SEO Guide for Business [2021]
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02/07/2019

SEO Guide for Business [2021]

For most people, Google is the first place they turn when looking for a product or service. The websites occupying the top Google positions can reap large rewards.

  • If you are number 1 in Google, you can have one-third of all people searching for the phrase clicking onto your website! [10]
  • If hundreds, or thousands, of tens of thousands of people, are searching for your products and services imagine how many clicks to your website you could get?

Will SEO increase my business's enquiries and sales?

Increasing relevant website visitors will improve your chance of sales.

However, your website also needs to persuade people to buy from you. We all know the websites that give us the confidence to buy:

  • Take us straight to what we are looking for.
  • Quick and easy to read.
  • Look friendly and professional.
  • Have reviews from other customers.

There are some industries that are not so suited to SEO, simply because their potential customers are not searching in Google for their products or services.

Though SEO still has a use for people searching for their brand name, or for related products/services.

What are the top SEO ranking factors?

Ranking factors are the elements search engines take into account when deciding where your website should ‘rank’ compared to others in your market.

Google has over 200 factors, the following are the top 3:

  1. Content- your website needs useful content for your visitors, giving them the answers to what they were searching for. Your web pages should be well laid out, easy to read, and make it easy to enquire/buy.
  2. Technical Performance- your website needs to be fast, look great on mobile devices, and technically set up for the search engines so they can easily crawl your pages.
  3. Authority & Backlinks- backlinks are links from other websites to yours and are a ‘vote of confidence. The search engines will look at your site versus your competitors, and those with the highest overall quality of links (this highest authority) have the best opportunity for top rankings.
1

Will SEO work for my business?

SEO will only benefit you if there are searches for your products, services, or brand; and the competition is not too high to make it commercially unviable.

You need to do some research to find this out:

1. Find Monthly Searches

The search engines can tell you the rough number of searches per month for every search query made. At the same time, they can tell you the approximate pay per click (PPC) values that others bid for that term in Google Ads, so

  • If you have a search query that has 1,000 searches a month and a PPC value of £10 per click, then this shows a keyword with commercial value.
  • If you have a search query that had 10 searches a month and a PPC value of £0.01 per click, then probably not much commercial value.

This does not fully tell you is how competitive keywords are.

2. Simple Competitor Research

A simple way to find out how competitive your market is, is to look at the top results for your target keywords.

  • If large national/international organisations are dominating the results (such as moneysupermarket.com and gocompare.com), then there is a mountain to climb,
  • If the results are filled with smaller businesses, with not very good websites, then this could be an easier market to target.

We can help you find out if SEO could work for you, with competitor analysis, keyword research, and an audit of your existing website.


2

How quick are SEO results?

It typically takes 6 months to a year for SEO work to have a major impact!

  • For larger and more established websites this can be much quicker than a brand-new site.
  • If you are just starting your SEO journey, you really should have other marketing activities that are bringing in business leads/sales.

SEO is then something that can happen in the background, to then replace some of those other marketing channels in the future.

Top Tip: Target the low-hanging fruit first - a well-designed SEO campaign should target more achievable keywords first, and when you see success, then start moving towards the more competitive and lucrative keywords.


3

How much does SEO cost?

Many people talk about SEO providing free search engine traffic.

It does, but the work required to get your website to rank well is not free:

  1. Time- for you to do the work, or
  2. Money- you need to pay someone else to do it.

It is impossible to say how much SEO will cost your business without analysing your website, and your competitors first.

Before embarking on an 'SEO journey' for your business, consider the following:

  1. Get a website and competitor audit - to help you find out how much work you need to do.
  2. Consider your budget, based on 1. and how valuable SEO could be for your business.
  3. Get quotes from multiple agencies against the audit done.
  4. See if you can reduce costs by getting SEO training to do some of the work yourself.

Top Tip – if other businesses like yours are showing in top positions for your chosen keywords, it is reasonable to assume it is viable to do SEO to rank for those keywords.


4

Can our business do SEO ourselves?

Yes, SEO is a skill that can be learned 👍

There are many sides to SEO, some more technical than others, some more creative than others.

