This article has been contributed by Adam Petty.
It’s 2020. The online world is bigger than ever.
With so much information out there it can be hard for your customers to find you, let alone spend their precious time engaging with your content.
The top result on Google has a 33% chance of getting clicked.
The second? A mere 15% and it only gets worse as your page ranking falls.
It is for this reason that companies invest heavily on improving their SEO, competing for the top page rankings on Google. But does it have to be so hard?
Applying some of these simple steps will drastically improve your SEO and allow you to get noticed in your industry. The best part – you don’t have to spend a cent.
1. Influence Influencers
Many experts say that influencer marketing is dead. Sure, it’s not as effective as it used to be due to the mass saturation of businesses in recent years. As designers in 2020 we have to find new ways to stand out from the crowd now that audiences are more cautious than ever when it comes to influencer promotions.
With that being said, there are a few methods of gaining an influencer’s attention which are yet to be discovered by the masses. All it requires is a bit of time, creativity and fairy dust, (ok, no fairy dust) and you’ll be on your way to getting noticed. The answer? In simple terms: provide valuable content in exchange for exposure.
First, you’ll need to find an influencer with a relatively large following. Not so big that they don’t give you the time of day, but then again, not too small. After all, you need enough exposure to make it worth your time.
The second point to consider is finding someone in your niche. What’s the point of spending hours meticulously perfecting your designs only to have them to plastered all over a makeup page. A relatively large influencer in your niche with good post engagement will go a long way in ensuring working with influencers yields the best results.
Next, do your research. Check their social media profiles, post style, audience demographic and anything else you can get your hands on to find the style of content that will draw attention; and what will be ignored.
Now for the fun part: creating content based on your findings. For the best engagement, ensure that it resonates with the audience. Whether that’s through evoking emotion or igniting inspiration; content that attracts attention through sparking a reaction will always work best and help you to get noticed.
Now you’re probably asking: ‘How am I going to get influencers to share this content that I’ve spent hours perfecting?’. Simple! Post it on your social media pages, tag them and send them a copy for good measure. If you have followed the previous steps then your content will speak for itself. Chances are, the influencer will be more than happy to share your masterpiece. After all, it will be perfect for their audience. They may even want to collaborate to develop new content.
The results speak for themselves in the chart above. As you can see, influencer marketing is big, and it’s only getting bigger. Research shows that every $1 spent on influencer marketing, yields a $5.20 return in media value. If you can get promotions from influencers for free, then that’s more than a 100% increase in media value. No brainer!
2. Become an Expert
Yes, an expert. Sounds big, I know, but it’s not as difficult as you think. Becoming an expert in your field will naturally result in attention. It won’t be long before other big influencers, and more importantly, potential clients start taking notice.
Here are some simple tips to assist you on your journey to becoming an expert…
Once you’ve taken the time to amass enough knowledge to feel highly competent in explaining your understanding, start answering the questions posted on the site by users. Be careful not to promote your own business in a way that appears spammy. Ensure your answers are well written and genuinely helpful.
The trick is to compose a thorough, well-written response to someone’s question, preferably one that doesn’t have many answers from other users, and subtly include links to your site only when relevant. Make sure the pages on your site that you link to are specific and highly relevant to your answer. By doing this, you’re not only helping the person asking the question, you’re also making links to your website accessible to a new audience, exposing yourself to countless readers.
3. Have a Content Marketing Strategy
How often do you update your website? Are you active on social media? If you haven’t been getting attention online it’s most likely due to users being unaware of your existence (I know, the truth hurts). Don’t wait for your customers to come to you; create a content strategy to guide your website posts, social media and interactions with your audience.
In order to drive more traffic to your website, it is crucial to keep your site fresh, exciting, and full of newsworthy information to grab readers’ attention and keep them coming back for more. Websites that provide highly informative content typically have better conversion rates resulting in more clients.
You could create content for your own blog or social media channels and hope people find it amongst the vast ocean of other websites with the same idea as you. But unsurprisingly, this will probably produce some pretty unsatisfactory results.
Alternatively, you could guest post on someone else’s site which already receives a large number of readers every month. This is a win-win situation. The owner of the site receives high quality content free of charge whilst you, the author, get the credit.
Over time, this exposure from larger websites will help you to establish a large group of faithful readers; a powerful asset which can be leveraged to gain clients or increase brand awareness. Find out more about how to go about guest posting in step 7.
The graphic below shows the power of articles over ads.
4. Speed Up Your Website
Website load speed is vital when it comes to converting clicks to clients. If your website is taking more than a second or two when loading, users aren’t going to hang around. As well as the loss in clients, search engines won’t rank your website as high as it could be if it were faster. So it’s pretty clear that you can’t afford to neglect even just a few seconds of your users’ precious time.
