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BREXIT & SEO – What You Need to Know to Survive?

BREXIT & SEO

It doesn’t matter if you’re a vocal supporter of the left campaign, or if you just wanted things to remain the way they’d been since the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1969, I’m sure it’s become apparent to all of us over the last few years that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit isn’t ideal for business.

Any assessment of the numerous studies that have been published since the 23rd of June 2016, will reflect a broad consensus that Brexit is going to make the United Kingdom poorer by erecting barriers to trade, delaying foreign investment and stifling economic migration.

But should you be starting to worry if you’re running a small or medium-sized enterprise? Many people in this position are still wholly unaware of what Brexit means for them and their business.

In fact, regardless of a company’s size, Brexit, on the whole, has so far been synonymous with delay. This delay has inevitably caused economic uncertainty, and this uncertainty has prevented many enterprises from making pivotal decisions in their day to day operations; i.e. investing in new business opportunities, expanding their businesses’ premises or even just employing new staff. 

The Financial Times have recently reported on this phenomenon, asserting that their research indicates that the United Kingdom’s economy is in the region of 1 to 1.5 percent smaller than it would have been if voters had agreed to remain. The Centre for European Reform thinks the Financial Times’ figures are far too conservative, instead of calculating that the figure should, in fact, be closer to 2.5 percent. 

Scarily enough, for small and medium-sized enterprises, Forbes Magazine’s Bianca Cole made clear that it was likely them who were going to struggle most in the face of this economic slowdown.

According to the FSB, 99.9% of all private sector businesses were small or medium-sized enterprises; so, if Bianca Cole’s prediction comes to pass, the effects of Brexit could have a devastating impact of the livelihoods of much of the United Kingdom’s population.

With that being said, it’s not quite time to lose all hope and start building the Brexit bunker! There’s still plenty you can do right now to begin to safeguard your business from some of the potential impacts of Brexit.

Search Engine Optimisation often referred to simply as SEO, is now your most reliable ally and an essential tool in defending your company from the negative impacts of a Hard Brexit. 

If you can implement SEO into your business’ online strategy for the next few years, it’s entirely possible that this potentially terrible situation could transform into the ultimate opportunity. Make sure you read ahead to discover some top tips on how SEO can help you and your business whether the Brexit storm!

Will Implementing an SEO Strategy Safeguard Against Financial Uncertainty?

Brexit

Implementing an SEO strategy can undoubtedly safeguard your company from financial insecurity! By making sure your businesses’ website is optimized correctly for search engines to crawl, you will be effectively ensuring that your company has potential access to a constant flow of customers over the approaching months of uncertainty.

Anybody who’s walked down a UK high-street will be able to tell you that the future of retail is online. Passing a cursory glance over any of the data published regarding online retail will support such a confident assertion; for example, the Office for National Statistics recorded that by the end of 2018, around 20% of entire retail sales in the United Kingdom were online.

With access to such information, any tuned-in business owner would more than likely cringe at the possibility of missing out on such a large source of potential revenue – even more so with the uncertainty generated by Brexit. 

But even for many tuned-in business owners, trying to capitalize on this online potential can seem incredibly daunting, how do you even begin? Making the assumption that your business already has some form of online presence, the first step in prospecting this online market for sales opportunities would be to create and implement a powerful SEO strategy.

Although many SEO agencies would like to tell you that it’s impossible to implement an effective SEO strategy without spending money, the truth is that it’s entirely possible – it’s just a Herculean task. Although Herculean in scale, it’s entirely do-able with the right plan, mindset, and discipline, that’s because most of it can be self-taught! 

There are many free resources available online to help you through the process, Google themselves have even published a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. On top of this, Gorilla Marketing has researched and produced a brilliant guide to help generate business opportunities, even amongst all this turmoil created by Brexit.

With that being said, it’s entirely understandable that for many small and medium-sized businesses, the idea of learning SEO and implementing an effective SEO strategy is well outside of their current remit and/or concerns. However, there’s no need to worry as there is now a multitude of SEO agencies and freelancers available to offer you their services for an affordable price.

Don’t Miss Out on Local Opportunities by Ensuring Your Website is Geared for Local SEO

Local SEO

Although the referendum was a couple of years ago now, Brexit has still yet to be defined clearly in regards to what it means for both free trade and the economy; accordingly, it can be difficult to give concrete and static advice because nobody is entirely sure on the end game.

However, access to international and domestic markets can be seen as a knife that cuts both ways; to put it clearly, if you are denied opportunities to access international markets, the same can be said of international competitors attempting to access the UK’s domestic market.

Therefore, if European enterprises are floundered by the introduction of new tariffs when operating in the UK, it may present opportunities for your business to try and compete in domestic markets you once thought were unchallengeable.

One way to prepare your company for Brexit, all the while ensuring it has the potential to compete on these emerging opportunities, is to make sure that your business’ online profiles are geared towards Local SEO. 

Ideally, your business should be the first result returned on Google for organic local searches, but a perfect first step is trying to compete for a top three listing in Google’s Map Pack.

For those unfamiliar with Google’s Map Pack, it’s the map that appears under your Google search when you request local results or present location-specific search requests. 

For example, if a popular European chain of ice cream parlors ran a store in your local vicinity, let’s say a borough of Manchester like Stockport, but had to close down over the coming months due to their inability to compete in the new economy – you’d ideally want to make certain that your competing ice cream parlour was SEO ready, this would hopefully ensure that it would obtain the abandoned primary ranking position on Google for “Ice Cream Parlour in Stockport.”

This could potentially generate a lot of trade for your business, as you would now be the first Google visible Ice Cream Parlour for people searching in your vicinity.

There are many ways to begin the process of improving your business’ ranking on Google’s local search engine results page, as well as on Google’s coveted Map Pack; however, creating a Google My Business account to verify your business’ contact details and address should be your first step.

