Wouldn’t it be great if you could magically uncover all of your competitors best keywords? Get data on the % of traffic each keyword is delivering to their website via organic search as well as PPC competitive analysis?

Well you can – SEMrush take a bow.

Unfortunately with anything this good you will need to pull your credit card out of your wallet or purse & tap in the details to the tune of $69.95.

You will however receive some functionality with a free account and can probably stumble upon a  free 14 day trial with an “SEMrush coupon code” Google search.

At WilliCreative, SEMrush is working around the clock. I mean why wouldn’t we use a tool that can provide us with so much valuable data in a matter of seconds?

Analyse Your Own Website

Before spying on your competitors, you may want to take a look at how well your own small business website is doing.

Head over to SEMrush + enter your domain in the search bar and select the main country you are targeting and wish to see search data from:

enter your domain

  1. How much organic search traffic are you getting?
  2. Is there a % increase or decrease?
  3. How many keywords are currently bringing in the organic traffic?
  4. If you are running PPC campaigns – how much traffic is that bringing in?

keyword analysis own domain

You will be provided with an overview of the amount of backlinks to the site. If you are serious about competitor backlink analysis and obtaining your competitors best backlinks I would use a more specialist backlink checker tool like Majestic or Ahrefs

organic keywords by country

  1. The organic Keywords bar displays the organic search distribution via country.
  2. You are also provided with an overview of search figures over a 4 year period – which is handy for uncovering massive spikes and decreases in traffic.

According to SEMrush there are a total of 1537 keywords bringing in organic traffic to this domain:

top organic keywords

Selecting the “view full report” option will present you with the following data:

website analysis

  1. Keyword
  2. SERP position
  3. Search volume
  4. Cost per click (CPC)
  5. URL of the page ranking
  6. Percentage of the total organic traffic.

Competitor Positioning

Ok, so we have uncovered some valuable data from our own website – now for the competition.

Heading over to the left sidebar informs us we have data for 2.1k competitors:

competitor KW number

Selecting this provides us with a competitors competition map – comparing keyword numbers and search figures with a hand full of other big players in the industry :

competitors competition map

 

    1. The organic competitors list brings back 2112 competitor sites – which is probably near enough every paintball website of interest in the UK.

semrush competitor analysis

 

We are provided with the following data:

1. Competition level – self explanatory

2. Common Keywords – The same KW’s the competitor site is ranking for

3. SE Keywords – Total KW’s the competitor site is ranking for

4. SE Traffic – self explanatory

5. SE Traffic Price – Estimated traffic value

6. Ads Keywords – Keywords the competitior website is bidding on in Google Adwords

Note that even though the site we initially analysed was bringing in organic traffic from 1.5k keywords, comparing the difference between common & SE keyword numbers tells us there are still plenty more opportunities.

common kw comparison

Common Kw’s

You can compare common keyword data by clicking on the number for each competitor site:

common keyword data

You are provided with a SERP ranking comparison of your own URL and the selected competitor website.

Are you being outranked for any major terms?

It’s important to note that the percentage traffic a web page in the number 1 spot recieves is far greater than that of number 2:

serp position percentage traffic

(Thanks to Search Engine Watch for saving me 10 minutes)

Not really true when kids say – “First the worse, second the best” is it now?!

Uncommon Keywords

What about all those Keywords my competitors are ranking for and I’m not? – Fear not, SEM rush has your back.

Selecting the enable charts option (far right) within any common Kw’s comparison page:

uncommon keyword comparison

 

Will provide you with a Venn diagram:

Venn Diagram

 

Clicking on the overlap which I have clearly marked! will display the Kw’s that your competitor is generating traffic from and you are not.

Competitors Top Performing Keywords and Content

By entering one of your main competitors in the search bar

And then selecting positions

Will display a table that includes not only the top ranking keywords of your competitor but the URL of the page ranking for that keyword

You can sort the data by search volume or traffic % and gain a great insight into the content they are publishing in order to rank for certain words and terms.

PPC

Selecting the best keywords to bid on in a Google Adwords campaign is just as important as selecting the best to go after in an SEO campaign.

Thankfully SEM rush provides us with some comprehensive competitor PPC data.

Selecting competitors from the advertising research tab

PPC keywords

Displays a similar table to that for organic keywords – only this time we are presented with PPC keyword data.

Note you get a rough indication of how much your competitors are spending via Google Adwords

PPC Keyword Analysis

Selecting the ads keyword number will uncover the ad copy, and the URL of the page linking too the ad.

view competitor ppc ad

 

That’s some pretty valuable information right there!

I cannot stress how important this tool and analysis can be to any SEO campaign.

I mean who wouldn’t want to steal all their competitors best keywords in a matter of seconds?

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

Adding your business to Google+ local or claiming ownership of your listing (Google may have already created a listing automatically for your business) is a great way to increase your online exposure.

As with many Google applications, navigating your way around the interface can be a little tricky at times, which is why we decided to put this guide together.

Submit Your Business To Google+ Local

To Start visit – www.google.co.uk/business

Get On Google

Select the blue “Get on Google” button.

You will be provided with the option of selecting a Google account you have saved on your computer or adding one.

Decide which account you are going to use and select or add the credentials.

Select Google Account

As mentioned, it’s possible that a Google+ local listing has already been created for your business automatically, to find it search by business name and address:

Business Listed

If you see your business in the auto suggest, select it.

If you don’t, select “Let me enter the full business details”.

Business Not Listed In Google

The next step is to either edit your details or enter your basic business information:

Add Business To Google

It’s important to note that these details need to be accurate.

