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Following the release of our updated SEO Best Practice Guide last week, we've been asking some of the contributors to the report about recent SEO trends, and for useful tips. 

In the first part of this series, we asked several SEO experts for their top three tips on how SMEs can improve their search strategies...

Alex Moss, Pleer

1. Get on the social bandwagon (after researching into what is the best network to interact on).

2. Use local to your advantage. Get on Google Places, Facebook Places, Foursquare and the like. Use those channels to produce incentive-lead opportunities such as exclusive deals.

3.Update your site regularly with quality and relevant content - but we knew that already didn't we?!

Malcolm Coles, Director at Digital Sparkle

The three easy steps I recommend to SMEs are:

1. Run a site: search in Google. How well does what Google shows communicate what your website does and its proposition? How well does it reflect your brand? 

You'll be going some to be as awesome as the first result for this search: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=seomofo). You can determine what Google shows via your HTML titles - so make sure you set them properly. 

2. Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account, and learn what the data means. There's a huge amount of insight in there that you can use to help improve the importance of your site.

3. Type in the keywords that you want to rank for and compare your site with the one that comes first and second. Be honest with yourself - is yours really as good as theirs? If it's not, what do you need to do to make it better?

Edward Cowell, SEO Director at Guava

1. Keep checking your SEO fundamentals.
Don't assume that as technology platforms/content management systems have evolved they are any better optimised than the ones we were working on ten years ago.  Newer ways of doing things such as multi-faceted navigation can cause new problems.

2. Think about all the different ways someone might search for your business. Search experiences are increasingly diversifying maps, shopping, images, video, verticalised by business sector; try and work out which types of search experience your customers may be using and then do everything you can to maximise your coverage.

3. Consider how SEO fits together with all your marketing channels. SEO in a silo is nowhere near as successful as when it is well integrated with good PR and media campaigns.

Lee Colbran, SEO Director at Fresh Egg

1. Don’t ignore on site techniques.

2. Don’t ignore social media. 

3. Don’t ignore your competitors.

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at Site Visibility

1. First up would be to make sure you’re registered with Google Webmaster tools. It’s amazing how much guidance you can find in your account to improve your site, the recommendations in there are usually enough to keep most businesses busy for a few months.

2. Spend some time on keyword research, once you really understand how people are looking for websites you’ll subconsciously find yourself doing a better job of writing in a way that appeals to that type of searcher.

This needn’t mean an expensive tool or lots of time. A couple of hours with Google’s tools will help in the future even if you don’t realise it.

3. Finally, next time you’re re-designing your site, use Wordpress, it’s not perfect but with plugins like Yoast’s you can get a very SEO friendly website with very little effort.

Andrew Girdwood, Head of Search at bigmouthmedia

1. Small companies must get their website design and architecture right. This is not terribly challenging for brochure sites, you could build a site on Wordpress and be happy, but it is important to get this first step right. 

2. If the SME owner does not believe their web build team (be that in-house or external) can get that right then SEO specialists must still be involved from the conceptual planning stage.

SMEs need a “reason to rank” in order to be an also run that Google and Bing correctly place away from the very top of the search results. Once found, that uniqueness must be expressed through the site’s content in a search friendly way. 

The internet world must also be informed and persuaded to care about the SME and their “reason to rank” – call that campaign SEO or social media if you want.

3. Big brands are slow to pick up and play with the enhancements Google and Bing offer. SMEs should be quick. For example, SMEs should be more aggressive with micro-formats, feeds, tinkering with their Webmaster Console and Google Analytics reports than larger competitors. 

Ideally, SMEs would also take full advance of their ability to publish content quickly, react to internet trends and opportunities.

Rishi Lakhani, Search Marketing Consultant

SEO isn't just about ranking for volume heavy generics, it's also about ranking for the top relevant generics. keeping that in mind, I would advise: 



1. Start with keyword research, but cross reference that against what converts and your "real" relevancy to the keywords.

