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  • C Phillips
  • February 13, 2015 12:08:09 AM
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A blog about SEO and social media aimed at small businesses.

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  • Alba SEO Services
  • We offer search engine optimisation services for businesses in the UK. We are an SEO agency Edinburgh, but work with businesses all over the country – not just Edinburgh. If you have a website, search engine optimisation is essential. Optimising your website to make it relevant to search engines like Google and Bing is the first step in growing your business.
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    Positive Thinking through Covid 19 and How SEO Can Help

    This is truly a dreadful time for businesses large and small. No one could have predicted that a previously unknown virus could cause such havoc with the world. The global economy is suffering and more locally, many small businesses in the UK are unable to function due to restrictions on travel and social distancing.  The... Read more The post Positive Thinking through Covid 19 and How SEO Can Help appeared first on Alba SEO...

    Covid 19 and SEO

    This is truly a dreadful time for businesses large and small. No one could have predicted that a previously unknown virus could cause such havoc with the world. The global economy is suffering and more locally, many small businesses in the UK are unable to function due to restrictions on travel and social distancing.  The reduction in income is forcing businesses to cut costs by laying staff off in order to survive the next few months. Whilst the government has promised help is on the way, it is clear that small businesses are tightening their belts and cutting expenditure where they can.  For businesses that had a marketing budget, this is now being scrutinised for potential savings. Google AdWords, social media advertising and SEO fall into this type of expenditure and it appears that many businesses have had to stop some of these marketing activities. Whilst there are merits in all the marketing channels, I’m going to focus on SEO and why stopping a campaign now may not be the right choice long term.

    Should I stop SEO?

    Of course I’m going to say No! But it’s not to save my own business – here are some reasons why you should continue with SEO:

    • Your competitors may still be using SEO services. This means that as time progresses, they may just get the edge on your ranking and will be in a stronger position when this situation ends (and it will). So all the hard work you’ve been doing so far gets diluted.
    • Google is continuing to modify its algorithms every day. This means that without an SEO expert monitoring the situation, your website may become less relevant through algorithmic changes.
    • People are stuck at home all day during social distancing – and no doubt spending a lot of time browsing the internet. They might be interested in new blinds or realise that they need to hire a decorator, or decide that they need a better boiler. They will be researching companies and if they can’t find you, you’ll be losing business to competitors.
    • Google and Bing let you know if there are any issues with your website through Search Console (webmaster tools). Without anyone monitoring these tools your website could be having problems and you wouldn’t know it.
    • Your competitors may be STOPPING all paid advertising. That means that if you are well placed organically you can capture the business that might normally go to paid adverts in Google.
    • If your business is Law including divorce, employment, personal law. Now, more than ever, people may need your services.
    • If you stop updating your website, Google My Business page and social media, people will lose confidence that you are still solvent and might shy away from using it.

    We hope that things improve really soon, but until then, the team at Alba SEO Services are working extra hard on all our clients websites to really help them during this time.  Your success is our success!

    The post Positive Thinking through Covid 19 and How SEO Can Help appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    Does Google Know You Are Open For Business?

    If you want to attract customers to your business you know you have to keep it clean, tidy and welcoming.  Potential customers need to be able to look in to decide if it is a place they want to enter.  You know if you own a shop that you need to make your window display... Read more The post Does Google Know You Are Open For Business? appeared first on Alba SEO...

    google business open?

    If you want to attract customers to your business you know you have to keep it clean, tidy and welcoming.  Potential customers need to be able to look in to decide if it is a place they want to enter.  You know if you own a shop that you need to make your window display as interesting as possible and change it regularly to encourage passers-by to come in and browse.

    Do you treat your website with the same care and attention?

    Here at Alba SEO Services, we regularly get phone calls and emails from people asking why Google is no longer showing their website on Google search results.  There can be many reasons for this which is why we always carry out a full SEO audit but one reason can be that Google or Bing thinks you may now be closed for business.

     

    Why would a search engine think your business is closed?

    You may have a beautiful website that states where you are located, when you are open and what services you offer but when did you last update it?  Is it possible that Google thinks your business is no longer operating as no changes have been made for years?

    4 easy steps to ensure the search engines know you are open for business

    1.       Google My Business
    Make sure you have a Google My Business listing with up-to-date information about your business. On a regular basis, use the Post functionality to post information about your services or products.  Also, make an effort to get regular reviews.

    2.       Bing Places

    Similar to Google My Business, Bing offers Bing Places where you can advertise your business.  It doesn’t have a post function but it does pick up and display information and reviews from TripAdvisor, Yell, Yelp and Foursquare. Therefore, current reviews show that you are open for business.

