Anatomy Of A Winning B2B Website

As a hosting company we have many thousands of UK B2B customers. We wanted to help them understand how they could improve their website so that they get more traffic, more leads and ultimately more profit.

So during April 2016 we analysed over 540 UK B2B companies and we benchmarked them against the ‘Best in Class’ in their category.  By Best in Class we mean websites that appear in the top 3 Google rankings (the Google 3 Pack).Anatomy of a winning UK B2B website

 

The businesses analysed were Accountants, Commercial Cleaning Companies, Printers, Telemarketing Companies and Training Companies.

We split them into 2 groups:

  • Best in Class – 20 websites from each of the 5 industries – 100 in total
  • Industry Average – 440 websites split over the 5 industries

The Industry Average websites were purchased from a UK supplier of B2B data to ensure a random selection. They were selected randomly across the UK and the only criteria was that they were in the £90K to £400K annual turnover band (approx US$ 135K to US$ 600K, EUR 112K to EUR 500K).

All searches were performed on a desktop PC to ensure consistency.

A variety of off the shelf, commonly available tools were used including AHrefs, SEMRush, Woorank, Screaming Frog and Pingdom.

To see an Executive Summary Report please go to: https://www.pickaweb.co.uk/Local-B2B-Executive-Summary-Report-June-2016

The Study concludes that the Statistical Significance between Best in Class and the Industry Average performance are the following:

 

Factor

Best in Class Average

Industry Average

Statistical Significance*

Average Number of Google Reviews

0.94

0.4

57% (Significant)

Title tags include BOTH industry & location

61%

21%

66% (Significant)

Number of Pages

104

48

54% (Significant)

Number of Referring Domains

44

17

60% (Significant)

The Study determined that other factors commonly assumed to play a large factor such as having a blog, a mobile website or using https (SSL) did not have a significant impact on the rankings, i.e.:

 

Factor

Best in Class (Percentage with)

Industry Average (Percentage with)

Statistical Significance

Has a Blog

40%

33%

17% (Not Significant)

Mobile Friendly

53%

40%

25% (Not Significant)

Uses https (SSL)

3%

2.58%

14% (Not Significant)

Also the average age of domain and the use of localised domain extensions (i.e. .co.uk, .uk, .org.uk) over TLDs (i.e. .com) was not significant:

 

Factor

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Average Age of Domain (Years)

11

8

23% (Not Significant)

Use UK Domain Extension

79%

70%

12% (Not Significant)

 

Furthermore when the use of blogs by Best in Class website (40%) was investigated, there was not a strong enough correlation between achieving a high ranking and this was confirmed by the Industry Average where only 7% of these who appear in the top 3 rankings have a blog.

Therefore the high level findings we have drawn are that in order to achieve a high ranking in B2B listings in the UK business owners and their partners should prioritise the following actions:

  • Double their Google reviews as soon as feasible and in line with best practice (i.e. not too many, too quickly) and commit to increasing reviews over time
  • Optimise metatags based on industry and geography
  • Increase the number of pages in their website – for example create service specific pages and using their blog to post relevant content regularly
  • Increase the number of referring domains that link to your website – for example claiming Name, Address and Phone (NAP) Citations
  • ‘Just having’ a blog, a mobile friendly website or using HTTPS (SSL) is not a guarantee of success in itself

* Statistical Significance is defined at the 95% confidence level (or 5% margin error), meaning that the difference between the 2 compared variables (websites) is real and if repeated on a larger scale (e.g. 1000 websites) the testing would bring the same results. The percentage difference shown is the difference between Best in Class and Industry Average as follows:

1 – (Industry Average / Best in Class), i.e. for Google Reviews the calculation is:

1 – (0.4 / 0.94) = 0.57 (i.e. There is a 57% (Significant) Difference between Best in Class and Industry Average Google Reviews)

Limitations Of This Report

It should be noted that the objective of this report is to identify the major statistical differences between the Best in Class and the Industry Average.

The findings are not intended to act as an incontrovertible set of local B2B SEO factors. Rather, they are to be used to highlight the key differences between the Best in Class and the Industry Average to allow interested parties (Business Owners, SEO Professionals, Web Designers) to identify areas for improvement in their strategies.

The analysis was performed on desktop searches in Google rather than mobile searches. Therefore the top 3 rankings reflect desktop searches.

Statistical Accuracy

The website comparisons were tested using a significant testing tool, allowing the researcher to determine if the differences between the 2 variables (websites) is real (95% confidence level) and if tested on a larger number of websites the study would bring the same results. This has ensured reliability and credibility of the results.

