25 Apr Understanding SEO for Business in 2019 [Comprehensive Guide]
There are 5.7 million private businesses in the U.K (Source: Parliament UK). This makes the business environment highly competitive especially for small businesses. So the question is, how do you not only survive but also thrive in this cut-throat competition? One method you can look at for growing your business is SEO!
Just like it is important for you to get the right web design and web development service for your business’s website, it is more crucial for you to get that website in front of a relevant audience to get a boost in traffic and ultimately conversions.
This is arguably the best way businesses can compete with other similar brands and get ahead of them in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you don’t know what SEO is then don’t fret, we will cover SEO in great detail in the guide below so you can understand why it is key factor in helping your business get ahead of the competition. So with that said, let’s start:
Understanding SEO in Detail:
SEO is an acronym of Search Engine Optimisation which is a practice of increasing the traffic of your website in terms of both the quantity and the quality by organically ranking your website in the search results of search engines like Google. To help you further understand this definition of SEO, let’s break this definition below:
- Increasing Quality of Traffic: This simply means that you need to get the type of traffic that truly matches the niche of your website and the content you have available on it. If you are a business then you need to target people who are super related to your business. This is what we call a ‘quality’ traffic where if you sell glass windows, you get visitors looking to buy the glass windows not windows 10 by Microsoft.
- Increasing Quantity of Traffic: This one is a no-brainer because the primary purpose of doing SEO is to increase the traffic of your website so you get more businesses. By ranking higher in the search results of search engines, you will increase the amount of traffic to your website and if you target the right keywords (terms searched by people) that are super-relevant to your business, you will get both, the increased quality and quantity of traffic.
- Organic Ranking: There are two ways to rank in Google. The first one is through PPC (pay per click) where you pay to appear at the top. The second one is organic ranking where you rank without leveraging ads which means you don’t have to pay.
SEO has become more important than ever for virtually every business looking to get established online because according to SEO Tribunal;search engines drive 93% of all website traffic. This means if you are ranked on the first page, you are going to get massive traffic consisting of potential customers.
How SEO Works?
You type in a query in a search engine like Google and it magically shows you tons of answers to your query. Now how does that happen? How do search engines know what results to show for a query as billions of things are being searched on a daily basis? This is where SEO helps both search engines to show relevant answers to queries and businesses to appear only in the search result of people who need their product or services.
Basically, what happens is that search engines send crawlers to every website that is added (indexed) to their database. The crawlers crawl through the website(s) and then bring back the information regarding what that particular website is all about.
So if your business is about Website Design or Website Development, crawlers will tell the search engines about it. Then the special algorithm of the search engine matches that information with the queries searched by users and show the relevant results.
For instance, if your website is about website design and is indexed in Google then if someone searches website design services then your website would appear in the search results.
But, that is not as simple as it seems, you need to go through the complex process of SEO to make sure that the algorithm of a search engine shows you at the top results for a search query. You can have a look at the factors that given priority by algorithms of search engines when ranking at this excellent guide by MOZ.
7 Common Benefits of SEO:
SEO Helps You Build Brand Identity:
You can build massive brand identity by leveraging SEO because brand identity is always built with a steady exposure which you get when you are out there in front of people who need your product or services. And according to Search Engine Journal; 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine making SEO the best way to be in front of such people.
So if someone searches best window washers in the U.K and your business appears at the top, they will obviously see it, and there is a higher chance that they will hire you. But, the conversion is not the only benefit you will get. Your brand’s name will also take a position in their minds.
And even if someone doesn’t buy from you for the first time, they will get familiar with your brand, and that’s what matters in the long run. This is because according to a study conducted by Neilsen; consumers are far more likely to buy new products from brands they are familiar with.
You Get More Traffic:
This is the whole point of doing SEO because the higher you rank, the more traffic you get and that will help you achieve more leads, conversions and brand familiarity.
But, that will only happen if you are ranking on the first page because 75% of the users never go past the first page. (Source: Search Engine People)
Though it is a bummer for businesses that appear on the 2nd or 3rd pages but on the flip side, it is a blessing for those who manage to rank on the first page as they will be getting that 75% of the traffic.
