Search Engine Optimisation, SEO for short, is increasingly important for most business with an online presence. We asked Silvia Del Corso from PINK SEO Markeitng why SEO is so important right now and what are the key actions businesses should take.

What are the most important things any business can do straight away in order to improve their website and its SEO?

These are the main points she recommends:

1. Understand keywords

Research which words people are looking for on Google when trying to find the types of services or products that you offer. There are free tools available for this. Google itself is a great tool, if you start looking for something by typing into Google, you will see that the query automatically populates. This is a compilation of the possible queries, based on what people generally search for, so Google automatically suggests the most researched, which can give quite a bit of insight.

Otherwise, another interesting tool is called the answerthepublic.com. Again, it is free and for every query and you can see what people have searched for on Google. Also, Google Trends is an interesting resource that you can use to see what people have searched for over time on Google.

2. Long-tails are great

The second tip is to use long-tail keywords, not just a very short words.
A keyword is sometimes misleading as it is more of a key phrase, so instead of searching for ‘shoes’ if you own an e-commerce selling tennis shoes, ‘tennis shoes’ would be more precise or ‘white tennis shoes’, ‘white leather tennis shoes’.  This way, you are limiting your audience precisely to what you want to be found for as there is no margin for misinterpretation, less competition and a much more precise targeted result. You can read more on what are long-tail keywords and how to use them in this article by Sylvia.

3. Know your competitors

The third suggestions is to do some easy competitor research.

Using the keywords you want to be found for, search on Google to see which results come up. Find out who your competitors are, who’s ranking top 10 and the type of results you find. Who are the ones that you want to outrank? And make sure that they are the right competitors in the right  geographical  area, otherwise, this is a signal that the keyword you chose may not be the right one.

4. Keep you website fresh

The fourth tip is up-to-date content.

Make sure that you keep creating new content constantly and consistently because Google does not appreciate websites that are static. The more frequently a website is updated, the more consideration it will have from Google that it is of a high quality, and it will be ranked better. Also, blogging can increase the opportunities of you being found for more keywords, using the right type of call to action for your products or services. 

5. Remember to link you posts and pages

Make ample use of internal links.

Make sure that all of your website pages are internally linked to each other, so that people will spend more time on your website, creating a positive criterion for ranking, and giving them the opportunity of seeing more what you can offer of your expertise and knowledge.  

6. Staying connected

Try to acquire as many backlinks as possible.

Internal links strengthen the site considerably, but backlinks or outbound links are also extremely important. Every link that you get from a third party domain is like a token of appreciation and trust that you get from these domains, and in Google’s eyes it’s like a vote on your behalf. So, make sure that you harvest as many backlinks as possible. Encourage inbound links from other websites to yours as long as they are high quality websites and not spammy, sketchy backlinks which would damage your site very much. 

7. User-friendly URLs

Finally, make sure that the URLs you use are user-friendly, make sure they contain the keyword so it is clear from the very first moment what the page is about.

There is quite a lot of information to share about SEO, but these are the main things that you should keep in mind to begin with. As a business owner, you can do all  these things on your own. It may not suffice to get you onto the first page of Google, but it is definitely going to give you a competitive edge against others who are ranking lower than you. So, if your competitors are not doing this, you will definitely bounce up against their results.

How important is SEO to businesses – even to the small ones?

It depends on the type of business, there are some businesses that rely more strongly on word of mouth recommendations, and some that really get their best leads from search engines and social media.

Search engine optimisation can help you if you have a website and if your website is something that you want to be found for. If this is the case, SEO is definitely the best type of activity that you can do for marketing, because no matter what you sell or produce, people are looking for it on Google.

What percentage of your marketing budget and time should you dedicate to SEO? 

It really depends. To start with, you need to decide whether you can and want to  allocate any time and budget to SEO.

There are several things that you could also do yourself. I personally believe that it is a matter of understanding whether your time is best used at doing what you do best (i.e. where your business skill set is) or outsourcing as much as you can (SEO included) to people who don’t have your own skills.
So, yes, you can spend time changing all the titles of your website, optimising all the majors and fixing all the broken links etc., but it would take much more time to do it yourself than it would take by an expert who’s job it is.

