Many South African small business owners are intimidated by search engine optimisation (SEO) – the science of getting your website as close to the top of the search engine results page as possible. Yet they also know that getting SEO right is important if they are to compete in a world where customers look for products and service providers online rather than in the telephone book or a local newspaper.
If you are in this position, take heart. There are a range of simple SEO techniques you can use to boost the online visibility of your business, without needing to become a Google-certified techie or having to spend thousands of rand on an expensive SEO consultant. Here are nine tips that can help your small business rank higher in search engine results.
- Use site optimisation tools.
- Get a keyword-rich domain name.
- Move your website to HTTPS.
- Provide complete business details.
- Watch out for on-page optimisation.
- Make the most of Google Analytics.
- Take advantage of social media.
- Fix broken links and metadata.
- Do a health check-up
1. Use site optimisation tools
Search engines reward websites that load quickly. Use these three tools to speed up loading times on your website:
Google PageSpeed Insights tool
Use this tool to identify if your web page is loading fast enough and to discover any issues with your website.
This tool helps you optimise your images. If you have photos on your website, it’s usually better to keep them smaller than 500 to 600 pixels in width. If your photos are larger than that, consider resizing them. They’ll load quicker, speeding up your website.
Add this popular content delivery network and website caching service to your website. It will stop a lot of the bad bots and bad traffic from visiting your website, and cache your pages so they load quicker.
2. Get a keyword-rich domain name
A simple and memorable domain name adds significant value to your business. Having a keyword-rich domain name for your small business can improve your SEO and help you get exact anchor-text match in hyperlinks, which helps you get on-topic backlinks.
For example, a domain name such as www.comicbook.co.za resting on anchor text “comic book store” indicates relevance for the search engine. Check out GoDaddy’s domain name search tool to find the perfect keyword-rich domain for your small business or use our Business Name Generator. Drop the unnecessary words, like ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ in your domain name.
Accessibility and user experience are as much a part of SEO as keywords (in domain names and otherwise), so keep in mind that search engines can determine which websites are providing the best value for users.
3. Move your website to HTTPS
Is your website currently using HTTP? If so, it’s time to make the switch to HTTPS. If your website doesn’t show a “lock symbol” on the left-hand side corner of the URL address bar, then it’s not a secure website. You can use GoDaddy’s free SSL Checker to see if your website has HTTPS encryption.
Installing an SSL certificate to add that “lock symbol” to your website has become the norm for businesses as it builds trust and confidence with site visitors. Plus, visitors will run into a warning sign in their web browsers that tells them your website isn’t secure if you haven’t installed an SSL certificate.
GoDaddy offers a variety of SSL certificates and can help you get the right SSL implemented on your website.
4. Provide complete business details
If you’re a local small business, then there are a few things you should keep in mind in terms of driving traffic with local SEO.
Make sure your full company name, address and phone number are displayed on the footer or the sidebar of your website.
Ensure the NAP data (name, address, phone) matches your Google Maps (Google My Business) listing information, down to the way the street address is spelled and how it’s shown.
Get local citations through directory services such as Brabys, EasyInfo or Yellow Pages; there are more niche, industry-specific sites such as BizCommunity, which is more focused on B2B service providers, or Dining-Out or Zomato for restaurants.
5. Watch out for on-page optimisation
Look at the on-page optimisation of your web pages and see if they’re optimised. Use tools such as PageOptimizer Pro to compare your web page with others that are ranking for your keywords. The tool compares various on-page factors, such as keyword mentions in your title tag, in headings and in the text, and makes recommendations based on your competitors and the content on your web page.
6. Make the most of Google Analytics
Look at your website analytics, specifically at the top viewed pages on your website. Look at pages such as blog posts and others to see if you can expand on that content. Was there a blog post that was popular? Write a follow-up or expand on it in a new post and link back to the previous blog post. Link the previous blog post to your new content as well.
7. Take advantage of social media
When you create blog posts, be sure to share them on all your social media channels for extra visibility. If they’re generic posts that aren’t necessarily tied to a specific date or event, continue to share them on a regular basis to keep the traffic coming back. Schedule them using tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite so they’re shared on a weekly or monthly basis.
Will social media trackback links to your site improve your small business’s search rank? Well, the debate continues. However, one thing that is certain is social profiles tend to rank high in search engines. So, keep posting.
8. Fix broken links and metadata
Tidying up your website by fixing broken links, tidying up duplicated or overly long metadata and cleaning up auto-directs can do wonders for SEO. Despite the peculiar name, Screaming Frog is an industry standard website optimisation tool for deep crawling of a website.
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a desktop website auditor that can find broken links, analyse page titles and metadata, extract data, and generate XML sitemaps. It’s become ubiquitous across the industry, and for good reason.
9. Do a health check-up
SEO Site Checkup is popular among SEO experts because of its effectiveness and simplicity. By inputting a URL, you can quickly learn about its SEO issues, export white-labelled SEO reports, and compare your website to other sites to look for easy wins that boost your rankings. Start here when you are looking to optimise your SEO results, and then use it to check out whether your optimisations are delivering the expected results.
Begin your small business SEO journey
As a small business, the first step in this process would be to do an audit of your website. Highlight your business goals, your current keywords and market focus. Then, with all this information, study your site in detail along with two or three of your top competitors. That should give you a head start on the road to a well-optimised website.
This article has been adapted from an original piece by Bill Hartzer.