With news of the COVID-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic changing, seemingly, from minute to minute these are unsettling times.
As a parent I’m worried.
As a business owner I’m worried too.
I can’t help you with the first one but I want to try and help with the second.
As social distancing measures increase and people opt, quite sensibly, for more self-imposed measures to limit their exposure to the virus, this is going to hit a lot of business hard. Small businesses, SMEs and freelancers or ‘solo-preneurs’ especially hard.
For many of them this might crush their business.
A lot of business owners may be turning to the online world for the first time. For others they always had a website they just never really needed it… until now.
What is SEO anyway?
If you’re in either of those groups, that’s OK. No judgement here.
SEO is “search engine optimisation”. So search engines (like Google) and optimising your website to rank higher in the search results when someone searches for:
[that thing you sell] in [that town you sell it in]
be that coal in Newcastle or coffee in Cornwall.
Some Free SEO help
I’m not a doctor or even something helpful like a ventilator engineer or delivery driver. But I want to help.
I’ve been lucky enough to have some really smart people come and speak at the Optimisey SEO events I run.
I’ve also worked with a lot of businesses – some big, some small – and helped them get more traffic to their websites.
So I got to thinking: ‘How can I help all those people that are trying to juggle all their concerns; the (frankly baffling) battle for loo roll; and trying to keep their business afloat?’
And the answer is, collating some of the best advice out there on SEO and making it available, in one place totally free.
So here it is – advice from some of the best in the business, summarised into neat chapters (so if you’re not totally new to this you can skip ahead to the bits you need).
Before you start… remember: you don’t have to do all of this at once.
If you’re in quarantine you may find yourself with more time on your hands so be able to work through this step-by-step.
If your kids are off school you may find you have even less time than usual.
The trick is to do something. Baby steps as they say.
OK, on with the show:
TAble of contents
- SEO Basics
- Strategy, Forecasting & Analysing
- Local SEO
- On-Page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Keywords, Entities & Content Research
- Making Great Content
- Getting Great Links
There are things you should think about before you embark on any efforts to improve your SEO.
You need answers to questions like:
- How are you going to know if this works?
- What is the audience you’re targeting (and if this has changed in the current circumstances)?
- If people do find you, are you worth finding? Is your content actually (honestly) any good?
I cover questions like this in this post on: 7 basic SEO fundamentals.
Next, it helps to think about Google’s ‘direction of travel’. And for that I can turn to two of the brilliant Optimisey event speakers.
Jono Alderson gave a terrific talk, based on a fictional dystopian future (one which feels a few steps closer now). But the content is great.
Through his made-up business example (me as a comedian!) he weaves a terrific tale demonstrating the things Google (or “Global”) care about; why; and what you can do about them:
You can also hear directly from Glob… sorry, Google what they think a good website is.
They publish their Quality Rater’s Guidelines – which an army of raters use to help them assess new algorithm updates and the like.
The estimable Marie Haynes is somewhat of an expert on the ‘QRG’
OK. So you’ve got the basics. What next?
Strategy, Forecasting & Analysing
Now you know where Google is going, where are you going?
Have you got an SEO strategy? And no “I wanna rank number one!” is not a strategy.
Let the brilliant Natalie Mott talk you through some SEO strategy 101:
And, when you’re trying to estimate how much traffic all this is going to bring you or whether, amongst the other 317 things on your to do list, this should fit in your order of priorities?
Allow Richard Petersen-Hall to talk you through how he forecasts realistic, data-backed numbers for his boss and clients:
Still need some help justifying it? Wouldn’t it be great if you had someone to make that case for you? With a load of case studies to back it up?
Ah… here comes Jennifer Hoffman (and her “Very happy CEO”), with exactly that:
Now, once you have all this lovely data; your boss has signed off the budget; SEO is now top of your list. Great!
How do you make that data sing?
Everyone loves a chart, especially one that goes ‘up and to the right’ – but once your boss (or client) has agreed to all this, they’re gonna want to see the proof in the pudding.
Ah, here comes Dan Cartland riding to the rescue on his white charger known as Google Data Studio.
Whether you’re at home in Excel or scared witless of spreadsheets there’s something in here for you to make your data actionable, engaging (and look bloomin’ lovely too):
You got your strategy, direction of travel, budget and reporting all sorted.
You plan for global dominance (of course) but being a big deal and being discoverable in your local area is the first step.
Enter local SEO.
If you haven’t already get your Google My Business listing set-up.
Then listen to this talk by yours truly on how to take your ‘GMB’ listing beyond just the basics:
And if you’ve already got the basics of local SEO sorted, then listen to Tim Capper take it up a notch with his talk on ‘Local SEO after checklists’:
Got all that?
Great! Here come two more top notch experts to help you out with…
On page SEO is things you can do to your site that will help improve your rankings.
One of the most often overlooked areas is internal linking.
Happily, Andy Drinkwater gave a talk on exactly that:
More recently, the marvellous Lukasz Zelezny gave a talk titled ‘SEO Tactics You Can Implement Tonight’ (he gave his talk at around 7pm) but you can do them any time you like.