Google takes it’s local listings seriously and incorporates various filters and reviews to cross check the details added in order to prevent fake and misleading information showing up in their search results.

Entering your business details as accurately as possible is also important for local citation building, which should be a part of any SEO checklist.

Your business name should be your exact business name, don’t try and include any additional keywords, phone numbers or email addresses.

For example in our case at WilliCreative we would enter “WilliCreative” and not “WilliCreative – Web Design North Wales” or WilliCreative – Email: hello@willicreative.co.uk”

Your telephone number should be your main business phone number, not your home, mobile or a call forwarding number.

While it’s beneficial to enter a business number with an area code that matches your location, it’s not essential. If your main business number is a mobile, then enter that.

The address should accurately describe the exact location of your business premises.

If you work from home then enter your home address.

You should never enter a PO box, virtual office or fake address. It will likely be flagged and effect your position in the search engines and possibly result in your business being removed from Google+ local altogether.

After you are happy with the details you have entered, click “Submit” where you will be asked to validate your submission by having a postcard with an authorisation code sent to the physical address you have entered.

The postcard normally takes 2 weeks to arrive and provides instructions on how to validate your Google+ local listing.

After you have validated your listing you will be able to add extra descriptions, keywords, images etc.

In many cases a basic listing will be enough for you to appear in the Local Snack Pack search results when someone searches for something related to your business services:

Local Snack Pack Example

In more competitive industries, you will need to complete further work to optimise your listing in order for it to show in search results.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

SEO can be time consuming, expensive and frustrating, especially if you don’t achieve the results you expected.

It can be even more frustrating, not knowing where you are going wrong and therefore not being able to correct your campaign accordingly.

We are approached by many small businesses in various stages of SEO campaigns and see the following 9 common mistakes.

1) Unreasonable Expectations

It’s a misconception to believe that building a few links and doing a little on page SEO is enough to get your site ranking on the first page for your chosen keywords.

There are many factors that effects the time it will take to start seeing results from your SEO campaign, including the history of your domain.

Over the last few years Google has become a little smarter, making it less possible to jam websites where they don’t belong.

SEO is a marathon, if you want to see instant results you should consider a PPC campaign.

2) Not Optimising For Mobile

On April 21st 2015, Google released an update to their ranking algorithm, stating if your website wasn’t mobile friendly, you would likely see your rankings decrease and subsequently loose traffic from organic search.

If you hire the services of a web designer, you should make it clear from the start the website needs to be fully responsive.

For those of you that had your website developed a few years ago there are simple ways to check your website is mobile friendly and also convert it relatively easily and cheaply if you discover it isn’t.

3) Targeting The Wrong Keywords

This is more to keyword research than just looking at a random keyword tool and choosing some related keywords.

Keyword research is one of the main contributing factors to a successful SEO campaign.

Choosing the wrong keywords, or keywords that have almost nothing to do with your online business objectives can ultimately result in a good 6-12 months of wasted time and thousands of pounds of wasted cash.

Targeting the wrong keywords

Think outside the box when doing your keyword research, you could even steal your competitors best keywords!

4) Employing the Services Of A Bad SEO Company

If you employ the services of a bad SEO company, it’s probably going to do more harm than good.

We should know this more than most, because we are often hired to clean up the mess.

Yep, we are the guys (and gals) that are assigned the task of removing and disavowing thousands of spam links which have been built by SEO companies offering the world but delivering nothing but a huge mess!

You can normally identify a bad SEO company from the start, they are usually the ones that guarantee number one rankings, offer you free trial scams and are secretive about the methods they intend to use.

The moral of the story is do your homework before you commit to anything, bad SEO can be catastrophic for a small business relying on organic search visitors.

It also costs money to clean up backlink profiles.

5) Keyword Stuffing

keyword stuffing

Don’t you just hate it when you see evidence of keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the practice of repeating the same words over and over again, they can be any words even “keyword stuffing”!

I’m not that bad a writer, I just wanted to prove a point.

Repeating a word or phrase repeatedly will get you noticed by Google, but not in a good way.

6) No Interlinking

Google looks favourably on a solid internal linking strategy, it’s usually a sign of good usability.

Internal links are the under rated workhorse of SEO. They’re easy to build, but often overlooked.

Take a look at Wikipedia, what do you see? A ton of internal links on each page.

Building relevant internal links on your website passes authority from one page to another, guides visitors to important sales pages and also prompts people to take action.

7) Avoiding Analytics

It’s a shame when small business owners fail to utilise all their available resources, especially when they are free and can provide an indication of what’s working and what’s not.

If you are yet to set up Google Analytics and Search Console I suggest you do.

Using these analytics tools in conjunction will allow you to set up conversion goals, provide you with data on which keywords are converting and which are bringing in the most organic traffic, helping you expand and optimise your website further.

8) Focusing On Link Quantity Over Quality

One link on a relevant, authoritative site is a lot more powerful than 10, 20 even 100 links on a lesser, weaker sites.

While quality links are generally harder to obtain, taking up more time, they are more likely to boost your rankings and also provide your website with referral traffic.

This guide on how to get backlinks will help you on your way.

9. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is a common problem for larger websites and e-commerce stores that have the same product in more than one category.

We also see duplicate content present within product descriptions, where e-commerce owners have copied those of the product manufacturer or their competitors.

Duplicate content poses a massive headache for the search engines and is therefore frowned upon.

They have to make a decision on which version to index and to retrieve for related search queries.

If you are struggling to write compelling, unique sales copy for your product descriptions we provide some ideas within an e-commerce SEO case study.

