We are an SEO company based in Scotland who understands exactly what it is like to be in a competitive market. That’s why we offer realistic and competitive options to businesses who need SEO. Read Hints, tips and how to's - and anything else which takes our fancy in the world of digital marketing.
Are you struggling to get found on Google? Are you pulling your hair out wondering why your website is ranking in the depths of page 10 – or not even there at all? Don’t worry. Here are some things to do to help your website get found.
Let’s get started with local SEO!
1.What’s it all about?
First things first. Your website’s home page is going to be the most likely first page that Google will index and potentially show in the search results (indexing just means that Google has found it and added it to its big database). So your home page has to have some content on it that will actually tell the search engines what it is you sell or do. It needs to have the search terms that somebody might search for – so called keywords. Google is actually quite sophisticated now and is using AI to determine what words mean and how they relate to each other and what is actually a searchers intent. So in the old days, people shoved loads of keywords into a page and it worked to get the page ranking for that term. It doesn’t work like that now. In fact, doing that will make your website spammy and it probably won’t rank.
So now that you know what you have to say on your home page content, the next thing is to make sure your Meta tags are providing the right signals too.
2. Meta tags are essential.
Most Content Management Systems (CMS) will offer some way to update these important tags. So whether it is WordPress, Weebly, Wix or Squarespace etc., you will be able to update these important areas. The worst mistake it to leave them blank or with the word “Home” in it. That will tell Google nothing about your home page.
Your Title tag should be between 50-60 characters and should explain what your website sells or does. This resource has a lot of information about Meta Title tags.
Similarly, Meta descriptions should be crafted well. These aren’t used for ranking but they are important in getting people to click through to your website from the search results. Again, this resource explains it well.
3. Get it verified with Google
Add your website to Google Webmaster tools. This will help speed up Google indexing your website and can alert you to any problems it finds. Open an account with your email address.
Google provides a number of ways to verify that you actually own your website.
Once you have verified your website, you can relax as now Google knows about your website. However, it is a good idea to submit a sitemap so Google can find your most important pages. It’s also helpful to “inspect” one of your URLS to see if Google knows about it. Sounds complicated but it isn’t and you can’t do much wrong at this level.
This one is essential. Have you opened one? It is vitally important that you do so for local SEO. It will enable your business to feature on Google Maps. It’s easy to complete. Make sure you fill it all out as much as possible.
5. Get Listing!
For local SEO, adding your website to the main directories such as Yelp, Yell, Thomson Local, Freeindex is very important. There are plenty more directories but by adding your website to the main ones you are providing Google with a way to check your authenticity. It’s also a good idea to open up some social profiles for your business too. Don’t forget to add your website link to these!
6. Increase your local presence
Get other businesses to link to you in order to get your presence known locally and to provide a back link to your website. If you are in a business network group, ask to get your website onto their main network hub. Ask other local businesses if they can add your website link. Do you sponsor anything locally? Like a football team or rugby team? Ask them to add you to their website as a favour.
These will all help your website stand a better chance of getting found locally. As an SEO agency we specialise in local SEO and there are lots of tweaks that you can do to feature higher. But these pointers above will definitely help you get on track. Good luck!
We wanted to find out more about what SME’s thought of digital marketing (not just SEO) and so we launched a survey to find out. We posted the survey in a range of platforms where we thought we’d get the best response. This included LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and by using our network of fellow business professionals. None of our clients were used in this survey for obvious reasons. We got a good response to the survey and so we thank everyone who completed this for us. You can read the results below.
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Back in November 2018, we asked over 20 UK based SMEs how they approached their digital marketing. We were particularly interested in comparing the effectiveness of digital marketing and traditional offline methods, as well as discovering the kind of returns smaller businesses are getting and if their investment was worth the spend.
We also wanted to explore the digital marketing tools and approaches smaller businesses were using and which of these had the greatest impact. We asked business what they believed were the advantages of promoting their business online, as well as the potential drawbacks.
