Getting to Grips with the Basics of SEO

Getting to Grips with the Basics of SEO

Adam Chard, from online retailer Victoria Plum, shares five tips on how small business owners can get to grips with the basic elements of SEO

By Adam Chard

There are many ways that SEO can benefit your small business, such as ensuring your customers can easily find you online. However, it can be tricky to know where you should start if you're tackling your small business' SEO on your own. Here are four tips to help you along:

1. Crawl your site

First of all, you need to make sure your website fundamentals are sorted. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your website and find errors which could be holding back your rankings. 

Look for errors such as 404 pages, redirect chains and pages which are missing meta titles and descriptions. These are the basic SEO elements which need prioritising and fixing. 

2. Content 

Keyword research is a crucial aspect of SEO and one which is sometimes undervalued. By understanding what potential customers are actually searching for, you'll be able to tailor your website to target these search terms and ensure that customers can find you.

While Google is very good at determining what a page is about and can rank you for synonyms – having target keywords on a page really helps, and including them in titles is important. Target keywords are the search terms you think people will be putting into Google when looking for your business. This is an important step which small business owners often overlook but finding the right keywords to target is key. 

Some great places to search for keyword ideas are Google and 'People Also Ask' – where you’ll find all the questions people are already asking online. Another great resource is 'Answer the Public'. All you need to do is enter your topic and it will tell you the terms people are searching for on Google and other search engines. 

3. User experience

Having well-structured pages which are easy to understand and easy to navigate is vital for any website. Your site can be optimized from an SEO perspective, but if your site is difficult for people to use and understand they are unlikely to spend a significant amount of time on it.

For websites which aim to generate sales either through enquires or direct sales through their website, the user experience needs to be excellent. Use fonts which are easy to scan and be sure you aren't bombarding visitors with pop-ups or unnecessary messages.

Using headers and sub-headers will not only help site visitors understand your pages but will also help the search engines to understand what you want the page to rank for. For this reason, the first header, also known as H1, should be the keyword you’re looking to target.

4. Speed

Before you improve your speed, you first need to measure it. There are some great tools out there for measuring website speed. The great thing about most measuring tools is that, as well as giving you the metrics, they inform you of where the bottlenecks are and which specific issues your site has. 

Here, you have a choice: either hire someone to fix these issues for you or do it yourself. Depending on how your website is built, it could just be a case of searching for the issue plus the platform online, which will lead you to tutorials on how to fix these issues. If this sounds a little daunting, you can easily hire a professional to give you a hand. 

It’s important to remember that the speed of your site needs to be good on mobile as well as on desktop. The number of people who search on their mobile phones has increased significantly over the last decade and making sure your site is optimized for mobile is crucial for user experience and performance. 

5. Authority

Authority, in simple terms, is how well respected and trusted your site is. To build authority you need other more authoritative and relevant sites linking back to you. If you are a local business, smaller, more local websites will help to boost your authority with Google. If, however, you are targeting more national keywords, then it’s the bigger, more authoritative sites you will need a link from.

Linking out to trustworthy sources within your content will help build authority. It shows Google you really do know what you’re talking about. If you are writing an article on 'The dangers of open water swimming' then Google would expect you to link to websites like RNLI or similar sources.  Linking out doesn’t harm you, in fact, if done correctly, it’ll help build Google’s trust in your website. 

About the Author

Adam Chard is part of the Victoria Plum team, and has been bringing bathroom ideas to life for over 6 years. Victoria Plum sells exclusively online, and has almost 2 million customers across the UK. Founded in 2001, they’ve been at the forefront of online bathroom buying for nearly 20 years, pioneering new and innovative ways to help make life easier for their customers.