SEO is SEO, right? Not if you’re strategic.
There is only so much SEO activity you can carry out at any time. It’s knowing how and when to choose the activities that matter most. For SMEs, the strategies that work best might actually stray from traditional practices, so our recommendation is to focus on what will benefit your small business most.
Your SEO strategy should address a number of things, including:
Looking into these things is crucial and should always be done on a case-by-case basis. That way, you can be sure you really are building the best SEO strategy for your particular SME.
How is SEO different for SMEs?
Let’s say that your business is a London restaurant. There are lots of them, competition is fierce in the search results, and page one (and possibly two and three) ranks are dominated by local directories.
Or maybe you sell trainers, where the top ranks for the most ‘obvious’ product-based keywords are taken by Adidas, Nike and so on.
Understanding which SEO keywords are worth your time is vital and you must know where you can and can’t compete. That’s where we come in.
Let’s have some honesty: largely, no matter who you are, you won’t compete with directories and you won’t compete with brands like Adidas or Nike. But that doesn’t mean you can’t rank. It means we change tact.
Our approach to SEO for small businesses
We provide bespoke SEO strategies for SMEs that are based on objectives, business type, competition and more.
We look into which activities are likely to be most effective for your business, whether that be with a local SEO focus, content to acquire and/or engage target markets, competitive rankings, technical SEO or all of the above. We’ll strategically identify relevant and viable keyword combinations with extensive research and map out the way to ranking for them with ongoing optimisations, on and off-site, responding to changes in the search landscape as we go.
The role of SEO for SMEs
SEO is just one element of a large marketing toolbox. So how does it contribute to meeting your objectives?
Essentially, SEO is the central point of most marketing strategies. It brings together all of your digital marketing activity. Whether you’re looking to promote events, products, services, increase enquiries or store footfall, you need to be found in search results (unless you’re a hitman, maybe) – even if only in the research stage of the buyer journey.
There aren’t many businesses that SEO isn’t important for. Unless you’re so well established that Google will always give you a top rank due to authority, you’ll want to pay some attention to your performance in search results. After all, we can’t all be Apple.
SEO brings together your entire online presence: your website, your social media profiles, your search rankings, your content, anywhere your website or content is featured. All of these elements may operate in silos, but they all contribute to your rankings – even if not directly.
Ultimately though, the role of SEO within your business will depend on your specific objectives. Every SEO campaign is different, because every website is different.
If your business has a physical presence (like a hairdressers or restaurant), the focus of your strategy as a small business may be best placed in local SEO.
If you’re an online-only retailer, building a robust strategy to boost your rankings should be at the core of your plan. But either way, the role of the right SEO strategy is to bring in qualified website traffic that converts into customers.
Local SEO for SMEs
Local SEO is an important component for small businesses in particular. Its purpose is to ensure that your business is found across multiple search verticals (maps, Google My Business) as well text results and understanding the unique buyer journey of local customers.
This is of particular interest to businesses with a physical presence. Local SEO can often be how smaller organisations are chosen over more established businesses in search. If users can see that you are based much closer to them, or via a more convenient travel route, for example, you’re going to be a more appealing option.
Of course, this depends on your business type and objectives, as well as the type of buyer and what they’re motivated by; but this type of SEO is particularly valuable to any small businesses.
Back to the restaurant example – if your industry search landscape is dominated by local directories or even national press, that’s where you need to be. If not, it might be the case that your keyword strategy is based on more targeted, specific terms: ‘restaurants in London’ becomes ‘restaurant in London with a view of the Thames’, for example.
Every business is given the option to set up a Google My Business profile, but not every business optimises their listing for SEO. This is a major opportunity for an SEO boost. An optimised Google My Business profile increases the likelihood of Google selecting your search result for the local pack in relevant keyword searches.
This means that your business is featured front and centre in map results as an authoritative, relevant, local option. Some users will search for a local service via maps only, which gives context to the importance of optimising for this. Your Google My Business listing can include images, videos, reviews and even content and offers.
The Google My Business profile is a valuable contributor to your organisation’s citations, too. Citations are Google’s way of ensuring that your business information is genuine and consistent across the web. If it isn’t, your rankings will suffer.
You may have heard talk about ranking algorithms in conversations or research about SEO. Sure, it’s important, but ultimately, what matters most to Google (and likely always will) is authority and relevance. The whole point of Google indexing search results is to provide the most useful one straight out of the gate, so citations and reviews are an important indicator of your authenticity and authority to Google.
It’s important to remember that Google doesn’t know you and can only go on what you give them so, in simple terms, we make sure that our clients are essentially A+ students for Google’s criteria.
Effective SEO is about much more than ranking for product-based keywords (e.g. ‘ladies purple trainers’).
Content is another important element of an SEO strategy, no matter what kind of business you’re running. As far as we’re concerned, it’s not just about ranking for searches at the last step in the buyer journey, but about providing value the whole way through a prospective customer’s journey.
As soon as they start seriously researching your product, that shows buyer intent – so be there, be helpful and become the port of call.
SEO content is designed to help you rank for topics that are of interest to your customers – particularly within the research stage. Let’s say you sell cars, and somebody who lives nearby is interested in looking into going electric. It’s all well and good ranking well when this particular person comes to making their purchase but, at this stage, how many other car retailers’ websites have they visited?
To capture this kind of buyer, producing content that ranks around subjects like ‘the pros and cons of electric cars’, ‘the ultimate guide to electric cars’ or ‘how to choose an electric car’ provides value and contributes to the buyer journey of a user, so that when they come to making their decision, you’re already on their radar.
Transparency and commitment to goals
As a business our approach to everything that we do is with transparency at the core. If something isn’t right for your business, we will tell you.
We provide real-time reporting with a live dashboard for every client, which can be viewed at any time. You’ll get a unique login to access real-time data on how your campaign activity is performing: it doesn’t get more honest than that.
All of our marketing activity is fuelled by strategic planning and technical knowledge, with objectives at the core. Every campaign that we create is made up of logical elements each designed to contribute to achievement of a specific objective – otherwise there is simply no point in doing it.
Case Study: SEO for small businesses
When launching a new website for restaurant technology provider, Vita Mojo, we created an SEO strategy designed to help them rank for topics that prospective clients care about – not just their products.
This approach provides potential customers with valuable, useful content wherever they are on their buyer journey, particularly if you have a product with a longer lead-time or an extensive research stage.
Understanding the buyer journey is vital in identifying the most important touchpoints for them – once we had this down, we could figure out how best to reach those people.
With this in mind, we set out to capture prospects in three ways:
So we provided targeted content that prospects would be interested in using search data (food transparency and allergies and common restaurant pain points, for example) to highlight a connection in values between Vita Mojo and its prospective clients and problem-solve from the get-go. Then we got it to rank.
We also optimised for some product-focused keywords, carefully chosen to avoid keywords that are simply too broad and competitive (e.g. ‘restaurant software’) in favour of more targeted choices like ‘restaurant analytics system’. Half the battle is understanding the simple tweaks that take your keyword from unattainable to a major traffic driver for your business.
With the right keyword strategy, competitor research, content development and both on and off-page SEO optimisation, we gained established positions bringing in a steady flow of traffic.
Why choose Patch
With a dedicated SEO department, we have experts in SEO strategy, award-winning content writers, technical SEO gurus and citation building pros to ensure that whatever your SEO campaign involves, there is a specialist leading the way.
Our relationships with our clients are partnerships. As a full-service digital marketing agency, we see no real value in selling you one thing over another: we’re all about logic. If the activity is right for you, we’ll sell it to you. If it isn’t, we won’t.
Objectives are the driver of all that we do – simple.