As a small or even a medium sized business, it can be hard to compete with large competitors who not only have deeper pockets but may also have marketing teams bigger than your entire company. Add to that the fact that organic search results on Google are being pushed further and further away from the line of sight of a searcher, it’s a tricky landscape to navigate as an SME.
If you have limited time or budget, there is plenty you can do to help your business generate traffic from online channels. I’ve written previously about Conversion Tracking for SMEs using Google Analytics which you should take a look at. Below I’ve focused more on quick wins and techniques for generating more traffic, without needing loads of time or resources.
1. Sign up for Google Search Console
It takes a few minutes to sign up for Google Search Console and it can give you lots of really useful information about your website. It will also send you messages when issues are found that should be fixed. While a very simple step to implement, it’s definitely worth doing and if you want to not just be alerted to issues, but be proactive with fixes, here a few places to start.
Find broken pages
Broken pages aren’t good for users and aren’t going to help your rankings either. Finding them and getting them fixed is a pretty straightforward process.
The first thing to do is to go to this section of Search Console called Crawl Errors:
Then scroll down a bit and you’ll see a list of URLs, all of which will have response codes next to them:
Mostly, you’ll find 404 response codes but sometimes, you will also find 500 response codes. Both aren’t good in that the pages are broken, but there are different meanings behind them. If you’re seeing lots of 500 response codes, then the reason that these pages are broken relate to a server issue of some kind, therefore you need to get in touch with your web developers or hosting company to investigate the issue.
If you’re seeing 404 response codes, these indicate that a page once existed but no longer does for some reason. A few 404 errors are normal so you don’t necessarily have to fix every single one, but where possible, you should. The easiest way, and often the best way for users, is to add a 301 redirect to the URL which points to the correct version or the closest alternative of a page.
If you’re on WordPress, you can use a redirection plugin to handle this easily, or you can speak to your web developer who can do this job very easily.
Improve existing rankings
Another way to use Google Search Console to improve traffic to your website is to review what keywords you’re ranking well for and focus on improving them. It’s generally easier to improve a page that already ranks well, rather than creating a brand new page or targeting brand new keywords and trying to get them to rank from scratch.
The report you want here is Search Analytics which you can find here:
Then you can select any of the following options to view the data:
The tick boxes at the top allow you to add more data points to the table. Here is a quick overview of each one:
- Clicks – the approximate number of people who clicked on your search result from the listed keyword.
- Impressions – the approximate number of times your website appeared in search results for the listed keywords. This will always be a bigger number than clicks because it includes people who may have seen your website, but not clicked on it.
- CTR – this stands for click-through-rate and is worked out by dividing the number of clicks a keyword has received by the number of impressions it generated. Any keywords that include your brand/company name are likely to have a much higher CTR than generic keywords.
- Position – the approximate position of your website in Google search results for the given keyword.
What you’re looking for here is generic keywords where your position is between 4th and 10th. This is the prime area to target because you’re unlikely to be getting as much traffic as you could, and only a small nudge could change that and send more traffic.
Once you’ve found some of these, take a look at the page that is ranking by clicking on the keyword and then checking the “Pages” radio button above the graph. Go to this page and look to do a few things:
- Making sure the keyword is included in the page title and H1 tags.
- Improving the copy to be as relevant and unique as possible for the target keyword.
- Adding more copy where you can which includes the target keywords – but keep it as relevant as you can.
- Making sure that users can find what they’re looking for quickly.
- Making sure that the page is prominent in your navigation structure and has lots of other pages on your website linking to it.
It may take you a bit of time, but working through each of your top keywords and improving the pages bit by bit will help squeeze that little bit of extra organic search to each one.
2. Find mobile friendly problems
Regardless of the possible, positive impact on your search rankings, providing a great experience on mobile devices for your users should be a priority. With the growth of mobile usage not slowing down, you can’t afford to lose potential customers because your website doesn’t work correctly on a phone or tablet.
The easiest way to find mobile friendly problems is to run your website through the free mobile friendly testing tool from Google. After inputting your website, you’ll get either a pass or a list of recommendations for things that can be improved.
