Posted on 16th December 2015 by Saija Mahon in SEO

Jan-Willem Bobbink will be speaking at the next BrightonSEO on the 22nd April 2016.
For people not familiar with search engine optimization, SEO can look like a difficult tactic to use. The opposite is actually true. Especially for small niche or local markets SEO is something every business owner can do: get the basics rights, add some creativity into the game and rankings will come!

Research your market and target groups

Nothing is as important as getting to know your clients and your potential customers. Even if online is not your core business, knowing what a website visitor actually expects from your web pages, is worth gold. Make sure you do research on what queries your current or potential clients are using in the search engines and adapt your content to it. For a starting website, is it not wise to target keyphrases with the most search volume but first focus on low volume, longtail focused queries. The general rule is simple: the more people search for a specific query, the more websites will compete to rank number 1!.

Via Google’s Adwords Keyword planner is it easy to gain insights in local search volumes. You can easily filter on language, country and device. But maybe even quicker and without using non-familiar tools: ask current customers, your relatives or employees what they would use to search and find the services or products you are selling. Google AdWords is giving an indication but that will never come as close as asking real people what they use. Use the following guide from Moz to start your keyword research: Moz beginners guide to Keyword Research

Optimize basic SEO elements

Within SEO, especially in less competitive localised markets, the website quality still can make a huge difference. Take care of having all the basic SEO requirements sorted. Make sure you have used all the required basic elements like title’s, meta description and headings (H-headings). Avoid any technical tricks, Google has grown up and can’t be messed around with any more (almost). Write a decent amount of content to help Google understand and appreciate your page. Show your expertise about the products or services you are trying to sell. Help potential customers out with solving their problems. Browse through relevant message boards and questions driven sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers to get ideas about the content and answers people are looking for.

Do not make your website complicated from a structural point of view. If you only want to be found on a dozen products, do not create numerous product categories, tag or overview pages. Keep it stupid simple, minimize the amount of pages. That will do the trick for a lot of niche specific domains! Read Google’s extensive instructions about how to develop a decent, SEO-friendly website: Steps to a Google-friendly site

Using existing relationships for link acquisition

The number and quality of external links pointing to specific domain is still a heavy signal for Google in determining the ranking order of the search engine result pages. Once you have built a SEO-Friendly website and took care of the content, making sure it fits user behaviour the hardest challenge starts: gaining enough links to outrank your competitors. Especially in niches where the top 10 all have an optimized website, the link profiles are decisive in getting the best rankings. The first thing to do is asking people you already have an established relationship with:

Clients, friends & family: ask for reviews on external platforms or their own blogs. You’ll be surprised how many people nowadays share their life on blog platforms like WordPress.org. If you do not ask, you’ll never know. Give away incentives for writing about your services or products, that also generates a lot of useful feedback about the company’s performance too.

Suppliers: exchange links from a shared interest. Linking to a shop where specific goods are sold makes sense from a customer’s point of view. Linking to the distributor for more information about specific products makes sense too. A clear win-win situation if done a way the customer benefits from it. In most cases you’ll benefit most from it since the suppliers will have gained links during the years so they can pass on more linking value to you as vice versa.

Local business directories: look for local company directories, local newspapers or other type of media outlets. These are not only relevant for local SEO factors, but can also generate great amount of traffic .

Organise small events: are you proud about your product or services? Built an event around it, both for your offline and online connections. Invite a number of well known bloggers who can promote your company and maybe share a few links pointing to your landing pages. The trick is to be different, since there are many of these events where bloggers get invited but never turn up since they have to choose. Being unique and totally different will get them interested.

Link building shouldn’t cost any money (if you are not counting your own creativity as time, which equals money). Use this extensive sum up from Jon Cooper to generate a couple of relevant ideas for your own website: the most complete list of link building tactics!

SEO is all about setting the basics right and be more visible compared to your competitors. Having a great product or a unique service will be the most easy to rank website.

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