Summary of Position In Google Search Results (Desktop)

The table below illustrates the relative position of Best in Class vs the Industry Average when performed using a private window and using a Desktop PC.

 

Industry

Best in Class – Percentage in Google 3 Pack

Industry Average – Percentage in Google 3 Pack

Statistical Significance

Accountants

100%

19%

81%(Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

100%

19%

81% (Significant)

Printers

100%

22%

78% (Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

100%

46%

54% (Significant)

Training Companies

100%

7%

93% (Significant)

Average

100%

25%

75% (Significant)

This is included to demonstrate that the Industry Average does not represent Best in Class and allows the report to draw appropriate conclusions based on the variances between the two groups being analysed.

On Page Factors – Significant Differences

Location & Industry in Title Tag (Percentage Using Both)

As the study is focused on local businesses it was considered of interest to understand the correlation between using both the industry (e.g. Accountant) AND Geographic (e.g. Maidstone) factors in the Page Title Tag on the home page.

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

90%

48%

47%(Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

65%

38%

41% (Significant)

Printers

85%

30%

65% (Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

30%

21%

30% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

35%

12%

66% (Significant)

Average

61%

21%

66% (Significant)

 

The results demonstrate a positive overall correlation between the use of these with the Best in Class but that is not the case with the Industry Average.

However, there is a possible caveat for the lower results for Telemarketing and Training companies who may not be so location dependent as the other sectors such as printers, cleaners and accountants who generally tend to be located closer to their clients and will emphasise the local nature of their service offering.

In order to validate this it would be interesting to see whether there is a positive correlation between the businesses in the Industry Average population who are also in the top 3 positions in Google. Here are the results:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average (in Top 3)

Percentage Difference

Correlation

Accountants

90%

75%

17%

High

Commercial Cleaners

65%

71%

-10%

High

Printers

85%

44%

48%

Medium

Telemarketing Companies

30%

24%

21%

High

Training Companies

35%

13%

64%

Low

Average Difference

61%

45%

26%

High

 

It’s worth considering these results individually rather than collectively.

A clear correlation in the results for Accountants and Commercial Cleaners can be observed. For Printers there is less correlation and this is important because this appears to be a strong factor for Best in Class with 85%.

However, for Telemarketing and Training Companies it can be observed that they both started from a low position (30% and 35% respectively for Best in Class) and the Industry Average was less (24% and 13% respectively).

Therefore, if the following question is asked: “How important is using Location AND Industry in the Page Title Element to achieving a good local ranking?” the following conclusions could be drawn:

  • Accountants – Very Important
  • Commercial Cleaners – Very Important
  • Printers – Medium to High Importance
  • Telemarketing Companies – Low to Medium Importance
  • Training Companies – Low to Medium Importance

In conclusion, whilst a Significant Difference between Best in Class and the Industry Average was observed this should not be viewed in isolation. It would appear that Accountants and Commercial Cleaners place a high degree of importance on location whilst Printers are less so and Telemarketing and Training Companies cast a wider geographical net.

Average Number of Pages

A low number of pages can either be the result of lack of content or poorly optimised website code which prevents search engine bots from discovering all pages on your site.

Either way, it is of interest to see whether or not the number of pages discovered had a bearing on the rankings. Here are the results:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

188

73

61%(Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

57

29

49% (Significant)

Printers

55

27

51%(Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

77

39

49% (Significant)

Training Companies

144

73

50%(Significant)

Average

104

48

54% (Significant)

The differences between the two groups are significant in all cases.

With this information available, it would be interesting to understand if there is any correlation amongst the Industry Average websites who appear in Google’s top 3 listing and the number of pages. This would allow us to determine if this factor (number of pages) had a significant impact on the rankings. Here are the results:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average (in Top 3)

Statistical Significance

Accountants

188

74

60% (Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

57

17

70%(Significant)

Printers

55

13

76%(Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

77

49

37%(Significant)

Training Companies

144

81

44%(Significant)

Average

104

47

55% (Significant)

However, there did not appear to be a positive correlation. In fact the Commercial Cleaners (from 29 to 17) and Printers (27 to 13) both deteriorated in terms of the number of pages.

If Number of Pages was a significant factor in its own right then normally we would expect to see a strong correlation, i.e. a low difference between Best in Class and Industry Average.

We can conclude based on this evidence that Number of Pages is not a significant factor in its own right, but should rather be considered as one of a number of factors that make up a high ranking. 