For those of you displaying duplicate content in the form of products and posts in different categories, implementing 301 redirect rules from the lower quality pages will help to clean up your site, which the search engines will reward you for.

 

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and really excited to be finally bringing it to you.

No matter what you already know about on page SEO, I’m pretty sure this guide is going to present some valuable strategies that you currently aren’t implementing.

I’m not going to bore you with a long definition of exactly what on page SEO is, if you are unsure head over to wikipedia, and then come straight back!

We all know that search engines are computer programs that understand and respond to a certain language.

The more signals we give, the higher the rankings we can expect to achieve, simple as that.

Page Titles, Descriptions & Keywords

Many people believe this is all that needs to be done in order to complete their on page SEO checklist. While it would be nice to have a checklist this small, getting your page titles, description and keywords right is only just the start.

This doesn’t mean that this aspect of on page SEO isn’t important however, it means that your checklist is just a bit longer than you may have thought.

Page Titles:

In nearly every aspect of this on page SEO guide we will need to be considering both our readers and the search engines, with a well crafted page title being no exception.

Your title needs to be no more than 70 characters, contain 1-3 targeted keywords and be enticing for the user.

The reason it should only be 70 characters is quite simply because that’s all that google will show in their results. Anything longer will look like this:

on page SEO title example

If we take a look at the page title for Betfair, you will note they have crafted their title within the 70 character limit making it cleaner and far more appealing.

on page SEO techniques title example

 

Use Keywords – Don’t Stuff!

Your title needs to contain specific keywords relating to the content of the page or post. Its important to do your research and find the best possible keywords that describe your content accurately and also have significant search volume figures.

Take your time over this, the title needs to look natural, appeal to users but also contain relevant keywords with decent search. Search engines will soon recognise if you have just stuffed a load of keywords together and the result will be you will rank for nothing.

Try and target a maximum of 3 keywords. 1 or 2 is fine if that’s all that fits. If you have a brand name then include that at the end. – Google loves brand names.

Title Tag Checklist:

  • A maximum of 70 characters.
  • Contains 1 – 3 targeted keywords. (naturally)
  • Explains your content accurately.
  • Enticing for the user – modifiers work well eg best, 2015, review etc. (they also help to rank for long tail keywords increasing your traffic possibilities)
  • Include brand name if you have one. (preferably at the end)

Description Tag:

Your description tag should be no longer than 150 characters and should be used for the sole purpose of convincing the user that your information is what they are looking for and to click on your link.

The description is solely for the user and not the ranking.

Your description should contain 2 important elements:

UVP – Unique Value Proposition.

What make your content unique? Why should a user click on your link rather than the others surrounding it?

CTA – Call To Action.

Tell the user to click on the link! I know this sounds very simple, but believe me it works. Sweeten the deal by offering something in return, a discount perhaps.

Don’t be surprised if the search engines use a sentence of your content in favour of your description tag, it happens and there is nothing we can do about it.

Content, Content, Content!

I have mixed feelings about the relationship between content and on page SEO.

Great content should be:

  • Published on your site first.
  • Be well researched.
  • Useful

Its also important to set a clear post frequency.

Before I explain why I have mixed feeling about this subject, let me explain why posting 1500+ word articles can be beneficial.

LONG TAIL KEYWORDS!

Head over to your site analytics and take a look at the percentage of traffic that is coming from long tail keywords.

Its a lot right?

Sure, you maybe ranking for a short tail that you have been optimizing hard for that’s bringing in a decent amount of visitors, but I’m pretty sure your long tail search will be more?

I can also guarantee that your long tail search will be far more targeted which always means higher conversions.

Adding in long tail and LSI versions of your main keyword will almost always happen naturally when you are writing long articles.

The problem with this is many niche’s will not require 1500+ articles. In fact it would be absolute suicide to do this.

We have completed work for clients that involved publishing 50 word pages, which still provided visitors with the exact information they were looking for, presented in the best possible format.

Less words of course provides less opportunity to include long tail keywords, which may effect the number of terms you rank for in the search engines. However always put the visitor first, if it can be written in 50 words then that’s the way to go.

Keyword Density:

One of the main questions regarding on page search engine optimization is keyword density.

I’ve seen some crazy and quite ridiculous figures. 3%, 2%, 3.4567%!!! This to me is absolute garbage.

By the time you’ve worked out the exact number of times you need to include your main keyword, played around with your content to try and fit it in as naturally as possible, you could be well on your way to producing another great article for your readers.

Try and get your main keyword into the first 150 words and then after that natural, natural, natural.

Formatting:

Your content should include a main heading (H1 tag) and sub headings (H2 tags) Important parts and words should be highlighted by the underline, bold or italics tabs.

Your content should be user friendly and pleasing to the eye. If a word post split the paragraphs up (never have huge chunks of text) and use a word font no smaller than 12px.

Images:

Always try and use original or royalty free images. If you can’t do that it’s important to at least credit the source you got it from, or risk a law suit!

There are tons of places you can get both free and paid images these will get you started.

Use descriptive file names, using your keywords where applicable. Never name your image files image1.jpg for example.

Content Delivery Network:

A content delivery network hosts your images on a number of different servers. The benefit of doing this is to speed up your sites load time, a factor googles algorithm takes into consideration when ranking web pages and something I will discuss later in this article.

Prices for this kind of service are relatively cheap, approx £15 per month for a single site. CloudFlare is well worth a look, especially if your blog or site contains a lot of images.

Using the ALT tags to describe your image:

ALT tags are a brilliant way to provide the search engines with additional information about your site.

