Small businesses just starting their SEO campaigns may find that they are in a bit over their heads when dealing with the complexities of search engine optimisation. Many small businesses try to tackle it on their own, implementing what they believe to be good SEO that usually results in sloppily strung together search terms or stuffing keywords on contextually irrelevant web pages. Some businesses implement SEO in such a dire fashion that, in some cases, Google may regard their website as a spam site. The end result is generally a low ranking site where the website only shows up for very specific search terms, more often than not, just the domain name.
Every new startup company will face many challenges no matter what services or products are offered. Online marketing is not usually high up on any new business owners agenda. Generally speaking, it is highly likely that is not their area of expertise nor do they have the time to implement the tasks required to gain the valuable exposure that is required.
As unfortunate as it is, inadequately managed SEO campaigns are an everyday occurrence, however, it does not necessarily have to be the case for all small businesses. It is always advisable that a company signs up with an SEO agency when faced with the enormous task of search engine optimisation, the small business will then be able to run a successful SEO campaign. However, when tackling SEO, there are a few key points that should always be considered for an effective and fruitful campaign.
1. Know Your Audience
Before even starting your SEO campaign, you need to ascertain just who your primary target audience is for the type of good or service that you will be providing. The norm for most new start-ups is to focus on the company, its name and/or brand, however, by selecting specific products or product sets you will ensure that you receive more targeted traffic from potential customers who are actually interested in what it is you are selling.
2. Keyword Research
In the beginning, it may seem that the keyword(s) for any selected product or service are limited however, it is essential that a broader approach is taken with keyword selection. You have to bear in mind that the search engines such as Google, are machines and not people sitting on the other side filtering the results.
What Google thinks should match for a given search term may not be the same term that you yourself have typed in while searching for your product. It is imperative that keyword research is conducted in order to find other terms that other web surfers may use in order to try and find your product or service.
3. Optimise Your Website's Internal Link Structure
Even the most well planned and 'perfect' web page may not be found purely because of badly implemented internal linking. A well planned website should allow for users (and search engines) to flow effortlessly, taking a journey from page-to-page with relevant web pages linked to each other. A well planned internal link structure will boost your domain authority while also paving your websites way to better rankings and positions within search engine results.
4. Keyword Trends - Do Not Set and Forget!
It is very common for those starting out with SEO to plan, design and publish a web page and thinking the job has been done, then forget about it. A focus keyword which has worked very well, driving volumes of traffic in one period may not have the same affect in another.
Continuous keyword research and trend analysis must be a regular exercise with tweaks and changes being made as and when necessary. Search term trends can change fairly rapidly and you need to catch these trends as early on as possible if the intention is to maximise the potential of the SEO campaign.
5. Jumping on the Social Media Bandwagon
Social Media, the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, has taken the online world by storm. It is important to build a social media presence as early as possible. The potential of generating volumes of traffic should not be overlooked. It may be disheartening at the start of any campaign seeing single digits on your social media channels, however all businesses need to start somewhere.
As the number of followers increase, so will the potential customer pool which may visit your website. It is important to try and engage followers, increasing the likelihood that they will then share their experience and your content with their own followers.
6. Broaden Social Media Scope
Most of us know Social Media to be synonymous with the like of Facebook and Twitter, however, as any good member of the SEO community will tell you, it's important to broaden your scope and build a presence on other up-and-coming, as well as industry or product/service channels.
Go out of your way in search of these alternative websites and make your presence known! Don't limit yourself to a Facebook page or Twitter feed, sites such as Pinterest, Stumbleupon and other industry specific websites can and often do work better.
7. Original Content is King
Getting volumes of traffic to your website is only the start of the journey. Keeping visitors on your site is an entirely different kettle of fish. SEO is not just about increasing web traffic, it's also about keeping that gained traffic there. Original content will not only keep your visitors keen, encouraging them to re-visit, but it also has a positive impact on your domain authority.
Keeping a blog updated with all references done (a task for the APA annotated bibliography maker), providing community and industry or product news and reviews are great ways to capture an audience and engage with them. A visitor may not have completed a sale today, but may on their next visit. Give them a reason to both stay on your site as well as to come back again.
8. Create Traffic with a Pay-Per-Click Campaign
It takes a lot of hard work and effort to get a site ranked well within search engine results. PPC is a great way to create and drive traffic to your website where your website may not have an ideal ranking. You will be far-fetched to catch visitors when you are coming up on page 70 in web searches. PPC should be used to both compliment and supplement your on-going SEO campaign.
Most small businesses tend to shy away from using PPC due to the on-going costs associated with it and the fact that they don't quite understand how it works. A good PPC consultant will work with you and help you understand the mechanics behind PPC. A well planned and executed PPC campaign can work wonders in driving qualified traffic back to your website even with smaller budgets.
9. Patience, Patience and Patience
An SEO campaign will not get you to position 1 or even the first few pages overnight. SEO campaigns are a time consuming exercise and needs to be well planned and methodically implemented. Expectations of results and time-scales need to be kept at a realistic level. Search engine optimisation can have a profound effect on your business website and sales figures if managed in the correct manner.
There is nothing more satisfying than watching your sales conversion rates rise in-line with your web analytics. It is not uncommon for SEO campaigns to reach certain milestones in terms of months and this needs to be well understood. Don't judge the efforts of your SEO consultant or agency based on what has been achieved in a few weeks, however if it has been months and there has been no significant improvement(s), it probably is time to move on...
10. Communicate with Your SEO Agency
I always tell my clients that no one knows their products or services better than they do, not even your SEO expert. A good working relationship with your SEO agency or consultant is essential for any successful SEO campaign in every niche: from getting dental marketing ideas to building the lawyer authority web-presence.
Good communication will ensure that you are always aware of what is going on, keeping your agency up to date with industry trends and events also helps them identify new avenues and keyword opportunities. Be sure to make your voice heard and raise any concerns early on.