Off Page Factors – Significant Differences

Average Google Reviews Per Listing (Google Local 3 Pack)

Now we can focus on the Google Reviews left by customers. This is often cited as one of the most important measures for a local business so naturally we were very interested to see how many reviews each group had on average.

The data is shown below:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

0.6667

0.3373

49%(Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

0.57

0.53

7% (Not Significant)

Printers

2.17

0.49

77%(Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

0.57

0.02

96%(Significant)

Training Companies

0.72

0.68

5% (Not Significant)

Average

0.937

0.398

57% (Significant)

Overall the average Best in Class website has approximately one review (remember this is an average). Printers stand out as being the most active in terms of seeking out customer reviews averaging at just over two reviews.

Whichever way it is viewed this is a low barrier to hurdle. Reviews are not difficult to achieve even for a business with a small customer base.

It would appear that Commercial Cleaners (0.57 vs 0.53) and Training Companies (0.72 vs 0.68) have the closest correlation.

In contrast Telemarketing companies barely register any reviews at all (0.57 vs 0.02). One possible explanation for this could be that their clients are reluctant to provide reviews to protect their best suppliers from being used by the competition. We have no evidence to support this hypothesis though and we have included it purely to encourage debate on this subject.

In terms of difference between the groups the two figures which stand out here are Commercial Cleaners and Training Companies who have only a very small variance from Best in Class (5% and 7% respectively), i.e. there is not much difference between Best in Class and the Industry Average.

Bearing in mind that Best in Class by definition are ALL in the top 3 positions (the Google 3 pack), it was considered worthwhile to examine whether these two Industry Average industries (Commercial Cleaners and Training Companies) had a better ranking than the other three. If they did then this would indicate that Google Reviews are a strong factor.

Below is the comparison:

Industry

Industry Average – Average Number of Google Reviews

Industry Average – Appear in the Top 3 Results (%age)

Accountants

0.3373

19%

Commercial Cleaners

0.53

19%

Printers

0.49

22%

Telemarketing Companies

0.02

46%

Training Companies

0.68

7%

Average

0.398

25%

 

In fact, the opposite was the case – they had the lowest number of top 3 positions (just 19% of all Commercial Cleaners and 7% of all Training Companies) DESPITE having similar numbers of Google Reviews to the Best in Class.

Perhaps equally surprising was that almost half of Telemarketing Companies (46%) in the Industry Average had a top 3 ranking despite having almost no reviews amongst them.

Based on this data one possible hypothesis is that Google Reviews have a weak correlation when considered in isolation, i.e. Google reviews in isolation are not sufficient.

That is not to say that they have a low value. On the contrary, we can see that Best in Class average 57% more reviews than the Industry Average. It just appears that obtaining reviews should form part of the overall strategy rather than placing all of your ranking eggs in the reviews basket.

Number Of Referring Domains

Backlinks are always going to play a part in any ranking strategy. We decided to focus on the number of referring domains as a measure of backlinks rather than the total number of backlinks. This was done because it appeared that some sites were using site wide links which meant that some sites were showing tens of thousands of links which skewed the results.

We therefore felt that using the number of referring domains was a better measure and as long as this was applied to all websites then the results would be consistent. Some websites had clearly been practising some form of bulk link building so we decided to remove the top 5% from each industry to ensure that the results were consistent. Again, this was performed against all industries and in both groups.

The findings are below:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

52

14

73% (Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

23

10

59% (Not Significant)

Printers

40

13

68% (Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

57

12

79% (Significant)

Training Companies

46

28

40% (Significant)

Average

44

17

61% (Significant)

 

This data shows that the Industry Average has on average 60% fewer referring domains than the Best in Class sites.

On Page Factors Minor Differences

Page Title Element Metatag Length

The Page Title Element is considered to be one of the most important on page factors to enable Google to determine the content of a page. In terms of length it is generally accepted that the maximum length should be no more than 512 pixels or roughly 64 characters.

The reason this was measured is because it is a good overall bellwether for SEO Best Practice.

Industry

Best in Class – Length of Title (Characters)

Industry Average – Length of Title (Characters)

Accountants

62

57

Commercial Cleaners

74

58

Printers

65

42

Telemarketing Companies

64

45

Training Companies

58

45

Average

64

44

 

In this instance it is clear that Best in Class generally demonstrates that they adhere to SEO best practice whereas the Industry Average do not.

