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.