By Glenn Marvin on 17/08/18 11:32
Search Engine Optimisation in NZ can be a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to advice, strategy and knowing who to trust.
There are plenty of local and international SEO Agencies out there that are fantastic and well worth the $$ you can spend with them.
Here is the deal though. There are over half a million small businesses in NZ and over 450,000 of those have less than 5 employees.
From a "Best Practice" SEO perspective I would love to say every NZ business should be investing their hard earned time and money in getting an agency to manage the SEO for them.
The reality though is that will never be achievable for financially viable for most small businesses so how the hell can they compete in such a complex world where getting to the top of Google really makes a difference.
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing BUT it can also be the difference between winning and losing on Google for New Zealand small businesses in SEO.
One simple change in mindset I have found has resonated with a lot of Small Businesses I work with coaching them on doing their own SEO and that is not to worry so much about "Best Practice" and just be "A Little Less Crap" than your competition.
Lets face it, very few small businesses know the first thing about what they should be doing or what tactics and strategies actually work to get their websites ranking well on Google. It is all a mystery how this SEO stuff works.
So we are all on the same level, and Google is ranking you against your competitors. Most of them also have a fairly crappy SEO strategy to start with. So, if that is the case doesn't it make sense that if all you do is do this SEO stuff a little better than them, Google will reward you with better rankings and a higher position in the search results?
There are over 200 factors that Google takes into consideration when deciding your rankings but this can be broken into three fundamental areas.
2. Technical SEO
Probably the easiest for you to get your head around
Without boring you my advice here is think about what your potential customer is really looking for and the sort of questions you get asked and problems you solve on a regular basis.
Rather than just having bullet point summary highlighting the transactional activity you do or products you sell, go into more detail explaining the process and give actual answers ADDING VALUE to those that are searching.
All Google is trying to do is find websites that will give those people searching the best experience so the more information you have and the more value you offer on the site then it is very likely that you will be rewarded.
There is a whole bunch or research around the minimum number of words required on pages and who may different pages you should have to support your services etc but, again, that is all best practice SEO stuff that may not apply to your business (especially if you are a local service provider).
I have personally run tests using a free 1 page website in GoogleMyBusiness and achieved page 1 rankings for small local companies in regional towns in NZ just by adding some basic content explaining the services offered and processes they use on the one page.
We also run regular copywriting training workshops for small businesses on "How to Create A Killer Content Strategy"
Think of this as keeping your website up to Warrant of Fitness standard.
Google is the webs 'Transport Agency' and each time it inspects your website it is also making sure it complies with their rules and regulations. Those that fail or have issues will not get to race on the main circuit if the other competitors are all up to scratch.
Here are a few things that can really help you get ahead of your competition and get your page one warrant of fitness:
- Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
Google recently launched a new “Mobile-First Index“.
If your site isn’t mobile optimized, it’s not going to rank very well.
Fortunately, you can easily see your site’s mobile friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Just pop in a page from your site… and get a clear “yes or no” answer.
- Fix Broken Links
Broken links can really hurt your SEO (even here in NZ)
Think about it from a user experience. Would you return to a website if you kept on finding pages that didn't work, didn't exist anymore or were just plain broken?
Screws with your trust doesn't it? So Google hates broken links just as much as we do.
The easiest free way to check for Broken Links I have found DrLinkCheck.com.
It’s a free tool that scans your site for broken links
We also have a great reporting tool that runs an audit on your site and monitors all your SEO as well as integrates with your Adwords, Facebook and Google Analytics etc but if you are happy using a bunch of different tools DrLinkCheck is a great option
- Secure Your Site With HTTPS
HTTPS, the lock icon in the address bar, an encrypted website connection—it’s known as many things. While it was once reserved primarily for passwords and other sensitive data, the entire web is gradually leaving HTTP behind and switching to HTTPS.
Google has now also confirmed this as a ranking factor and I definitely advise all of our clients to speak to their web hosts about getting a security certificate for their website.
- Check Your Site’s Loading Speed
Just like the mobile friendly test loading times are a significant ranking factor. Again, think about your own experience, if you go to a website and the page takes an eternity to load you are most likely to bounce out an head off to a competitors website. no different for Google in their assessment; if your load time sucks the assumption is that it will be a terrible user experience and Google will favour other websites in the rankings.
Often we see that large images are slowing things down and this can be a really quick fix.
Google also has another nifty free Page Speed Insights tool you can use to check this and get suggestions on what you can do to improve.
- Front-Load Your Keyword In Your Title Tag
Some of the quickest wins you can make in SEO is by crafting good Title Tags and Meta Descriptions.
Have the words people are looking for at the start of the Title and keep them to around 60-65 characters long
With the Meta description Google doesn't directly say it has an impact on rankings for SEO but a good description will make all the difference in enticing someone to click on your link ahead of another so put some effort in here to really sell the sizzle. The rules here seem to change all the time around character length lately so my advice is to keep the first 160 characters as the most important and up to another 100 characters for additional information that would be nice to show.
One of our most popular SEO Training Workshops we run is on SEO Fundamentals where we place a big focus on helping businesses craft new Titles and Descriptions for their websites. (You can check out our upcoming workshops here:
When it comes to SEO, link building is KEY. In fact, Google recently confirmed that backlinks are one of their “top 3” ranking signals. Unfortunately, building links isn’t easy.
The risk for many of you is you can get sucked in by this focus on Links being so important and fall for some slimy sales email promising loads of links for only $X. DON'T
Here is the real deal. It is not the number of links that matters.
What matters is the quality of the websites that are linking through to your website and then how many sites are linking to you.
Link of this as a voting process where each website that links to yours is giving you a vote of confidence.
Google looks at each of those websites and attributes more value to those websites that are seen as holding more authority.
So, if some random blog post comment has a link to your site it is not going to be seen as valuable as a link from a Govt department or industry organisation etc
Likewise posting lots of links to your website from Facebook or Linkedin is not seen as valuable compared to those authoritative sites as well.
One great way many small businesses can get links to their website is through guest posting.
Guest posting is where you write some an article that gets posted on another website as you have valuable knowledge that can be shared with that websites audience.
An example of this could be a mortgage broker could write an article on the best ways first home buyers can secure finance and allow a local realestate company to post it on their website linking back to the Mortgage Brokers website and referencing them as the contributor.
This has two advantages, firstly it is getting your name and brand in front of a new audience but also creating a link back to your website that Google sees as a vote of confidence.
Also, if you focus on adding value and creating content (blog posts, articles, information etc on your website) then people will share those pages and can link back to them as well
There are lots of other ways that we can cover off in our workshops but link building is often hard work that is left to professionals.
There are so many things you can do to help your SEO in NZ that doesn't need an Agency involved and I haven't even started talking about GoogleMyBusiness and Local SEO tactics!
The hardest part for most people is understanding what they can do and where to start.
If you are thinking about trying some of this SEO stuff yourself take a leaf out of Nike's book and Just Do It!
We are passionate about lifting the performance of Small Businesses in NZ and if you don't know where to start or just want to validate your ideas you can book in a free 20min call with us so we can point you in the right direction and help you prioritise what can be done.
So, if you want some "No strings" and "No Bullshit" advice you can book in a Free 20 minute call below.