As we move into a new decade, many business owners will be considering strategic tactics they can take to help secure a successful year ahead. However, with everything from financial agreements and contracts, to company developments and procurement to contend with, a vital resolution often gets overlooked: investing in a robust and targeted digital strategy can often mean the difference between success and failure for businesses, and, as we move into a new decade, the influence a quality digital presence will have on businesses is only set to increase. Here are seven SEO tips to keep you ahead of the game.
Seven SEO tips for SMEs:
#1 – Make SEO a long-term strategy
It’s no secret that SEO works most effectively and sustainably when implemented as a long-term strategy, and so this piece of advice should take precedent in your resolution list. Results from SEO can take months to work at full capacity, so ensure you map out key dates in your business’s sales calendar and plan accordingly. This will ensure that long before peak activity on your website arrives, all your SEO is prepared, tested and optimised to ensure you are getting the best results for your investment. Digital strategy should include quick wins such as paid media, but also long-term actions such as content marketing campaigns which consistently consolidate Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings.
#2 – Ensure tags are correctly set up
Marketing tags allow businesses to collect information about website users, such as their demographic and behaviour – insights which can be used to inform digital and search strategy. Knowing where your traffic comes from allows you to tailor your content strategy to attract more visitors to site, while understanding how users behave once onsite can help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your site.
#3 – Join up online and offline data
Tying up your analytics and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database gives a bigger picture of the whole customer journey, allowing you to create a search strategy which encompasses the entire sale funnel. Instead of looking at the funnel in a modular way, make it your goal to marry online and offline data to give a more holistic overview of the customer journey. This allows you to make more accurate predictions about customer behaviour.
#4 – Use data to inform your strategy
Making the jump from assumption-led strategies to data-driven marketing is fundamental to resolving any outstanding SEO woes. The insights provided from tying together online and offline data give a wider view of your customer and their buying journey, and these should be used to inform SEO strategy, improving customer experience and boosting results. First party data, often considered the most valuable and accurate data, is any data which a company has collated directly from its own audience – whether it be from web analytics, newsletter subscriptions, app downloads, satisfaction surveys or customer accounts. Use this data to understand exactly who your customer is and what content will get them onsite.
#5 – Don’t neglect voice search
With Alexa and Google Home appearing in many houses, there’s no doubt the popularity of voice technology is growing. With the rollout of BERT, Google’s newest algorithm, voice results are undoubtedly becoming more accurate and reliable, which is likely to lead to people extending the scope and complexity of queries they currently use with the technology. A good starting point if you’re looking to increase your voice visibility on Google Assistant powered devices is to optimise your content to land more “featured snippets” (answers shown by Google within the search engine results pages). Your content needs to provide the best answers for the questions your target audience is asking via search.
#6 – Optimise for local searches
Whilst it’s tempting to focus on being number one nationally, neglecting your local search strategy as a small business could be detrimental to your ranking as relevance, distance and prominence are significant factors in local search rankings, so work hard to improve your Google My Business listing(s) and be sure to get listed in the most important local directors. Local search visibility is particularly important in voice queries, where a potential customer might ask Google for the best type of company in a certain area. In such scenarios, Google will read out companies that have the best Google reviews so nurture your Google testimonials to top the SERPs locally.
#7 – Improve onsite user experience
Having a user-friendly website is a key aspect of SEO. Search engines want to drive users to relevant results on high quality websites which both answer their questions and provide a good user experience (UX). Creating a good user experience (UX) involves user testing and making UX improvements to provide a better experience for the customer. This might include optimising content so users land on the most relevant page for their query, improving loading times, or implementing an easy-to-navigate site structure so customers can easily find the pages they want.
With search engine algorithms consistently developing, the most important commitment you can make to your small business is investing the appropriate time and resource into a sustainable SEO strategy which will stand the test of time and help you achieve your goals, no matter what your business objectives.
Rob Marsden is head of SEO at digital agency Search Laboratory