For most local business owners, SEO appears to be ‘a dark science’ – it’s confusing and most certainly not at the top of the priority list, especially when they have a ship to steer. However, it can also be crucial to a company’s success and ignoring it as a channel to new customers is a risky strategy.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the process to improve a business’s organic search engine ranking on first-page SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). Anyone who has Googled anything is fed results based on SEO. It’s an integral part of how consumers look for information about a company, research a product or review, and ultimately make an online purchase decision.
To add to the complexity of SEO, it’s in a constant state of evolution. This is thanks to Google’s complicated and forever-evolving search algorithms that change to stop confident SEO practitioners from gaming the rules. This is not a bad thing, it levels the playing field so all business need to abide by the same parameters. It does however reinforce its complexity.
In short, SEO should be the foundation of a local business’ digital presence, one that appeals to both searchers and search engines across all devices. And, instead of ensuring websites and blogs are peppered full of keywords and links, currently the more effective practice is making search results more relevant to people’s needs by using a more conversational search. This, in turn, benefits both business owners and the consumers searching for their products or services.
Here are the top five tips to get real ROI (return-on-investment) from your SEO:
1. Invest in an SEO Strategy: 80-90 percent of consumers check out a business’s website or read online reviews prior to interacting with that business. Even though SEO is a long-term strategy, developing the right one enables businesses to improve their visibility on search engines, and stand out from their competitors online. If you do not have the in-house skills required, work with an affordable and scalable agency that does.
2. Complement your SEO strategy with search advertising: Search advertising is a type of paid advertising that gets your business found on search engines in your local area. It’s a great way to capture potential local consumers who are actually searching for your products or services without blowing your entire budget. This will generate more online traffic and leads, which ultimately result in an increased return on your investment.
3. Track your conversions from SEO: The success of SEO reported through keyword rank and page positioning is no longer accurate. Using enquiries, the factual data that actually matters to your business, is the better way to go. You can measure calls, emails, and web forms that generate organically from sources like social media, search results and local directories. These key insights provide a true indication of a business’s marketing performance.
4. Determine the core topics you want your business to appear in organic searches: Knowing why your business’s product or service exists helps you to create content that is relevant to your target audience. Ensure your content answers the questions consumers most commonly ask search engines when searching your kind of product or service, and include those phrases – referred to as long-tail keywords – in your content.
5. Drive more visits with SEO-friendly content: Search engines love fresh content that people like and share. Ensure website content and metadata (title tags, meta-descriptions, etc) is optimised, appeals to your target audience, and specifically focuses on your core products and services. The more articles, reviews and blogs you can share via your website and social media pages, the better, helping drive more visits to your site.
Where your website sits on that search engine results page has a significant effect on your business’ overall success. Investing in targeted SEO ensures your online visibility is maximised, consistent and integrated, resulting in an increase in website traffic, leads and ultimately conversions.
About the Author
Sharon Rowlands is the CEO of ReachLocal, a global provider of digital marketing solutions founded in 2004.