By Samuel Hurley, Senior Marketing Executive, Kurve

There are so many demands on a burgeoning business’ limited resources that priorities should be drawn up and sacrifices should be made. In the early days, your resources should be channelled into activities that promise a relatively quick but also enduring return on investment. A spike in sales resulting from traditional offline marketing techniques that lasts a week, or even a couple of months, is not going to provide the solid foundation of long term leads that a small business needs.

While search engine optimisation (SEO) for startups can seem like a daunting prospect for the uninitiated, the SEO basics are actually very easy to achieve in-house, without the assistance of a SEO specialist.

Follow these top SEO tips for SME and Start-ups from Digital Marketing Agency Kurve, and before you know it, you’ll be ranking in the organic search results for some of your key terms. And while you might not be able to compete with the big boys straight away, soon enough, the revenue streams you have created will help to fund the professional SEO support you need to make your mark online.

1. A clear, simple website

The first incarnation of your website does not need to be all singing and dancing. That’ll cost you, and at this stage your pennies are better spent elsewhere. Instead, you need a functional site with good, clean code that is easy for users to navigate.

This can be achieved with intuitive navigation, clear titles and headings, and text that enables the reader and the search engines to learn more about your offering. Maintain this simplicity in your code; work with a professional developer to keep the code clean and efficient to help with page speed load times. This is something Google takes into consideration with its ranking factors.

2. Optimise your website for keywords

Gaining a foothold in the organic search for start-ups is heavily reliant on the use of keywords. Your priority should be to identify and target a dozen or so keywords that prospective customers are using to search for the products or services you offer. Google Keyword Planner is the best place to start for identifying relevant keywords for your website.

From your keyword research you can get an understanding of the type of keywords you should be including in your website’s title tags, meta descriptions, H1s and body copy. Remember, do not try to cram every page with all the variations of the keywords you have found. Keep it natural and keep it relevant to avoid poor readability and maybe even a Google penalty.

Do not target keywords that are too broad. Narrow the terms down to those that are specific to your product and service. This will give you a far better chance gaining a foothold in the organic search listings. This is because these terms have lower search volume, which usually results in less competition, but higher relevance to your page. This means that if it's a legitimately relevant term for your site your bounce rate will be low and Google will let you maintain your ranking for that term. Bounce rates are another factor that Google will take into consideration when ranking your website.

3. Create a consistent brand

Even at this early stage, one of our top small business SEO tips is to create a consistent brand. Develop a tone, structure and personality for your brand early on. It's the first steps to thought leadership and establishing yourself as a consistent and authoritative company within your industry. Google loves brands, and branding efforts such as designing a logo, implementing a consistent colour scheme and being unique will carry great favour.

Evidence is piling up that Google has big plans for Brand mentions, therefore solidifying your brand early on will help massively in the future.

Using these elements across your website and including the company name in the title tag of every page can help secure your place on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

4. Build a social media presence

Regular social interactions in the form of shares and brand mentions on platforms like Twitter and Facebook play an important part in your search engine visibility. On top of this having strong social pages can also encourage direct referral through word of mouth.

Maintaining an active social media presence does not take as much time as you might think. Simply dedicating 15 minutes a day to posting to social sites and interacting with your customers should keep you ticking along.

5. Launch a blog

Google loves fresh, relevant content. The best way to produce regular, high quality content that satiates Google’s hunger is to create your very own small business blog.

While industry news and product updates are all well and good, try to intersperse this with content that adds value to the reader by solving their problems or answering their questions. Bounce rate and time on site are both thought to play an important part in the organic search rankings. Keeping the visitor on your site with lots of lovely informative nuggets is an effective method of improving these metrics.

There’s also a benefit to your keyword coverage. The more blogs you produce, the greater the number of keywords you can target. Posting regular blogs that target searched for key terms is a great way to boost your small business SEO.

6. Install Google Analytics

There’s very little point going to the trouble of adhering to these SEO tips if you can’t see how the changes you make are affecting user behaviour. Google Analytics is simple to install and provides plenty of valuable insights into how visitors are interacting with your website. This can help you identify what you’re doing right, along with potential areas for improvement.

Although Analytics is completely free to use, some of the insights it can provide are invaluable. For example, are visitors frequently leaving your website from one particular page? Is one of your blog posts attracting more clicks than the others? Analytics helps you to identify any faults and capitalise on otherwise untapped opportunities.

Google Analytics can be a bit daunting once you go beyond a beginner’s understanding, so if you want to get the full value of the tool (a plethora of website data with insight into exactly how your users are behaving) it may be time for you to get some support from an agency. Any digital agency worth their salt will be Google Analytics certified (Kurve certainly is) which means they can provide you with all the expertise you need regarding Google Analytics and Adwords.

7. Register with Google & Bing webmaster tools

Google and Bing webmaster tools are the only channels of communication you have with the search engines. While webmaster tools can get pretty technical, as a beginner you will be able to:

● Receive important messages about the health of your website
● Identify any problems the search engines are having when crawling your site
● Look more closely at the links which point to your site
● Access detailed information about your position in the organic search listings for targeted keywords

Follow these seven simple SEO tips for SMEs, and whilst we cannot promise instant organic search success, these basics will put in place the solid foundations you need to flourish on a limited budget.