Search engine optimisation – or SEO – is something of a mystic art for some people. Lots of businesses either ignore it, through fear that it’s ‘too techie’ or too expensive to include in their digital marketing regime (with large SEO agencies sometimes charging thousands per month – they could be right). What’s worse is that they hire back alley SEO companies who offer quick results but often use ‘black hat’ techniques to get instant traffic, this can cause serious long-term damage to a website’s reputation and even get you blacklisted by search engines like Google.

But fear not, if you’re a start up, small business owner or a long established business trying to get more customers online – we’ve put together our top 5 tips for getting you noticed online with the help of SEO.

1. Google ‘My Business’ service.

Tech level: 2/10

Google is by far the largest search engine in the world, if you’ve got limited time or budget then ignore the others and focus your concentration here.

Google is an ‘end user’ focused service, they want help you get found, so they keep their users happy. That’s why they’ve invented tools that make it easy for you to get your website listed and get your business found.

Use Google’s ‘My Business’ service to verify your address, contact details, website and other business info. This will get your business listed in Google Maps and will make sure you appear on the front page of Google when someone searches for your business name.

Click HERE to get started with Google My Business.

2. Give Google a map of your website.

Tech level: 4/10

If your website has been built relatively recently and by a reputable web designer (or perhaps a new style online website builder). Then chances are that your website has a ‘site map’ already.

Submitting this site map to Google quite simply lets Google know exactly what pages your website contains and what addresses it needs to visit to read your pages, this is a simple SEO technique that will get all of your pages into Google’s search algorithm.

You can find out how to submit your site map to Google by clicking here (https://support.google.com/sites/answer/100283?hl=en) (if this level of tech is out of your comfort zone, just ask your web developer – it’s a really quick job for a professional)

3. Make sure your site has the right content.

Tech level: 2/10

This is a fundamental but really simple element to getting your website found for the products or services you sell.

First off, have a think about your ‘keywords’ (perhaps you know them already?): What are your key products? What are your services? Is your business location specific or nationwide?

Here’s an example: Say you offer window cleaning services in Leeds, then your main keywords will most likely be “Window cleaning Leeds”, with variations being “Window cleaning services Leeds” or “Residential window cleaning Leeds”.

Just take a look at your website and make sure that the content on there reflects these key words or phrases. There’s no need to stuff the page full of these words (Google robots are wise to this and could blacklist you), but be sure that if a person or a search engine robot comes to your website, it is clear what you do and clear what you want to be found for. Simple.

If you have a web designer or developer, ask them about changing the content and work with them to implement it correctly – alternatively if you use an all in one website builder you can probably do this yourself.

4. Title tags / Page titles.

Tech level: 5/10 (depending on your web design service)

Understanding title tags and their effect on SEO is really simple: Imagine the contents page of an encyclopedia, if you see the title of a chapter and go to that page, you expect to find a page devoted to that subject.

However, imagine the pages don’t have titles, or worse, they have titles that are misleading and don’t really match the page content. You definitely wouldn’t read that page and would probably bin the book!

That is effectively how title tags of a page work – a very concise description of what a page is about. Make sure they are both correct and informative, so that people find your site useful.

Identify each of your main website pages and write a brief description what the page is about, make sure it has your keywords (that we mentioned earlier) in there, to make it easier for search engines to delivery your site when someone searches for those terms.

Make sure your title tags are no longer than 55 characters. This ensures you stay within Google’s search preview size. Once you have these titles, edit your website (if you’re tech savvy) or pass them to your web developer.

5. Get some links!

Tech level: 2/10

‘Link building’ is the original search engine optimisation technique; once upon a time it was pretty much the only technique and was abused thoroughly by SEO companies to get their clients to the top. Basically whoever had the most links was the number one in Google.

Those days are long gone, thankfully, Google become wise to this and during an update that is now incredibly famous to the SEO industry; millions of websites were blacklisted for their link building abuse.

But relevant links are still powerful things. Example: (we’ll use our Leeds window cleaning company again) If you can get a link from a website that only talks about their absolute love of window cleaning (there probably is one out there) and they post a link to your window cleaning service website, that’s a great link. It’s relevant to the users of both websites and the content of the sites matches well, search engines like this!

So just have a think about your business, where might you be able to get some links from? If you sell products then find a website that might review your product, send them a sample and ask them to include a link in the article. If you run a dog walking service, then perhaps get a recommendation and a link from your local dog kennel.

Failing that, put links in your email footer (Good for clicks, but won’t effect SEO), update your social media accounts with the website address, ask people to share a relevant link on their Twitter or Facebook account. As long as it’s interesting to the people who will see it and your not trying to deceive the search engines, then go for it.

That’s it! SEO doesn’t have to be mystifying, scary or expensive. These 5 tips should get you a decent base for rankings and for traffic. However if you would rather have someone take care of your web traffic for you, speak to Accordant Partners today about boosting your business enquiries!

This article was written by one of our partners, Mark Shipton. His company, Little Shock, provides web design and promotional services, including search engine optimisation.

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