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An Introductory Guide to Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click marketing for Small Businesses

Guide to SEO

Getting your business found online in local search is important source of enquiries for many different companies. As we rapidly see the decline of traditional mediums such as magazine advertising or the Yellow Pages - learning how to market your business online becomes ever more important.

In this guide we will look at both SEO and PPC, with a broader focus on how to promote your business.

If you have any questions or want to find out more about marketing your business online, SEO or PPC - you can get in contact with Banc Media on 0845 459 0558 or visit www.BancMedia.com.

Optimising your website for local search through can, if done right, help you reach your target market, generate new leads and increase revenue.

So, in the competitive digital marketplace, how do you get found online?

SEO vs PPC

Firstly, search results pages online include organic search results - ten results per page - and paid or sponsored results, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) - two or three adverts placed at the top of the search page and down the right hand side.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) involves making changes to your website and effects only organic search results.

Basics of SEO - Organic Search

To get your website to rank in search results you need to ensure that you have optimised both on page factors and meta-tags (title, description and keywords) for all pages of your website.

Meta tags describe the contents of your website to search engines; in organic search results your website listing will appear on Google with a page meta-title, meta-description and destination URL.

Meta-Title: Polly's Pet shop Supplies - Pet Food, Pet Beds, Manchester
Meta-Description: Polly's Pet Shop Supplies provides a large selection of Pet
products and accessories for sale in Manchester, including
pet food and pet beds.
Destination URL: www.pollyspetshopsupplies.com

The basics of SEO require that each page of a website has a unique meta title and description tag, that tells search engines and visitors what the topic of the page is about:

Polly's Pet shop Supplies - Pet Food, Pet Beds, Manchester

This title will show up as the first line of your result on Google and any words will be bolded if they are relevant to the search query for which your website has shown.

E.g. If a search is performed for 'Pet Food in Manchester', Pet Food and Manchester will appear in bold on your webpage listing title (as above).

Again, each page's meta-description tag should accurately summarise the pages content; don't fill your description with keywords or write a description that has no relation to the page as this will have a negative effect on your ranking.

Meta title and descriptions for your homepage could include your business name, important information and your location to optimise your site for local search.

All page URLs should also be optimised to ensure better crawling from Google search spiders; The URL should contain information about the page in order to give users and search engines information about the content of each page.

Web pages should also be given meta-keyword tags that list the most important keywords for that page. For example, Polly's Pet shop Supplies homepage would include the following keywords:

Pet Shop, Pet Supplies, Manchester, Pet Food Manchester, Manchester Pet Beds, Dog Beds, Dog Leads, Pet Accessories.

Although Google now do not take keywords into account in their organic search results, keywords are still important for other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing.

In addition to the basics above Google takes into account over 200 factors when ranking a website in its search results, including inbound links, keyword density, age of the website, page content etc.

Google Places for Business

Google Places allows businesses to show up in local listings for free. By creating a Google places account you can promote your business by listing photos, address details and opening hours and receive customer reviews.

By adding the location of your business this ensures that you get found in local searches online.

For example, if I were to search for 'Pet Shop in Manchester' then Polly's Pet shop Supplies would show up in my search results and by clicking on the Google Places red pin I would be able to view the location on Google Maps and then get directions to there or see store opening hours and customer reviews.

PPC, Google Adwords - Paid Search

Paid search is also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and is offered through Google Adwords.

Adwords is Google's online advertising programme that allows you to reach customers and grow your business online, no matter what budget you have to spend.

Adverts work on a pay-per-click bidding system, meaning that you are only charged when somebody clicks onto your advert in the search results, and you do not get charged when you advert is not displayed. You can also set a daily or weekly limit to ensure that you do not go over your budget.

Your paid search campaigns will be split into ad-groups which will each focus on keyword/keywords that you want to show up for in search results. For example, Polly's Pet shop Supplies would have an ad group for 'Pet Food' which would include the keywords 'Dog Food', 'Cat Food', 'Rabbit Food' etc; negative keywords can also be chosen so you do not show up for them.

Your adverts will only be shown for searches and products that you offer and can also be optimised to only show in selected geographical areas - e.g. Manchester and the Northwest.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an internet marketing strategy that allows businesses to increase website traffic through paid referrals from other websites.

For example, an affiliate programme for Polly's Pet shop Supplies could offer bloggers who provide content links or display adverts (which click through to Polly's Pet shop Supplies website) 5% commission on sales, that a visitor purchases when being directed through to Polly's Pet shop from the affiliate website. They can also work similar to PPC advertising and offer money per click to the affiliate advertiser.

Affiliate marketing provides a cost-effective way to drive traffic to your business website and increase sales.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an affordable strategy of reaching existing customers and generating new leads with company updates, new products, discount vouchers and offers.

For example, an e-shot campaign for Polly's Pet shop Supplies would include photographs of new products in store, which when clicked on would take the viewer to the landing page where that product is placed. Buyer incentives like spend £50 online and get 10% off with a voucher code could also be implemented to entice the viewer to the website and make a sale.

Google Tools

Google offer free tools online to help local businesses optimise their website for search results.

Google Analytics allows you to monitor all traffic coming to your website through organic search, paid search and referral traffic. You can see which landing pages have been visited most, the average number of pages viewed per visit, average time spent on site and where in the world people have visited your site from etc.

You can also set performance and conversion goals so you can view how many visits have turned into successful transactions; reports can be customised to your individual business needs.

Google Webmaster Tools allow you to submit a site map for your website, view any crawling errors and submit site changes etc. Google's Webmaster Tools Forum is also a great place to ask questions, find answers and interact with other users online for SEO tips and best practices.

Want to get your local business found online? We can help! Our experienced team of SEO, PPC and internet marketing experts can help you with your internet marketing strategy. To find out how we can help your business, contact us today and speak with a member of our friendly team.