SEO for SMEs Part 1: How to optimise your site for search rankings
In the first of this trio of articles, we explain the best practices for improving SEO, and how you can use insights from your affiliate partners to push your website’s search presence even further.
Why is SEO important?
For small businesses and start-ups, Google search rankings are a crucial part of ensuring you can develop your customer base. Poor SEO can prevent small businesses from competing with larger brands and mean they end up buried under pages of search results, whilst good SEO can allow you to localise, tap into niches, and expand into new areas of growth.
A good indicator of your current site’s search performance is by checking its Domain Authority.
Domain Authority is a figure from 1-100 which indicates where the site is placed in Google’s search rankings – consider it your website’s reputation. It takes into account three key elements we will address in our three articles:
Your site’s ‘Core Web Vitals’ (your site health, security and efficiency)
The quality of your on-site content, outbound links and keywords
The popularity of your site elsewhere on the web, and number of inbound links
You can find lots of tools online to check your site’s Domain Authority as well as other key indicators which can give you insights into how to improve.
Streamlining your Web Design
User experience is not just something which influences an individual customer’s first impression of your site (though this is obviously very important). The structure, loading speed and security of your website are also factors which are analysed by search engines in order to position your site in their search rankings. The design and functionality of your website therefore has a direct impact on its discoverability.
By looking at the same metrics that Google uses, you can analyse your own site’s performance. For example, a low Click Through Rate is an indicator that your page’s snippets, keywords, and meta-descriptions are discouraging users from selecting your page from the search. A high Bounce Rate similarly reveals that once on site, users then return to Google – either because they have not found what they are looking for (relevance) or because your site is unpleasant to use (site structure and design).
To tackle high Bounce Rates, you should check that your site is accessible, easy to use, loads quickly and has plenty of attractive calls to action and useful tools and links to encourage users to stay on site for longer and to explore what’s on offer.
It’s a good idea to thoroughly map out your user journey across all of your site’s main landing pages, and to account for every possible kind of purchasing intent your customer might have within the marketing funnel. Consider which pages will appear when a customer is looking for information about a product, and which will appear when they are ready to buy. The latter stage is the most important for increasing sales – so make sure these customers are directed to the point of purchase as swiftly as possible (i.e. with the fewest possible clicks to get to the checkout).
You can also use Structured Data to improve how Google interprets your website. This allows you to categorise the different features of your site , making it easy for Google to identify their function and correctly read what kind of user intention your site’s pages are catering for.
How affiliate marketing plays in:
You can partner with Third Party Technology affiliates in order to improve the user experience, and retain customers that might otherwise skew your bounce rate on the landing pages that leak traffic. These partners can provide elegant site enhancements and tools triggered by user behaviour to guide and encourage customers towards finding what they are looking for. For example, Envolve Tech use an AI powered Help Bot to answer customer FAQs and provide product recommendations, whilst intent.ly and Beyable provide solutions which notice when customers are about to abandon their basket, and creates bespoke messages which incentivise them to reconsider. In this way, Tech partners can help to address weaknesses in your website, improve conversion rates, and score SEO points with Google.
Quick Tips :
Cover the basics of the technical side of your website: loading speed and security are staples that should always be maintained.
Use online analytical tools to check the ranking and Domain Authority of your site
Compare your ranking to that of your competitors, and see what the User Experience of their site looks like compared to yours.
Consider what the function of each of your pages is for your users: Product Discovery, Information (comparison), or Buyer intent?
See which pages have high bounce rates (over 40%) and consider what the reason could be for this – is it design, accessibility, or content related?
Consider which affiliates might be able to guide users and encourage them to stay on site, convert, and (eventually) have the kind of positive experience that develops their loyalty to your brand.
Keep an eye out for our next article which will explore our second topic: Creating high quality content and making use of keywords