Also, according to Iron Paper; SEO is the number one driver of traffic beating social media by 300% which means if you just manage to get that sweet spot on the first page, you don’t even need to spend on social media ad campaigns to get higher traffic.
You Get Credibility and Authority:
If you appear at the top in search results, you automatically get credibility in the eyes of the consumer because you are being preferred by the search engine and that is the reason that 18% clicks go to the first search result out of millions of other results. (Source: Search Engine People)
Furthermore, one of the major ranking factors on search engines is the backlinks (links coming back to your website) from authority sites (websites that are already established).
As a part of your SEO campaign, you will get backlinks from such websites in your niche that will obviously increase your authority and credibility because you are referred by another authority website.
For instance, if you have a coffee shop and you get featured on a website that reviews restaurants and cafes in your town, don’t you think that will increase your credibility? That is the reason why brands focus on SEO as a way to boost their credibility and authority over the internet.
Keep Up With Competition:
Business trends are changing with a fast pace, and in just one decade, the internet space has been taken over by all types of big and small businesses. And with almost the entire population of the U.K using the internet that is around 54.2 million monthly internet users (Statista), you need to have an online presence to get an edge over the competitors or at least compete with them.
So by leveraging the internet for digital marketing that includes SEO, you will be staying ahead of the businesses that don’t. And the best part is that the population of internet users in the U.K is expected to rise to a staggering 56.7 million by 2021. (Source: Statista)
This means by leveraging SEO to get in front of people you will get more exposure, sales, and build a massive customer base.
Increased Engagement and Conversions:
According to GoDaddy; conversion rates are 10 times higher on search than from social media which means that if you manage to get a good ranking, you will obviously increase your conversion rates.
Furthermore, if we look at it from a logical point of view, then people who search for something on a search engine are more like to buy it because they have already made up their mind to buy that product or service which is why they are searching for it in the first place.
This means that these people are ready to convert customers who are looking for a credible business that offers quality and has a good authority over the internet which you will get by doing SEO.
So it makes sense if the search has a higher rate of conversion than social media because on social media, people are not actively searching for a product, but they are doing it on search engines.
Cheaper Than Paid Advertising:
According to Digital Gyd; 51% of all search traffic comes from organic search and just 10% from paid search. Granted, if you hire an SEO expert, then it will obviously cost some money but advertising on the internet will also incur heavy costs and will result in only 10% of traffic
Now the benefit of advertising on social media or other platforms is that it will provide you with instant exposure to their audience.
But here’s the kicker, you will have to spend a lot of money even if you hire a social media advertising expert because it is not cheap to place ads over the internet.
However, if you do SEO of your brand’s official website, then you will slowly start to build a very loyal audience base that will be super interested in what you offer.
Furthermore, you will eventually get to the first page in search results that will drive an insane amount of FREE traffic for as long as you manage that position on the first page.
Two Parts of SEO
SEO is divided into two parts that are primarily focused by businesses:
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
Now both of these are very powerful if done properly and the important thing to note here is that you need both of them to complete your SEO campaign and see results. Let’s talk about both in detail:
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is concerned with optimising the pages of your website including the blog posts to allow the search engine crawlers crawl through your web pages easily and register them. Things like having a good website loading speed to targeting niche specific keywords are all the factors of On-Page SEO.
If everything is done correctly, then you will see an increase in your ranking just by doing on-page SEO. But, to boost your ranking and make sure that you are holding your position in Google’s rankings, you need to combine your On-page SEO with Off-page SEO.
Why Do You need to Do On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO tells search engines like Google who you are and why you should be at the top of the search results whenever someone searches the keywords you are targeting.
Without the use of On-Page SEO, your website will not be able to climb ranks in Search Engines’ searches because firstly, they will not be able to recognise what your website is all about.
And secondly, your competitors will be doing On-Page SEO of their website which means that they will be given priority over you by search engines and you will have pretty slim chances of getting ranked.
How Is On-Page SEO done?
Now if you are wondering how On-Page SEO is done or how you can do On-Page SEO, then have a look at the most fundamental, yet, most important factors of On-Page SEO:
Google deeply cares about the speed of a website because according to research; 47% of your target audience expects your website to load within two seconds. So that means if you are targeting the people of U.K, 47% of them will close your website if it is not fast enough.
