When you work for yourself, the internet can feel overwhelming and over-populated. Trying to stand out from the crowd can leave people like us, running our own copy-editing and proofreading businesses, feeling very small indeed.
It’s true that competition to rank highly in Google, Bing or Yahoo is fierce. But is it true that you have to spend a fortune on SEO to have a chance of making it to the top?
The good news is – not necessarily; there’s a lot you can do to give your little business a fighting chance in the rankings, without having to think about keywords, outbound links or anchored text.
10 things you can do to improve your website’s visibility
1. Since April 2015, Google has stated that mobile-friendly websites will do better in their rankings than websites that are non-mobile responsive. Seems pretty obvious, really. More people are using their smartphones to search and buy than ever before. So, how do you tell if your website is mobile responsive?
Google has a handy Test My Site tool which not only shows whether your site is mobile-friendly but also tests your mobile and desktop loading speeds, with advice on what needs fixing. If you ask for it, Google will send you a free report listing the problems and fixes. You can either fix them yourself or pass the report on to your webmaster.
Another good website with tips on making your site mobile-friendly is 2 Create a Website. Definitely worth a look if a Google test reveals your website needs work to meet the required mobile-responsive standards.
Claim your small business listing – most of them are free
2. Set up at Google+ profile and claim your Google My Business page. Your business instantly becomes more visible in Google Search, with your opening hours, map, directions to your business contact details and star ratings, along with any images you want to be included in the listing.
3. And don’t forget to claim your listing on Bing Places for Business. Same idea, different search engine – another chance to put your business in front of prospective clients.
4. Think about how you book a hotel, choose a restaurant, decide which hairdressers to use. Do you check the reviews first? You’re in good company, more than 72% of consumers check customer reviews before they book or buy. If you want people to know how well you look after your clients, then create a listing on Yelp. The basic business listing is free and you can upgrade as your small business grows.
5. And while we’re on the subject of customer satisfaction, make sure you display testimonials on your website. Make it easy for customers to sing your praises by installing a plug-in such as Review Builder, which allows customers to put reviews directly onto your website. Alternatively, highlight reviews individually by dotting them around your website. Putting them all on a dedicated Testimonials page is tantamount to hiding them away. People will rarely wade through them all.
Always respond to negative reviews in a professional manner and offer ways to compensate for a bad experience. Turning a negative review around in this way can actually draw customers to you. Give prospective customers every chance to see you are someone they can trust.
Make it easy for clients to get in touch
6. Are your contact details prominently displayed on your website? People should be able to reach you via phone, email or contact form. Having a local landline as well as a mobile number is reassuring to some customers, but if you don’t want to give your home number, you can sign up for a Skype Number. This appears as a normal landline number and only costs around £12 for three months. You can set it just to take voicemails and call people back on your mobile if that helps to keep the costs down.
7. Have a Call to Action (CTA) button on your website, so that people know how to Buy Now or Contact Us or Sign Up or Subscribe. Make it easy for your customer to do the thing that you want them to do.
8. If you are a Professional level member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) you are entitled to a free listing in the Society’s directory. Those members at Intermediate level don’t get a free listing, but they can be included on a fortnightly internal list offering their services to more advanced members who may have work to pass on. This helps Intermediate members to notch up working hours to help them progress up to Professional level and beyond.
9. Use social media. 1. Create a Facebook Page for your business. Even if you’re not very technically minded, it’s very easy to set one up. Think of it as you would a village notice board. Use it to talk about your latest offers, services, training milestones and testimonials. 2. If you want to hang out where companies do business, then LinkedIn may be your best option to find work. To make the most of your account, follow the advice of technical copywriter and LinkedIn guru John Espirian. 3. Keep the conversation going with a Twitter account. It’s a great way to connect with your peers and keep up to date with developments in your field.
10. Start a blog and top it up regularly. Interesting, well-informed content in the form of a regular blog on your website puts a human face on your business and keeps you current and relevant.