    3.       Social Media

    Make use of social media.  You don’t have to use every type of social media; just the ones that are used by your potential clients.  Generally, Instagram attracts a younger audience and Facebook a slightly older group.  Display links to your social media accounts on your website and vice versa.  Then, as with Google My Business post about your business, your  products and services. For instance, a local Edinburgh tour operator that offers Scotland Tours makes great use of social media.  Their  Facebook Page has a range of posts that people do interact with.  They post about new tours, discounts, special deals and fun posts about Scotland and Highland Cows. There is no doubt that this company is thriving and open for business.

    4.       Website

    Your website needs regular updates in the same way you would clean your shop and change the window display.  For businesses that have an e-commerce site this is easy as hopefully you will be selling new products on a regular basis.

    However, what do you do if your opening hours never change and your services have been exactly the same for the past 10 years?  Your website is still factually correct but how do the search engines know that?  If they aren’t sure, then they will show another website to someone looking for your services.

    The simplest way to add regular updates is to add a blog or a gallery showing recent work. It doesn’t have to be too time-consuming but it can make a massive difference to your internet presence.

    An East Lothian window blinds company that sells made-to-measure blinds have very informative products pages but to keep their website fresh they have also added a helpful and informative blog. Their articles range from telling customers about who they are and what they do to ‘Why blackout blinds may be the best choice for your home’.

    An Edinburgh security business that installs burglar alarms and CCTV systems also has a blog where they provide security tips and advice.

    If you are a builder, car repair company or electrician you could show before and after photos of work you have completed.

    If this all sounds too daunting or time-consuming, then please give us a call for some advice.  For a very reasonable fee we can spend a few hours a month making updates to your website.

     

     

     

    The post Does Google Know You Are Open For Business? appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    16 SEO FAQS For Businesses

    The search industry has been widely recognised as a developing and ever-changing field, and as a result of these changes, more and more questions are being raised. Whether you have one years’ experience or ten, there is a good chance you’ve been asked some pretty common, and at times some downright bizarre, questions in the... Read more The post 16 SEO FAQS For Businesses appeared first on Alba SEO...

    16 SEO FAQS For Businesses

    The search industry has been widely recognised as a developing and ever-changing field, and as a result of these changes, more and more questions are being raised.

    Whether you have one years’ experience or ten, there is a good chance you’ve been asked some pretty common, and at times some downright bizarre, questions in the past.

    At Alba SEO Services, we receive a large number of questions on a regular basis and so we decided to put the most common questions into simple FAQS. Let us know if you have any others?

    SEO FAQS: Frequently Asked Questions

    Why are keywords important?

    Keywords are important as they provide relevance signals to the search engines. If your web page is relevant then it has more of a chance of being one of the search results for a particular query. For example, if you were a locksmith from Edinburgh and you had the term “Locksmith Edinburgh” on your website, then people searching for this keyword may find your website as one of the search results. Google is becoming more sophisticated with updates including Rank Brain and BERT, so stuffing your website full of the one keyword is not recommended as it looks and is spammy.

    How do I pick the right keywords?

    Choosing the right keywords is important. It’s not a matter of plugging in a potential keyword into ahrefs or SEMrush and choosing the biggest volume. Choosing the right keywords should be based on user intent – what are visitors looking to do? Find information, buy a product or research a product? Once you understand what your visitors want, you can then craft your keywords accordingly using tools and trawling through search results for ideas.

    What is a ‘backlink’?

    A backlink is a vote for a website from another website. Physically it is an HTML link that when clicked takes you to another website. In the locksmith example above, if a fellow locksmith (a) were to link to another locksmith (b), this would be a vote for locksmith (b). This is incredibly important as the more backlinks a website has, the better is its credibility and ability to rank. However, the quality and relevance of a backlink is king. So a bunch of low quality links from a link seller is not going to work.

    How do you know if a backlink is good or bad for SEO?

    A backlink from a very important website is more powerful than loads of backlinks from low quality sites. Websites with lots of traffic are usually a good bet to be credible and authoritative.

    How do I build good backlinks?

    There are lots of possibilities to get backlinks. From other business owners, local directories, Chambers of Commerce/Networking sites, writing an article which appears on a website, from your social media profiles and lots of other ways too.

    How can I view the backlinks to my website?

    There are lots of tools e.g. Ahrefs, Majestic SEO but search console will provide you with a list of backlinks that Google has found on your website.

    If a backlink is ‘nofollow’, should I remove or disavow it?