1.2 Key findings
SMEs prefer online: nearly 80% of SMEs are doing all their marketing online with only 14% using offline methods. 10% did a bit of both. 71% of business owners we asked said that online marketing was essential to the success of their business. Only 19% didn’t believe it was
Better ROI is the main draw: Our survey suggests smaller businesses are using digital marketing because they get a good return on their investment (over 70% agree with this). As a proportion of total annual revenue, just over a quarter of SMEs (28%) said online marketing contributed between 30% and 50% of their annual income, while 10% said it contributed up to 100%. The average spend on marketing ranged from £500-£5000 a year for smaller businesses, with the vast majority spent on online methods;
Social media is king: The most popular online marketing method for smaller businesses is social media, with over 80% of respondents using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to market their businesses. SEO is also increasingly popular, with 60% using optimisation methods, followed by Content Marketing (52%), E-mail Marketing (47%), Social Media Advertising (42%) Search Engine Marketing (33%);
SEO gets results: SEO produced the best results according to a third of small businesses, followed by Social Media Marketing (19%) and Content/In-bound Marketing. The least effective forms of digital marketing are Search Engine Marketing which includes Pay-Per-Click and Google Adwords, Social Media Advertising and E-mail marketing;
DIY all the way: 62% of SMEs do their own digital marketing with only 14% outsourcing it. 24% did a bit of both;
Digital marketing is cost effective: When compared to traditional marketing, nearly 50% of SME’s chose digital marketing because it is less expensive. 38% said they saw quicker results and 38% said they were able to be more targeted. 33% said they felt they had more control over their marketing and 19% said it was easier to measure success;
Time factor is a challenge: Some companies found Digital Marketing challenging. 48% said they felt it was too time consuming. 20% said they struggled to keep up with the speed of technological change and the myriad of tools required to do digital marketing effectively and measure success. 14% were not sure if it was actually helping the business. Digital Marketing Jargon and the security risk were other factors and a small minority (5%) felt it was too extensive.
The proliferation of online channels to market has opened up a host of opportunities for smaller businesses. Digital marketing has not only made ‘marketing’ more affordable, it is delivering a more substantial return on investment, as well as opening up new international markets that were once out of reach.
Of course this isn’t unique to small companies. The digital marketing space has grown exponentially for businesses and organisations of all sizes, as consumers and stakeholders continue to seek information, products and services online. However, the online effect has been particularly beneficial to SMEs, because it has enabled smaller businesses to compete with larger competitors on a relatively level playing field.
Social media has become the king of internet marketing – it is cheap, relatively easy to pick up and opens up a unique two way channel of communication between supplier and consumer. However, according to the businesses we asked, when it comes to getting the best bang for your buck, SEO delivers. Though trickier to master, SEO is a must have in the marketing tool box for businesses wishing to improve their online visibility and boost their search ranking. Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but does require a degree of long term maintenance.
The beauty of digital marketing for many smaller companies is you can do the basics yourself, not only the activities, but also setting your own Key Performance Indicators and measuring success – this level of control and self-determination is a real draw for businesses of all sizes and this sentiment is clearly reflected by the people who took our survey.
However, our research also revealed some obvious drawbacks. Some of our respondents were worried about the time commitment required. The internet’s insatiable appetite for new content puts a time burden on many smaller companies who do not have the time resource. The sophistication of the digital marketing toolbox and the speed at which these techniques and tools are evolving, is also a concern for SME’s who struggle to keep up with the pace of change.
Despite these difficulties, in 2019 we will see digital marketing continue to grow. Mobile will take centre stage as the preferred channel to market for many consumer facing businesses, and we will no doubt see leading social media channels offer a more sophisticated marketing toolbox for the promotion of products and services through their channels. For smaller businesses, automation will help negate the time resource issue, with a host of new tools and widgets to help managers deliver sophisticated campaigns while keeping their marketing channels filled with regular, engaging content.
2. KEY FINDINGS
1. What does your business do?
SME’s from a variety of sectors took our survey. These included:
Travel & Tourism
2. Do you sell products/services through your website?
3. Do you do most of your marketing online or offline?
Both equally (10%)
4. If you do online marketing, what activities do you focus on?
Search Engine Optimisation (62%)
Search Engine Marketing (33%)
Social Media Marketing (81%)
Social Media Advertising (42%)
Content/In-bound marketing (53%)
E-mail Marketing (48%)
5. What forms of online marketing has been most successful?
Search Engine Optimisation (33%)
Search Engine Marketing (5%)
Social Media Marketing (19%)
Social Media Advertising (5%)
Content/In-bound marketing (19%)
E-mail Marketing (10%)
6. How much do you spend a year on marketing as a whole?
More than 10K (14%)
7.How much do you spend a year on digital marketing?
Less than 500 (24%)
More than 10K (5%)
8. Do you do your own online marketing or do you do it yourself?
We do it ourselves (62%)
We outsource it (14%)
A bit of both (23.81%)
9. Is online marketing essential for the success of your business?
10. Are you seeing a good return on your investment from your online marketing?
11. As a proportion of your total annual revenue, how much does online marketing contribute?
Less than 5%
12. What do you find most challenging about online marketing?
It’s too expensive (5%)
I don’t have time to do it properly (48%)
Too much jargon (5%)
It’s too complex (14%)
I can’t tell if its helping my business (14%)
The technology is moving too fast (19%)
Too much of a security risk (10%)
13. What are the main benefits of online marketing?
It’s less expensive than traditional marketing (47%)
It’s less time consuming (14%)
It gives me more control (33%)
I get results quicker (38%)
I can be more targeted with my marketing messages (38%)
Leading on from my previous blog post about “Why your website needs an SEO Audit”, I wanted to discuss the SEO campaign part of ranking. To rank successfully your website needs to be relevant and also authoritative. That’s what will separate good websites from not so good ones.