3. Find site speed problems
Similar to mobile friendly problems, if your website doesn’t load quickly, users are going to be put off and will probably leave before they’ve had a chance to become a customer or a lead. Also remember that with the growth of mobile, more and more people are browsing via 3G and 4G connections rather than Wifi, which means that your website needs to respond quickly no matter what type of connection someone is on.
Google have another tool to help here – the Pagespeed insights tool which works by looking at your website and giving you a prioritised list of things to fix:
Once you have this list of problems, you can share them with your web developers who can help you implement fixes. The one thing to mention here is that there is little chance of scoring a perfect score on this test. It’s possible, but not everything can be fixed unless you have a very simple, not very dynamic website. So be realistic about everything and fix the highest priority issues first.
Additional tip – if you’d like to simulate how your website loads from different locations around the world, give Pingdom a shot. This is particularly useful if you serve multiple international markets but have your hosting in one country. If you do have issues here, you could look at a CDN such as CloudFlare or MaxCDN which can improve your site speed in different countries around the world.
4. Start building (and using) an email list
It seems like email marketing is very underrated these days. Maybe it’s because it’s relatively old in the bigger picture of digital marketing or maybe it’s because it can have a bad rep due to email spam.
However, the truth is that building a dedicated audience of people who have opted in to receive your content and products via email is hugely valuable. These are people who have asked to receive emails or at the very least, have expressed interest in something you do or sell. If you take the time to craft meaningful, useful emails to them, then you have the chance to build your own audience independant of Google, Facebook – anyone.
Getting going is super simple too. There are plenty of good platforms out there including Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Drip, Many have free trials or free programs up to a certain number of subscribers. Once you’ve signed up, there are a couple of ways to build your list:
- If you sell online, add a checkbox after the checkout process to allow someone to opt-in to your emails
- Add a call to action on your blog or other content on your website
While you don’t need to start sending emails from day one, you should send emails as soon as you can so that there isn’t too much of a gap between someone signing up and receiving their first email.
5. Use email addresses to run Facebook campaigns
Once you have a list of emails from customers or potential customers, you can leverage them in a number of ways. One of which is to run Facebook ads against them using custom audiences. This type of audience works by trying to match the email addresses you provide with people who have signed up to Facebook. If a match is found, then you’re able to run ads against them.
With a large enough audience, you can run very effective campaigns and as with anything email related, the better your data, the better your results and the more options you have. For example, if you have recorded someone’s location against their email address, you could segment by this, upload a list of emails from a certain area and then run ads for that area. Or if you have the category of product that someone usually buys from, you can advertise new products from that category to them.
While it’s best to spend as much time as possible on these types of ads, as an SME, you can spend a relatively small amount of time on them compared to other channels and get great results. Given that the people you’re advertising to are already at least familiar with who you are, you can focus on bringing them back to your website as opposed to trying to make them aware of who you are in the first place.
6. Claim (or maintain) your local business page on Google
As an SME, you may focus a lot on local search and attraction people in your local area. If you do, then a very, very important step is to claim your local business listing and then improve it as much as you can. If you haven’t claimed your listing, then someone else may and it could be very tricky to get it back.
A few tips for maintaining a good listing:
- Ensure that your company address is up to date and consistent with how it’s used across the web and on your website. For example with our address above, there is a difference between “Suite D, Witan Court” and “Witan Court, Suite D”, so we need to be consistent with how we write the address. This allows Google to easily understand who you are and where you’re based.
- Make sure the category of business you choose is accurate and reflects what you do as well as you can.
- Encourage customers and clients to leave reviews.
- Use a tool like Moz Local to sync up the details on this listing with other business listings across the web.
7. Understand on-page SEO and what can be improved
With limited time and resources, it’s not realistic for you to become an expert in SEO, plus you most likely have other priorities to worry about within the business. But there are ways to identify quick wins when it comes to on-page SEO.
One way to do this is to sign up to the free version of onpage.org which can provide you with a list of things to fix on your website. Combine this with the tip from Google Search Console earlier, and you can quickly improve your rankings through some simple on-page SEO changes.
If you’re an ecommerce website, there are lots and lots of things you can do to make your product pages as optimised as possible. I wrote a blog post on Moz a few years ago with the following mockup:
If you click through to the blog post, you’ll see what each of these elements are and how you can improve them on your own ecommerce website.