Use of at least one H1 Heading on Homepage

The use of H1 Headings on the homepage was used to gauge the extent to which SEO best practices are being adhered to. The use of Headings (H1, H2 and H3 in particular) helps the search engines interpret the content contained within a particular page.

Ideally the H1 should include some form of target keyword although not exactly the same as the Page Title. It should be noted that the use of keywords in the H1 was not checked, merely the use of the heading.

Omission of the H1 Heading would indicate a low level of understanding of SEO fundamentals.

The table below summarises our findings:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

75%

57%

24%(Not Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

70%

51%

28% (Not Significant)

Printers

70%

43%

39% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

65%

52%

21% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

80%

65%

19% (Not Significant)

Average

72%

53%

26%(Not Significant)

 

The results, whilst indicating a better understanding of SEO principles in the Best in Class with three quarters using H1 Heading on their homepage versus just over half for the Random population, they are not conclusive enough to indicate that there is a strong correlation between their use and a high ranking.

Robots.txt & XML SiteMap Identified

Whilst not considered to be a major ranking factor using robots.txt is considered as SEO best practice so we were interested to see whether there was a large difference between the two groups.

The results for Robots.txt are as follows:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

85%

60%

30% (Not Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

70%

53%

24% (Not Significant)

Printers

65%

48%

26% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

70%

67%

4% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

65%

60%

8% (Not Significant)

Average

71%

58%

18% (Not Significant)

The results for XML SiteMap are as follows:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

75%

35%

54% (Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

55%

49%

10% (Not Significant)

Printers

45%

45%

0% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

75%

54%

28% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

50%

53%

-6% (Not Significant)

Average

60%

51%

16% (Not Significant)

 

The difference was not significant enough to determine that this is a major factor. In fact for XML SiteMap use in one case (Printers) the Industry Average used XML them as much as the Best in Class and Training Companies were even ahead of the Best of Class.

Blog Identified

With rise of Social Media platforms and the increased importance of content creation to search algorithms, we wanted to understand the relationship between blogging and a high local search ranking.

First we calculated the number of websites that had a blog. We then analysed which of these websites had a top 3 position in the Google rankings (the Google 3 pack) to see if there was a positive correlation between having a blog and achieving a high ranking.

Here is the total websites that have a blog:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

60%

29%

52% (Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

35%

37%

-6% (Not Significant)

Printers

30%

25%

16% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

35%

31%

12% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

40%

44%

-10% (Not Significant)

Average

40%

33%

17% (Not Significant)

 

So we can see from this that two industries from the Industry Average (Commercial Cleaners and Training Companies) actually tend to use a blog more than their Best in Class competitors.

Now we can turn our attention to the top 3 search results. We analysed the websites that demonstrate BOTH of the following characteristics:

  • A position in the top 3 search listings (Google 3 pack)
  • Have a blog on their website

It should be noted that Best in Class by definition already fulfill one of these requirements, i.e. a top 3 position.

This analysis will allow us to see if there is a positive correlation between those sites that have a blog and whether this gives a better search position. Here are the findings:

Industry

Best in Class – Have a Blog AND appear in Top 3 search positions (%age)

Industry Average – Have a Blog AND appear in Top 3 search positions (%age)

Accountants

60%

6%

Commercial Cleaners

35%

5%

Printers

30%

3%

Telemarketing Companies

35%

19%

Training Companies

40%

3%

Average

40% (Medium)

7% (Low)

As mentioned above, by definition the Best in Class already achieve a top 3 ranking and therefore it would appear that a result of 40% is not sufficient to count as a strong correlation between having a blog and achieving a top position. It certainly will not damage their chances, but we consider that it is probably a combination of other factors (good on page optimisation, Google reviews, number of referring domains) rather than just having a blog which gives them the advantage.

This is especially so when you consider the Industry Average results which clearly demonstrate at an average of 7% of sites with a blog in the top 3 that a blog on it’s own is not sufficient for a good ranking.

Again, we reiterate that we consider that having a blog is important, but on its own it is unlikely to move the ranking needle significantly.

Mobile Friendly Website

Since Google stated that mobile friendliness is a ranking factor in its mobile search results there has been a great deal of media coverage about the need to have a mobile friendly website. April 2015 saw Mobilegeddon which received a lot of press attention so many small business owners should be aware of the importance of having a mobile friendly website.

