SEO is seen as the holy grail of marketing. Who doesn’t hanker after the top spot on Google? However, for many small and medium sized businesses it’s a murky and confusing world. Not to mention something they haven’t got the in-house resources for.

Well, we’re here to make things clearer and tell you that being SEO smart is not about doing more, but doing things more effectively.

SEO for starters

SEO best practice is something all businesses need to get to grips with. There are two key elements – onsite and offsite optimisation and here we’re going to focus on onsite. That is all the techniques and structures to implement on your website.

Being visible online is important but so is being understood. Your profile should be clear and easy to understand – who you are and what you do. Your title and meta description must make sense, URLs must be self-explanatory and your website should include breadcrumbs, site maps and internal links (with descriptive anchors). This will make it easier for your users, and Google, to crawl your site.

Individual pages need attention too, Content is king, but make it too clever and search engines won’t know what you’re talking about! Don’t duplicate your tags but use new titles and descriptions relevant to what you are writing about. DO NOT exceed the word limits or Google will just use a truncated version. Titles are the most important so try and match these to the search terms people use. Eg Where can I buy vegan food in Croydon?

Body content should be original and concise, saying no more than you need to. Include target keywords in the title and first paragraph and use h1,h2 headings for search engines to follow. Adding images to your content is good for authenticity but ensure they link clearly to the subject matter with full Alt Text, caption and description.

All these elements will make your site clearer and more attractive to visitors. And a well-functioning website will automatically improve your search engine ranking.

Moving on

SEO moves quickly and it’s worth staying in touch with new developments. Personal branding is tipped to be big for 2017 with author-specific content eg guest posts, the most successful. Consider how you can use influential leaders to create content this is reference-able, authoritative and valuable to your customers. Data and research driven content is particularly popular.

User experience optimisation (UEO) will also start to merge with SEO. Speed is of the essence for websites and Google is already starting to favour AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) sites that load quickly and hold the user’s attention for longer. Start your spring clean now by deleting old plug-ins, reducing image sizes and ironing out those bug bears that risk annoying your customers.

This is a whistle stop tour of SEO with some useful points to start thinking about. For further advice, please get in touch with Bare.