For most small businesses, your website will be the key to the long term success of your business. It’s typically the first place people will come to find out more about your business and it is the gateway to converting prospects into actual paying customers.
A good website is essential if you want to grow your business online. Whilst it is important to look at every potential platform and assess which are most likely to bring you business, your website sits at the heart of everything you do online.
For many small businesses, it’s important to focus on your local market. These are the people who are most likely to purchase your goods and services, especially in the early days. Whilst you may have long-term expansion plans to take your business nationwide or even global, things typically start out with a local focus.
It’s important to tailor the content on your website to reflect that. Understanding your audience is one of the most important factors when it comes to designing and optimising your website.
And that brings us nicely onto the main topic of this post – how do you optimise your website in order to drive more organic visits (or to put it more plainly, how do you get more people to your website from Google)?
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process of improving your website to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines.
The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business.
With almost 95% of clicks from Google coming from results found on the first page of the search results, SEO is essentially the task of getting your website to rank on the first page of Google.
How do I get my website to rank better?
SEO is an extremely complex discipline and there are hundreds if not thousands of blog posts dedicated to helping you to improve the overall optimisation of your website. This post is going to focus on the key areas that are most important to small businesses and also the areas that you can focus on without having to bring in outside help.
If you truly want to benefit from SEO in the long-term, it is highly recommended to work with a specialist SEO agency, certainly when starting out, in order to get the basic SEO foundations right so that you can maximise the results from the work you are carrying out.
Here are some of the key areas you need to focus on when you first start out optimising your website:
The way your website is built can have a huge impact on your ability to rank for the keywords you are targeting. Most likely, this won’t fall on your shoulders, however, if you are starting out from scratch and building a website for the first tie, make sure you work with a designer/developer that focuses on SEO.
If you have an existing website and you do not have website development skills, you will need to work with a developer to ensure your website is set up properly from a technical perspective.
Important things to check with your developer when building a website include:
- Page speed – this is an important ranking factor for Google and also really important for user experience
- Site structure – your website should be structured in a way that makes it easy for visitors to navigate but that also tells Google which are the most important pages on your website
- URLs – your URLs are an important element and should be set up in a way that is intuitive to visitors and to Google. People should know what to expect when they click on a link based on the URL for that page
- Crawlable – search engines like Google use robots to crawl or spider your website. It is important that they are able to get to every page on your website by following the links on your pages. You can control the pages that you want Google to crawl and index and this is an important aspect of technical SEO
- Secure – people want to visit websites that they can trust. Your website should have the necessary SSL security certificate so it can implement HTTPS on your site and ensure no one can intercept data sent between the browser and your website
- Mobile-friendly – it almost goes without saying these days, however, you need to ensure that your developer builds your website to be easily accessible on any device, including mobile phones where the majority of searches are carried out today
There are other technical factors to consider and you can find out more in this in-depth guide to technical SEO.
As well as the technical aspect of your website, you also need to ensure the content on your website is optimised for the keywords that you believe will drive the most relevant traffic to your site.
Again, the content element of SEO is extremely complex with many different factors impacting on the overall quality of your content and therefore, your ability to rank for the keywords you are targeting.
Here are some of the most important areas of content to focus on:
- Keywords – any SEO project should start out with keyword research. It’s crucial to understand the keywords that are most likely to drive relevant traffic to your website and the keywords that have the highest volume and lowest competition
- Page title – the page title is one of the most important aspects of SEO and it is important to include your primary keywords in the page title to indicate to Google that this is the main content on the page
- Headings – as well as the page title, it’s important to include headings in your content which not only help to break the content up visually, but they also let Google know about the important information contained on the page
- Links – internal and external links are extremely important for SEO so it’s important to include them in your copy. Linking to pages on your own site helps the spiders to crawl to pages found deeper in your site structure and linking to valuable external resources shows Google that you are linking to trusted sources of information
Embrace digital platforms to grow your business online
Ranking higher in Google is only one part of the digital puzzle and whilst it’s an important one, don’t overlook other digital platforms in your bid to drive more traffic online.
There is a lot small businesses can learn from large global brands when it comes to digital marketing. Whilst they may have huge budgets and endless resources, the tactics they deploy can still be replicated by smaller businesses at a fraction of the cost.
Here are some great examples of big brands that invest in their digital platforms to grow their businesses:
Online casino Betway uses a combination of search engine optimisation, content marketing and social media in order to gain an edge in a competitive marketplace. Instead of simply providing odds on a variety of sporting events, Betway is on a mission to “provide quality betting insights” with “the most informed betting tips of any online media outlet”. This commitment to content and social media promotion has seen them grow rapidly since they were formed in 2006.
Tip: taking a three-pronged approach like Betway can really expand your reach and help you to engage with your audience.
Nike uses Facebook sparingly, specifically for their big campaigns. This is possibly due to Facebook’s algorithm that prioritises posts from family and friends on the users’ feeds.
Nike’s Facebook account still has a substantial number of followers, but their Instagram account is where a lot of their fans go for inspiration. This company posts high-quality images of their athletes in action, videos of people working on their fitness, and a lot more. Nike also uses consistent filters and their popular hashtags, like #justdoit.
Tip: As well as using SEO to drive organic traffic, Nike has taken advantage of new platforms like Instagram to promote their products in a visual way – a good approach if you have a product or service with visual appeal
Starbucks’ Facebook account is designed for providing information. They upload a lot of eye-catching photos of their drinks, and plenty of fun and colourful videos. Their Facebook also contains tabs for their store locations as well as job opportunities.
Tip: whilst your website is an incredibly important digital platform for customers to engage with your business, don’t overlook other platforms, especially those where you can connect with a local audience like Starbucks.
All of these brands use a combination of SEO, social media and content marketing in order to drive more impressions, visitors and ultimately, sales. Copying their tactics can help you to grow your business and expand from local to national to global.