They include what he calls his ‘Snapshot’ technique – with data-driven tweaks to your pages that help them rank higher and get more traffic.
How are you getting on?
Strategy sorted? Data look delicious? Local SEO sorted? On-page SEO fine tuned?
Now to sort out the technical stuff.
Where to start?
With an audit of course. You need to assess the type and scale of the problem(s).
Barry Adams has seen more than a few SEO audits in his time so let him talk you through what a good SEO audit should have; what it shouldn’t have; and some of the tips and tools he’s picked up from his extensive experience in the industry:
Then allow Niki Mosier to help you take some of those tools and ideas and use them to analyse your competition:
If you have an e-commerce store now is not the time to be leaving money on the table there.
Fortunately, Luke Carthy has a talk for that…
Still with me?
Now it’s time to take your content up a notch. Really make it into the answer your customers (and Google) want.
And guess what? I’ve got two experts to talk to you about that too!
Keywords, Entities & Content Research
If you’re still thinking about keywords things have moved on quite a bit since the days when ‘keyword-stuffing’ your content would work.
A key step along that road is understanding intent.
Here’s the super-clever Anna Corbett to explain more, with a (kitten-packed!) talk on searcher intent:
- Watch the video
- Download Anna’s slides from this talk
- Read a transcript of this talk
- Enjoy this brilliant sketch-note of the talk by the talented Anne-Marie Miller at Carbon Orange (click/tap the image to see a larger version)
Now you’ve got that straight, you need to move on to ‘things not strings’ – meaning entities, rather that ‘bag of words’ of keywords.
If you’re wondering what the heck an entity is, fear not. Here’s dazzling Kevin Indig to explain it all (stick with this one… it starts deep and technical but Kevin unravels it all in an easy to understand way):
We are cooking now!
You’ve got a strategy; you know how Google wants this to work; you’ve got budget, data and wonderful charts. Your local SEO is on point; your on-page SEO is lit; the technical SEO is… well, it’s improving (right?) and now your content plan is ?.
Can there be more?
How do you make content that your audience is going to love and is better than your competition… even if your competition are megalodon-sized like an Amazon or a big High Street chain?
Enter stage left, Mr. Ross Tavendale on how with some thinking, planning and speed you can punch above your SEO weight:
- Watch the video
- Download Ross’s slides from this talk
- Read a transcript of this talk
- And here’s another brilliant sketch-note from Anne-Marie too (click/tap it to enlarge):
And what about video content – you should make some of that too.
Here are the magnificent Mark and Jess from Breadcrumb Media on how to plan and make great video:
The Breadcrumb Media team shot, edited and produced all the videos you’re seeing here. If you’re not sure on video, why not pay them to do it for you!
And the unique and rapid-fire Aleyda Solis follows up with how to rank your video content:
Your SEO plan is looking pretty amazing now, right?
Input and advice from some of the world’s top SEO experts is kinda helping, no?
Did I miss anything?
Ah yes… links. Word is they’re kinda important for good rankings.
Link building and outreach
But how do you get good ones? Where can you get ideas on how you (yes, even you) can come up with ideas brilliant enough to be link worthy?
And then how can you pitch them to the publication of your link-building dreams?
Fear not. I’ve got not one… not two… but three brilliant talks on this!
If you’ve only time to watch one of the three, here’s the stellar Stacey MacNaught on link acquisition tactics:
- Watch the video
- Download Stacey’s slides for this talk
- Read a transcript of this talk
- And there’s another sketch-note summary of this talk too:
If you want to take things up a level here’s Lexi Mills with tips on ‘scaling yourself’ into a PR and link-building machine:
- Watch the video
- Download Lexi’s slides from this talk
- Here’s another awesome sketch note for this talk too:
And once you’ve got all that mastered, how about some advice from the master of outreach: Jasmine Granton?
How about them apples?
I just helped you sort out your SEO planning, strategy, reporting, content, on-page, off-page, video, link building… and a whole load more. All with some of the best in the business.
There are tricky times ahead for a lot of business.
Now, more than ever, local businesses need your help. If you can (whilst staying safe and obeying social distancing advice in your area) support your local shop/café/yoga class or whatever – be that through future bookings; buying gift cards to ‘pay now, use later’; switching your allegiance from the big corporates or even just cancelling rather than ‘no showing’ so they can at least staff appropriately – do that.
I hope the above helps you in even a small way to weather the storm.
If you found it helpful, please use the social sharing icons below to help it reach others that might find it useful.
2 thoughts on “Help Your Business (digitally) Survive Through Social Distancing”
As a small business owner with a less than content worthy website I am feeling like I am striking a gold mine with your site, honestly. I had a lot of fun reading your rant about free SEO audit tools online from 2017, just after I used a few myself to check if my website was sound enough. I am glad I did stay for the whole page read. Not sure I will fix all the nerdy issues myself but I can start with a strategy and do better content for sure. Thx for sharing this huge amount of video and knowledge for free, I am certain that when the cash balance gets positive again people will want to work with you instead of someone as competent but who did nothing of the sort to help out.
Thanks Frederic – I hope it helps someone… even one person keep their business afloat.
(and I do love a good rant!)