By Michael O’Brien, marketing manager at Big Red Cloud
Far too many generalist SEO articles are written, and though the intentions are good, the advice requires time and investment that is well beyond the budgets of micro and small businesses.
I write this article for the majority of those micro and small businesses that trade within a 20-mile radius of their office or premises.
This pretty much covers 95% of businesses in Ireland.
There are a 100 SEO tips that I could list, but there are seven that are the Holy Grail:
1. SEO implies that you have launched, or intend to launch, a website. Don’t rush to grab any domain name for your business. As difficult as it is, take the time to register a domain name that reflects, as closely as possible, the name of your business and where it is located.
Bearing in mind that the intended readers of this article will trade within a 20-mile radius of their office/premises it makes sense to localise the domain name.
For example, let’s take William McGrath, a gate manufacturer in Nenagh. He should use a domain to tell visitors the name of the business, in turn telling people what he does and where.
So, www.McGrathsMetalGateManufacturerNenagh.ie. This domain is loaded with important keywords that tell the visitor, even before they look at the homepage, that they have found the website that matches their search.
The visitor is happy, William is happy and so is Google. Google has delivered a search result that matches the keywords for the visitor and that is a key point.
Make sure that you populate your website pages with your keywords. This tells Google and other search engines what your key business service or product is.
2. Create your business page on community-based websites such as Facebook and Google’s own business pages.
It’s really important to ensure consistency in the business name here so that Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines can search with ease.
If there is one key lesson I’d like you to takeaway here is don’t create a maze, as search engines hate mazes and you’ll be punished. Create straight paths with easy to follow signposts.
3. Now you’ve bedded down your website, let’s take a look at your community network. What are the online waterholes where your customers/prospects gather to network and find information?
If we take the example of William McGrath, the gate manufactures in Nenagh, he should look at the local newspapers, local radio stations as they are all online and most will have directories of local services.
Leave no stone unturned, list with every community noticeboard and online resource that enables you to display who you are and what you do.
4. Look at the 20-mile radius of your operations and list all those businesses that are part of your community.
Begin to build links between those that have websites. This is a really important consideration because Google and other search engines value the links from other websites to yours as a form of validation and assign authority to your website accordingly.
Imagine if William McGrath’s gates won prizes and those gates were pictured on several architects’ websites and the local newspaper website.
The websites will probably use key words and include a link to William’s website. When the search engines crawl the websites of the architect’s and the newspaper they will register those links to William’s website.
Guess what? The search engines will now assign a higher authority to William’s website and as a result his business will be returned in search engines more frequently for those looking for steel gates.
If there is one key lesson I’d like you to takeaway here is don’t create a maze, as search engines hate mazes and you’ll be punished. Create straight paths with easy to follow signposts
5. Now it’s time to work on building closer ties with your customers and potential customers be engaging in the following:
- Ask for testimonials and publish them on your website and on Facebook, etc.
- Help your customers to share the good news by providing social media sharing buttons on your website.
- Check out bulletin boards such as Boards.ie and help people with questions pertaining to your area of expertise. Always disclose who you are and what you do as its best practice.
- If you’re going to be ‘open’, be ready to accept and respond to negative criticism. Ignore it at your peril, as it will hover around the internet like a bad smell. So, be proactive and respond and fix it. That’s what people will expect to read – the problem, how you fixed it and the happy outcome.
6. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter are all image-friendly, so it’s important to generate a social media buzz around your brand name.
7. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. When we won the Bank of Ireland Sponsor for a Day in 2015 we used every single opportunity to get our brand out there and drive home our keywords – online accounting software.
We drove as much media coverage as we could and then we drove it some more. My point is that, as a micro or small business, you must grab these opportunities with both hands.
I can think of no end of ways for the William McGrath’s of this small island to be innovative with their products or services.
Here’s the twist: you also hold the key to those ideas.
Image (above): mkhmarketing
About the blogger
Michael O’Brien is the marketing manager at Big Red Cloud. He is an experienced marketing professional with close on 30 years’ experience working for a variety of small, medium and publicly quoted businesses across a variety of industries in Ireland, Europe and the USA.
In that time Michael has acquired a wealth of experience across all marketing and business disciplines particularly in the new age of digital marketing.
Big Red Cloud provides online accounting software that is simple to setup and easy-to-use so that business owners/managers can spend more time running the business.