This is the reason that you need to focus on increasing your website speed by getting a good hosting as a part of your On-Page SEO efforts. Furthermore, the faster your website is, the quicker Google’s crawlers will crawl through it and the easier it will be to rank your website.
Create Valuable Content:
This is the most important part of the whole On-Page SEO. You need to create evergreen content that is targeted towards solving a problem. If you are a carpet selling business, talk about how people can find good carpets for their bedroom, stairs, and basements and so on.
This content adds value and that is what Google prefers. Furthermore, try to write longer articles that are around 2000+ words because according to Flight Media; longer articles tend to rank better. So take your time, do thorough research, gather stats and facts and then write a long valuable blog post.
Keyword Research and Placement:
This is another important thing to focus on because, without Keywords, you cannot do much for your On-Page SEO. Make sure to use tools like Google Keyword Planner and find out low competition keywords with at least 1000 per month searches and then intelligently place them in your blog posts. Here are a few places to use keywords:
- Use the main keyword (the one with highest searches) in the title of your blog
- Use the main keyword in the first paragraph of your blog
- Main keyword and other keywords in the subheadings
- Naturally spread your keywords in the whole article
Focus on Meta Tag:
On-Page SEO will work best if you keep things like the ALT tag, Meta description, title tag, and so on but the most important ones are title tag and the Meta description because these are the two things visible to your audience.
The title tag is the title of your blog, and the Meta description is the small description that appears beneath the title of your blog in search results.
Make sure to have a short title tag under 60 characters because Google won’t show anything more than 60 characters in search results. You can use the preview tool by MOZ to see how your title looks.
According to Survey Monkey; around 43.2% of people click on a search result purely based on the Meta description. So it is imperative that you write an attractive Meta description that sums up your whole article.
Furthermore, DO NOT use keywords in the Meta description. Instead, use their synonyms like if the keyword is ‘best places to visit in the U.K’ you can use ‘Best tourists attractions in the U.K’ this will keep the search engine happy and obviously help you rank.
Inclusion of Links:
Last but not the least, make sure to include relevant outbound links (links going to outside sources) in your articles like when you are quoting something from a website or adding stats from another website, add their links. This helps search engines understand what your website is about and that helps you rank better.
For instance, if you are writing a blog on CBD and you cite a medical study from another well-established CBD blog, search engines will understand that your blog is also talking about CBD and will rank it in search queries related to CBD.
So these are a few most important factors to focus on when it comes to On-Page SEO. Make sure to first have a good grip on these and then move on to more advanced tactics.
What is Off-page SEO?
Off-Page refers to various techniques that are used to improve the rank of a website in the search engine results. A lot of people connect Off-Page SEO with just link-building, but it is much more than that. If you don’t know what link building is, don’t fret, we will explain it below.
Anyways, so Off-Page SEO, in general, refers to the promotion methods of the website for the primary purpose of getting a higher rank in search results.
So unlike On-Page SEO, where you work inside the boundaries of your website, with Off-Page SEO, you perform activities outside of your website’s boundaries.
Why Do You need to Do Off-Page SEO?
For decades, search engines have been striving to provide their users with the best possible and most relevant search results. And to achieve this, they take into account the factors associated with On-Page SEO that are mentioned above and some Off-Page SEO factors that we will discuss below.
By looking at your Off-Page SEO efforts, search engines get a very good idea of how the world perceives your website. A website that has a high quality of useful content will have backlinks from other websites.
Furthermore, the website will have mentions on Social sites like shares on Facebook, tweets, and pin etc. These are all the factors that help search engines understand which website is getting popularity among people due to its valuable content and that helps a website get ranked higher.
How Is Off-Page SEO done?
Various activities are carried out when it comes to Off-Page SEO, however, to make it easy for you to understand how it is done, we will talk about the three major factors that Off-Page SEO is comprised off:
Building backlinks for your website are one of the most crucial factors for getting your website ranked higher in search engines. According to a survey of 628 SEOs by SEO PowerSuite; 72% agreed that backlinks are very important in increasing a website’s ranking. This shows how big of a role link building plays in Off-Page SEO.
To make it simple for you, link building means getting links back to your website from other websites relevant to your niche. So by building external links, you are simply getting votes that help you get ahead of the competition and rank higher in search results.
