Yes, it’s here again. New year and time to start looking ahead!
The trouble with most new year resolutions is that they involve denying ourselves something. You know “I’m going to give up smoking/drinking/junk food” or whatever.
But when it comes to your business I’ve got 4 resolutions that are easy to stick to and they’ll make a massive difference to you.
They don’t involve making stressful sacrifices and even better they will start to give you fast results where it matters – in your bank balance.
So give these 4 simple business resolutions a go and you’ll be set for a successful 2017.
2017 New Year Resolution #1: Get More Google Reviews
Run a quick search in Google for local suppliers. Notice something different about the businesses at the top?
You got it – reviews!
Now there’s no official confirmation from Google that more reviews means a higher ranking, but we did some research on local B2B websites earlier this year and we determined that high ranking sites have double the reviews of low ranking sites.
You’re going to need a Google MyBusiness account first. So if you haven’t got that set up yet you need to make that a priority.
Once you’ve got that done then you need to start getting more reviews. And guess what? Getting more reviews isn’t difficult either.
You just need to get into the habit of asking for them. The best thing to do is to make a list of your best clients first and ask them to leave reviews for you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many will leave glowing reviews.
Then just get into the habit of asking for reviews on a regular basis. When’s the best time to ask? Why, when you’ve got a happy customer in front of you of course.
Make sure you send them the correct link to your account too so you make it easy for them.
There is just one little note of caution – don’t go crazy getting hundreds of reviews in a week. Take your time and just steadily build up reviews over several months and you will be just fine.
2017 New Year Resolution #2: Create More Content
Another thing that separates top ranking businesses (top 3 in Google) from lower ranking sites is the amount of content they create. On average top sites have double the content of low ranking sites.
There are two main ways to create more content. First is to create more Service related pages and secondly is to create a blog. Let’s look at each quickly.
Create More Service Pages
Make a list of every service your company offers. Now go to your website and check that you have a page for each.
If you haven’t you need to create these as a priority. Just remember one page for one service.
One mistake I often see with smaller businesses is that they create one ‘Services’ page and list all of their services.
That’s a big mistake.
The trouble is that you’re just spreading yourself too thinly for Google because they want to take people to the exact page they’re looking for. They don’t want to go to a general services page, they want to go to the exact page that reflects the search that people type in with Google.
Let me explain with an example. If you’re an electrician you probably offer a wide range of services such as:
- Electrical maintenance and repairs
- Lighting circuits
- Cooker Power Points and Installation
- Electric Shower Units (supply and installation)
- Shower cabling
- Data cabling
- New Extension / New Build Electrical Installation
- Garden Electrical Systems
- Alarm-systems installation and maintenance
- Kitchen installations
- Fuse boards/upgrades or replacements
- Boiler repair
- Landlords Services (e.g. PAT testing and Reporting)
- Electrical Installation / Periodic Test Reports
- Video/telephone equipment installations
- Low energy lighting upgrades
- Low energy heating systems
- Installation of Air conditioning systems
- Complete shop fit/rewiring
- Alarm and CCTV Cabling
- Smoke detectors and sprinkler systems
- Fault detection and repair
- Industrial Services
Do you see what I mean? There are LOADS of opportunities to create more service pages.
You’ll probably also cover specific targets like retail, industrial or landlords. These need specialised pages too.
Remember – a page for EVERY Service. You’ll also need to optimize them (more on that in a moment).
Also make these pages longer. How long? Ideally 500 words minimum. That’s much easier than it sounds.
First, think about the conversation you would have with someone if they rang you up enquiring about these services. Let’s pick one from the list above, e.g. Installation of Air conditioning systems.
In this case you can explain how air conditioning works, how to calculate the power requirement, what are the different types of air conditioning unit, how to install air conditioning, what are the ongoing costs, how to maintain air conditioning, etc..
Once you start you’ll see that your knowledge will help you create that content, no problem.
