As an SME, spending money on SEO can often feel like a shot in the dark.

Unless you have a strategy tailored to your business, taking into account your budget, competition, and niche, the chances are you’re going to struggle to climb to the top of the results pages organically.

With engagements on social media plummeting as algorithms change and pay-per-click and social ads becoming more and more expensive, investing in organic marketing channels like SEO is the way to go, offering a significant return on your investment when executed correctly.

But simply following ‘SEO best practices’ isn’t enough to stand out and rank high.

Sometimes, thinking outside of the box is key to finding success online – and that’s true for SEO, too.

Granted, you’ll need to follow the basics, like choosing effective keywords, investing in an SSL certificate and speeding up your mobile-friendly website, but once those have been checked off, these creative SEO techniques will push you to the next level…


Target long-tail keywords

Unless you’ve got hundreds of thousands of pounds to spend on an SEO campaign, the chances are that you’re not going to rank at the top spot for a keyword like ‘whisky’ as a drinks startup in Dundee.

Simply put, there’s too much competition from other businesses and websites like Wikipedia, BBC Good Food, and Amazon, so it’s pointless building links using it as your anchor text.

Honing in on niche, long-tail keywords will deliver a better ROI.

Keywords like ‘Dundee whisky brand’ and ‘Scottish whisky distillery’ don’t attract as many searches per month as ‘whisky,’ but they’re easier.

Because there’s less competition, you’ll get to the top spot much quicker. Long-tail keywords have an added benefit to boot – they drive more targeted traffic to your website than broad, generic keywords.

If you’re at rank one for whisky, a high percentage will bounce back if they’re looking for a local brand or want information on the drink itself.

Someone searching for ‘Dundee whisky brand’, on the other hand, is more likely to A) be from Dundee and B) be interested in trying new brands, and therefore more likely to purchase a bottle from your e-commerce store.


Trim the fat and focus on ‘star keywords’

Time to contradict ourselves!

Whilst long-tail keywords are a great way to get creative with your SEO campaigns and drive organic traffic to your website, it’s easy to get carried away and try to rank for hundreds of keywords related to your business. Think ‘whisky Dundee’, ‘Dundee whisky tasting’, ‘best Scottish whisky’ and ‘whisky shop Dundee’.

Sure, it would be nice to rank at number one for 100 keywords like the examples above, but you’re much better off focusing your energy on a couple of high-performing keywords with 1,000 searches per month than you are 100 keywords with 5 or 10 searches per month.

By trimming the fat, you can be confident that you’ll rank on the first page for a couple of hard-hitting keywords and can spend your time building links and driving traffic using those words.

That means less time building new landing pages for every keyword you add, and more time defending your top spots as competitors try to challenge your position on Google.


Stop chasing viral content

One of the most common SEO techniques recommended to small businesses is to write quality content that goes above and beyond everything else out there on the internet – also known as evergreen content or skyscraper content.

The idea is that, if your article on a topic goes into more detail and is better presented than content by your competitors, websites will link back to your post and you’ll soon rank at number one, and you can take advantage of the traffic by driving people towards a lead generation funnel. News flash: that’s pretty tough.

Understand your limits and don’t try to reinvent the wheel or challenge something great.

For example, if you’re writing an article on whisky cocktail recipes, accept that yours is probably not going to become the first one people see when they search on Google – there are more than 8.2 million results for that exact term. Most viral content, particularly blog posts, find their success by chance, timing, or luck. You simply can’t force that, and nor should you.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t write content or avoid techniques that make content shareable, but you should move away from the idea that every piece you write has to be an all-bells, all-whistles affair – because that’s expensive to achieve, and will likely burn you out.

Instead, focus on creating relevant, useful content that genuinely makes a difference. Think about what sort of material your target audience would be interested in (such as The 10 Best Decanters for Your Whisky) and build your content marketing strategy around that.

Chasing likes, shares, visits, or engagement simply doesn’t work, and your SEO will suffer as a result.


Post less material

The world’s biggest website, The Huffington Post, publishes a new piece of content every 58 seconds. Add in the millions of blog posts produced by news organisations, businesses, and amateur bloggers, and you’ll soon realise that the internet is oversaturated with material. The majority of that content is poor or average at best, with a high proportion never read by a real human being after it’s proofread.

Rather than churning out a new blog post every week as part of your SEO strategy, take a step back and review. The same goes for link building, especially if you’re going through the motions without aligning your SEO goals with your link placement targets.

You’ll perform much better if you post brilliant content infrequently about topics that haven’t been done to death, rather than treading old ground and creating uninspired content that no-one will read.

Even better? Stop posting new content entirely, and instead focus on those blog posts and landing pages that are performing well to further increase their rank and appeal.

Conduct manual outreach to get people to link back to them, and continually improve them to better serve your visitors and keep content up-to-date so it’s relevant to your potential customers.


Use the middle man method

Finally, consider the middle man method. This lesser-known SEO technique is a great way to build links on authoritative websites without paying for placements.

We all know link building is one of the most challenging – yet effective – SEO strategies, and that building links to your commercial pages, such as landing pages and e-commerce pages, can be really tough.

With the middle man method, you can build links to your site and push users towards those high-converting ‘money pages’. Start by creating a blog or piece of content that links back to your product pages, and then build links to that blog post rather than to product pages.

Of course, it’s always prefered that you build links directly to your sales pages, as the middle-man method removes a lot of the authority, but it’s still a technique that works well and increases both your SEO and conversion rate without having to pay for link placements.


Wrapping up

The best-looking website in the world won’t deliver a return on investment unless it attracts relevant, targeted traffic. At Zudu, we use a unique 12-step SEO process designed to help you rank ahead of your competitors, increase organic traffic, and win more customers.

To find out more, click here or give us a call on 01382 690 080 to arrange a free consultation.

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