Let's take a look at some simple but powerful SEO tips everyone can do themselves.
Hopefully if you are reading this you already know how important SEO is to getting your website found in search engines, and let’s be honest by search engines we really mean Google. Google continues to dominate the search engine marketing place in 2019 with over 92% market share.
In order to keep themselves as the default choice for search, Google is continually updating the way they present information when you do a search. The search results pages are known as SERP’s and they have changed a lot over the last few years.
Before we get into the specific tips it’s important you know what these changes mean and how you can take advantage of them to help your website be the most useful resource for your product or business area. Lets look at some of the big changes.
Google knows that more people surf the internet on a mobile than they do on a desktop and they want to ensure they deliver a great experience for these users. Google will always try and show the most relevant results to any search and they one of the factors they have used for a long time in deciding the position of the search results is the mobile experience that a website delivers a user. However Google recently announced that from July 1st in the UK all new sites would have the mobile version of their site crawled by Google. This is called mobile 1st indexing and its kind of a big deal. You can seem more about this in this rather helpful article from Google themselves.
The speed of your site will impact how well you get ranked in search. If your site doesn’t load quickly you will be losing money as a result. Slow sites dont’t rank as well in search and as importantly your users will leave your site. If you site doesn’t load in 3 seconds you need to work with your web developer to optimise your site for speed.
There has been a huge rise in “near me” searches over the past couple of years. For example searches like, “restaurant near me” or “Builder in location” have been growing in popularity. This will also become more important with the rise in voice activated searches in devices like Alexa and Google Home. In fact from 2015 there has been a 900% rise in near me searches. This means businesses need to ensure they are being found when local users are searching for relevant terms.
3 things all local businesses should do for SEO
The great news for a proactive business owner is that you can take advantage of these trends to make sure you are benefitting from these trends and the huge growth in near me searches. With a little effort you can stack the odds a little more in your favour.
1. Claim your Google My Business listing
It’s amazing how many businesses still don’t take notice of probably the most powerful local business SEO tool. What’s more it’s completely free to do and easy to set-up.
Claim your listing
- Go to the Google My Business site and claim your business, or create it if it isn’t already listed.
- Fill out your business profile, use as many of the features as possible, add great unique photos and offers
- Embrace reviews. Get happy customers to leave you reviews. Reviews are definitely a ranking factor but are also really powerful when customers search for your business name. This is a blog post in its own right but embrace reviews and always answer all reviews, good and bad.
- Use consistent information. It sounds obvious but make sure your listing details exactly match the name, address and phone number on your site. Consistency of how your site is listed in directories affects rankings.
- Add opening times and keep them updated and accurate
- You can add a 360% tour of your business, so if you have a nice office or showroom invest in showing your business off.
If this all feels like a lot of hassle lets look at why this is important and worth your time. The search results below are fairly typical of a near me type search, remember these have grown by 900% since 2015. Look at the numbers of people search for restaurants near me, 673,000 searches per month is worth paying attention too. Now look at the results, all the businesses listed hear are getting free advertising to a highly relevant search term. You can see that all of them have utilised Google reviews.
Lets look at the potential cash terms, the chart below is an estimate of the monthly search volume for some similar relevant searches. The search, restaurants in stratford upon avon, is estimated to get 8,100 searches per month and the estimated PPC cost for that search term is £0.77p per click, thats £6200 per month worth of advertising. I don’t know about you but if I was running a restaurant in Stratford, I think I would spend some time getting my restaurant optimised for local searches.
2. Get happy customers to leave reviews on Google and Facebook
Reviews are the word of mouth of the digital age and they have a real impact on business performance. A recent Harvard Business School review concluded that an extra 1 star rating impacted a businesses bottom line by up to 9%. So having a strategy that improves the volume and ratings you receive isn’t a vanity exercise it has a genuine impact on the bottom line.
Whilst a lot of businesses still don’t have a strategy around reviews or more broadly reputation management, this is starting to change. A recent study found that 86% of people would hesitate to do business with a company that had a lot of negative online reviews.
This is an SEO article so getting back to search engine optimisation MOZ recently reported that reviews accounted for over 15% of the local ranking factors, eg how Google decides which business it shows first. Google My Business was 25% so if you cover items one and two on our list you have 40% of the factors covered.
Reputation management is becoming big business and there are a number of software platforms available to help you increase your number of reviews and making it easier to manage multiple platforms in one place. However for a lot of business with a few easy steps you can improve the number and quality of your online reviews.
- Ask happy customers to leave a review, if you don’t ask people will be less likely to leave a review. If you are speaking to a happy customer either in person, over the phone or on e-mail or live chat ask them to leave you a review.
- Send out follow up emails when you have completed work and ask for a review and make it easy, put a link in the email. If you have a physical store build it into your order process.
- Leave a card asking for a review. If you are a tradesman and are working in peoples homes, when you have finished leave them a card asking for them to review your business.
- Always answer all reviews. Good or bad always reply to reviews. Often a bad review can actually be turned into a positive if you respond in a professional way and deal with the issue. Remember customers will not trust a business that only has 5 star reviews.
3. Check your websites loads quickly and is awesome on mobile
Take the personal opinion out of the frame and objectively measure how your site performs on mobile. Often simple things can really speed your website up, such as reducing the size of images so there is less to load. Remember you are targeting a load time of around 3 seconds or better and a great experience on mobile.
- Run a free website benchmark report. We like GT Metrix but you could also use Googles own speed test. These can be quite brutal when you’re looking at your own site so don’t take it personally
- Test how your site works on mobile with Googles Mobile -Friendly test.
- Often things like reducing the size of images can speed your site up. You can use some free online image editors, to reduce the file size. Often this can make very little difference to how the images look but can speed up load times considerably.