You also need to consider if doing your own SEO is something that you enjoy: you may not want to do it because it’s not really something that you like doing. For example, I chose to become an SEO Specialist because I am fond of this job and it is something that I truly enjoy doing every day.

I appreciate that most businesses have limited budgets, especially in the beginning, as start-ups, unless you have investors. It is normal then, in that phase, to use your time instead of money. 

The real shift happens, though, when you start to delegate and get help from skilled people: then, you can use your time to do what you do best.

In this phase you generally also want more professional results than what could achieve yourself. This is when you will consider whom to outsource your SEO to. Beware of the different skillsets and what they offer. SEO is a non-regulated industry, which means that everyone can claim to do it as a job, with no qualification. We see way too many copywriters claiming to do “SEO” when they’re just adding keywords to pages using plugins, and we have seen the daily emails claiming to “get you to the first page of Google tomorrow”. Trying to manipulate the algorithm through buying low quality links can easily get you penalised, and that is something that we’ve helped clients with in many painful recovery scenarios.  

So, my recommendation is: no matter whom you outsource your SEO to, make sure you do your due diligence and make sure they are able to approach it scientifically. SEO is not a dark art, it is a science. Technical coding knowledge is required and a long experience of it, as well.

Make sure you get regular reports which show precisely what you are achieving and remember that in SEO data matters, not opinions. You need to see clear figures in your reports stating which improvements you get and they must be explained in clear language – not in obscure jargon. 

Is SEO even more important now with the increased  volume of businesses trading and sharing information  online and also the increased numbers of users?

Yes, definitely. Now that everything is happening online for us, there’s been quite a big growth in our business. It went quiet during the first week of initial shock during the pandemic, when people really didn’t know what was going to happen and many were in denial, refusing to admit it was going to hit us in the UK as well. However inquiries and new contracts have started to pick up again. 

It’s become even more clear during lockdown that a website is the strongest and most important asset that most businesses can have. We know that everything is happening online, and everything is being searched online; absolutely every product and every service. 

Being found on Google better than your competitors are can make quite a big difference in terms of revenue, and that’s why we have seen an increase inquiries from business owners who want to optimise their website, to be found online.

You are a rare specimen as a woman running a SEO specialist business. What’s your background and why this field? Do you bring a fresh approach to SEO marketing as a woman?

Nowadays, women doing SEO are not so few compared to when I started, 11  years  ago.  Back then, when I was going to the industry conferences and events, there was always a big room full of men and always just a handful of women. I must admit it was quite challenging at the same time, and I think this is one of the main reasons why I chose to do this, because I really like a challenge. I am one of those people who gets bored easily when things are too easy! That’s why I prefer difficult projects and challenging plans. 

When we started out, back in Italy, my husband and I used to run Webforyou, a Digital Agency.  We were offering the full digital marketing service from launching and creating websites and apps, to every type of digital marketing activity: social media, paid advertising, e-mail marketing, PR, and obviously SEO. 

When we rebranded here to the UK market, I realised that there’s a high number of generalist Digital Marketing Agencies, but very few of them specialise in something. Since SEO was my true passion, I decided we would become purely an SEO Agency. 

I also wanted to highlight the fact that a woman was the owner a business of this type, and that was the reason behind the name being PinkSEO.Marketing.  

In the beginning, most clients were female business owners, who’ve had bad experiences with previous agencies, often having had a male counterpart interacting with them with some kind of paternalistic attitude, or the too-frequent a choice of using jargon as a smoke screen.

Now I can tell that nearly 50% of our clients are male business owners, but I believe that the female approach to entrepreneurship has a particular connotation that my clients seem to appreciate. Although I am aware that it is still not common for me to find female colleagues in this field. It’s much easier to see women with a passion for social media or content creation, or PR. I guess it has something to do with a greater inclination towards relationship rather than to crunching numbers. However, I am glad to see that the number of Women in Tech and in STEM keeps growing and I am a strong advocate of the role of female CEOs in our business world. 

If you need help with understanding more about SEO or want an expert to help you manage your SEO workload, find our how at https://www.pinkseo.marketing/