There are sites out there like https://gtmetrix.com/ that allow you to test your website load time. GTMetrix will run tests from different locations all over the world – vital information for your business. Google Search Console will also run a speed test and tell you different ways to optimise your site for loading speed.
So how fast is enough? Research shows 40% of visitors will abandon websites if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. What’s even more shocking is that 80% of those visitors won’t return based on their poor experience. This is detrimental for your SEO ranking as it ultimately demonstrates to search engines that your site isn’t worth displaying on the front page of results.
It’s not just us telling you to speed up your website; Google is too. In 2010 they put out a statement on their Webmasters Blog which reads, “Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.”
So it is clear. Faster websites fair better in search rankings than when compared their slower counterparts.
5. Optimize Your Images
Ensuring your website’s visitors see an image resolution appropriate for the screen size they are viewing it on plays a massive part in ensuring fast page load times. In fact, image optimisation is so important that it deserves a whole section all to itself.
There’s no doubt, your website needs images. Without them it would be a barren wasteland of text on a screen. The question is: how can you provide high quality images without them taking a toll on page load speed? The answer: optimisation.
In a nutshell, image optimisation only downloads the necessary sized image based on the device it’s being viewed on. For example, if your website is being loaded on a 95 inch 4k TV, your website will display a higher quality image than if it was being viewed on the 1 inch display of a smart watch. Simple, right? Well actually it is. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to serve perfectly sized images, no matter the device. If your website is built on WordPress, a simple plugin is all it takes. Other platforms like Webflow have image optimisation built in. How easy is that?
6. Use Outbound Links
Outbound links are exactly what they sound like: links from your website to another website. Commonly these are used to verify facts, back up sources or simply point readers toward resources.
You’re probably asking: ‘How will using outbound links increase your chance of getting a high search ranking?”
First of all, they will increase your website’s relevance. Search engine algorithms can learn a lot about your site entirely based upon who you link to and how. You can think of your links as providing clues to crawlers about the industry you’re in, the problems you’re attempting to solve and how relevant a page will be to people searching online. Ultimately, you’re helping to structure the web.
If you provide backlinks to high authority pages, you are building a search engine’s trust in your website and demonstrating that you are a legitimate player in your field. This increases a search engine’s confidence when serving up your page as a result for their users.
By including outbound links to relevant, high authority sources, you can boost your own reputation in the process. Think of it as a form of association – you are appearing as if you’re operating in the same circles as the biggest names in your industry.
Using outbound links can also help to establish a network with other bloggers, journalists, websites and companies. Endorsing their work will encourage them to do the same in return.
Here’s an example of how you can contact other site owners about a new outbound link you’ve added to your site, to build your network:
7. Get Featured on Other Sites
We touched on writing guest articles in step 3, as part of your content strategy. Getting featured on other people’s blogs will allow you to be seen by a whole new audience. It enables people that care about your content to find you, especially if the website is trusted with lots of monthly visitors.
Many people will email website owners and ask for a feature in a post. The problem with this is websites get hundreds of emails a day. The chances that your email is even read is slim. This is where our method comes in handy.
First, find a website that has featured someone else in your area of expertise fairly recently. This is a good indication that the site’s audience is appropriate for your content. Next, get in contact with the site owner, giving feedback regarding the featured article. Be sure to use the owner’s name so that it is personalised and doesn’t appear automated or spammy.
Then once you have started the conversation and built rapport, explain who you are and that you would love to be featured. By using this tactic, you could get one to two features a week; more than enough exposure to start getting noticed and gaining clients.
Press is also a powerful tactic when it comes to gaining attention. The question is, how? An easy way is to pay a PR agency who has a performance-based pay model. This ensures you only pay when you get results.
Alternatively, you can get press for free by building relationships and connections with reporters. By continually helping them out with their stories and giving them feedback they may decide to return the favour and give your business some coverage.
8. Use Google My Business
Standing out in your local area is also a valuable source of new clients. For this ‘Google My Business’ really is your best option. Not only will it boost your online visibility by showing your business’s location and contact details, it will also allow customers to leave feedback and suggest improvements.
To use Google My Business effectively ensure the following:
- Complete your business information and add a description
- Upload high-quality images
- Respond to all Google My Business reviews
- Use posts to promote events, offers and content
- Create and upload videos
It’s 2020 and the online world is more competitive than ever. Following the steps in this article will help you to stand out from the crowd in search results but don’t forget that consistency is key. Even if you don’t see the results right away, it’s all about playing the long game. Ultimately this is what will set you apart.
About the author: Adam Petty recently founded Squared, a brand design agency. He help brands & businesses achieve their goals with the power of design.