In this three-post series, Pri Kruijen spills all on SEO strategies. In part one she covers off exactly what an SEO strategy is and why you should have one in 2019 to grow your online presence.
Simply, an SEO strategy is a series of actions to improve the visibility of your website in search engines. There are several approaches to creating a strategy, you can outsource to a professional like myself or you, the business owner can create it yourself.
Search engine optimisation seems to be an oversight for most small businesses but having one in place means that you are no longer flying blind. We often push SEO to the bottom of our to-do lists as it takes too long, it’s too complicated to understand, and quite frankly, it is boring, but when you’ve got a strategy in place, you can reap the benefits. Let’s make 2019 the year of SEO.
The first business I set up was a small events company in 2012. I was living abroad and had little knowledge of the industry or my dream client. At that point, I still believed I could appeal to everyone to make the most money. I had no marketing plan or SEO strategy to speak of, so when a well known weekly magazine approached me to advertise with them, I jumped at the chance. The advertising rates were out of my budget, but I went for the smallest size they had just so I could add a ‘featured on’ button on my homepage. To this day, I’m not sure I made any ROI from the ad as I didn’t have any systems in place to check the results.
Nowadays, I rarely read any advertising emails that I receive unless it’s from a publication or blog that I already had plans to work with. When I do pay for advertising or features, it is precisely targeted, so I know that I will get the most bang for my buck and make the most out of it. I always have systems in place so I can track how well it is performing and go back to them if I’m not happy with the results.
Top Tip: The first thing I would recommend you do is to decide on your marketing budget. While it doesn’t have to be a lot, I think every small business should have an allocated budget to spend on marketing whether it is product placement, magazine advert or a featured blog post. Your budget doesn’t have to be huge, but it will stop you that horrible FOMO feeling. Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time to think about the different places you would like to spend it, what your goals and when you would want to do it. This will form part of your marketing plan, so if a well-known publication contacts you about advertising with them, you can happily turn it down if it doesn’t fit into your plans.
Depending on where you are advertising, I would recommend creating different systems to track performance. For print magazines, I like to create specific landing pages (that standalone without being linked from my navigational menu or other pages) so I can track in Google Analytics (Behaviour – Site Content – All Pages) how many people have visited the page. For online advertising, I either like to create standalone pages, or I track how many visitors are coming from the website in Google Analytics (Acquisition). As most publications and blogs require a minimum of three months commitment, you can check on a monthly basis and at the end of the contract to see whether you are getting the most out of it.
I absolutely love creating dream client profiles, but there is only so much you can understand from the standard 100 questions about your dream client. As online businesses, we need to deep dive further into our Google Analytics data to find out more about our dream client’s search habits. While it may seem to be odd, knowing whether they shop online during a morning commute or a lunchtime break can help you decide on what time to release your summer sale or send out a newsletter to get the most impact.
When I started Brilliantly Visible, I was convinced that I would only attract other female entrepreneurs that were solely be based in the UK. However, my Facebook group and my Analytics stats show me different results.
Top tip: If you haven’t already done so, I really recommend dive diving into the audience section of your Google Analytics account. Several reports will give you more insight into your dream client that no standard question sheet can help.
Demographics (Audience – Demographics), this report is self-explanatory as it tells you the age group and gender of your visitors. While it may not seem important at first, knowing who they are can help the way you write content where you advertise.
Geo Location (Audience – Geo – Location), this section shows you where your visitors are based. Perfect for both online and brick and mortar stores as it gives you insight to where your business could be heading. Have a product that works well at pop up shops? Why not find out which towns visit your website the most and arrange a stall at the next pop up the market? Knowing little details like this can help expose your business to a whole new community.
Technology (Audience – Technology) and Mobile (Audience – Mobile), both of these are relevant to any business relying on people searching for them online. While we may know whether our dream clients are technophobes or digital trend followers, knowing exactly what technology and devices they use can help you make smarter decisions about your website. With 52.2% of all searches completed on mobile in 2018, knowing whether your dream client uses an iPhone or an Android can impact the way you write your content and the design of your website. I always recommend checking how your site looks and performs across all different sizes and devices including mobile and tablet.
Google loves websites that have the EAT factor, also known as Expertise, Authority and Trust. If you can show those, then Google will rank your site higher than your competition. While it can be harder to rank a brand new website than one that has been around for several years, building a reputable website has never been easier. One of the quickest ways of growing your EAT factor online is by setting up your Google My Business profile. In case you haven’t heard of it, it is a free platform from Google that acts like a standalone shop where you can answer your customer’s questions, respond to their reviews, share photos and information about your team and include important details about your business like opening hours, promotions. There’s even an exciting new feature where you can add your own products. The best thing about Google My Business is that you can appear on page 1 with your business profile without organically ranking on page 1 with your website.
Top tip: Take some time out this week to set up your Google My Business profile up and then invite your previous customers to leave you a review so you can respond to them. Google likes businesses to keep their profile up to date, so I recommend adding this as a task in your strategy to add more insights to your business.
While keywords are important, the world of search has moved on, and we now need to focus on the searchers intent rather than the keywords itself. Before, you can simply create a list of keywords for your business and create content around those and rank highly. A good example of a keyword is ‘pizza’ as it has several search intentions. The search could be looking for a local pizza restaurant (navigational search), to order pizza online for delivery (purchase search) or a recipe so they can make their own pizza (informational search). Once you’ve found the keywords you want to rank for, search and see what type of content is being created so you can match the same intent.
Top tip: Once you’ve got a strategy in place, you can start creating content that will not only rank well but also will help you find your dream client and even drive sales. There are different search features that we see on a regular basis but don’t necessarily use when it comes to researching blog post ideas.
Featured snippets are the answer boxes that sometimes appear in search. They are taken from a website on page 1 that answers the searchers intent and can be either in a paragraph, list or table. As website owners, we don’t have control over what appears in the answer box, and Google can pick and choose whichever part of your page that is most appropriate. If your keywords have featured snippets, then you may want to optimise your content to answer the searcher’s intent.
Another favourite feature of mine is People, which can appear in the middle of the search engine result pages (SERPs). This gives you some insight to other answers that searchers have been looking for and can help when creating a long-form blog post about your niche.
The last reason to build a strategy is to help create your brand awareness within your industry. Most of us focus so much on the B2C side of our business that we often forget that we can also have a B2B side as well. B2B networking is all about collaborating with other companies such as guest blogging or products to grow your visibility and find new customers.
The easiest way of doing this is finding out who shares content from your competitors so you can reach out to them and introduce yourself. I recently did this for a client, and we managed to find 10 potential collaborators within 48 hours of contact.
In parts two and three, I’ll show you some easy to implement daily tasks can be completed in 30 minutes or less. We’ll also have a look at setting up your Google accounts for new websites.
If you’re in the midst of rebranding you can read my SEO advice here as to what content you should keep and why and for those of you optimising your website for conversions my thoughts on social proof.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about building an SEO strategy get in touch.
Pri has been passionate about supporting small businesses since 2009. After a brief stint in web design and copywriting, Pri fell in love with SEO. Her love for championing creative entrepreneurs led her to a career at Not On the High Street (NOTHS) where the idea to start a marketing agency struck. Brilliantly Visible is all about breaking down the complicated and boring SEO to-do list into easy to manage strategic tasks that last 30 minutes or less.