Also used for describing both internal and external links, this is an on page SEO technique that should never be overlooked. Similar to your title tags, try and use keywords but never stuff and describe accurately.

URL Structure:

On one of our sister sites we use the following permalink structure:

permalink structure

Which produces a URL like this:

http://enormoney.com/seo/on-page-seo

You will see that the URL is short and sweet and contains relevant keywords, while describing this post accurately.

I know of a lot of bloggers that include the date in their URL, and also miss out the category opting for:

http://enormoney.com/2013/06/10/on-page-seo

To be honest it makes little difference.

Try and include your most important keywords in the first 3-5 words as these are said to be given more weight, and always try and stick to the 250 character mark.

Always avoid using ugly URLs like the following:

http://enormoney.com/?p=123

Categories:
Categorising your content is a great way for users and search engines to navigate their way around your site quicker and find exactly what they are looking for easier.

Think of a large supermarket distribution depot that wasn’t strategically categorised, it would be impossible to find things right? Well the same goes for your site.

Siloing is an SEO technique that optimises a sites structure and organises content based on keywords.

Siloing isn’t a simple thing to do and takes some planning. When implemented it can be a very powerful on page technique that can save you lots of off page SEO work.

Check out these 2 great articles which explain siloing in great depth:

How to build a website silo architecture

How to create a silo structure in wordpress

Internal Linking:

Its a great idea to have an internal link in the first paragraph of your content. The reason for this is a click happy user that visits your site for the first time, may need that extra link to stay on your site and take note of your excellent content.

Internal links are also a great way to let the search engines know about other pages and take them into account. Search engines that read pages with links on will always follow them.

I’ve read several articles that give guidelines on the amount of internal links you should include in each page of content and to be honest I don’t believe this to be good advice. If we take a look at Wikipedia as an example and the first paragraph for the search engine optimization page, you will see a total of 15 internal relevant links, which is way more than many guides suggest for a whole page.

The truth is there is no right or wrong answer to this debate. As your site grows the number of internal links will. I also find that thinking where a useful internal link could be added to the content I am producing provides me with great ideas for future posts.

Internal Linking Guidelines:

  • Highlight your important pages – the more important a page, the more internal links you should point at it.
  • Only use internal links when they are relevant and helpful to the user.
  • Don’t link back to your homepage using your main keyword on every post.
  • Vary your anchor text. For example if you have an important page about “How to set up a blog” don’t link back to that page using the exact anchor text every time.

Outbound Links:

I think a lot of internet marketers worry about linking out to other sites because they are afraid of loosing their visitors.

If you provide helpful and useful content then a high percentage of your visitors will always return. A great way to provide helpful and useful content is to link out to other resources that compliment the point or message you are trying to get across.

Not only does this enhance the experience for your visitor but also gives the search engines another hint regarding the details of your content.

Site Speed:

Google wants a faster internet and is therefore using site speed as a determining factor in their algorithm. The faster your site loads the higher it will be positioned.

Page Speed Insights by google, allows you to analyse pages from your site and provides recommendations to increase speed.

As with most on page SEO tactics user experience will also play a factor and site speed is no different. A huge percentage of visitors will leave straight away if you have a slow site, increasing your bounce rate and ruining your chances of increasing your readership.

Take a look at this article which provides 15 Great Tips To Speed Up Your Website.

Google Authorship:

Google is placing a lot of emphasis on people who have authority on a particular subject and ranking their content highly accordingly.

Your search engine listing is also far more attractive with a picture next to it, which means a higher CTR. Take a look at the following screenshot, which listing would you click on?

google authorship listing

**Update – Google no longer uses authorship snippets in search results**

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

What is it?

Formerly known as Google Places, Google + local, Google+ (yep they just love changing the name) Google My Business is the new streamlined local business directory by Google.

It provides small businesses the opportunity to increase their online visibility & provides a platform to engage with customers, making it an important part of any SEO checklist.

You could call it an all in one solution – local listings functionality of places, social options of G+ and discoverability features of Google maps.

Why use it?

It’s FREE and Easy To Use

Always a bonus for businesses with limited marketing budgets and better things to do than work out a complicated interface a computer science degree student from Cambridge would struggle with.

Show Up In Local Search Results

Whenever someone searches a word or term that Google deems to have local intent Eg “Plumber in London” or “Italian Restaurant Leeds” Google will normally display 3 local listings above the standard results.

Local Search Results

Within the 3 results are direct links to company websites, directions to the business address, opening & closing times and a summary of reviews.

Instant Customer Interaction

Clicking on a listing will bring up further information including the business telephone number, which provides click to call functionality.

local Search Info

Not only does this make your business information more searchable, but allows customers to make an informed decision to contact your business without even having the need to visit your website.

Enhance Your Search Listing

Knowledge graph and social proof features on Google My Business provide you with the ability to make your search listing stand out from the crowd. Showing things like physical location, follower count and customer reviews within search results is likely to increase your click through rate (CTR).

Social Proof Google My Business Knowledge Graph

Undertaking a new ad campaign

Google My Business integrates with Adwords Express allowing for the creation and tracking of campaigns from the intuitive dashboard.

Showcase your products & services

You can really set your brand apart by adding videos, virtual tours and displaying top reviews.

Engage With Your Customers

The platform allows business owners to not only respond to both positive and negative reviews and share valuable content but to engage directly with customers via the Hangouts on Air feature.

President Obama Google Hangout

Become a community leader

The communities feature provides the opportunity for any business to be an influential leader in their industry. There are thousands of interest based communities to share expert knowledge and become active in, making it likely there is one suited to your business.

