Driving new customer acquisition through Google is vitally important to the success of many new businesses. To achieve that requires a focus on SEO strategy right from the get-go.
At the technical end, make no mistake, SEO is a complicated and skilful endeavour for even the most seasoned digital marketers. However, in our experience, there are plenty of simple tasks that a new business can do to dramatically improve their chances of SEO success.
And so, we’ve compiled this guide on SEO for new websites. There is no complicated theory here, just logical actionable steps to lay a solid foundation for your new website to succeed from the beginning.
Bear in mind though, that true SEO success requires a specialist campaign that takes into consideration your industry, business size and current competition online. Google handles different search queries and business types differently and so ideally, you should invest in specialised tactics. But for now, these generalisations will at least set you up on the right path.
Don’t cut corners on the website build – SEO from the get-go
This falls at number one for a reason; it is simply that important. We’ve learned this through experience – a large part of SEO “on-page” work revolving around fixing websites which were built with no SEO focus. Anyone can build a website these days. But building one which is technically optimised for Google is a very different matter.
It may be tempting for a new business to opt for cost effective, “fit for purpose” website. However, in the modern day, Google has to be considered one of your most important channels of business acquisition and you should know that Google’s “bots” (that crawl your website to analyse its quality) are the most discerning visitors you’ll ever get. That makes cutting costs at the initial build a sure-fire route to having to invest heavily in SEO later on to fix it. So, we recommend you speculate to accumulate on this one!
Before you choose a website developer, you should be rating their SEO credentials. While SEO and web development are two distinct disciplines, a good developer should be able to build you an SEO-friendly website with the basics in place that can be easily built on later with a specialist investment campaign.
Where are you audience based? Prioritise Local SEO
Google knows it’s customers search intentions well and, in particular, will differentiate local and national search queries. For example, someone searching for a plumber will want a local company so Google displays local tradesmen via Google maps. However, location is largely irrelevant to someone looking for “boiler cover” so Google will list national insurance companies.
This offers huge opportunities for businesses who are prepared to define themselves locally with Google. For example, a plumber will find it a lot more achievable to outrank the local competition than they will British Gas on a national scale.
The ultimate aim in local SEO should be to get listed in the “local pack” which Google displays at the very top of search results for people who are searching in your local vicinity. New and smaller businesses which sell locally often find these local listings driving more business through Google than their own websites.
To appear in the local pack, you have to optimise your Google My Business profile by writing a strong description of what you do, add quality photos, your opening times, etc. To give even more chance, build local directory listings and ensure that your business postal address is on your website include a link to your Google My Business profile with a common description such as “Find us on Google Maps.”
Write website copy in plain English
A common issue for both SEO and new customers is unclear website messaging. This often comes as a result of a new business wanting to differentiate itself in the market so they describe simple service offerings in clever, cryptic ways. Alternatively, business who haven’t defined themselves prefer to leave the website sparse of any useful information at all and potential customers are left scratching their heads.
The above is most evident on the homepage headings which use clever puns and strap lines instead of practical descriptions.
For example, a hair salon may go with a headline like “we take the stress out of your tresses!” While that’s filled with personality, it doesn’t really convey much. To optimise for SEO, you would want to go with something simple like “Luxury hair salon in (LOCATION).”
Of course, there is an art to keyword research and usage, but you don’t need to let this put you off the concept of optimising your website content. You just have to consider that people search using really simple language and expect to see simple descriptive language on your website. Following that advice should mean that you naturally include keywords that Google’s “bots” will understand as well.
If you want to try your hand at keyword research though, then by all means do! Google AdWords’ keyword research tools are free to use. They include an “ideas” tool where you can insert content or product ideas and see what their suggested keywords are. An even easier (if not slightly sneakier) tactic is to look to your direct competition, particularly websites that you know/imagine have invested in SEO work before you. What keywords linked to your industry seem to be used prominently throughout their copy?
Get the basics right and prioritise low hanging fruit
Completely ignoring the intimating technical side of SEO, if you have invested in a well-developed website, you can take comfort in the fact that the majority of website optimisation is actually fairly simple. These simple elements, we call “Brilliant Basics.” They may seem unimportant to the untrained eye, but trust us when we tell you that they will work extremely hard for your SEO everyday if you do them well:
Page Titles – These require simple, no-nonsense language, just like the website copy, e.g.
(KEYWORD) + (USP) + (LOCATION) | BRAND NAME
Which, in real life, could look something like: “Holistic Therapy Centre in Belfast | Kate’s Salon”
The likelihood is that your business will offer than one product or service, and each will need its own distinct website page, so check that each page title is unique and follows this guiding principle.
Page Headings (also called H1 Tags) – this is merely a repetition of the page title of KEYWORD + USP / LOCATION. No need for funky one-liners!
Build links from your business network
You may know that links back to your website from other sites is a really big part of SEO success. Building links is a specialist service than many businesses will invest in. But if you’re just starting out or your budget isn’t quite there yet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much of this “link building” you can achieve simply by leveraging your existing networks.
Reach out and call in some favours.
Look at your suppliers and customers, any local communities or clubs you’re part of, committees you sit on, places you volunteer for or sponsor, etc. Do they have websites they could mention you on and link back to your site from? Do you know any websites that you could guest post on?
Ask your friends, family and close business contacts if they will do the same. It should technically fit with their websites naturally – in a list of suppliers, members or as part of a case study for example. There may well be websites that you are already mentioned on where you could just ask them to include a link to your website in your bio or article.
Showcase your expertise through blog content
Content is something many new businesses are aware of trying to include within their own initial online marketing strategies. The trick to getting the most from it is to use your expert knowledge to create the best articles that answer people’s queries.
The search landscape is competitive which can make it hard for you to rank for the most common, popular search terms. Take for example, “smartphone repair”. You could attract website traffic by using “long tail” keywords in the titles of your articles, such as “Cost of Repairing a Smartphone Screen.” You would then detail the advice within the article (you don’t even need to give an exact cost as an answer, just prove that you know the cost and how it is calculated).
In this instance, your website will likely start to rank in the search results on Google for people searching for not just answers to that question, but solutions to that problem, meaning they are potential customers.
To compile a list of possible article to write that would fit this mould, look at the frequently asked questions your business receives every day. Then simply publish the answers to each one as an article on your website blog with the question incorporated into the title. There is barely an industry or company imaginable that can’t do this and what’s more, it saves you from having to answer the same question over and over. Just point customers in the direction of your answers online.
Be patient and look into other channels, short term
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but time is a huge factor in SEO rankings. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of spammy websites out there that get built for short term gain and then discarded. As a result, you have to earn your place with Google who won’t rank you until they’ve happy that you’re the real deal.
Whilst there is no definitive answer to the question “how much time?”, following all the above advice will obviously help you along and of course you would speed up the process drastically if you could invest in SEO services. But you would still need to be patient as SEO is a notoriously slow burning channel.
We recommend getting the SEO basics down first and if you need to drive some short-term success then ideally look to diversify your digital marketing strategy. Think about paid channels (e.g. Facebook ads or Google Pay Per Click advertising). Granted, they require budget, but so does any marketing, be it in time, expertise or paid traffic. Paid channels are great for demonstrating clear ROIs which enable you to access its impact quickly and efficiently.
There are so many opportunities to drive business growth through online marketing. So, if you’re ready to take the leap and would like help and support realising your online business goals, Glaze are a Belfast based digital marketing agency who work with businesses large, or small. Get in touch for more information today.