What does being authoritative mean?
To be authoritative, your website needs to be considered worthy to have web links pointed at it (backlinks). For example, if the BBC thought that my website was relevant to a story they were running (I wish!) then they might link to my website. Voila! You have a great backlink. And because it comes from a very well trusted site – the BBC- then this backlink infers trust and authority and Google will add this inference into its consideration of where my website should rank.
So backlinks are important then?
Yes backlinks are considered to be one of the primary ranking signals. There is believed to be over 200 ranking signals but links are number one. Google has loads of patents about links so we know that they are important. And a website can rank quite rapidly by the accumulation of links if the website itself is of good quality.
Great let’s speed this up and buy links then!
In the olden days of SEO this was a tactic which worked. Buying hundreds of links would have a positive effect on a website ranking. But not anymore. Buying links is against Google guidelines. Furthermore, the rate at which a website accrues links is a signal to Google about the spammyness of the links. Naturally a website would get links one or two at a time perhaps unless it ran an advertising campaign and the brand went viral. So buying a bulk load of links is not going to work and will only damage your website’s reputation.
So what makes an SEO campaign then?
Primarily it is a campaign to build links to a website since we know these are important. This happens after an SEO audit. These links can come from places like directories, local business sites, sponsorships, accredited bodies etc. But we also know that other things are important too like new content such as blogs. Great blogs can be syndicated this and can in turn earn links. All this takes time and that is why an SEO campaign should be run for at least 6-12 months to see real benefit.
If you have any questions about SEO campaigns or SEO in general, get in touch and we would be happy to help.
It is clear that one of the main factors suggested to get onto the local maps listings is having a well-structured and active Google My Business page (GMB). A business needs to make sure that their business name is consistent, their categories are relevant and that they have verified the listing amongst other things.
Google gives loads of help on this and it is so easy to follow. Google has enabled a lot of functionality and there are ways to see how useful your listing is by looking at the Insights which Google provides. Google has also provided lots of different ways to make your business stand out:
If these functions are available to use then it is a pretty big hint that you should be using them. Most businesses have the ability to complete their GMB quite well – we all have photos, know what our business does, when it was opened etc. And getting reviews should be your priority.
Links are very important in helping get onto the local pack. These aren’t low grade links which some people “buy” but quality links from highly authoritative websites or local websites. Local website links are important as they give Google an idea about where your business is anchored and help reinforce the signal that you are a local business. Search engines also care about the quantity and the diversity of links. So getting 100 links from one site is not as beneficial as 100 links from 100 good quality websites. This takes work and there are different ways and means to attract links. Sometimes businesses employ an SEO agency to do this.
Once you are eligible to be on Google Maps, it is important to remember that the primary factor for a searcher to see your business on Google Maps is due to this: Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance) i.e. how close are they searching to the physical location of your business. So someone searching for a service in a different neighbourhood from where your business is may not see your business on Maps if there are eligible businesses nearer to them.
Getting your business to rank is not easy despite what some people say. Skill and hard work is required in bucketfuls and patience in abundance! But when the competition is fierce it can be a game changer to feature on Maps. Is your business featuring?
SEO’s regularly emphasise the importance of keyword research, and for good reasons.
Keyword research is quite possibly the most important stage in SEO, and I’ll explain why.
On the Internet, people do not just magically stumble across your content, products or website. Instead, there is a much more logical reason as to why and how they found you.
It would be foolish to try and create a campaign before first having a clear understanding of which terms and phrases you are going to target, and secondly who it is you are trying to compete against.
Regardless of who you ask in the SEO industry, you are likely to get the exact same response.
Keyword research is a crucial component for SEO as getting it right could mean the difference between ranking on page 1 or page 2.
Let’s start by recapping the basics.
A ‘keyword’, often referred to as ‘search queries’ or ‘search terms’, are a “set of specific individual words or phrases that are entered into search engines to help users find what information they are looking for”.
For example, let’s say you’re interested in buying a new pair of women’s shoes. Let’s just assume that for this example you don’t know any shops or places to buy women’s shoes.
Odds are you’ll search for the term “women’s shoes” in Google, right? (Or Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, or one of the other hundred search engines that exist).
Well, this single word or combination of words that you type into search engines, we commonly refer to as keywords.
If you have happened to stumble across this article, then chances are you are interested in keyword research and the process involved. Well we tried to optimise this article for the keyword “keyword research”.
What is Keyword Research?
As mentioned before, keyword research is possibly the most important step in any SEO campaign. It helps you understand what people are searching for:
The volumes for each keyword per month
How difficult the keyword is to rank for
The clickthrough rate for the keyword – known as CTR
Why is Keyword Research Important?