Integrate Social Media Accounts

Google My Business allows for easy integration of other social media accounts. The integration allows Google My business posts to be embedded on Facebook and Twitter, helping you build additional connections.

Easy to update & manage

Your business information can be updated as frequently as you like. From your business account you can update descriptions/contact numbers/business website URL etc.

Access From Any Device

The platform can be accessed via the Android and IOS apps available on Google play, providing you the handy option of accessing your dashboard via mobile device.

Ready to get started?

Create a profile on Google My Business or start optimising your current listing in order to start reaching local customers.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

The SEO checklist for small businesses below is for those that want to improve their search visibility and start generating leads & sales from organic traffic.

If you work your way down the list and tick everything off you are guaranteed to rank higher:

  • Create accounts on Google Analytics & Google Search Console 
  • Create a profile on Google My Business
  • Install Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Make a list of keywords you wish to rank for by using Google’s keyword planner tool or semrush.
  • Add your address & phone number on every page of your website
  • Check your website is mobile friendly.
  • Make sure your website runs at optimal speed
  • Check and reduce your sites bounce rate where applicable
  • Add social media sharing buttons and links to your social media accounts
  • Follow this comprehensive on page SEO guide
  • Set up a blog and build a thriving and profitable blog audience
  • Claim or set up and optimise local citations
  • Use majestic SEO to reverse engineer your competitors best backlinks
  • Ask suppliers, customers & contacts to link to your website
  • Approach bloggers with content which may be valuable to their readers & ask for links
James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

I’ve managed to write this guide in under 550 words because SEO for small businesses doesn’t have to be complicated.

Although small business SEO can involve a large number of factors – you will be able to improve your online search visibility and get potential customers to your business website by keeping it simple and focusing on just 4 aspects.

1) Keyword Research

Keyword research should be the starting point for any small business SEO campaign. It’s important to uncover the highest searched words and phrases which are relevant to your business and which aren’t overly competitive.

As a small business owner you simply don’t need the bells and whistles of a paid keyword tool, Google’s keyword planner will provide you with all the information you need.

The keywords that you uncover are those that you are going to be trying to rank on the first page (preferably top 3) for.

A florist in New York – would want to rank for “florist New York” a painter in Leeds would want to rank for “Painter in Leeds”. I’m sure you get the picture.

It’s important not to target to many keywords at once, 4 – 5 at the start is perfectly sufficient and will ensure you see your campaign is working as you climb position.

2) Create Content -(Skip this step if you already have it)

While it is possible to rank web pages without any content, it’s always better to have some.

For a start it can help you gain backlinks and secondly the more words on a page the more chance you have for ranking & gaining traffic from those words.

At this stage it’s important to refer back to your chosen targeted keywords & work out your content strategy.

It’s often better to produce differen’t pieces of content for different pages. If the keywords refer to a different aspect of your business – eg “wedding florists in London” and “Valentines flower delivery in London”

3) On page SEO

This a large topic and too big to cover in 500 words. Will every on page optimisation task you carry out make a huge difference – absolutely not. For the purpose of this guide it’s recommended to add your keyword to the page URL, meta title and description.

4) Get Backlinks

I mentioned earlier that you could rank web pages for your chosen keywords without any content, which is all down to the strength of your backlinks.

Generally speaking to outrank your competition you are going to need more stronger backlinks than your competition. Does that mean it’s a numbers game? – Absolutely not!

Submitting to article directories, gaining social bookmarks and believing just writing great content is effective SEO is nonsense. There are hundreds of other things that you may read that you should ignore also.

You need links from supplier & customer websites, build relationships with bloggers and other local businesses in order to get links, reverse engineer your competitors- where are they getting their backlinks from? Can you get the same ones?

Quality business directories still work – especially the paid ones, consider this – also consider newsworthy stories about your business that you can submit to local publications.

You have to understand that SEO is the marathon and you should build backlinks gradually, particularly on a new domain. If you want to take part in a sprint, try the PPC race.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

You already know that building high quality backlinks to your website is an important element of any SEO checklist and in moving to the top of the search engines for your chosen keywords.

How do you firstly find authoritive websites and how do you get them to link to you though?

Below is a list of 30 tactics and methods you can use to build high quality links to your small business website. Some of the methods will be perfect for the industry you are working in, while others will be more difficult to adopt. Either way there is something below for every small business owner to start building backlinks to his/her website.

1) Create content for other websites

Guest posting is still a great way to build quality backlinks to your site, despite what you may have read.

There are various ways you can find good opportunities:

Google Search Strings:

  • Keyword/yourCompetitorName + “guest blog”
  • Keyword/yourCompetitorName + “become a contributor”
  • Keyword/yourCompetitorName + “guest blogger” + inanchor:contact

There are loads more here

You could also find opportunities via Twitter with the following search:

Guest Post Opportunities Twitter

Or by visiting a site like Alltop that curates the content from the best blogs in a large number of industry categories.

2) Search for mentions of your business or website

A simple Google search using your brand name or an online tool like mention is likely to uncover reports, reviews and general mentions of your business from websites that haven’t linked back. Shoot the site owner an email asking very kindly if he/she could include your link, explaining it will benefit their readers.

3) Provide testimonials & reviews

Contact suppliers, contractors, caterers (anyone that supplies your business with a service or product). Offer to provide them with a review, asking if they could link back to your website within the testimonial. The majority of businesses love displaying testimonials – it’s great for business.

4) Offer to send influential bloggers your products or to try your service out in exchange for a review

Selling food products? Contact food bloggers, Kids products? Contact Mummy bloggers, Beauty products? Contact fashion/lifestyle bloggers. Many will be more than happy to provide a review and link back to your website on their blog for receiving a free product.