Say for example, you are an SMB specialising in laptop repair. Will ranking for "laptop" be the right thing to do? Huge volume, difficult keyword, high cost of ranking. Not worth it in the short term. Rank for what converts, forget the vanity. 

2. 

Rankings aren't immediate, nor are they definite. A small business has a lot to gain from SEO, but plan for long term, and dont forget the other online channels. 

Tip number two is to allow a longer time for ranking if you are a small / medium business. and use other channels in the short term to boost revenue / traffic. Re-use that data to in your SEO strategy. 



3. Small and medium businesses have one thing that larger brands don't: flexibility. Be flexible with your site and when changes are required, make them quick. Be flexible with your resources, do you need content? 

Chances are that someone in your organisation may be able to write it for you, quicker, with more subject matter authority, than someone outside. Know what resources you have to support SEO, use them quickly and efficiently.  

Graham Charlton

Published 3 June, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (21)

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Justin Deaville

Justin Deaville, Managing Director at Receptional.com

"Rank for what converts - forget the vanity" Great advice Rishi. Particularly for small businesses.

over 5 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

"SEO in a silo is nowhere near as successful as when it is well integrated with good PR and media campaigns."

Couldn't agree more. Just about anything you do (both online and off) can be leveraged for SEO. When you include SEO into everything else that you do, you get a lot more value.

over 5 years ago

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Personal Pa

Clearly knowing and understanding your key words is the theme here. Fortunately (at least in my business) they don't change too much so I can spend a lot of time and get it right!

over 5 years ago

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David Quaid

What do you call blogs that are just setup to create links again?

Wait, whats the point of this blog post?

:-P

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@David. A strange comment, considering that the point of the post is clearly explained in the title.

over 5 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

I agree - not sure about David's comment - this didn't come across as linkbaity to me. I can see lots of this being really useful for small businesses trying to crawl through the vast mud of SEO info out there & answer the question "what should we actually spend time on?"

over 5 years ago

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Andrew Nicholson

1. Avoid industry jargon. Just because you use certain terms doesn't mean your customers do. Mirror your customer's language in you content and you'll see more relevent engaged visitors.

2. Use the 'canonical' tag to ensure cross domain replicated content has its source referenced within your code, so that Google doesn't penalise you for plagiarising. See http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html for more detail

3. Employ a web writer. Seriously. Don't let the sales guys, the marketing guys, the PR guys, or anyone else for that matter near your content unless they've received specific training on how to write for web. This will ensure not only that page lay out and scannability is right for your users, but also that your content is right for Google.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Andrew Nicholson

1. Avoid industry jargon. Just because you use certain terms doesn't mean your customers do. Mirror your customer's language in you content and you'll see more relevent engaged visitors.

2. Use the 'canonical' tag to ensure cross domain replicated content has its source referenced within your code, so that Google doesn't penalise you for plagiarising. See http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html for more detail

3. Employ a web writer. Seriously. Don't let the sales guys, the marketing guys, the PR guys, or anyone else for that matter near your content unless they've received specific training on how to write for web. This will ensure not only that page lay out and scannability is right for your users, but also that your content is right for Google.

over 5 years ago

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GrumpySEO

Some sound advice in there, most of which I'd agree with. The one thing I'd be careful of is relying on Google for keyword research. Their data is nowhere near accurate and its not in their interest to give you this. Keyword research is very tough (in most industries). If anyone has any better sources of data, post em up !

over 5 years ago

Justin Deaville

Justin Deaville, Managing Director at Receptional.com

GrumpySEO - you make a good point about data. No keyword research data can be perfect, so It's best to check more than one source.
I'd suggest Wordtracker's keywords tools (though I should declare an interest, I am the CEO). You can find them at
- premium Keywords tool ($69/month) at www.wordtracker.com/find-the-best-keywords
- free keywords tool: www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com
and
- the hugely popular Keywords Questions tool: www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com/keyword-questions
I hope that's useful.

