The explosion of D2C business models in the food and drink sector, and the increasing importance of digital marketing for brand building, mean a top performing online presence is more important than ever for small food businesses. But how do your customers find you online?
If you sell products or receive enquiries via your website, making it easy for customers to discover your brand online is crucial. This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in. Read on for some expert SEO tipfrom Joyce Ong from MarketingTech, as she explains the dark art behind securing that top ranking position on Google!
1. Do your SEO research
The first stop: jumpstart your research by getting a free SEO audit and a report on your current performance. If your business has a physical outlet where you see customers in person, get a Free Local SEO Report. Or if you are an online business that isn't dependent on local customers get a a free General SEO Audit.
Before you start spending the big bucks on digital advertising or a web re-design, you need to make sure you have the basics in place. So ensure that:
1. Your site works properly: This sounds obvious, but poor site navigation, content that’s not ranking correctly or technical errors on your site will hinder your performance.
2. Your site loads quickly: So that your impatient audience will stay with you just a bit longer
3. Your site content is optimised and ranking for the right keywords: If you do this well, you will not need to spend as much on your Google / Facebook ads to generate qualified leads
Failing take the time to ensure your website is healthy and fit for purpose will mean other investments of time and money, such as that brand strategy workshop, or the blog posts you’ve been perfecting, will be wasted.
2. How does Google rank a website?
If your website is searchable, and ranking for the keywords relevant to your business you'll reap the rewards for months to come. It can be your perfect lead generation machine. It’s exciting when Googlebots work in your favour and rank those juicy long tailed keywords you’ve been eyeing, on page one.
But how does Google decide what pages to rank? This is a multi-million dollar question for SEO agencies.
If only we knew all the answers! There’s only so much we know about Google’s ranking algorithm because Google won’t reveal its top ranking factors. It’s anyone’s guess what boxes we need to tick to secure a first-page ranking. However there are a few things we do know about.
Here’s what Neil Patel, a search marketing guru, tells us about factors that determine your website’s ability to rank well on search engines:
1. Page Speed: Google rewards sites that load quickly, because slow websites offer a poor user experience.
2. Content relevance: Although you shouldn’t stuff your website with keywords, you should use some relevant keywords and create relevant content around those terms.
3. Site design: Your website should be user-friendly and easy to navigate.
4. Link quality: If you want to rank on Google, then ensure you only link to informative, relevant content. Irrelevant or low quality links won’t help or may hinder your site.
5. Mobile-friendliness: Google uses the mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing, which means your site’s mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor.
6. HTTPS status: Generally, Google prefers secure websites since they’re more trustworthy. HTTPSi s more secure than HTTP, so having an SSL certificate can help your ranking.
7. User engagement: Finally, Google search changes might negatively affect websites with high bounce rates and few return visitors because the pages may be deemed low quality.
From the above, it’s clear your website’s ability to rank isn’t dependent on one or two factors, but rather a range of factors, from your site’s user friendliness, to its technical robustness and the relevance of your content.
3. Why you need to keep updating your website
Depending on how active your site is, you should expect Google to crawl your website anywhere between every four and thirty days. Sites that are updated more regularly tend to be crawled more often. This is because the Googlebot tends to hunt for new content first. It is therefore a good idea to consistently create relevant, useful content or update existing content such as blog posts if you want Google to crawl and rank your webpages.
On the flip side, according to Google, the Googlebot reduces your site's crawling rate when it encounters a significant number of page errors. This change in Googlebot's crawling rate affects not only those pages on your site that have the errors, but also your website overall. When this happens, you’ll find that the content you’ve just created or updated won’t be crawled quickly enough or worse, doesn’t get crawled at all!
If your website isn’t crawled by the Googlebot after all the hard work you’ve put into it, you’re not going to rank well on search engines. So make sure you get your website’s SEO critical errors fixed first.Once the number of these errors is reduced, the crawl rate will automatically start increasing again, which means your website will have a higher chance of ranking on search pages.
4. SEO Resources to help get you started
Developing a better understanding of the basics of SEO will stand you in good stead as your business grows. Here are a few resources you'll want to become familiar with:
- Neil Patel: the American guru of search. Start with his free newsletter or his YouTube channel as there’s loads of value there.
- Google Analytics or GA4: you need to have some form of analytics on your website to help you collect data and draw conclusions about how people are using your site.
- Google Search Console: helps you diagnose any technical SEO issues. It can also help you understand your most popular pages, see where you are ranking and help you increase your organic traffic.
- Set up Google Business Profile and Bing Places: free advertising tools, especially good if you operate from a physical location(s) where you see your customers.
- Brightlocal: helps you set up directory listings, which are highly trusted websites/directories that allow you to list your business information (name, address and phone number with your home page link to them). Many are free to list.
FAQ: What's the difference between Google Search Console and Google Analytics? Google Search Console helps you monitor your website's performance in general, and in search engine results. Google Analytics helps you learn more about your users, including who they are, how they found you, and how they interact with your website.
Your Free Local SEO Report
To give you a flavour, below are three of Joyce’s favourite insights you'll get when you download your Local SEO audit report.
However, if your business isn’t reliant on local customers or you’re an online business, we are able to provide you with a Free General SEO audit too. Just let Joyce know by emailing: I'd like a Free General SEO Audit please.
- The positions ('rankings') that your website appears in for your important keywords. You'll get local search results from the two largest search engines (Google and Bing), and on Google Maps and Bing Local which are your free local listing opportunities.
- Your Google Business Profile Audit. This benchmarks your website against the top 10 ranked businesses in your area.
- On-Site SEO factors that affect your ability to rank high in search engines - this is a short but revealing overview of the full technical audit we normally provide. On-Site SEO factors are elements of your website, either visible on the page or in the code of your website (which you can't see, but search engines can), which affect the site's search rankings.
Download the Local SEO Report and let Joyce know how you get on with it.