Create a Blog
OK, just by creating those service pages you’re probably going to get a good increase in the rankings because you’re casting a much wider net.
But having a blog is another way to create fresh content for Google. You see Google loves websites that constantly create new, fresh content and a blog is the best way to do this.
I’d recommend WordPress and it’s free with Pickaweb’s hosting services and it’s easy to install. Just set up a folder called “blog” and install it there.
Once you’re up and running you can just use your blog to answer questions that potential clients may have in mind.
In fact we’ve prepared a free blogging workbook for you which takes you step by step through the entire process. Access it here and just follow the steps.
If you get stuck for inspiration check out our guide to blogging for boring businesses.
2017 New Year Resolution #3: On Page SEO
On page SEO is one of those things which is a lot more straightforward than it sounds.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and basically it is the practice of setting up a website in a way that makes it favourable in the eyes of Google so that it gets a better ranking.
Now Google don’t publish exactly how their system works but the SEO industry through trial and error have established a set of best practice guidelines which you can apply to your pages.
Again referring to our B2B research these were some of the main factors that separated the best from the rest in the search engines. We’ve got a summary of the local B2B report here.
Here are the highlights:
- Identify a keyword for every page on your site
- Create a Page Title Element (67 characters +/-) that includes your keyword for that page and reads naturally. If you are a local business include the industry and location as a minimum (e.g. Printer Newcastle)
- Do the same for the Meta Description (180 characters +/-)
- Create one H1 Heading per page and include your keywords in it. Like Headings in Word or Google Docs, they just give structure to the page and help Google understand the content better
- Create several H2 Headings and include keywords in them where possible
- Create longer pages (check it’s a minimum of between 400 to 600 words)
- Include your keywords around 1% to 2% of the total
- Where possible include the keyword in the URL (i.e. web address) of that page
- Link to other pages of your website
- Use Anchor Text for these links using your keywords (e.g. if you link to a page about ‘Alarm and CCTV Cabling’ use that as the text that you link from rather than the words ‘click here’ or similar
Of the above the Metatags (Page Title, Meta Description) and the Headings are really important. Here’s what they look like from Google’s perspective:
Now they make more sense when you see them like that don’t they?
2017 New Year Resolution #4: Get Some Easy Backlinks
If you’re not familiar with backlinks then all you need to know is that the more links you get from good quality websites pointing to you the better your ranking will become.
Think of them as being like votes in a beauty contest.
The trouble is that getting backlinks can be a long and frustrating process.
But look, let’s be honest. Unless you are in a super competitive field against national or global businesses then the chances are that you only need to get a few backlinks.
So I would recommend that for now you focus most of your effort on getting NAP Citations. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone. You can get them from loads of local websites like directories etc. that will list your business and give you a link to your site.
The truth is that getting backlinks takes a certain amount of determination, time and effort (and money), whereas NAP Citations are easy.
All you need to do is to identify some NAP targets and work through them methodically getting a few new NAP Citations every week.
You can even outsource your NAP Citations to some reputable companies to do it all for you. You just choose how many you want and off they go and give you a report showing you the work they’ve done for you.
Of course don’t forget to get other easy backlinks from things like local listings with Google, Bing and Yahoo as well as from your social media accounts.
Also giving your suppliers testimonials is another quick way to pick up some great backlinks.
2017 is just around the corner. Now’s the time to get your online strategy fixed for good.
Start with the easy stuff – just ask your best customers for Google reviews – try it and you’ll see that most people are happy to do this for you.
Then start creating more content. First fix your service pages and make sure you have a page for EVERY service. Make the pages longer too – minimum 500 words. Then create a blog and add content regularly.
Next fix your on page SEO. Just go through the checklist we’ve provided and knock your pages into shape.
Finally get some backlinks. Again, go for the easy wins and they don’t come any easier than NAP Citations.
Just commit to these 4 simple 2017 New Year Resolutions and you’ll have a great business year.