Pinpointing the beginnings of Search Engine Optimisation, known as SEO is tricky. Some say it dates back to the term’s first usage in 1997, while others argue that full-fledged SEO began only during the Google boom in the 2000s. Either way, SEO has become a buzzword in today’s digital landscape, especially for businesses. Experts even say that 2022 will be the year that Google My Business becomes the most critical driver of search rankings from TechRound. For smaller startups, this makes SEO a powerful set of practices that can help you thrive in the digital age.
The importance of SEO
Nowadays, SEO is everywhere. Honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find any online content that doesn’t make use of it. After all, search engine algorithms favour pages or websites that have amassed large amounts of “link equity”. In layman’s terms, this means having a rich web of digital content and links. For businesses, this means that practicing SEO online can help you reach more people organically for less money than traditional digital marketing. If done well, SEO can help increase engagement, traffic, brand recall, and even conversions.
But SEO is more than just about linking. This is especially the case today that search engines like Goole are becoming stricter with backlink quality. Essentially, if your backlinks are too obvious or lack legitimacy, don’t expect to score rank highly on an online search.
Good linking should be relevant to the overall topic, appear naturally within the text, and use long-tail keywords that lead to relevant pages. For instance, in content about “X Best E-Commerce Tips”, you could add a link to a timely statistic that is hyperlinked under “average online shoppers”. Bonus points, if your links are compatible with alt-readers since this lets those with visual impairments enjoy your links, too. Moreover, you can use SEO to highlight direct payment or checkout links leading to payment apps like ours here at Yoco. This way, you can seamlessly provide a better customer funnel even for first-time visitors, and encourage sales.
A less than ideal link is one that is clearly shoehorned in and adds no value to the copy. Think random contact us links or ambiguous anchor texts that say “article here”. Those aren’t doing you or your readers any service since it doesn’t flesh out your text nor encourage readers to click them. While this may be acceptable a few times, if your site mainly uses this type of linking, then you’re not really taking advantage of SEO.
5 SEO tips for small businesses
Refining your SEO can be quite intimidating, especially if you aren’t confident in your technical expertise and if you lack the budget. But if you have a website with some organic traffic, can run Google Analytics, Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and others. If these sound totally foreign to you, don’t worry. They’re basically all just tools that you can use online that help you track and monitor your website’s performance whilst also updating you on any trending topics or keywords. If that’s not something you’re comfortable using yet, though, don’t worry. If you’ve claimed or created your Google My Business listing, you’ve already got the basics covered.
1. Improve your website
Prioritise your site’s structure, loading speed, security, as well as user experience. If you’re running your site with WordPress, there are already pre existing SEO plugins that you can use. This allows you to apply SEO even without formal training. If you want to go the extra mile, though, you can also go through free website-making courses.
2. Set your location
For many small-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa, the pandemic caused a clear drop in business location visits, especially with the spread of the new variants. By letting Google know your location, you can appear on more local search results. This lets you take advantage of statistics that show 76% of people looking for a business nearby will visit that business within a day. Of those searchers, about 28% will result in someone making a purchase.
3. Write good content
It goes without saying that SEO relies heavily on the content that you put out on your website. Consider your niche and your target market as well, as you’ll have the best chance of making good business with people who are actually interested in your product or service. If you’re looking for a more targeted approach to content, SEO industry leader Ayima highlights how a boutique approach that marries tech with talent can help your content drive serious growth. To do this, many businesses like British Airways use data to finetune their content’s tone and angle. If, however, you want to keep your content in-house, you can always write it yourself. Do review other sites and keep updated on the latest analytics, though, to keep content relevant.
4. Connect to social media
Online magazine Forbes explains that with the rise of the online era, the least you can do is to make sure you’re utilising your social media platforms to boost your website and get people to visit. It’s great for brand awareness and for social ‘proof’, like ratings and reviews. If you’re new to social media, something you should keep in mind is engagement and transparency. People flock to businesses they can connect with online because it fosters a sense of community. At the same time, social media is a cheap and effective way to get a better understanding of grassroots trends. Just remember that your business’s social media, isn’t your personal one. Customers are following you online for your brand, not necessarily for your hot takes.
5. Stay up to date
Lastly, keep your information updated and make sure everything is running smoothly, and check your analytics from time to time.