SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. What a dark art that feels like!
However, optimising your digital footprint for your business has never been more important. One of the reasons we all need to look at this right now is because the needs of our customers have changed radically in the last 3 months. The way we deliver our business products & services have changed too. What is already happening is that users are also searching in a new way using words & phrases we might not be ready for.
Helping Google and other browsers to find your business and use it as a prime result is not as tricky as it sounds. There are some key steps you can take that will make a big difference. Remember – it takes a consistent approach to make the real differences.
These top tips are not just about SEO for your website but includes ways to optimise all your channels.
- Start with customer need. Take some time to look at what people are now searching for in your sector. Some sectors will have more marked changes, e.g. holiday lets or leisure industry. Browse Google and use keyword checkers like Moz.com which has a 30 day free trial. Another tip is to scroll to the bottom of a Google search page and check out ‘related searches’ which will give you insight into what other phrases Google is witnessing that you may not have thought of. Notice the changes that you see. For example are people using new words like ‘clean’, ‘safe’, ‘socially distanced’ etc? Create a list of key words and phrases associated with your business. This list will help you understand what words you need to use in your business, on your website, in your bios or as part of your other communications.
- SEO Tools. Install an SEO tool onto your website. This makes managing your SEO much easier. WordPress websites benefit from using the Yoast plugin & takes just a few minutes to install. Ask your web developer to do it for you if you don’t have it. This uses a traffic light system to help you improve your SEO over time. Wix has its own version of this as does GoDaddy & Square Space. Please note ALL website MUST be mobile friendly – Google actively downgrades all non mobile friendly sites (you can check for free here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly).
- Meta Data & Alt Tags. Make sure you ‘label’ everything on your website to describe what everything is to Google. For example, make sure all your images have an ‘alt tag’ (alternative tag) that lets Google know what’s in the image. To check, simply hover your cursor over the image and words should pop up. Make sure that each page on your website has a proper description – called a meta title. You can check this by hovering over the tab of that page in your browser. It should say something like ‘Simply Great Britain | find small micro businesses in Britain’. It should not say ‘home’. This title needs to match the searches of your users closely. Nobody searches for ‘home’. You can change your Meta title on all platforms manually. It take a few moment to do and should be done well once and not changed too regularly to confuse Google.
- Use Key Words. If you have uncovered key words or phrases associated with your business or sector, and you don’t currently talk about those words or phrases anywhere, now is the time to start to use them in your content. For example, if your audience is now searching for ‘safe’ or ‘social distancing’ then think about adding a new page to your website dedicated to this subject. Alternatively, mention in your front page those key words in the body of your copy. Include links to a new page or PDF download e.g. a new Covid-19 statement on your website.
- Optimise Social Media. In addition to your website optimisation, you also need to think about the way you optimise your social media. Remember the effective ‘meta title’ of your social media platforms are the bios or the ‘about’ section of Facebook. Make sure that those are updated and match the meta title of the key page on your website. This way, Google can start to link up all your different platforms as belonging to the same business. It understands that you have a good quality, well described business. This gives it confidence to offer your business as a search result to its users.
- Google My Business. Optimise your Google My Business profile. This is crucial for all businesses. Even if your business is online only, you can have a Google business profile (the box of information that appears on the right of any Google results of your business). Make sure that you are the owner and admin of that information too. If you haven’t taken control of it Google will fill it with random information it finds on the web. Ensure that you use your key words and phrases to match as above. Ensure that you have great images of your business and that all the information is accurate.
- Use Reviews. Reviews are key to optimisation too, especially if new ones include any new key words. Make sure you’re asking for new reviews for Facebook, Trip Advisor or Google. The more you have and the more recently, the more Google and other browsers see you as a ‘live’ and ‘active’ business. If you have been closed, consider reaching out to previous guests who didn’t review at the time, to review now.
- Stay Organic. It’s important that all your key word and phrase use is organic and not artificial. What this means is that you slip in words and phrases naturally rather that stuffing your key words into every sentence. Rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it that way in every conversation, then don’t add it to your content that way. Think about breaking down your topics and key areas into Blog posts on your website.
- Google Console. If you’re feeling more confident, consider using Google Console. Part of the wider business support suite that includes Google Analytics, Console will ‘read’ your website and give you information about website speed (slow sites are downgraded), crawl errors (when Google gets stuck or can’t understand or continue to travel round your website) and any broken links.
- Stay Connected. Using links to other sites is still very important. For example, when you add your member badge for Simply Great Britain on your website, make that link directly to your page on our website. This goes for your review sites or Etsy store. It helps Google understand you are part of a wider network.