Now there used to be various methods of building links in the past like commenting your blog’s URL on other websites to get a link back, posting the URL in forums, submitting it into article directories to get links and more. But, as search engines grew cleverer, they started recognising these shady tactics, and now these methods don’t work.
So what works now? Well, the best way is to do guest posting. It is a process of posting quality blogs on other websites relevant to your niche and then putting a backlink in the post to refer the audience of that website back to your website.
This is the most incredible way of building links to your website and getting credibility in the eyes of search engines and climbing the ranking. Another way is to write incredibly useful content with facts and figures, so other websites link your website for reference in their blogs and that also earns you backlinks.
The use of social media is becoming a popular factor of Off-Page SEO because if your blog is shared on social media sites, then it is getting a link back to your website.
Although that link is not as valuable as getting a link from a website by doing a guest post, it still holds value because there was something in your content that made people shareit on social media.
This is what counts in the eyes of search engines, and that’s why social sharing is now a significant ranking factor which is why it helps websites climb rankings in search results.
Tip: If you have a profile on social media where you share your content, you will get a lot of traffic from there because online adults aged 18-34 have a 95% chance of following a brand via social networking (MarketingSherpa). This is what you can leverage to get good traffic from social media.
Though this method is not as popular as it used to be a few years back, it still holds value, and you can get a lot of help from it in the ranking. If you don’t know, social bookmarking is the practice of sharing your website’s content on social bookmarking sites and not only get a link back to your website but also get massive traffic from them.
Sites like Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, Diggo and more can be used to share your blog posts and get a massive growth in your website’s traffic. According to eBizMBA.com; Pinterest alone has an estimated of 85.5 million unique monthly viewers.
So assuming that you have a high-quality, valuable content to share, you can have an explosive increase in traffic if you start to share your content in social bookmarking websites. This will tell search engines that your website has something valuable to offer and will obviously help you with rankings.
Understanding local and international SEO:
There are two types of SEO that are done by businesses to get ranking in search results. Now just like national and multinational firms, SEO is also categorised into International and Local SEO.
First, let’s have a look at what these categories of SEO are and then we will discuss which one to go for as a business later in this guide.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is done for the businesses that are providing products or services in a specific geographic region like just in the U.K. So for such businesses, it makes sense to only focus on getting ranked in search queries related to the U.K because you will not be able to facilitate people in other countries so it is useless to get ranked in search results of U.S when you are doing business in the U.K only.
Let’s Take a Look at an Example:
Let’s say you have a carpet business in the U.K and you have a store in Chesterfield, but you can deliver carpets all over the U.K.
Now you find out that people are using keywords like ‘cheap carpets Chesterfield, Best carpets in Worksop, and Best deals on carpets on Bristol’ to search for carpets in the U.K.
So it will make sense that you only target these keywords in the On-Page SEO of your website to appear in these search results and get in front of potential customers from the U.K.
It will make no sense to target people who are searching for carpets in New York because you do not ship carpets outside of the U.K. So this is what local SEO is all about, you try to rank in local search results.
Benefits of Local SEO:
Reach Local Customers:
People who perform local search and find a business in their vicinity DO visit that store. According to Digital Gyd; 72% of consumers who performed local search visited a retailer within a 5-mile radius.
So if you manage to get a spot on the first page and people see your business when they search for relevant keywords, you are going to get a massive increase in offline visits to your store.
Boost in Revenue:
As stated by Search Engine Land; 78 percent of local searches done with mobile phone result in offline purchases. And if we look at the number of mobile phone users in the U.K then according to Statista, as of 2015, there were 41.09 million smartphone users in the U.K, and the number is expected to grow to 53.96 by 2022.
This means 78% of 53.96 million people which is 42 million people are likely to make a purchase after doing a local search for a product. If you just get even a fraction of this number to buy from you through Local SEO, you can see how much money you are going to make.
You can Get Direct Bookings:
According to Digital Gyd; 45% of UK’s smartphone users are comfortable with researching, booking, and planning their whole trip to a new travel location using only a mobile device, and we all know people who plan trips through mobile phones usually do it through the internet.
This means if you are a travelling agency or another booking business, you will get more bookings without having to spend on heavy advertisements as you can just get in front of people through Local SEO.
