Greater Manchester has around 105,000 businesses, of which 86,000 range from the micro to SME size. So if you are a smaller business or you are building your skills in digital marketing to serve these businesses, what are the essential search engine optimisation tips that you should know?
Can you really go up against larger businesses with huge marketing budgets when it comes to improving your presence on search engine rankings? The answer is yes if you implement a carefully planned, consistent SEO plan and deliver against it in a concerted fashion. SEO takes time and commitment, but these steps will give you a clear return.
1. Build a fit for purpose website
Make sure that your website is fast, responsive and mobile-optimised. Google automatically prioritises those sites which customers can use easily and on the go. Your web designer will be able to advise as to the best templates for your business and its needs, with single scrolling feeds now popular for accessibility and easy scrolling on mobile devices.
2. Get your Google My Business account in place
Once registered, you can register your location and business for customers to instantly see you ranked in relevant local searches. Learn about local search specifically and make sure that your key information is on your website and on Google My Business.
3. Nail the keywords
Spend plenty of time researching keywords to target your activity. If you choose generic keywords that go against your competition, you will never rank favourably. But find the right niche terms that match your offer with what your target customers are looking for, and you stand a far better chance of appearing high in their searches.
4. Use Google Search Console
This is a free tool that offers analytics into the performance of your website and gives insight into the improvements that you can make. Knowledge is power and this handy interactive tool will prevent wasted time and allow you to focus your efforts on what matters first from Google’s perspective.
5. Seek to understand your audience
Segmentation is key to effective targeting, so build up user personas that describe your different audiences. The more tightly you can define their characteristics such as locality, age, buying preferences and other key demographics, the easier it will be to target them.
6. Google Maps
Claim your business address on Google Maps so that you show on map listings.
7. Clear out dead URLs
Go through your website using one of the many tools available and fix any broken or redundant links and backlinks.
8. Integrate social media
Whether your brand is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn or another platform, make sure that you integrate it correctly with your website.
9. Create a content plan
Quality content is key to good SEO but it needs to be created consistently and in a way that will truly add value to your target reader. Plan ahead so that you have a rolling programme of planned content in a variety of formats, such as blogs, videos, images, competitions, reviews and so forth.
10. Produce quality content
Really commit to producing great quality content. Include authority links and the keywords that you have identified. When your content is in place, share it across your various platforms.
11. Work on your URL structure
Over time, you may find that your website is getting too big or unwieldy and that its structure isn’t working as well as it could for your customers. Assess customer journeys and see where simplification can be achieved.
12. Integrate reviews
Where possible, integrate customer reviews and publicise them to increase your authority in Google’s eyes and to ensure that you rank highly for local search. Address any negative reviews.
13. Get the right help
There are always dozens of SEO jobs in Manchester for a reason! Businesses of all sizes recognise the importance of digital marketing roles and are prepared to invest in the specialist skill sets that will give them access to the expertise and resources that they need.
Whether in-house or in an agency setting, you’ll find plenty of SEO consultancy jobs in Manchester, as well as delivery roles for all levels. It’s also great news if you are looking to build your digital career in the city, with plenty of opportunities just waiting for the right skilled, enthusiastic and results-driven candidates who understand how ethical SEO techniques serve to build a brand’s online presence in a sustainable way.
14. Keep learning
SEO changes all of the time, so it’s vital that you keep learning and developing new skills and insights. Attend seminars, read industry press, meet other SEO practitioners and take courses that help you to become better at SEO. Your career and your brand will improve as a result.
What other tips would you recommend to businesses looking to improve their online rankings without breaking the bank?