For example:

  • Writers: if you have good writers, then you have an opportunity to do both copywriting on-site (services pages & blog posts).
  • PR: if you have people who deal with the press, sending out press releases, they can be an ideal resource for your website's link-building activities.

SEO training can provide both hands-on implementation skills for your team, as well as an understanding of over-riding SEO principles, to help you manage the campaign, your team, or an SEO agency better.

Top Tip - Getting training can help you cut business costs and improve your control of SEO campaigns.


5

How pick an SEO agency?

Selecting the right search engine marketing company can be a daunting process.

The industry is plagued with jargon and there are plenty of agencies that ‘talk a good game’.

Google has created a very helpful video listing their top recommendations to ensure you hire a good quality agency. In summary, they recommend to:

  1. Conduct interviews with prospective agencies.
  2. Check testimonials and references from past clients.
  3. Commission a technical SEO Audit

An alternative is to hire a freelancer using a website such as UpWork.com.


6

What type of SEO work is it important?

This does 100% depend on your website, market, and competitors, however, SEO work can be split into these main categories:

Onsite

  • Technical SEO – website speed and how easy it is for the search engines to crawl.
  • Content – the relevance and quality of the content you provide visitors, whether written, video, visual or audio.

Offsite

  • Backlinks – the relevance and quality of the website that links to your site, and its key pages.
  • Authority – whether you are recognised for specific recognised expertise, especially in markets that demand it, such as health and law.

To find out what work you should concentrate on, an SEO audit is recommended.


7

What is on-site SEO?

On-site SEO is everything that relates to your website, whether its content, set up or behind-the-scenes technical aspects.

The search engines look in great detail at your website and the information on its pages [11], such as:

  • Being unique valuable.
  • Providing a great user experience.
  • Being keyword targeted.
  • Search engine crawler/bot accessible
  • Has good authorship, metadata, schema, and rich snippets.
  • Looks great all types of device.

For more information see Moz’s article: On-Page Ranking Factors.


8

Does speed and mobile friendliness effect SEO?

Yes 👍

Technical performance is a key part of your website's optimisation.

Why should Google rank your site well if it is slow and looks terrible on mobile devices?

  • Mobile-friendly - most websites customers will be expecting to read the site on PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Google believes so much in mobile usage, it has introduced a mobile-first [2] indexing of the web and will reduce your rankings if your site is not responsive and does not look good on all devices.

Top Tip – many of today’s website CMS’s (content management systems) handle mobile-friendliness well, but not speed! Getting a fast website is one of today major challenges, especially if you have fast competitors.


9

How to get a fast website?

The technical aspects of creating a fast website are beyond the scope of this section, however, the following can have a major impact:

  • Images - a major cause of slow web pages, all your website’s images should be as small as possible and optimised.
  • Theme – the result of many websites content management system and theme combination a site that is bloated and slow. Where possible opt of lightweight, and efficiently coded theme.
  • Plugins – a CMS plugin can easily add great functionality to a website, but unfortunately can add a great overhead to the speed of a website. Just like if you add too many apps to your phone. Plugins should be minimised to an absolute minimum.
  • Hosting – the server on which your website sits has a large impact on speed performance, plus the code base of the server, and whether that too is optimised. You need, therefore, to make sure your server is fast, and optimised for the CMS you are using.

Further reading: 9 Ways to Make Your Website Super-Fast

Top Tip: Using GTMetrix.com, measure the speed of all your top competitors, and target a faster speed.


10

How important is website content?

The only reason any of us visit any website is to read, watch or listen to its content.

Why should Google rank your site well if its content is thin, generic, and does not engage your visitors?

1. Engagement

Google has many ways of assessing if people like your website.

For example, if all visitors to a page leave within 5 seconds it is Google rankings will suffer. If, however, all the visitors stay on the page for say 5 minutes and then visit other site pages this is a good sign.

To achieve this you will need relevant, original quality content, presented on a well laid out page.

2. Relevant

Your content must be relevant to the subject of the page and its visitors.

If your page is titled 'red furry slippers' but the copy is about 'pyjamas', your visitor and Google will not like this.

