There is plenty of advice about SEO available from various sources. But that advice varies in its usefulness and there is still plenty of information around that is seriously out-of-date so the success of your SEO campaign is very much dependent on whose advice you take. There is one thing that most experienced SEO consultants are agreed upon which is that the process of optimisation has to be done gradually. It takes time to build a website that is successful in the search engine rankings but the effort also has to be regular and you have to make a serious commitment to the campaign. But investing serious, regular effort will ultimately produce results. One of the reasons optimisation has to be done gradually is that Google and the other major search engines favour websites that have grown organically just as a bricks-and-mortar business would do. Conversely they penalise websites that appear from nowhere with hundreds or thousands of irrelevant and poor quality links and a dubious social media presence. But also from a purely business perspective it is more sensible to start gradually. If you have a new website with low rankings and little content then trying to target highly competitive keywords is simply unrealistic. The major competitors in your market will already have high rankings for the competitive keywords and will have the advantage of more, and better-quality, links, an established social media presence and perhaps a brand name recognised by potential visitors. They may have been neglecting their optimisation efforts for a while but don’t let this persuade you it would be an easy matter to overtake them. You can be sure that if they start slipping in the rankings they will soon resume their optimisation efforts and will be starting from a stronger position as a well-established site trusted by the search engines. So as a new, small business, what can you do that will be effective in terms of search engine rankings and the success of your business? The best approach is to start with keywords comprising 3 or 4 words and less competition. It will be quicker to achieve a high ranking for these keywords and because they are more specific it is likely that a greater proportion of visitors will convert to customers. As the SEO improves gradually over time your website will start to appear high up in the rankings more often for your targeted keywords and that will actually help your efforts in achieving a high ranking for the more competitive keywords. But remember that many 2-word keywords are so general that the conversion rate can be very low so you may find that a number of longer keywords combined together give a better overall conversion rate than a single 2-word keyword even though the general keyword brings in much higher visitor numbers. It’s customers you are after, not just visitors. And whilst a healthy amount of competitor analysis is good for every business, don’t be tempted to employ un-ethical optimisation techniques – they may be providing immediate results for a competitor but results achieved through un-ethical (or “black-hat”) methods only last for a short while and eventually put your website at risk of being blacklisted by the major search engines. So resist the un-ethical SEO methods and if you see an offer that looks too good to be true, then it will be. Automated link building that creates quantities of links that simply could not be created manually by a human during a single working day can be detected by the likes of Google and will, in the best-case scenario count for nothing and in the worst-case scenario end up seriously damaging the reputation of your website and affecting the success of your business. Using ethical methods for a small business SEO campaign will always have to be done gradually but will ultimately achieve high rankings for your website with lasting results and a long-term, viable business instead of one that appears from nowhere and disappears just as quickly.
Review your Google Analytics data regularly to see where your visitors are coming from in terms of Entrance Keywords, particularly versus Average Time on Page and Bounce Rate, to look for any opportunities to target new keywords more actively. Also check the site Bounce Rate as this may have an affect on SERPS and also the new In-Page Analytics to see how visitors are using each page.
The number of links from social media sites is already a factor in search engine rankings so build up your network of friends, family and colleagues on sites such as Delicious, Reddit and StumbleUpon. Get into the habit of sharing your bookmarks with your network every time you bookmark a new page for your business website and inviting people to bookmark it. This will quickly build up a good number of bookmarks for each page on your website as it grows in a natural way.
Directory listing have a key part in any SEO strategy. They are less important than they were in the past but they still represent a good way of building high quality links as part of an overall strategy. We have been doing research on which UK directory sites give value for money and we would recommend the following. They have good page ranks and high traffic.
Page rank is the importance assigned to a page by Goggle. On a scale of 0 to 10 it measures how important a site is based on the number of other people who link to it. The higher the number the better for example the BBC is page rank 9.
Alexa Traffic Rank Measures high a site ranks based on the number of visitors to a site, the lower the number the better.
|Website Name||Page Rank (PR)||Alexa Traffic Rank||Cost of a one-way back link listing||Notes|
|http://www.freeindex.co.uk/||6||5,916||Free||Also offers lead generation|
|http://www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/ which is ideal for UK small business||5||26,788||£50 per year|
|UK Business Directory – UK directory of Internet services and Internet providers||5||38,113||£24 per year||No Follow Links|
The web can seem like a international anonymous place but location matters. Goggle and other search engines use location information on your website to place you site in a specific location. This can both drive local traffic and also improve the trust associated with your web site. Trust is a key measure based on stability of the IP address, length of time a site has been live and availability of the site. So make sure to include a address and phone number on your site.
If you were an SEO of a large company, what would you include in your 2011 strategy? Matt Cutts gives us his top three tips: Optimise for page speed Decrease the speed that pages are returned, and website visitors may do more things on your site e.g. purchasing your products. Decrease page speed = increase your ROI. Internal linking & CMS Make sure you have full control of the Content Management System and make sure that your internal linking is consistant and you don’t have a load of 404 errors. Social media marketing Spread your content on Twitter, Digg & Stumbleupon etc. The more links you have out there, the more chance you have of someone visiting your website. These links could ultimatley influence your page rank too.
Not all backlinks are equal, most blog, forums and some directories attached a “no follow” tag to back links to your site. This is very important because this tells the search engine to ignore the value of this backlink when deciding upon the ranking of your site. No follow links were invented to prevent Spamers from attacking sites like Wikipedia and YouTube and filling them full of spam. Building links to these sites will add no value to your link building activities. On the other hand some site still offer “do follow” links, how can you tell the difference?
- All the large social networking sites Linked-In, Wikipedia, Flicker, Twitter are no-follow so these are a waste of time for link building. Although viral marketing via a promotional video may be another source of traffic.
- Some article sites offer do-follow links and you can find a list here http://dofollow.info/dofollow-article-directories/
- Most blogs comments are “no-follow” but if you offer to write a guest post then often bloggers will include a do-follow link at the bottom of the text.
- Some social bookmark sites offer do-follow links including Digg.
- Some directories offer do-follow links, but it’s worth checking first.