    No! It’s important to have a natural backlink profile which includes nofollow backlinks. A ‘Nofollow’ attribute means that the link does not pass any PageRank. Whist these won’t help your website to rank per se, having 100% ‘Dofollow’ backlinks looks very odd to Google and would raise red flags.

    What matters most: Building links or creating more content?

    I’d say that links are more important but in order to get the links you need to build some content. For example a good blog article might generate backlinks as other websites want to link to it. So it is sometimes a chicken and egg situation depending on the industry.

    Which is more important: On-site SEO or off-site SEO?

    You need to have both in place. In this agency we always start with the onsite SEO in the form of an SEO audit. Without the foundations of good onsite SEO, any backlink effect will be less noticeable.  Time and time again, we see this is the case.

    Can I do on-site SEO myself?

    Yes you can – up to a point. For example, Yoast is a plugin which is highly recommended to improve your on-site SEO (for WordPress websites only). If you follow a lot of its recommendations you will do well. The skill is knowing where to spend time and what really matters. This is something which can be learned over time. Most business owners don’t have the time to learn and outsource it to SEO companies like ours.

    What is the best single thing I can do as a local business?

    The single best thing that you can do in my opinion is to ensure that your Google My Business page is complete with lots of reviews, photos and accurate information. This is so important for ranking on Google Maps. Having a presence of Google Maps will lead to more traffic to your website guaranteed.

    Is my website page loading speed important?

    Yes it is very important. Specifically it is important that your mobile site loads very fast. Page speed is a ranking signal and a poor loading time is bad for visitors to your website and they may leave or spend less time on your website. Google likes fast websites. Make sure your website loads fast!

    If an SEO company/agency is guaranteeing first place rankings, should I hire them?

    Never! It is not something that anyone can guarantee. SEO companies using shady practices might get your website ranking sooner than would be expected but you then run the risk of being penalised by Google and landing a penalty.  Choose an SEO consultant who can show you examples of their work, who takes the time to understand your business and is always transparent in their work processes.

    How long does it take to see a change in results from SEO?

    It really depends on a lot of variables. A long established business which has many natural backlinks already but a poor on-site SEO profile would rank faster once an audit is performed compared to a new business. The variables are the Content Management System being used, the age of the business and website, the size of the website, the on-site SEO, the number of backlinks, whether social media is part of the marketing, whether there is new content being created. Lots of variables but in general, within 3-6 months there would be a positive change and after a year, there will be good success.

    What are the main KPI’s that an SEO company/agency/consultant should consider?

    Traffic and conversions. Rankings are important but the search page is now a mix of different types of results that ranking number 1 for a keyword might not give you the majority of traffic. It may be that a rich snippet is getting the clicks. The only way to truly measure is to monitor traffic and conversions. Most clients like to see rankings too and in this agency we do report on these as well.

    Should a business invest in SEO?

    I think that a business without a visible web presence will lose out. Most people search online for anything they want. If your business is found in the dead zone of page 2 you will not survive. Even investing in some on-site SEO would be beneficial to most businesses that don’t have a budget for a full campaign. In this agency we can offer SEO audits without tying a business into a full campaign.

    Ready to take the next step?

    The post 16 SEO FAQS For Businesses appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    20 SEO Tips Your Business Can Use Today

      Is your business struggling to get noticed in the search results on Google and Bing? It might be because you have never used SEO techniques or perhaps you have and never got any progress with it. Perhaps you never gave it time or you may have decided to fast track and buy links which... Read more The post 20 SEO Tips Your Business Can Use Today appeared first on Alba SEO...

     

    20 SEO TIPS

    Is your business struggling to get noticed in the search results on Google and Bing? It might be because you have never used SEO techniques or perhaps you have and never got any progress with it. Perhaps you never gave it time or you may have decided to fast track and buy links which has had a detrimental impact due to Google’s spam algorithm recognising them for what they are.

    Search engine optimisation techniques do work and in fact Google even provides good information for businesses to use here. So what can you do to help your website rank a little bit better?

