By Essie Bester
Whether you have a small business or are the only dentist in town, the importance of a professional website and good search engine optimisation (SEO) may no longer be underrated. In these times your business will never reach its full profit potential or even survive without search engine optimisation.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process through which you can enhance your business’s online presence by means of an organic search (when a person is looking for a specific term or phrase in a search engine such as Google or Yahoo). The search results are then displayed in order of most relevant to least relevant according to the search engine.
The purpose of SEO is to get your website, article or blog as close as possible on that list because this will attract more feet (traffic) to your website, which will eventually lead to increased sales for you.
Why SEO is important to small businesses
One of the most important reasons why SEO is of vital importance to small businesses, is the fact that more than half of website traffic is generated by organic searches, while paid searches constitute only 15%.
Paid results are totally ignored by between 70% and 80% of people, and some even distrust businesses with sponsored presentations.
An SEO focus helps small businesses to create user-friendly websites and contributes to a stronger client experience, which 66% of consumers regards more important than prices. Increased website traffic enables you to collect more analysis data to better understand your audience with time.
SEO is therefore of vital importance to reach target clients and increase visibility.
Fortunately good SEO does not have to be expensive and even businesses with limited budgets can use different effective techniques and instruments to develop a quality SEO strategy. Here are a few of the best ways of doing it in 2020:
Any small business without a blog misses out on the opportunity to extend its reach and increase traffic. Blogging is a way of adding keywords organically to a website, and the regular creation of new contents means more traffic for your website.
New businesses that publish blogs get 97% more backlinks than those who do not do it. Backlinks connect your website with the contents of another website. You want other websites to quote you or refer to your website or its contents.
If the search engine senses that many other websites quote you, it will believe that your contents are reliable and your website will therefore get a higher rating.
- Optimise for mobile devices
Make sure that your website reacts and that it is smartphone-friendly. A responsive website is one that is optimised to display things on mobile devices and is a cheaper option than a mobile application (app). Use Google’s smartphone-friendly test at https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly to test whether your website is smartphone-friendly.
Google recently started mobile first indexing, which means that Google mainly uses the mobile version of the contents for indexing and the determination of ranking. This is to make sure that the growing number of users of mobile devices find what they are looking for because more than half of all searches come from mobile devices.
The optimisation of the meta-data of a site comprises the adaptation of titles, descriptions and URLs (a reference to or address of a source on the internet) to increase visibility.
Titles must display the key words of the page without affecting the readability. Meta-descriptions may not consist of more than 160 characters and must give a quick explanation of the contents and purpose of a page. Good URL’s will contain key words but are short because longer URL’s can make it difficult for search engines to understand the subject of a page.
By creating a sitemap (a simple text file that shows all the pages on your website) you make it easier for search engines because the risk of mistakes have been removed.
Site maps are easy to generate and lots of free tools are available. You could look at XML Sitemaps. Verify your website contents by using Google Search Console.
SEMrush (an all-in-one toolkit for improving online visibility and discovering marketing insight) is free and does an in-depth SEO audit of any website and does competitive analysis, subject research and more.
GrowthBar is ideal for key-word and backlink research, the study of domain authority and for developing an understanding of the value of traffic.
- Use lightweight image files
Attractive high-quality images are a must, but the larger the image or how higher the resolution, the longer it usually takes to download these images. And the longer the loading time, the likelier that visitors will leave your website.
Google research says that 53% of website visitors leave the website if a mobile website takes longer than three seconds to load. The same research showed that it would make a big difference if website owners would compress their images.
Find the balance between the provision of attractive images and those that load quickly. Use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights aid to see if your images should be further compressed. Use an instrument such as TinyPNG if necessary.
- Invite clients for reviews
First of all it could help you to earn credibility and win trust if they appear on SERPs (search engine result pages). Research shows that 88% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation.
If you encourage clients to give reviews, new content regarding your business is generated. Therefore, invite clients to write reviews after making purchases, either on Google or on a dedicated review website.