/web pages (external)

what is on page SEO?

If you are serious about wanting to drive traffic to your website from search engines such as Google, then you’ll have to focus on your website first. The general idea is that if a website visitor can have a good experience on your website, then search engines will rank your website favourably. Here are a few considerations that search engines like Google want websites to have before ranking them favourably:

  • Mobile Responsive - Your website can fit and scale to different mobile devices (smartphone/tablet)
  • Page Speed - Your website takes under 3 seconds to load the majority of pages
  • Titles, Tags, Descriptions - Each web page is using descriptive terms and keywords

how to make my website mobile responsive?

It is pointless spending time, money and resources optimising your website for SEO if your website is not mobile responsive. This may seem like you have to spend more money on your website and marketing before getting any results, and to a degree this is true. However, costs of creating a website have decreased significantly over the last 3-5 years, and paying more than £1k can be questionable at times if your website is simply, informational and 4-5 pages.

how to improve my page speed?

The quick win to improve your page speed will be to optimise all of your images on the website and make sure that they are condensed down to the lowest size as possible. After that, you’ll be looking at technical issues such as server configuration, optimising plug ins, using Google’s new AMP (accelerated mobile pages) project and minimising javascript and condensing CSS.

how to use titles, tags and descriptions?

When optimising your website, it’s helpful to choose one keyword for each webpage, this will allow Google to see that you’re being specific and targeted. For every page on your website you should look to have a target keyword in the following:

  1. Keyword should be in the URL
  2. Keyword should be in web page title (meta title)
  3. Keyword should be in the description of the web page (meta description)
  4. Keyword should be in the first header (h1 tag)
  5. Keyword should be in the first 150 words
  6. Keyword should be used when describing images on the webpage (alt text)

After this is done, make sure your web page text is organic, clear and helpful to the end user. Adding in more keywords will not improve your ranking and will actually penalise you. If you want to be really clever then map out the synonyms of your keyword and use them instead.

how to know what keyword to use?

Above is a template you can follow when looking to optimise your website, although, the difficult part now is finding what keywords to use. There are many tools available that will help you find the keyword volumes such as Keyword Planner. Depending on how authoritative your website is and it’s ability to compete with competitors, you’re likely to choose a more competitive term. It’s helpful to discuss this with your team and think about what keywords are quick wins and easier to rank for, and what keywords are difficult and longer term goals.

Just because one keyword may have the highest volumes per month, it may not be the best for you. Sometimes it is best to pick one that has a moderate amount of volume but low competition.

what about off page SEO?

This is the other aspect of SEO and terms such as link building, guest blogging, shareable content etc, can be related to Off Page SEO.

Search engines, such as Google, rank websites that have been endorsed by other websites. This shows a form of social proof and authority and in return, will rank you favourably. The way for Google to recognise this is through web links (hyperlinks). This is a noisy area when it comes to digital marketing and can quickly become confusing.

There are a lot of people who game the system by buying links and using PBNs (personal blogging networks) in order to dupe Google (and other search engines) into believing that the links shared are genuine and have authority.

These types of tactics and strategies are labelled as black/grey hat techniques. They can, and have worked for many business owners, agencies and digital marketing professionals, however, it’s a pyrrhic victory and it won’t lead to sustainable growth over time. You’ll run the risk of being penalised and having to start over, and it also fuels an industry of one trick ponies, the ‘SEO professional’.

To win at Off Page SEO, this will require application of the marketing mix; social media, PR, content creation (writing/video/graphic design), consumer behaviour and most importantly industry knowledge.

where can i find out more about on page SEO?

We will be launching a new workshop for micro businesses in 2017, covering all the important areas of On Page SEO, showing you how to do it for yourself! Stay tuned.