5) Offer organisations an exclusive discount

Many of the largest organisations in the world are proud to provide their members with exclusive discounts. Saga holidays, London Metropolitan University (educational link), The BBC Good Food Guide are just examples of massive publications who will provide you with a link back for providing an exclusive discount for their members.

6) Join Associations/Organisations

Make sure they are relevant and or local to your business. Many of them will have members directories which is the prefect place to get a link back to your website.

7) Reverse engineer your competition

You should already know who your main competitiors are online. If you don’t, a google search for your chosen targeted keywords will tell you.

Put their sites through a backlink checker tool and try and obtain their strongest backlinks using the methods you see in this article.

They are ranking on the first page for a reason – the strength of their links!

8) Submit to directories

It’s true that Google deindexed many low quality directories, which has resulted in many business owners and SEO’s reluctant to submit sites to business directories.

Link building has to make sense, submitting to high quality, relevant directories makes perfect sense for many websites & businesses – it’s advertising right?

Many of the high quality directories will charge you to submit, but if you have an SEO budget it’s well worth spending a little cash on this.

Here are a few to get you started:

If you want to find more, why not add put some of the sites that have submitted to the same directory category as you through a backlink checker tool. Chances are they have submitted to more directories.

9) Recipricol Link Building

This again is a bit of a talking point

Does it work?

Will you get penalised?

Should you use a third site?

If it makes sense then it should work.

For example if you have an accommodations business it’s likely you will provide a local attractions page for your website visitors. Approaching local attractions asking them for a link within their local accommodations resource, explaining you have promoted them on your site also makes sense, job done.

10) Sponsored Posts

Many bloggers will allow you to promote your business on their website via a sponsored post. You should identify the most relevant, authoritive sites to post on. Cold hard cash will probably have to be exchanged, so make sure it’s worth it. Be prepared to do a little haggling!

11) Create authority content

This old chestnut! While the phrase “Just create quality content and you will receive all the powerful backlinks you could ever need” is very unlikely to happen without any promotion, creating exceptional content and building links to it, promoting it, basically getting it infront of as many interested eyes as possible is a great way to build backlinks.

12) Best of blog posts

Site owners love creating these types of posts, it’s authority content! 25 Places To Visit in London,  15 Best Designed Cake Making Websites, 6 Best Holiday Parks In The UK etc. Find them relevant to your business, reach out, butter them up and ask to join the party, providing them with your URL of course!

13) Submit your website for feedback

Friendly advice from “experts” never goes a miss – layout, conversion potential whatever. Submitting your website to feedback sites will provide you with as much advice as you need – oh and often an authoritive backlink back to your website!

14) Broken Link Building

In a nutshell you find broken links on websites you believe would be a good fit for a link back to your website and contact the site owner informing them of their broken links. Because you have done them such a kind favour (who wants broken links on their website) maybe they could repay you by linking to your similar site?

15) Infographics

I could have included this in create authority content, but I’m going for large number of ways to build backlinks in order for this article to become authority content!

I like infographics because I’ve found it’s often an easier sell than content.

For example, a webmaster that has a piece of content on “How to cook the perfect Sunday dinner” will be more likely to embed an infographic (with link) on this topic, than they would just linking to a relatively similar article.

You also have the option to submit to infographic sites, providing further opportunities.

It will cost about £200 to get a half decent infographic, that will do the job perfectly.

16) Blog Network

Not for the faint hearted! Is it against Google’s TOS to buy authoritive domains and build out websites solely for the purpose of backlinks – yes it is. Have they targeted this kind of method in recent updates – yes they have.

What’s stopping you building out relevant sites, with the user in mind but also providing the opportunity to link back to though?

Expired domains can be costly and building out several sites will not be cheap, you need to work out if the investment will be beneficial.

17) Discussion Boards

Make use of discussion boards, by providing relevant answers backed up by content on your website (include link) to questions.

Quora is a good one, there are plenty more!

18) Start Relevant Threads In Forums

There are forums for the majority of industries and niches. Start a thread providing advice, a review – whatever. Include a link to supporting content on your website. To find forums in your industry click here.

19) Press Releases

We submit newsworthy stories to local publications for clients frequently. Although the links aren’t that powerful, they are from publications which are geographically related to the business. If we can’t find a newsworthy angle, we normally just run a competition and give something away.

20) Round Up (“expert”) Posts

Is their a major talking point in your niche, a common question people are looking for the answer to.

Why not ask people you know can provide you with a good explanation and publish a round up post on your website.

Many of the “experts” will link to the post and promote via their social media channels.

21) Network Offline

Speaking to people face to face with the same request as via an email is often a lot more effective. If you attend networking and business events anyway,then start using it as an opportunity to broach the subject of backlinks.

If you don’t attend these type of events, maybe you start?

22) Social Media Websites

Google My Business, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Linkedin should all include a link back to your website.

Will adding links to these social media sites rocket propel your website to the top of the search engines? Most definitely not.

It does help to connect the dots though.

23) Develop or create a unique or handy tool

Is there a piece of software or handy tool you can develop to help people in your industry? Don’t worry you can hire a developer reasonably cheaply to build a relatively simple tool.

This works because it’s rare. Millions of site owners are producing content on a daily basis, not many are providing handy tools for an industry problem. People are way more likely to provide you a link for going that extra mile!

24) Link Out

In many instances your website will be a social tool, start spreading some love and link out to other relevant websites and informing them of this.

Often a link to them will be enough to get a link back.