2. Write for the visitor, not the search engine

Many copywriters write to please the search engines focussing on the keywords to include.

This does not create well-written pages that your visitors will love, and your rankings will suffer.

4. Original

Your content must be original and not copied from another webpage. If you have pages that are duplicates of others on the web, or your own website, then you risk poor performance, or a penalty.

Further Reading: SEO Copywriting: How to Write Content for People and Optimize For Google


11

What is off-site SEO?

Off-site SEO is the process of promoting your website throughout the internet so it gets back-links and mentions.

This also applies to your authors, people who write for your organisation, who may be an authority in their field.

  • For most markets, if you want top rankings, the search engines need to see that your site has authority and is trustworthy.
  • To do this the search engines will look at the backlinks to your website, plus mentions of your business and your top authors online. [3]

12

A link is what you click on to get from one web page to another.

This link only has real value if:

  • It is from a good quality site – a genuine website that real people use.
  • It is relevant – the website linking to you is in some way relevant, so for example, if you are an accountancy firm, and have links from on-line casino websites, this would not be good.
  • Passes traffic – the very best links also pass visitors your way, so not only is good for SEO but generates actual potential customers.

Links from irrelevant or poor-quality websites can at best be useless or possibly cause your website to get a search engine penalty and removed from their index.


13

Getting links, or ‘link building’, is an area of SEO fraught with difficulties, as good quality links can sometimes be hard to get.

How to build good quality links is currently beyond the scope of this post, see: How to Get High-Quality Backlinks in 2021.

Warning: Link building and SEO agencies can be under pressure to deliver links for their clients and many builds 'easy' links. However, these can often have very little value, so you have potentially invested a lot of money building something that does not give value.


14

What are Google penalties?

Google operates guidelines [6] that website owners must meet to be listed in their index.

If a website does not meet its requirements, Google may:

  1. Penalise the site by reducing its rankings.
  2. Remove the site from its index altogether.

This may be due to:

  1. Issues with the website and its content (Google Panda [4] Penalty)
  2. Issues with the website’s linking to the website (Google [5] Penguin Penalty)

15

Can Google penalties be recovered?

Yes 👍

Do you think your website has suffered a Google Penalty?

Your Google penalty may have been due to

  • The SEO practices of another agency or
  • Negative SEO [7] attack from a competitor

Either way, it is possible in most circumstances to recover the website and get it re-included within the search engines index.

Further Reading: The Complete List of Google Penalties & How to Recover.


16

How do I take my website forward?

This will depend on your business goals, competition, and budget, though typically the next steps would be:

  1. Keyword Research & Competitor Analysis – to find out your top targets and the strength of your market.
  2. SEO Audit – to find out what is holding your website back, and what needs to be done to outrank your competitors.
  3. Action Plan – based on 1. and 2., draw up an action plan based on your goals and resources.

References

[1] “Nearly 60 percent of searches now from mobile devices”. Searchengineland.com. 2016-08-03

[2] “Announcing mobile-first indexing for the whole web”. Developers.google.com. 2020-04-05

[3] “How Important Are Backlinks for SEO?”. Search Engine Journal. 2020-11-17.

[4] “Google Panda ”. Wikipedia.org. 2017-06- 25

[5] “Google Penguin ”. Wikipedia.org. 2017-08- 28

[6] “Webmaster Guidelines”. Support.google.com

[7] “Negative SEO: Should You Be Worried? If Attacked, What Should You Do? ”. Moz.com. 2014-08-24

[8] “The size of the World Wide Web (The Internet) ”. Worldwidewebsize.com

[9] “How Page Speed Affects SEO & Google Rankings”. Cognitiveseo.com.

[10] “Google Click-Through Rates (CTR) By Ranking Position”. Ignite Visibility 2020-05-15

[11] “On-Page Ranking Factors”. Moz.com

For most people, Google is the first place they turn when looking for a product or service. The websites occupying the top Google positions can reap large rewards.

  • If you are number 1 in Google, you can have one-third of all people searching for that phrase clicking onto your website!
  • If thousands of people are searching for your products and services imagine how many could click on your website?

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