    1. Ensure that if you are a local business you have a Google My Business set up. We’ve provided a lot of information about this in previous posts about GMB.
    2. Make sure that your Meta titles and Meta descriptions are unique on each page and represent what each page is about. You can find helpful information here on Moz.com.
    3. Have great content which really represents your business and what it offers. What do you do, why you do it better than any of your competitors? Don’t keyword stuff- that means don’t repeat the same phrase multiple times as it looks – and is – spammy.
    4. Make sure your contact information is visible and accurate. Does it match what it says on your Google My Business page?
    5. Do you offer goods and services which are related to well being or financial services industries? If so ensure that you write as an expert and don’t copy and paste from other sites. Show that you know what you are talking about.
    6. An About page provides a level of trust to both your customers and search engines. If people stay on your site this is good as a high bounce rate is believed to be a poor quality signal to Google.
    7. Split your services into separate pages if you can. Having one page named “Services” which lists everything you do doesn’t give search engines or users clear evidence of all the individual services that you might offer.
    8. Open a LinkedIn company page and ensure the contact information matches up with your website.
    9. Ask businesses you know whether they can link to you as back links are important for ranking.
    10. Ask your customers to review your business. Google uses reviews in the local search algorithm it is believed. These key findings from a large study on reviews is worth reading. In summary people use reviews to make decisions to buy from your business.  Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business. 
    11. Respond to your reviews – good or bad. People read responses and they act as another signal of trust to your customers that you care what people think.
    12. Add your business to local directories such as Yelp, Yell, and Freeindex as these provide a way for Google and Bing to verify your business.
    13. Use social media – at least one channel shows your customers that you are vibrant and still in business too.
    14. Make sure your website is on HTTPS (secure). This is used as a ranking signal. Most new websites will be secure but I have seen some old ones still on insecure HTTP.
    15. Make sure that your website is fast on mobile. Google ranks websites based on crawling the mobile version of the website. Since speed is a ranking factor, a slow mobile site will reduce your chances of ranking well for both mobile and desktop versions of your website.
    16. Hosting is important. This relates to speed as well as good service with backups and assistance when there is a problem. If you buy a cheap hosting package your website could be on a server which has literally hundreds of sites vying for the same resource. You may require backups if things go wrong and it is important that you have some sort of backup regime in place.
    17. If you are using WordPress as a website builder (CMS) then it is very important that updates to the theme, plugins and WordPress are undertaken in a timely fashion. Updates can improve speed, performance and security. So it is vitally important that you update. And if the updates go wrong, you may need a backup version of your website (see 16).
    18. Use structured data in your website to help Google and Bing really understand what it is you sell or provide. Without going into too much detail, this is usually something which your SEO consultant can help with. This guide can help you get to grips with it.
    19. Don’t worry if you drop one or two places after a ranking algorithm update. There are millions of “baby algorithms” that go into an overall ranking score and some of these baby algorithms may update at any time giving a slightly different score.
    20. If all this seems overwhelming- call a good SEO consultant!

    The post 20 SEO Tips Your Business Can Use Today appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    Get Started with Google My Business For Beginners!

    Google My Business (GMB) began life in 2014 and has become increasingly important to both business owners and consumers. The Map which pops up after you’ve typed in a local search, works as a point of engagement and a vehicle for transactions between businesses and their local customers. GMB is particularly useful for reaching a... Read more The post Get Started with Google My Business For Beginners! appeared first on Alba SEO...

    beginners guide Google My Business

    Google My Business (GMB) began life in 2014 and has become increasingly important to both business owners and consumers. The Map which pops up after you’ve typed in a local search, works as a point of engagement and a vehicle for transactions between businesses and their local customers. GMB is particularly useful for reaching a local audience looking for services and products near to their place of work or home,

    Despite this, many businesses are still not using GMB or not using it to its full potential.  In fact nearly 40% of SME’s still do not have a GMB profile and of those that do, a fraction are using it to its full capability. In this blog, we explore 10 ways you can make the most of Google My Business, and become a household name in your local area!  Let’s dive in…

    1. Claim your listing!

    Sound obvious, but the first step to local success is to claim your GMB listing for your business. To get listed, sign in or register at www.google.com/business/. From here you can either claim a business in a category similar to yours, or us the ‘add your business’ function. Google will need to verify your business by sending you a verification code by post (mostly), from which point you can start managing your GMB account and really getting the most out of it.

    1. Complete as much as possible

    Make sure all the information you add to your listing is accurate and up to date. This includes your business name, address, hours of operation, business category and product/services information. Make sure the telephone number you display is correct and is preferably a local number. Choose the categories that best describe your business. Try to be as specific as possible – there are usually a few variations on and generic descriptions such as grocer, law firm, accountant are less likely to capture local traffic. Choosing too many categories can also be problematic and in some cases can stop your listing from showing completely. Google is continually updating the categories so be sure to check back over time and see if another category is more suitable.

    1. Become a local favourite

    Google have recently announced that they will award the top 5% of local business a ‘Local Favourite’ badge. Having this accolade will help maximize visibility for your business across Google platforms. To qualify, Google is favouring business that are best at optimising their GMB profile by keeping their information accurate and up to date and using all of its functionalities.