We initially analysed which websites were mobile friendly. Here are the results:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

65%

38%

41% (Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

45%

45%

0% (Not Significant)

Printers

45%

37%

18% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

60%

41%

32% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

50%

Blog Identified

41%

17% (Not Significant)

Average

53%

40%

25% (Not Significant)

 

Overall these results did not conclusively indicate that having a mobile friendly website would increase search rankings significantly. It should be noted that the rankings we used were based on desktop searches rather than mobile searches.

As with blogging we were interested to see whether there was a strong positive correlation between having a mobile friendly website and achieving a top 3 local ranking. Here are the results:

Industry

Best in Class – Have a Mobile Friendly Website AND appear in Top 3 (desktop) search positions (%age)

Industry Average – Have a Mobile Friendly Website AND appear in Top 3 (desktop) search positions (%age)

Statistical Significance

Accountants

65%

11%

84% (Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

45%

7%

85% (Significant)

Printers

45%

7%

85% (Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

60%

18%

71% (Significant)

Training Companies

50%

3%

94% (Significant)

Average

53%

9%

83% (Significant)

Now there appears to be quite a significant difference (83%).

As there was not such a huge difference between Best in Class and the Industry Average in terms of mobile friendliness (53% vs 40% respectively) then if mobile friendliness on its own were an important ranking factor then we would have seen a higher percentage of the Industry Average in the top 3 rankings. This was clearly not the case and therefore it can be concluded based on the data presented that having a mobile friendly website is not sufficient on its own.

However, as with the blogging question, we feel that this can not be viewed in isolation. The Best in Class websites tend to show a higher score over a range of factors and mobile friendliness is a factor that can not be ignored.

Using WordPress

The type of Content Management System (CMS) used is not a ranking factor, however we did notice that WordPress tended to be the most popular CMS so we have included this here for completeness. Please note that the use of WordPress in this sense means that the overall website is built using WordPress rather than just focusing on the blog section of the site.

The results are as follows:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

30%

20%

33% (Not Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

35%

27%

22% (Not Significant)

Printers

30%

18%

39% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

35%

23%

34% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

30%

31%

-4% (Not Significant)

Average

32%

24%

24% (Not Significant)

 

It can clearly be seen that there is not a huge variation between Best in Class and the Industry Average. Of course a Content Management system in its own right can not be considered as a ranking factor. However it is interesting that these findings corroborate other studies that conclude that WordPress powers around 20 to 25% of all websites so we have included it here for completeness.

Website Loadspeed

As with Mobile Friendliness and HTTPS (see below), Website Loadspeed is a known Google ranking factor as they have expressed a preference for faster loading websites. We therefore verified the Average Loadspeed of the home pages of both sets of websites.

The results are as follows and show Loadspeed of the homepage in seconds.

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

2.24

1.64

-27% (Not Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

3.11

1.68

-46% (Not Significant)

Printers

1.930

1.88

-3% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

1.91

1.55

-19% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

2.30

1.94

-16% (Not Significant)

Average

2.30

1.79

-22% (Not Significant)

 

Interestingly this was the only measure where the Industry Average performed better than the Best in Class, that is to say that their average Loadspeed was faster than the Best in Class – 1.79 seconds on average vs 2.3 seconds for Best in Class. Website loadspeed is usually determined by your web hosting service

Based on this data we can therefore conclude that in terms of UK Local B2B sectors having a fast website does not give you a significant advantage. 

However, as stated above, Google have categorically stated that Loadspeed is a ranking factor and one explanation of the results above could be that Loadspeed comes into play in extremely competitive niches, such as Ecommerce where user experience is of paramount importance.

HTTPS (SSL) being used

Another known ranking factor that Google have confirmed is using HTTPS instead of HTTP for increased security. This involves the use of an SSL certificate.

Our results shown below indicate that there is either an extremely low awareness or a lack of will to make the change amongst the businesses under analysis:

Industry

Best in Class Using HTTPS (SSL) – %age

Industry Average Using HTTPS (SSL) – %age

Accountants

0%

1% (Not Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

5%

0% (Not Significant)

Printers

0%

1% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

0%

1% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

10%

6% (Not Significant)

Average

3%

3% (Not Significant)

 

In terms of ranking factors there are too few sites using HTTPS to draw any solid conclusions. We did verify the small number of websites using HTTPS in the Industry Average and there was only one website which appeared in the top 3 listings which was using HTTPS.

Again, a credible explanation maybe the same as for Loadspeed that this factor comes to the fore in very competitive niches such as Ecommerce but less so in local markets where there is less competition.

