It’s a scary fact that almost half of the businesses currently trading in the UK don’t currently have a website, or even an online presence. Many of these are sole traders, or businesses who don’t feel the internet is relevant to their line of work, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Over 97% of internet users search for businesses online
It’s almost instinctive now that when we’re looking for a new product or service, our first stop is Google. In most cases, we are nowhere near choosing a supplier at this stage and will just search for vague “non-branded” terms such as “Mortgages Preston”, hoping to find a number of suppliers we can compare and contrast. If you’re not one of those businesses found in that search, the chances of you winning that new customers drastically decrease.
9 out of 10 people will call or visit a business they find online
Even businesses who consider themselves as “offline providers” benefit from an online presence. The majority of people who find a business online, will still reach out via traditional means, either visiting or calling a supplier, before making that purchasing decision. But as the saying goes, you have to be in it, to win it.
Looking at your business from the customers perspective
To be found online, you need to understand what your customer is looking for, and how they are looking for it. It is easy to make assumptions as to how knowledgeable a customer is of the services and products you offer. In many industries we use terminology and jargon which are not part of everyday language. Think about the last conversation you had with a prospective customer, how did they describe the service they were looking for? If they describe it that way, there’s a good chance that others are looking for the same terms online.
There are also online tools that can help you find the terms being used online. Google is a great place to start, type in the services you offer and then scroll to the very bottom of the page. There you will find the related terms section, which will give you other ways of promoting the same product.
Alternatively, use one of the many keyword research tools in existence. We are particular fans of Keyword Keg which gives you a number of free searches a day, and will also give you the data on how many people a month in the UK are searching for that term. There is no better way to validate your choice of keywords, than knowing that there is a high volume of people looking for it, but beware, with larger volumes comes larger competition, and the amount of work needed to reach those higher pages increases.
Search Engines are much like a library
All Search Engines, with Google being the largest, work in a similar way. Imagine a library full of books, in Google terms those books are websites, and within them multiple web pages. Google takes on the role of the librarian whose task is to get you to the right section and the right book in the most efficient way. This can only be done if the books author has labelled the book correctly and has made itself easy to find. This is what we refer to as “on-site optimisation” and can be the difference between being found, and being on the second page of Google and beyond where only 6% of searchers ever go.
At its simplest, your website’s key terms need to be placed in a number of locations within your text to make it easier for Google to understand what you are offering. Places you could use are:
The <H1> tag (main headline)
In the first paragraph
In the last paragraph
In the images alt tags
You will also find that the words will appear a few more times in the text naturally as you describe your product or service. However, be careful not to over-use the terms as this could be labelled as “keyword stuffing” by Google and decrease your chances of making that coveted first page.
Backlinks, the key to SEO?
Once your on-site optimisation is completed, if done correctly, it could be a matter of hours before Google picks up your page and lists it in the results, but the chances of it heading straight to the top are slim (unless you have picked a very obscure term). The next thing to do, is prove to the search engines that your webpage has value. The simplest way to do this, is to write amazing content that others will want to share and link to, but you can also give this process a nudge by asking people you know and who would benefit from sharing your content to add a link to it on their website. Every link equates to a vote on the quality of the content and the more the better, but do think about the relevance of the source of that link. If the link comes from another Lancashire business, great. If it comes from someone working in a complimentary sector, wonderful. If it’s from a website that promotes cheap toys on the other side of the world, it will have little impact, unless you export cheap toys around the world.
Is SEO dead?
Simply put, no. As long as Search Engines exist, it’s important for every business that their page is optimised to make the search engines task as simple as possible. What doesn’t work is trying to beat the system, creating good quality content and making it clear what the page is about, will make it simpler to be found. You might well be a 9/5 business, but your website should be a 24/7 sales tool that brings in leads while you sleep.
The internet is always changing and right now there are two elements you need to be aware of.
Mobile Ready – Does your website work on mobile. If it doesn’t, there is a good chance Google won’t list you in searches made on mobile. Here’s a handy tool to test your website with.
Website Security – Using https on your contact pages can give the user more confidence in completing your forms and reaching out for information. The latest changes to Chrome mean that your customers will receive a warning if this isn’t in place.
We hope this has been a helpful guide to what SEO is and why it’s important for your business or organisation. If you’d like to chat to us further about how we could help, contact us.