What is an International SEO?
International SEO is exactly what it sounds! You are reaching people on an international level which means you are competing with other businesses for search results that are displayed to people from around the world.
Though it means A LOT of traffic, it also means a huge competition. You will have to spend a lot of time, money and make an effort to get on the first page.
Let’s Have a Look at an Example:
Taking the same example, let’s say you sell carpets in the whole world. You may have a shop in the U.K, but you can deliver in the whole world or many parts of the world.
Now you will target broad keywords like ‘Cheap carpets for sale, Best carpet deals, Discount on Carpets’ and so on.
This way, you will get international traffic because you are not targeting searches done from specific cities like Worksop or Chesterfield.
Benefits of International SEO:
Connect With Target Audience Around the World:
According to Propecta; 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine which means you will be able to connect with the majority of online users around the world who are searching for what you offer.
So by getting ranked in search results for international users, you will be able to get visibility and see the growth of your business in terms of both revenue and scalability.
It’s Almost Free:
Though it will cost you some money at first because you will be paying an expert SEO agency to carry out the whole campaign for you but when you get a dominant position in the first page for a majority of search terms (keywords) your cost will go significantly down, and you may not have to pay any more.
This is not the case with paid ads. You will pay for them from day one and will keep paying until you take them down. But here’s the good part; Organic SEO is 5.66 times better than paid ads. (Source: New Media Campaigns)
So it makes total sense to organically rank your website and cultivate benefits in the long run than just doing paid advertising.
Become an International Brand:
If you want to dominate the international market, you need to appear in places where users from around the world definitely spend their time. Granted that Facebook is the place where people spend their time the most, but you can get exposure on Facebook through paid ads. What is the 2nd best place where people from around the world go? Google, right?
Well, that is precisely what you need. And the best part is that you will appear in front of the people who really need what you are offering as they will be searching for it on Google.
And once people start to visit your website through search engines, your brand will obviously start to get a position in their minds which will help you get established as an international brand.
Do You Need SEO for Your U.K Based Business?
YES! The answer to this question is definitely a yes because the U.K has around 54.2 million monthly internet users (Statista) and everybody uses search engine nowadays. This means you will be getting in front of a majority of potential customers by just ranking in search engine.
Furthermore, according to Our Social Times, SEO is the top online marketing channel in the U.K with a 45% total share. This is HUGE for businesses looking to focus on SEO.
Still, if you are on the fence about whether to get SEO done for your U.K based business, you need to understand that there are two benefits that you will get through SEO if you act now. Let’s have a look at them below:
Benefits of SEO of U.K Businesses:
Besides the obvious benefits of SEO mentioned above, you will get two advantages as a U.K based business, have a look at them below:
Short Term Benefit:
One of the best parts of doing SEO for your U.K based business is that the online market of U.K is growing at a very exponential rate which is around 15.6% a year. (Source Ashburnham)
This means if you take the plunge now and get your business website’s SEO done. You will climb up the ranking pretty fast.
The reason is that not all of the businesses have migrated to the online world and there is still space for your business to get ranked in a low, competitive environment.
Long Term Benefit:
According to Ashburnham; the average weekly online spend in the U.K market is around 1.1 billion GBP. This is huge, and the best part is that the online market of U.K is seeing a constant growth which means this number will be much higher in the coming years.
So as a business with little to no dominance in the online space, you need to get ranked in search engines and become an authority while there is low competition.
So in the future, when people of U.K are spending a lot more money at online shopping, you will be an already established brand in the digital space, and the newcomers will have no chance against you.
So this is all about SEO, how it is done, its types and whether as a U.K based business, you should be doing it or not! Remember, that it is strongly suggested that you go for SEO because the future of the online market of U.K is very bright and if you don’t take the step now, you will have to spend a lot more time, effort and money in the future to do the same thing that we are suggesting you do now.
Also, when it comes to doing SEO on your own or getting it done from an expert, we strongly suggest that you let the experts handle it because not only they have years of experience in SEO, they understand all the technicalities that you don’t.
Furthermore, experts have a team of skilled people who know what they are doing; this ensures that your money invested in SEO cultivate highest possible ROI for your business.
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