Domain Name Factors

The researchers wanted to investigate whether the choice of domain name extension had any significance. The following factors were therefore considered:

The results are as follows:

Factor

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Average Age of Domain (Years)

11

8

23% (Not Significant)

Use UK Domain Extension

79%

70%

12% (Not Significant)

 

In terms of domain name age, there was not a great deal of difference between the two sets of data. This would indicate that Best in Class do not achieve a significant advantage purely by virtue of their older domain names.

Likewise for the use of a localised (i.e. UK) domain extensions, whilst 79% of Best in Class use a localised domain name if the Industry Average was significantly less then that could have been considered a factor. However, as the above results show the Industry Average also tend to prefer to use a UK domain extension so this in itself was not considered a significant factor.

Off Page Factors Minor Differences

Google My Business Set Up

Using Google My Business is the minimum requirement after setting up a website we would expect to see from a local business.

The results are as follows:

Industry

Best in Class

Industry Average

Statistical Significance

Accountants

100%

95%

5% (Not Significant)

Commercial Cleaners

100%

77%

23% (Not Significant)

Printers

100%

69%

31% (Not Significant)

Telemarketing Companies

100%

81%

19% (Not Significant)

Training Companies

100%

78%

22% (Not Significant)

Average

100%

76%

24% (Not Significant)

Therefore we can see that Accountants are far more diligent in terms of setting up their Google My Business account whereas Printers are less likely to do so.

Conclusions

Overall the biggest Statistical Differences occurred in the following areas:

  • Number of Google Reviews
  • Use of Location AND Industry in the Title Tag of the home page
  • Number of Pages
  • Number of Referring Domains

Best in Class websites also tend to be better optimised in two key areas: length of Title Tag and use of H1 Heading.

Areas which did not have a Significant Statistical Difference between Best in Class and the Industry Average were:

  • Use of Robots.txt and an XML SiteMap
  • Use of a Blog
  • Mobile Friendly Website

This is not to conclude that these are unimportant, it is just that in isolation they will not have a dramatic effect on the search ranking.

HTTPS (SSL) uptake was very low amongst all websites reviewed, both Best in Class and Industry Average.

Overall the main conclusion is that to achieve Best in Class, website owners should focus on applying best practice to on site factors especially metatags as an immediate priority as well as making a conscious effort to achieve more Google reviews both now and on a consistent basis going forward.

In the short to medium term, effort should be focused on achieving more backlinks from more domains. Overall the number of referring domains required is achievable and realistic for any local business. Name, Address and Phone (NAP) Citations from reputable local directories and industry websites would be a good starting point.

In the longer term more content is required in all of the industries researched. This can be achieved by creating a blog as well as adding more service specific pages rather than offering a generic ‘services’ page.

Finally, whilst Mobile Friendliness and HTTPS did not appear to have a significant effect in themselves, they are known and stated ranking factors for Google. These should not be overlooked and are likely to become increasingly important in the coming years. Any business owner determined to achieve a good ranking is recommended to ensure compliance on these two point.

Recommendations

The matrix below allows the reader to quickly prioritise their actions to address the points raised by this research. It should be noted that the column ‘Time to Fix’ refers to the time required to address the issue rather than the time for Google or the other search engines to re-index a website with a higher ranking (which can take considerably more time).

For an in-depth set of Local SEO Recommendations for Best Practice please see https://www.pickaweb.co.uk/blog/local-seo-expert-roundup

High Priority Actions

Factor

Cost to Fix

Time to Fix

Return on Investment

Increase Google Reviews

Zero

< 1 week

Very High

Setup & Optimize Google MyBusiness

Zero

< 1 day

Very High

Apply Best Practice to Page Title (Length & Industry /Location)

Low

< 1 day

Very High

Create Keyword Rich H1 Headings

Low

< 1 day

High

Double Number of Service (non blog) Pages

Medium

< 1 month

High

Increase Number of Referring Domains (NAP Citations, Local Links)

Medium

< 3 months

High

Medium Priority Actions

Issue

Cost to Fix

Time to Fix

Return on Investment

Switch to Mobile Friendly (Responsive) Design

High

< 1 month

Medium

Set Up Blog

Low

< 1 day

Very High

Add regular Content to Blog (min weekly)

Medium

< 3 months

High

Switch to HTTPS (SSL)

Low

< 1 day

Low

Switch to SSD Hosting

Low

< 1 day

Low

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    • 2

      Hi Rebecca,
      That’s so true. The real takeaway here is to focus on some of the fundamentals, namely – good on page SEO and get some Google reviews. That shouldn’t take too much time at all.

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