The well-known website ‘Moz’ released an interesting and insightful report surrounding the state of local businesses in attracting individuals to their website from the google search results page, also known as SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
Knowing what this acronym will make the understanding of this blog 10x easier for you, trust me.
Furthermore, the report by Moz covered a range of different elements including: using appropriate keywords (words that have significance to what the customer wants), local businesses response to COVID-19 and SEO strategy for example. Throughout this blog the key elements will be touched on with link towards the bonnie rural area known as the Scottish Borders.
The Need for Effective SEO
The importance and need for the implementation of SEO within a business is very apparent. Effective SEO is implemented through:
- Researching what your customers are interested in.
- Using keywords that are going to gain traffic to your website.
- Ensuring your website is easy accessible.
- Create engaging titles and descriptions that create an attraction to your site.
The effective use of SEO is extremely important to separate yourself from competitors, this is especially vital amongst businesses in the Scottish Borders. The Scottish Borders holds a wide variety of businesses within the sectors: retail, tourism, food and trade services, to name a few. With many different businesses falling under each umbrella, it is important to use keywords that allow your business to stand out against the rest.
For example: if you are a hairdresser, rather than merely stating your stores name it would be beneficial to accompany this with your location (Galashiels) and the services you offer (bridal hair, barbering, colouring, etc) in order to stand out towards customer’s specific needs. Displaying the information clearly that customers will want to see will increase the interaction with your business.
It is stated in the report by Moz “Knowing your audience and catering to their unique needs is more vital than ever” highlighting the importance of putting your customer needs first.
Implementing Striking Titles and Engaging Descriptions
SEO is conveyed through creating engaging titles and descriptions that will display in Google searches. They have the potential to attract new customers if they are unique towards the customers wants and needs. This can be demonstrated by making short, catchy sentences that contain relevant keywords (but not crammed with them) and leave the customers enticed to see more – therefore encouraging a click, this is supported by the Moz report that states “2020 is your year to focus on the user”. By focusing on the customers’ needs, winning web links are formed.
You want to deliver a welcoming tone to the customer whilst including key words that will attract your target market to your business.
A well demonstrated example of this could be:
Search: “photographer Galashiels”
Title: “Wedding Photographer Galashiels”
Description: “Galashiels Wedding Photographer [insert name] offers bespoke wedding photography collections to make memories last a lifetime”
Search: “photographer Galashiels”
Title: “[company name] photography”
Description: “Welcome, please see details for prices and contact information”
With regards to the well demonstrated example - You can see that this simple yet broad search resulted in a specific area of photography. The keywords are included in both the title and the description and adopt to both being striking and engaging. The title is straight to the point whereas the description paints an image in the viewer’s imagination as to what kind of memories this photographer can capture. As a result of this customers are more likely to subconsciously interact with this link due to its engaging factor.
Moving on to the weaker example - The title is straight to the point and details the company that is providing a service; however, the description doesn’t detail any of the keywords and doesn’t encourage an individual to have the want to explore this further – there is no gripping element. As a result of this not matching any of the key words this website will feature low down on the search results page damaging its ability to reach many individuals.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses
The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a negative impact on many businesses and also damaged their ability to afford marketing costs, with 70% detailing that their budgets suffered as a result of the global pandemic, as stated in the report by Moz. This can be applied to Scottish Borders businesses as the majority are small and locally owned who suffered as a result of the outbreak, but also had their ability to market towards individuals damaged. However, two methods in order to overcome these marketing struggles were detailed in the report and can be applied to the borders:
- Social media campaigns
- Email marketing
The use of social media campaigning gives businesses the ability to tailor their services towards customer’s needs throughout COVID-19. To illustrate, many restaurant businesses in the Borders began offering weekly meal preparations and hampers of customer’s favourite food. This saved customer’s the risk of going to the supermarket where they would be exposed to the risk of catching the virus. This was mainly portrayed on social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram as they hold the most amount of followers and engagement from customers; not to mention they are relatively inexpensive to advertise from.
Moreover, another response to COVID-19’s effects on marketing budgets is the use of email marketing. Detailed in the report by Moz; ample studies have shown that email marketing is a simple yet effective way in gaining high revenue for your business. Even without the global pandemic – email marketing is an effective technique that is proven to grant businesses with capital gain. All companies in the Scottish Borders should make sure they are using this technique, providing regular updates surrounding changes in restrictions and how it’s affecting their store… for instance: the local deli’s opening back up; using email marketing to notify loyal customers of any guidelines to follow alongside a restricted menu, perhaps? Whilst emailing mainly with guidelines, adding in a restricted menu or new promotional deals is an easy way to attract attention and spread the word.
In link to spreading the word, the report by Moz details benefits of positive word of mouth by detailing “every word-of-mouth referral is a gift to local businesses”. This is essentially free marketing. Local businesses in the Scottish Borders are no stranger to customers spreading the world. This area is considered to be ‘small’ with every town’s population being familiar with each other, making easy conversation. Individuals of Melrose for example are not shy to stop and chat in passing and conversation can generally lead to views and opinions on certain local businesses. This is how word-of-mouth is spread and it is an offline marketing method that SEO hasn’t been able to compete with as of yet.
Reviews are Powerful
The report by Moz detailed the strength that reviews have on your businesses attractiveness to individuals by stating “reviews shape reputation, impact conversions, and drive both customer service and sales”. For instance, individuals may google search “best restaurants in Hawick” or “best hairdressers in Kelso” as a broad search in order to see what their options are and will be presented with review websites that list where is good for that specific search.
SEO specialists need to approach reviews with more focus and energy in order to have a deeper understanding as to why they are crucial towards a business’s reputation. SEO specialists need to develop strategies in order to analyse reviews and take on board any improvements that have been highlighted, “no brand can afford to ignore its reviews”, as stated in the Moz report.
Following this, over 90% of online customers read third party reviews before interacting with a business and if the reviews are two stars or less you’re likely to be out of business. This highlights a difference in having a review placed on your website; as individuals are likely to check websites like ‘Trust Pilot’ etc before coming on to your website. Individuals are more inclined to check third party reviews first because of their honesty – reviews left primarily on the businesses itself are going to be positive rather than negative.
That is the harsh truth about third party reviews, highlighting their importance and potential impact. It can’t be forgotten though that positive reviews are also submitted to third party review sites which have a great impact on your business. With regards to SEO, popular third party review websites can increase the traffic to a specific website dramatically in a short period of time. The importance of understanding the difference between third party reviews and reviews on a business website can be applied to local businesses in the Scottish Borders as the reviews they receive can mould the way they are perceived and give the desired image they aim for. If not, their reputation could be tarnished and with the Borders being a generally small area this could affect them for the long haul.
In summary, this report by Moz was extremely informative in detailing the importance that SEO has on local businesses and the points have been successfully applied to the Scottish Borders. The report highlights the importance of having a good understanding of what SEO is (which we made easier for you) and by having a serious approach to the impact Google searches can have on your business. There was a large focus regarding COVID-19 which is great as that is a very relevant topic at the moment and it showed the actions businesses are taking to come out on top despite the pandemic. This was successfully translated towards the Scottish Borders as there has been examples of businesses taking effective action against the virus, as well as providing tried and true methods that will benefit all Borders local businesses. Finally, the impact of reviews and the difference between third party reviews and general reviews left on your website is an important part of effective SEO. It is crucial to have a deep knowledge of this as it can shape the perceived image of your business and allow for a large stream of visits to your website – ultimately boosting your revenue.