10 Step Guide to SEO for SMEs

         When it comes to marketing, a website is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools a small business can have. For SMEs, the inte...

         When it comes to marketing, a website is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools a small business can have. For SMEs, the internet provides the perfect opportunity to showcase a brand, products and services with few barriers to entry. Acting as a virtual shop window, a website gives companies access to a wide, diverse market with no geographical boundaries. But simply having a website won’t guarantee success: to generate business, you’ll need the help of search engine optimisation (SEO). In this guide, we explain what SEO is, and how to build your own strategy for small to medium sized businesses.
The point of SEO is to ensure your website ranks in Google (and other major search engines) for keywords and phrases of relevance to your business. Lets say you’re an electrician based in Canterbury. If someone searches for ‘PAT testing Kent’ in Google, you’ll want to make sure your website appears in the results – and preferably on page one. A good SEO strategy will help you achieve this. Google holds over 94% of search traffic in the UK. Without SEO, you could be missing out on huge volumes of traffic to your website, from people who could become customers.

The Ten Step Guide to SEO

SEO covers two areas: onsite and offsite. With Google’s latest algorithm changes (known as Panda and Penguin), there’s no way to ‘cheat’ with quick-wins. To be ranked highly in Google search results, you’ll need to create relevant, original web content, pay attention to the coding of your site, and gain backlinks to show your value to the wider online community. SEO is a long-term game, and our ten step guide will help you get off to a good start.

1.    Keywords – at a glance

First up, you’ll need to decide upon the keywords you wish to target. Draw up a long-list of keywords you think will draw in your target market.  These are often referred to as search terms.

2.    Assessment

Assess your current website by finding out where your website ranks for these keywords. You may find that your site is optimised for irrelevant keywords, or perhaps you’re nowhere to be seen on Google for the search terms that are important to your business.

3.    Keyword Analysis

Run a keyword analysis on your long-list of keywords, so your SEO campaign is based on facts rather than assumptions.  You need to understand how many people are searching for each of your keywords on Google, then alter your keyword list accordingly as to what terms are popular and have high traffic search figures.

4.    Traffic and Competition

Disregard keywords with little or no traffic. Instead, choose keywords with low to medium competition, and good levels of traffic.

5.    The Buying Journey

Focus on keywords as far down the buying journey as possible. These are more likely to attract customers with the intention of buying, or making an enquiry.  Generic keywords might provide you with increased traffic to your website but it’s about quality not quantity.

6.    Onsite Content

Optimise your onsite content by selecting one web page for each keyword. Then, write your copy in a natural, authentic style with a keyword density of around 1%.

7.    Website Coding

Ensure your website meta data, tags and image alt tags contain the relevant keyword – additionally the page titles need to reflect the search terms you have chosen.

8.    Backlinks

Gain ‘organic’ links to your site from other sites by guest blogging, participating in online discussions and maintaining a strong social media presence.

9.    Ongoing Analysis

Continually assess your SEO campaign, gathering metrics including conversion rates, user journeys and exit pages.  Google Analytics is essential in this process.

10.    Adaptation

Tweak your keywords according to your findings. For example, your time is best focused on keywords with a conversion rate of 60-70% – so cull any under-performing search terms.
A recent report on SMEs revealed they are looking to spend 40% more on SEO in 2013, and for good reason. By investing time, effort and money on a well-researched, intelligent SEO campaign, your business will see success rates soar. Get in touch to chat SEO further or do you have any hints for your guide to SEO.

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