SEO tricks you can do yourself for free

SEO gives you wings

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.

Google My Business SEO

Claim your listing

  1. Go to the Google My Business site and claim your business, or create it if it isn’t already listed. 
  2. Fill out your business profile, use as many of the features as possible, add great unique photos and offers
  3.  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.
  4. 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.
  5. Add opening times and keep them updated and accurate
  6. 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.

Google Map Pack SEO

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. 

Keyword search volume

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
If you would like to hear more about how we can help you manage and grow your online reviews contact us and we would be happy to explain how we can help.

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.

  1. 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
  2.  Test how your site works on mobile with Googles Mobile -Friendly test.
  3. 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.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas about how to be proactive with SEO without incurring costs. If you would like to discuss improving your sites SEO further please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.

Check your website health with these great free tools

Responsive Design

We have pulled together some free tools that let you check the health of your website and how this may affect its position in Google

We all know how important it is for a website to rank well in search engines. A whole industry has emerged to help business owners get their websites to appear high up the Google search results.

A lot of nonsense is talked about websites and in particular SEO so we wanted to arm you with some free tools that will give you some unbiased insight into your websites general health and some pointers on areas that can be improved. This of this as an MOT for your website.

The tools will cover your site speed, how well it works on mobile, whether it is secure and a general overview of the health of your site. Lets quickly dive into why these matter.

Test your website speed

How quickly your website loads is a factor Google takes into account when deciding how your site ranks. Google hates slow sites as do your customers. Studies have repeatedly shown that sites that take longer have much higher bounce rates than those that load in 3 seconds or less. Bounce rate is the percentage of users who visit your site and the leave or bounce without taking any action or looking at other pages. If you are paying to send users to a website with a high bounce rate you could be throwing money because your site is not performing.

Below are some great tools to see how quickly your site loads and how to improve the site speed. Remember a fast loading site should improve conversion rates and will help with your search engine optimisation or SEO.

Does your site work on mobile?

Mobile has long ago overtaken desktop computers as the tool people use to browse the internet. This means that you need to ensure your site is giving mobile users a good experience. This means your site needs to load fast, be easy to navigate and work well on a small screen. Most business owners look at their own site on an office computer and this can give a false impression of the experience most of your potential customers are getting. Most sites get around 60-70% of traffic from mobile so making sure those users get a good experience is essential. 

Google have also shifted to mobile first indexing which means Google use the mobile version of your site to decide how relevant your site is to a users search rather than the desktop version. This was a major shift that reinforces just how important your sites performance on mobile is. 

Here is how you can check how Google views your website:

A final thought

We hope this little guide was useful and gives some ideas on how to improve your website. This is only a quick snapshot and there are many more great tools out there to help you identify areas to improve. Remember your website and online marketing strategy should be seen as an ongoing process, not something you can tick off the list and move on. 

In addition to the tests above the areas please make sure your website has an active SSL certificate in place, another post on this coming soon.

In the meantime if you would like any help with your digital marketing strategy get in touch and we would be happy to help.

Get your website audited by our team

Do you want our team to audit your website and help you improve your sites search engine rankings? Would you like to see how your site compares to your competitors and what they are doing that is giving them an advantage? Our team can help you improve your search engine rankings and get ahead of your competition.

What makes a great website?

Design Billboard

We look at what makes for a great website in 2019.

We joined a new marketing group recently and as part of our pre-qualification, the organisers asked us what we thought made a website great. We thought this was a great question and it inspired us to write this post and share our thoughts.

You can look at this question in a number of ways so let’s try and breakdown what we think are important considerations and why, and hopefully this will help you if you are thinking about a new website.

All website projects should start with the objective but this is often overlooked. What is the goal of your website and what do you want it to deliver in terms of business benefits? We often get clients who approach us with a request for a new website that is centred around design but we always recommend taking time to really flesh out the requirements and agree on the core objectives before any design work is done.

We want a website that portrays a great image and has a great contemporary design

Whilst those things may be important they are not objectives and are unlikely to be considered a success once a site has gone live. Sure everyone wants their website to look good and portray a professional image but in our experience, generating results is more important. No one is going to thank you if their website looks great, but doesn’t generate any value.

What sort of objectives should we have?

Whilst we can’t give you all the answers without understanding your business, we thought it may be useful to share some ideas around how to set great objectives for your site.

A great model for setting objectives is to use the SMART model which means objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. Let’s look at some specific examples:

  • Increase online sales by 5% in the 3 months after launch
  • Increase our average order value by 20% implementing new product recommendations as part of the checkout process
  • Increase the volume of traffic from natural search (SEO) by 10% in the 3 months following launch of the new site
  • Increase our landing page conversion rate from 2% to 3% within a month of launching the site
  • Increase site speed achieving a target load time on no more than 3 seconds at launch
  • Decrease the bounce rate of our site by 5% within 3 months of going live with the new site

Once you have agreed your objectives you have a clear and measurable set of goals that you can use to benchmark success, this is much better than more subjective measures such as the design which tends to be more a matter of opinion. 

A great website is one that delivers the objectives of the client, or put simply, it just works!