As you’re reading this, you probably already know that most websites need search engine optimisation (SEO) to reach their target market. But quality SEO campaigns can be a shock to a small business budget.
The good news is that you may be able to get away with a lot less than you think.
Basic is SEO is non-negotiable
Without SEO, a website is nothing more than a digital business card: A useful source of contact details for people who have already “met” your business, but incapable of actively marketing to new customers.
Whilst an online business card may be all some businesses need, most need their websites to work a bit harder.
At Both Birds we think that given the expense and effort that go into creating a website, every website should do more than just sit pretty. That’s why we’ve built SEO into the core of our website production. You can read more about that here.
But you don’t always have to go all out
Whilst some SEO is fundamental, it’s not always prudent for a business to embark on a major SEO campaign, particularly when that business is just starting out or currently has a very small website.
In this article we’ll run you through the options and hopefully help you find an SEO solution that’s just right for your business and your budget.
Online presence, step-by-step
At Both Birds we’ve broken the SEO process down into three tiers: mini-site SEO, basic SEO and comprehensive SEO, and have identified three further add-ons: social broadcasting, paid advertising and email campaigns. These are not strictly part of the traditional SEO process, but certainly complement any SEO campaign.
The table below summarises these three tiers:
|Mini-Site SEO||Basic SEO||Advanced SEO|
|Tier 1: Small-Site SEO|
|1. Basic mobile-friendly website that is visible in branded-search, i.e. searches for the company’s name or brand. Clear contact information.||✔||✔||✔|
|2. Ongoing monitoring of audience statistics and search visibility.||✔||✔||✔|
|3. The Google Maps listing has been claimed and optimised.||✔||✔||✔|
|4. Facebook page is set up and optimised.||✔||✔||✔|
|Tier 2: Basic SEO|
|5. Website is optimised for non-branded product- or service-based searches.||✔||✔|
|Tier 3: Full SEO|
|6. A content plan is implemented to keep the website current and improve search visibility.||✔|
|Add-ons: Social, Paid & Email “add ons”|
|A. Social channels are used to actively broadcast and amplify new website content.||as needed||as needed||as needed|
|B. Paid advertising on Google, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn take potential customers or clients to key pages.||as needed||as needed||as needed|
|C. Email marketing campaigns are hooked into the content marketing strategy.||as needed||as needed||as needed|
Tier 1: Mini-site SEO
Businesses with “mini-sites”, websites that have five or fewer pages (usually a home page, a service page, contact page and an about page), do not need extensive or ongoing optimisation.
However, there are still some SEO steps that are essential. Foremost among these is to ensure visibility in search for the business’ brand name, also known as “branded search”. Anyone searching for the business online should be able to quickly find its website and then have easy access to its contact details and address.
Every business should also be monitoring its website’s traffic with tools like Google’s Analytics and monitoring its presence in search through Google’s Search Console.
Brick and mortar stores, in other words those serving customers from their premises, should also claim their listing on Google Maps and, in most cases, also ensure they have a Facebook page set up.
Tier 2: Basic SEO
Though mini-sites are not uncommon, particularly among stores with a local clientele like coffee shops or hardware stores, these sites are very unlikely to rank for anything other than their brand name.
With some optimisation and provided there is relatively low competition, it may also be possible for a mini-site to rank in non-branded search (queries without the business name) for its main service within the immediate service area, for example: “coffee near me” or “hardware store Ealing Broadway”.
However, most businesses looking for their websites to consistently attract traffic from non-branded searches for their products or services will need additional, targeted optimisation.
We consider this part of the second tier of SEO and because it is applicable to most business sites, refer to this process together with the fundamentals outlined in Tier 1 as basic SEO.
This basic level of optimisation requires that a website is functioning as well as it can and its structure and content accurately reflect its focus. A basic SEO campaign will usually include a web design, technical and copywriting element.
There are quite a lot of steps involved in a basic SEO campaign; we discuss this process in detail in a related article titled “…”. Whilst it certainly is a complex process, usually the bulk of a basic SEO campaign is implemented over 1-3 months.
To ensure the site keeps up with SEO developments and remains compliant with Google and other search engine’s requirements, There will need to be some follow-up every 6 to 12 months.
Tier 3: Advanced SEO
Doing the above will give a website a fighting chance at ranking in searches for both the business’ brand and its key services or products.
However, in competitive environments additional SEO work will be required to convince search engines like Google that a website deserves to rank towards the top of search queries.
Securing that prime position and the steady flow of online traffic that comes with it, is achieved through developing the website’s reputation as a useful and reliable source of industry-related information.
Usually this process begins with regularly publishing unique content on the website like articles, research reports or industry updates. This content then needs to be brought to the attention of others in order to attract visitors and preferably also links (referrals) from other websites.
For a local coffee roaster, for example, this may entail featuring coffee growers on their blog and providing a useful guide for making a great cup of coffee at home. If the site covers all the fundamentals outlined in Tiers 1 & 2, that content is likely to show up in searches like: “how to make good coffee at home” or “Brazilian coffee producers”.
If the content is accurate, well presented and a pleasure to read, other sites are likely to link to it. This in turns signals to Google that the website is a popular and reputable resource which will increase its chances of showing up in coffee-related searches generally.
We refer to this third tier of SEO as Advanced SEO. Because it is time-consuming and requires wide-ranging expertise, businesses often outsource this level of SEO to a digital marketing agency. However, many companies also choose to run their own in-house SEO campaigns. Increasingly businesses are opting for a hybrid where an internal media team produces the content and an external SEO consultant ensures all the technical SEO boxes are ticked.
Add-ons: Social, e-mail and paid campaigns
Depending on its audiences and marketing objectives, a business may also choose to add social, paid and newsletter campaigns to its marketing strategy.
Whilst Tiers 1-3 are sequential, these add-ons are not and can be incorporated as needed.
Choosing a mix that fits your business
Your business may already have some of these strategies in place, or some may not be relevant or feasible at all for your company.
- Smaller businesses often only want to only be visible in Google for their brand name and will require a small SEO effort as outlined in Tier 1.
- Many more will want at least to be found in search from nearby areas for a range of non-branded queries and thus must go up to Tier 2.
- When there is strong competition, some form of ongoing, advanced SEO becomes necessary, as suggested in Tier 3.
A business may also want to release a weekly newsletter but decides that it’s not necessary to get paid advertising or social media marketing at the moment.
In the end, there really is no one-size-fits-all in SEO. But a good agency will help you work out what is best suited to your advertising strategy and your pocket, letting you know when you can scale down or up the efforts.