I’ve briefly mentioned that keyword research is important, but I haven’t quite explained why. Keyword research is important because it makes your website relevant. Relevant to the searcher and most importantly relevant to the search engines. If Google thinks that your website is relevant, it will – all things being equal- present you as one of the search results. It might not present you on page 1 but the more relevant you are the better the chance of being seen.
When Should You Conduct Keyword Research?
Which answer is the correct one below?
When you are building a new website
When you are refreshing your website
During an SEO campaign
All the answers are correct. During an SEO audit we will always do keyword research – even if your traffic is great as we might find new opportunities for you.
How Do I Perform Keyword Research?
There are lots of tools available to perform keyword research. Our favourites are
Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer
Moz’s Keyword Explorer
These tools have some functionality as a free version, but to really get a good understanding of keywords, you might have to buy the subscriptions. Or let an SEO agency do the hard work for you!
There’s also Google Trends which is a handy tool to use and of course Google Keyword Planner but the latter is not for the casual user and requires an active AdWords account to get the full benefit.
Once you get a list of keywords, check out your competitors’ keywords to make sure that you are in the right ball park (hint- look at their Meta title). You can also create a list of keywords that your competitors are targeting and see if these are relevant to you too.
What Keywords Should I Choose?
This is a skill in itself. You might want to try and rank for the high volume keywords as obviously that’s what people are searching for. But a lot of times these keywords are just too competitive and without a huge amount of domain authority it will be impossible to rank for them. So in these cases, it is sometimes better to try and rank for so-called “long tail” keywords. For example, instead of trying to rank for “estate agents in Edinburgh” – rank for “affordable estate agents in Edinburgh” or “cheap estate agents in Edinburgh”. Adding on extra words makes the keyword long-tail. Whilst it might not be searched as much i.e the volume of searches is lower, there is less competition for the keyword. Which makes it easier to get to the top and grab those people who are searching in this way.
Final (Key) Words
Keyword research is a skill which with the right tools and patience anyone can do. It also isn’t a one-off activity. A website owner should keep reviewing keywords to ensure that they are relevant and current. Get in touch if you’d like any help or tell us what your experience of keyword research in 2018.
Search engine optimisation or SEO is being utilised by businesses big and small to increase traffic and conversions onsite. The stakes are high as Google AdWords and Bing Ads are gaining more and more real estate on the search results page pushing organic listings further down. To get any traffic requires your SEO campaign to be firing on all cylinders. But here are 3 common issues that we sometimes find during an SEO audit which might be harming your SEO efforts despite all your efforts on keywords and link building.
Poor page speed
First up is a failure to address page speed. Google makes it fairly obvious that page loading time is important by providing tools that allow webmasters to test speed e.g.
If you find that your page speed is poor what can you do? It’s time to call your website developer and hosting company:
Can your developer incorporate some optimisations on loading?
Can images be optimised?
From the hosting side, are you on the basic level of server competing with hundreds of other websites for resource?
These are things which can be addressed but will probably cost you money in developer time and better hosting packages. But it might just be worth it. Google has announced that from July 2018 mobile page speed is going to be a ranking factor. Their research indicates that as page loading time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 32%. By 5 seconds, the probability increases to a huge 90%. Think about it. Your website is losing nearly all its traffic on mobile. Is it worth spending some money to keep those customers – and give your rankings a boost?
Failure to move to HTTPS
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is transferred between your browser and the website that you are browsing. It means that all data that you send is secure and encrypted. Google has announced that from July 2018, all websites still on HTTP when browsed in chrome will display a warning about security of the website. This may mean that some of your customers do not visit your website out of fear. That’s not good. We also know already that HTTPS is a known ranking signal . So moving to HTTPS is a priority now for every website owner who cares about their traffic.
Believing social media is pointless
Google (or its employees anyway) has always said social signals are not a direct ranking factor. So for many business owners, this piece of information may make them glad that they haven’t wasted their time. In fact just recently Wetherspoons announced that they are quitting all social media as it wasn’t essential to their business. Wrong. Social signals may not be part of Google’s algorithm, but they do help SEO and your traffic immensely. JD Wetherspoons may not need to rely on Google as much as a small business whose brand is unknown.
Social media provides a means to amplify your new content – whether it is a blog, press release or new photos of a job you’ve completed. This can bring traffic to your website. Relying solely on organic traffic is risky as your website may take a dive as a result of an algorithmic update and you could lose everything. Having a mix of traffic from different channels is better.
Shares and Likes may give Google a nudge to go and find your content and index it which means that it can be discovered online and deliver traffic to your website.
Social media will boost your brand mentions and make Google believe that your brand is worthy of being associated with a particular service or product.
None of these things are show stoppers – your website will still be visible in Google and Bing. But it means that you are not squeezing out as much ranking power as you could be by ignoring these. What do you think?