25) Create Templates

Similar to creating a unique or handy tool. Business card templates, a WordPress theme? If it provides a helpful solution it will recieve links. You could even embed a link on a WordPress template for example – but be careful.

26) Build them internally

A great site structure which directs users to other similar content on your website via keyword rich internal links is a great tactic. The best thing is you can build as many as you like.

27) Donate

Donating to non-profit organisations not only helps the organisation, but can often provide your website with a killer link.

You can find opportunities by using various search strings

  • “donate for”
  • “donate to”
  • “donate online”
  • “donate now”
  • “make donation”

You can find more here.

Once you have found some good opportunities, put the websites you see have made a donation through a backlink checker tool and you will likely find even more opportunities.

28) EDU Backlinks

I’ve found the easiest way to get EDU backlinks is by offering the organisation a discount on a product or service for students.

If this isn’t possible alot of them do have resource and useful link pages and will include your site if they think it’s a good fit.

29) HARO

Help a reporter out. The site is a hub for reporters and journalists looking for stories. Provide them with a story and the URL of a piece of content on your website to back the story up.

30) Blog Commenting

Make relevant and useful comments only. If your comment is useful or controversial enough you may even get some referral traffic to your website, as well as a link back.

Friendly advice – probably best not to make it ridiculously controversial just for the sake of it.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

What is a Citation?

A citation is an online reference to your businesses NAP – name, address and phone number.

In some cases the mention will include a link back to your website, often it will not.

An example of a citation might be a listing in a local directory:

Local Citation Example

Google takes NAP mentions into consideration when measuring your businesses online presence (along with reviews, backlinks and other factors).

Based solely on opinion, David Mihm states that local citations make up approximately 25% in local search ranking factors.

Local Ranking Factors

It’s probably an accurate estimation which suggests the more citations you gain for your small business from quality sources, the higher your rankings are likely to be. It makes sense to the algorithm that a business which is being mentioned a lot online, should rank above a business website which is hardly being mentioned at all.

NAP information can be published horizontally, vertically, with spaces or even upside down it really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that all the information is there and its consistent across the board, same business name, telephone number and address.

Consistency is important because Google uses the NAP mentions to cross reference the information they have displayed in their local search listings. If exactly the same nap is mentioned on 40+ websites, the algorithm will feel confident it is the correct, accurate information to display to searchers.

Being consistent is likely to earn your business website a little love back from Google, it’s important you recognise this and spend time getting things right and conducting regular audits and edits.

Are Some Citations More Powerful Than Others?

The answer is yes, most definitely. Much like backlinking low quality high numbers will not win this game, citation builders who target relevant websites in terms of location and or industry will be crowned champions.

Where to get citations?

The best place to get citations are from the main data aggregrators and providers, this should always be your starting point.

To save you time, we have compiled a comprehensive list for both UK and US businesses, which can be downloaded here.

Although directories are a great place to get citations they are not the only place. Other sources include:

  • Locally Focused Directories
  • Local Blogs
  • Local business associations and chambers of commerce
  • Industry related associations and websites
  • Partnerships with other local businesses
  • Press releases
  • Local newspaper directories
  • Forum signatures

How to find good citations

1) Whitespark

Whitespark is a local citation finder tool, which will find citations from both key-phrase and competitor searches. It’s important to note that much like link building there is absolutely no point in reinventing the wheel and spending to long on finding high quality citations your competitors haven’t got.

At just $20 per month which is all you will need if building citations for one site, it’s a valuable tool and simple to use.

Key-phrase search

citation keyphrase search

Results

keyphrase results

Competitor Search:

competitor citation search

Results

competitor citation results

2) NAP Search in Google

Searching for a competitors NAP in Google will provide you with a free option of uncovering many opportunities.

Use the following search string:

“Competitors business name”AND”Postcode” -site:http://www.website.com

To be more specific if you were analysing the business who’s web page was currently ranking 1 for “dentist london” the search string would be:

“Bow Lane Dental Group” AND “EC4M 9EE” -site:http://www.bowlanedental.com/

Providing 59 results and plenty of good opportunities:

nap search in google

3) Utilise social media

You may or may not have social media accounts set up for your business. If you have add your NAP details, if you haven’t, set them up on the following:

  • Facebook business page
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Linkedin
  • Foursquare

4) Yext

Yext will ensure you get listed on multiple directories, however it comes at a cost of $475 A YEAR! In my opinion this is a huge expense which simply doesn’t add up, you may think differently however. Either way it’s an option.

The Do’s & Dont’s

Do's
  • Remove duplicates
  • Try your best to keep NAP information consistent
  • Only submit what’s permitted to your chosen sources
  • Keep clear records of all sources you have submitted to and login details
  • Take time selecting as many of the correct categories when submitting for your business
  • Conduct regular audits of your citations and edit accordingly
Dont's

Dont’s

  • Think it’s a low quality numbers game. 2,000 citations is to many
  • Get stressed out over 100% NAP consistency just do your best
  • Try to do everything in a day, 1 – 2 hours is fine, it could take 2 months for you to finish a citation building campaign which is also fine.
  • Don’t hire someone you are unsure of (from fiverr as an example) to build your citations. It might be quick and cheap initially, but could
  • Forget that although Google is king, the queen and other family members – Bing Places, Apple Maps and Yahoo Local should still have correct and complete listings.
  • Confine yourself to free listings only. If you uncover influential and reputable sources that high ranking competitors are listed on, it will be worth investing a little cash to reap the long term rewards.
  • Submit to a source before thoroughly checking your business is not already listed there.
  • Skimp with the extra details. If you are able to include services, additional information, keywords, logo and images then do it! Google may take this information into consideration when trying to work out what your business provides.

