7 basic SEO tips to help your business get started

Author
Chris Danks
Digital Marketing Executive | Business West
15th July 2014

Getting to grips with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics is essential to increase traffic to your website and therefore improve the opportunity for sales and lead generation.

First off you need to understand what SEO is all about. SEO is the process of improving the position or ranking of web pages in the natural or unpaid results of search engines. It consists of many elements including website structure, social media, and links. But in the end it all comes down to the words and phrases people enter in to the search engine to find what they are looking for.

But how important isit  to appear at the top of Google? Research has shown there’s a strong correlation between how high a web page appears in the search results and how many visitors it receives. And with an average of 6 billion searches per day on Google it’s clear that search engines are the primary tool used to navigate the web.

In the rest of this blog I’ll outline 7 elements that should be considered a key part of your SEO efforts.

Website

Before beginning to look at improving SEO it’s important to ensure your website is functional and accessible, written in clean code and laid out with your customers’ journey in mind.

Search engines struggle to read and index certain types of content. If your website is image heavy, flash based or uses Javascript to provide links it may not make it into the search engines at all. In most cases URLs should be short,  static,  contain relevant keywords and be without any complex parameters appended to the end.

Perform a review of your website. It’s essential to sort out the basics including site structure and design before spending time elsewhere.

Keywords

Keywords are fundamental to the process of searching. They are the words or phrases your customers will enter in order to find your product. Search engines scan the words on your site and categorise your content accordingly, it’s therefore integral to research first what your audience will look for and then place these words or phrases prominently on your website.

You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to find the right keywords and view the number of potential searches they might achieve. Don’t forget that it’s not all about single words. The majority of people will enter longer, more conversational search terms, for example “Export training courses in Bristol”.

There is no magic number for the amount of times to use a keyword on the page. But Moz, a leading inbound marketing company, suggests placing keywords in the following positions:

  • Page title tag
  • Top of the page or heading
  • 2 to 3 times in the body copy
  • Image alt attribute.
  • Page URL.
  • Page meta description

If you’re not familiar with some of these have a look at this image from Moz which clearly explains how to perfectly optimise a web page

Links

Links are considered to have the most impact on your websites search ranking because they are used to gauge trustworthiness, authority and popularity.

Both the amount and the quality of pages that link to your website are examined by the complex algorithms search engines use.

Increasing the number of links pointing to your website is therefore a key part of SEO, but also one of the most challenging.  Don’t rush and start requesting links at every available opportunity.  Take the time to plan a strategy. Popular ways to begin building links include requesting links from loyal customers, adding your company to business directories and creating useful shareable content.

Understanding how links work on your own site is also useful. Search engines pull context from the text used within a link. Make sure you link the words that clearly describe what’s on the page. Don’t make the common mistake of linking the text “click here”. Consider the examples below. The second option is prefered by search engines, but also adds more context for users.

1. For more information click here

2. Read more information about Business West Membership 

Content

When you have selected the right keywords for your site you can begin to look at evaluating your content and building links.

Start by improving your existing pages. Reword so they are interesting and engaging for your customer and include your keywords.

The next step is to create original, appealing and useful content. Make the most of the skills that exist within your company. Use the subject matter experts within your business to create informative content which will be beneficial to your customers.

Focus on people first. Creating content that adds value will increase shares, attract links and keep customers coming back for more information.

It doesn’t just have to be blogs. If you have the time and ability, constructing infographics, podcasts or videos is a great way to interact with customers.

For more information on writing content view our blog: 7 pointers to help you blog like a business pro

Local Search

Optimising your website for local search queries will help improve your local search presence and increase the chance of potential customers finding you in local search results.

It’s especially important due to the rising increase of searches from mobile devices which utilise location based data.

Add your name, address and telephone number to your website using crawlable HTML.

Create an account on Google Places and then setup a Google+ local page, placing your business on a map of the local area. Encourage your customers to post reviews and engage with you.

Join local business directories such as Yell or the  Business West members directory.

Social

Social media is an important part of your digital marketing and is the perfect medium for you to engage with both existing and potential customers. But it has also become an essential part of an SEO strategy.

In a similar way to links, having your content shared by social media uses with a strong reputation is beneficial. Particularly for Google+  which now includes personalised content in search results, boosting pages which have been shared by contacts in your circles.

Analytics

Review your website analytics to determine whether the changes you’ve made to your website, as well as efforts to build links and develop a social media following are working. Key metrics to look at include:

  • Traffic type
  • Visits from specific search engines
  • Visits from specific search terms and phrases
  • Landing pages of search engine visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Goals completed or conversions

There are plenty of both free and paid analytics tools out there to use. At the very least get your website onto Google Webmaster Tools which will give you access to stats on the average position of your website for various search queries, data on who is linking to your website and advice on fixing HTML problems or broken links.

In this blog I’ve tried to give you an overview of the elements that make up an SEO strategy as well as a few practical tips for things that you will be able to improve straight away. But because organic search is likely to remain the top driver of traffic for most websites, it’s worth investing some time into developing a SEO strategy tailored to your business.


If you’d like more information on SEO take a look at a few of these useful resources.


About the author

Chris works as an enforcer of digital strategy and support to Business West’s online presence. He’s passionate about digital analytics, SEO and improving your web experience.

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here