over 5 years ago

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Matt Wright

whats trending

over 5 years ago

Tarek Reda

Tarek Reda, Digital Marketing Manager at Freeplay Energy

Thanks for the insightful post.
Have a look at some key SEO tactics and brief framework for an effective SEO strategy http://tarek-reda.blogspot.com/2011/06/seo-in-nutshell.html

over 5 years ago

Tarek Reda

Tarek Reda, Digital Marketing Manager at Freeplay Energy

Grumpy SEO - you might also want to check out Google's new tool "Google Correlate" http://correlate.googlelabs.com/

Could be useful when carrying out keyword research for your search marketing activity.

over 5 years ago

John Braithwaite

John Braithwaite, Managing Director at Ergo Digital

1. Keep on pretending that SEO content writing is an 'art' that requires more than an ounce of logical nous
2. Don't give answers, give cryptical 'help' without actually being helpful
3. Try to make your 'agency' look really good, without trying to hard

Come on guys, number of actually helpful 'actionable' suggestions = nul points.

over 5 years ago

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Abdulrahman fakhry

Thanks for this useful information

over 5 years ago

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Simon Newsam

I appreciate all these tips - especially Andrew Nicholson's point on avoiding jargon. I constantly have to show clients the everyday terms they use aren't those used by potential customers. This obviously leads to 'keyword calamity'.

For a lot of SMEs the fundamentals of SEO aren't really that complicated but the guys who run them are extremely busy and often don't have time to think about let alone apply them.

So two very general tips I'd add for those too busy to get into the detail offered here:

* Use common sense. Keep it simple and keep getting feedback / advice from potential customers as well as those 'in the know'.

* Explore Google. There are a few suggestions for Google tools above yet most people don't look beyond the basic search box. But take a look at the links around it - check out Advanced Search, see the free tools available to you in Business Solutions and read About Google. All provide easily read advice for ordinary people, and will provide you with great insight into this 'SEO thing'.

over 5 years ago

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GrumpySEO

What I meant to say was post up any NEW sources of keyword data ;-) I've looked at most of them - Wordtracker, KeywordDiscovery etc, and lots of software, but they all suffer from the same thing - they're nowhere near reality when you compare it to actual search traffic. I have seen the Google Correlate tool but that's only US data, so not much use to us in the UK. At the moment, the most accurate data you can get is from a trial PPC campaign, but that is hugely expensive and not feasible for most projects.

over 5 years ago

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Guy Mucklow, Senior Web Designer at PCA Predict (formerly Postcode Anywhere)

@David. I agree. How dare they create interesting content! Outrrrageous game players.

over 5 years ago

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Guy Mucklow, Senior Web Designer at PCA Predict (formerly Postcode Anywhere)

But seriously, David does have a point: content is king. Create good content. It's repeated to death but it's still the bedrock of good SEO IMHO.

over 5 years ago

Joel Chudleigh

Joel Chudleigh, Director at Deep Foot Prints Online Marketing Ltd

I think that another thing worth adding is that a lot of small business (and large for that matter) do not realise how to leverage their existing assets for SEO. Look at what is special/unique about your business and how it adds value and use that. You probably have assets on your site that can be used that you haven't realised or you may have experts within your business that sit in other teams such as customer services who you would not have thought of using to create SEO content. Use them and then clean up the writing if necessary. Think about why you formed the company in the first place - what was the gap that you identified and how did you fill it? what do you do better than anyone else? Andrew touched on this but I thought that it was worth expanding.

over 5 years ago

Conrad Morris

Conrad Morris, Director at Match Me Now Limited

As ever some great comments and advice here. I'd pick out "Rank for what converts - forget the vanity", "SEO in a silo is nowhere near as successful as when it is well integrated with good PR and media campaigns," and "Avoid industry jargon. Just because you use certain terms doesn't mean your customers do" as the highlights

over 5 years ago

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