Don’t Forget Your Website

Including your NAP on every page of your website will help to optimise your business website further by ensuring your geographic and contact information is listed predominately. This is the first step in implementing schema which enables the embed of structured data used by search engines, a tactic both underused and highly effective within local SEO.

God, this is boring!

Personally I have the attention span of a goldfish, especially carrying out mundane tasks such as this. if you are a small business owner and have decided to do your SEO in house, I’d highly recommend hiring a freelancer or using autofill software like Roboform.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

It’s Monday morning and with the weekend cobwebs still firmly in your brain, you have to find the inspiration to gain your website some traction with great content for the week ahead.

As easy as it may be to write up 300 words on a topic related to your business, it isn’t an assured way of affecting your rankings in a positive way.

Sometimes it’s best to think outside the box and do more than the bare minimum to get ahead.

If you’re struggling for inspiration when it comes to content creation, there are plenty of ideas and sources that can help.

Inspiration Resources

Need to tune up your writing muscles? These resources below should be able to help with that. If you aren’t convinced, they’re all free!

Story Wars

Face off against other writers in a race to see who can produce the best work from a topic of choosing.

Portent

Insert a keyword and find a headline to work with from there.

Hubspot Blog Topic Generator

Choose three nouns and generate a topic based on them. Handy when you’re scratching your head.

Google Trends

Find out what people are searching for and see if you can capitalise on it with great content.

Buzzsumo

Find out what kind of content is really resonating with readers right now.

Editorial

Struggling to stick to a schedule or just need reminders to produce content? Perhaps you’re collaborating with other creators? Here’s what you need.

Editorial Calendar

Shows your current schedule for content and allows you to set reminders for any upcoming deadlines.

Edit Flow

Helps you to organise upcoming content and the assigned creators; essential if you’re working with a multi-author site.

Grammarly

Take some of the repetition out of proofreading with this tool that allows you to find the mistakes in yours and other’s writing.

Collaboration

SEO is a daunting industry if it’s just you versus the world, so here are some ideas to help you collaborate with others and produce wins for the both of you.

Guest Blogging

Produce the same great content for other sites that you would your own and you will find that guest blogging is worthwhile.

Shareable Content

The more readers are inclined to share your work, the likelier it is that you will be able to gain some backlinks as it reaches a wider audience. Here are some ideas to make clicking that share button more tempting.

Lists

Everyone likes a good ‘Top 10’ – create one that is relevant to your audience and the views are likely to follow.

Infographics

Platforms like Pinterest have popularised the use of infographics, so gather some statistics and produce something eye-catching.

Quotes

Gather quotes from respected voices in your industry to reach a wide audience.

Videos

Whether it’s just you talking about the products you have to offer or you providing commentary on recent developments in your industry, there’s always an audience for video content.
Polls

Is X better than Y? Let your audience decide.

Aggregation

What’s been going on in your industry over the past week? Let your audience know.

Networking

If you have produced something you feel others should share with their audience or just want to send out a tentative collaboration request, there are plenty of ways to do just that.
Typos/Incorrect Information

Noticed a mistake on someone’s blog? Send them an email and open up doors to possibly work together.

PR

Spend time on sharing your content by reaching out to a company/individual if they are mentioned in a recent post with a simple email.
Contests

This can be a tricky one if you’re on a small budget, but is a powerful way to reach an audience nevertheless. Think of email subscribers, most interesting comment and best guest submissions and reward those who stand out. Their desire to win might even result in a few shares and backlinks.

Controversy

Controversy courts clicks. Here’s how you can go against the grain and produce work that garners plenty of attention.

Counterarguments

Noticed that competitor X has slated subject Y? Write something to counter them, but obviously don’t go overboard!

Startling Statistics

The entertainment media loves to report surprising statistics. Utilise that same ethos for your content and generate plenty of views.

Reply to negative comments

Possibly the trickiest thing we have covered so far, but it’s usually advisable to tastefully rebuke negative feedback or concede that you might have got something wrong.

Miscellaneous

  • Prove an industry myth wrong and show off your knowledge at the same time.
  • Interview a respected voice in your industry and bring their audience with them, too.
  • Create a resource page with more information for your readers.
  • Write an FAQ for visitors that might need more guidance.
  • Produce guides on how to use your products.
  • Use something like Revive Old Post to make sure your older content doesn’t get lost.
  • Send newsletters at consistent times. Too often and you can lose subscribers, too irregularly and people can question why they subscribed to begin with.
  • Subscribe to relevant subreddits to find news and ideas. Reddit is the frontpage of the internet for a reason.
  • Join relevant Facebook and Google+ groups to research what your readers like to share and read about. As long as you contribute to those communities positively, people might appreciate you sharing your work with them too.
  • Find out what questions people are asking with Quora and produce a quality resource filled with answers for them to read.
  • Use quality stock photos to make your words pop. Places like Splashbase and Unsplash are fantastic resources. Best of all, they’re free with no accreditation required.
  • Tie-in your content theme with a popular movie, song or video game at the time. For example, many content creators are currently competing with each other to see how they can capitalise on the new Star Wars film. Although this particular example might not work for you and your niche, invest some time in finding one that does.
  • Create a free eBook. Everyone loves free stuff and especially when they come filled with an abundance of valuable information and insight they might not get elsewhere. The Lulu tool is great for this – creating eBooks doesn’t have to be complicated.
  • “Hacks”: create a resource page of essential tips to help your readers out.
James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.