    1. Make use of Google posts

    Google posts are a neat function that sit at the bottom of your GMB profile, Using posts, you can add something new or interesting about your business, such as special offers or new products and services you have launched. Google will let you know when the post expires and how many people have looked at it so you can see what information works and what doesn’t. By keeping posts regularly up to date, you are not only letting your customers know what you are up to, it will help keep you visible when someone searches locally for you. There’s anecdotal evidence that they might also help with local ranking.

    1. Make full use of every character

    Make sure you use every character available to you. Remember, every sentence, word, character tells the buyer more about you. More complete descriptions will also improve your search ranking in Google. Just as you’re able to better communicate who you are to customers, you’re able to tell Google the same information and they will rank you for more search queries.

    1. Get reviews

    Another big ranking factor is to encourage customers to leave positive reviews on your GMB listing. Your star rating is also displayed on the map to searches so a high rating can also improve your click through rate. You should also ensure that you reply to all your reviews in Google to ensure that your customers know that you care.

    1. Get your shortened review link

    Google gives you the chance to create a memorable shortened review link that you can send to your customers to get reviews. This kind of shows how important Google thinks reviews are so use the link to get some good ones!

    1. Add your products to GMB

    You can add product pictures and descriptions to your GMB profile. These also show up on the panel page of Google Maps, making your business more visible. Update this information as regularly as possible to maintain your search status and get ahead of your competitors.

    1. Pictures paint a thousand words

    Business with photos receive 35% more clicks through to their website than businesses that don’t. Google wants you to add images to your GMB profile and will tell you how your images are performing compared to the competition. A recent study showed that businesses with more photos get more clicks, direction requests and views on Maps and search.

    1. Check out what’s new

    Google are always adding new features and functionality to their GMB platform as it grows in status. Be sure to go back into your dashboard regularly and see if there are any new features. Make sure you use these as soon as they come online to maximise your returns!

    Final thoughts

    Google my Business is a fantastic tool to help you become visible in your local area and stay one step ahead of the competition. The secret to using it successfully is to keep your profile accurate and up to date and use every service and function that is provided for you. Good luck!

    The post Get Started with Google My Business For Beginners! appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


    Why Trust Is So Important For Google Ranking

    Were you hit by the recent June 2019 Google core ranking update? I hope not.  Some of the big news agencies suffered with this update like the Dailymail.co.uk who lost 50% of their traffic overnight . This is catastrophic for some businesses and there have been lots of complaints suggesting that Google should give a... Read more The post Why Trust Is So Important For Google Ranking appeared first on Alba SEO...

    Trust signals and Google Ranking

    Were you hit by the recent June 2019 Google core ranking update? I hope not.  Some of the big news agencies suffered with this update like the Dailymail.co.uk who lost 50% of their traffic overnight . This is catastrophic for some businesses and there have been lots of complaints suggesting that Google should give a warning when a core update is to happen. Fortunately last week Google announced that they would pre-warn about future core updates.  But what can you do to prevent your website becoming the latest victim? Google doesn’t give away much information that enables a quick fix if you have been hit but it is clear from the messages coming out from Google web HQ that there are a few things to watch out for.

    John Mueller from Google has recently talked about a few things that might be important for trust (remember Google doesn’t give many specifics). Here’s what he said recently about why Google may not trust a website:

    the layout looks outdated or the authors are people that nobody knows or you have stock photo images of instead of author photos

    So Google is looking for some sort of author authenticity. And this ties in with the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that was released and then updated in 2018 to consider other trust signals like authorship in addition to the website itself. These signals are part of the much lauded and mystical  E-A-T  factors.

    Which trust factors are important for ranking in Google?

    So what factors are important? Google has put together a document to help but here are a few things that you should be aware of and which Google considers important in website content:

    • Does it have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
    • Would you give your credit card details to this website?
    • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well?
    • Are there lots of similar pages on the web saying the same thing?

    These relate to actual website content, but what else aside from content is deemed important as a trust signal in a website?

    1. Having Terms and Conditions and a Privacy Policy, (and a returns and refunds page if you are an e-commerce site)
    2. Clear and legitimate contact details
    3. Website forms which have fully functional Captcha
    4. An About page with real photos of the team
    5. The website looks like it has been updated since 2015
    6. The website is secure under HTTPS protocol
    7. Website links which aren’t broken
    8. An easy to use navigation
    9. A way to get back to the home page easily
    10. Links to social media platforms

    These are just some trust factors to consider. During out SEO audit we cover all of these and more to ensure that your website fully complies with what Google is expecting to see via trust signals. Get in touch if you want to know more.

    The post Why Trust Is So Important For Google Ranking appeared first on Alba SEO Services.


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