This is because Google is obsessed with validity, they want to make sure you are who you say you are and aren’t just an SEO agency trying to game their secret algorithm. 

Once you’ve created your Google My Business account, you’ll want to ensure that basic information, such as your contact details and company’s address, correlate between your website and your new Google My Business account. 

Although this might sound incredibly simple, it’s astounding how many people fail to notice a typo or have forgotten to update outdated information, and this can affect their search engine rankings as Google are big sticklers for consistency. 

Furthermore, you will want to be actively placing location-specific keywords into your web page’s content – this will reflect well on your website’s relevance to location-specific searches, hopefully increasing the prevalence of your webpage in Google’s search rankings.

Make Sure That Your Website Is Well Optimised for Mobile Searches

Mobile Searches

Making use of Google’s Map Pack, whilst ensuring your company is successfully competing for local search inquiries, can effectively boost sales opportunities for businesses in numerous industries.

This is predominantly because coupling Local SEO with Google’s Map Pack presents businesses with the opportunity to introduce their goods or services to a mammoth mobile audience – an enormous audience with a sales potential you cannot afford to miss out upon, especially if the Brexit scaremongers’ worst predictions come to pass!

A brief look at data published by the online statistics portal Statista highlights the latent potential of mobile audiences; in 2018, roughly 52% of the planets entire search traffic came from a mobile device.  Consequently, any business that fails to make sure that their website is mobile optimized is likely missing out on an enormous quantity of potential customers.

With such a powerful market available to businesses, it’s not surprising that large high-tech data monitoring companies such as Dynatrace have set out to uncover the impact of poor mobile responsiveness on mobile audiences.

The research they conducted is sobering, suggesting that roughly 53% of mobile searchers will quickly leave your website if your landing page takes more than 3 seconds to load. Furthermore, if mobile users have a terrible experience, such as excessive loading times, 79% of them will never return to your site.

Just to hammer home the point, Google even officially announced in 2010 that if a website’s Site Speed wasn’t up to scratch, it would affect the poorly performing website’s search ranking results. Google has even explicitly stated that ‘mobile pages that provide a poor searcher experience can be demoted in rankings.’

With Google officially stressing the importance of mobile optimization, it should be a primary concern for any business to make certain that their businesses’ website is correctly optimized for mobile searches.

If you have concerns regarding your website’s optimization for mobile users, you can make use of a number of online tools that will highlight any potential issues your website’s having. My personal recommendation would be Lighthouse, which will quickly troubleshoot any potential issues with your website’s responsiveness; there’s even a Google Chrome Plug-in available for the program that will give you a useful oversight of your website’s optimization.

The Plug-in does this by giving your website a score out of a potential 100 for its Performance, SEO, Best Practices and Accessibility – further to this, it will break these scores down and provide extra information such as how long it took to generate your website.

If the testing of your website uncovers problems with performance, then it should accordingly be a priority to discover what’s causing the latency. Gorilla Marketing often finds that our client’s websites are loaded with unnecessarily high-definition images; using these high-definition images excessively is 9 times out of 10 the primary reason a website’s responsiveness happens to be so poor. Resizing and reuploading these images should, therefore, be the first step in addressing why a website’s loading times are too high.

If this fails to address the problem, it may be necessary to discuss the speed of your web site’s hosting with your webmaster. If you are running a website that deals with high-traffic on a daily basis, such as an E-commerce store, then you’ll want to ensure that your website is being served by a dedicated hosting provider. 

When addressing concerns regarding your website’s optimization, you should always try to remember that poor optimization plus high website traffic will always equal website latency and a correlating loss in potential revenue.

Ensure Your Website is Easy to Use & Navigate

Mobile Navigation

Again, this might sound obvious, but it’s integral to your online success that your website is properly structured. If your viewership is turned-off of your website by an unconventional navigation system, they may decide to instead take their business to one of your competitors rather than deal with getting lost on your site.

Initially, you should look to your competitors for inspiration, or successful website’s you’ve made purchases on before, and utilize a structure that they have proven to be successful in your industry.

Another way to refine both your website’s navigation and structure is to honestly assess the impact of your URL pathways on your audiences’ navigational experience. But what are URL pathways I hear you asking?

By URL pathways, I am primarily referring to how many links it takes a viewer to reach the page they are searching for on your website. Ideally, you don’t want any of your webpages to be more than 3 links “deep”, or away from, your website’s primary landing page.

Google has explicitly stated that they consider a website’s URL usage and its navigational features an important factor in how their algorithm ranks webpages. According to recent research conducted by Ahrefs, short, snappy and descriptive URLs seem to consistently rank higher than excessively long and overly complex URLs. 

So, if you want to make sure your website is a brilliant experience for your audience, and Google ranks your website favorably, you’ll want to ensure that your website’s pages aren’t too far away from your landing page and that your URLs are both short and snappy whilst containing relevant keywords – this should be a significant boon for your website when it comes to competing in a post-Brexit economy.

Use Proper Meta-Descriptions, Headings & Titles

Meta Titles and Descriptions

A common error I often encounter when handling clients’ websites is the consistent incorrect formatting of Meta-Descriptions, Headings, and Titles. I believe this is because many website owners often tend to consider their main audience and viewership first-and-foremost, choosing what is stylistically more attractive over what’s technically correct. 

I would speculate that this is because many people fail to understand that Google’s algorithm cannot see in the same way we humans do, it instead reads the coding used to create the stylistic choice you’ve chosen.

This is important because Google’s algorithm uses its interpretation of the coding to assign relevance, so if you’ve used multiple Header 1’s (H1’s) to order your website’s content, instead of correctly using Header 2’s (H2’s) as sub-headings, Google will penalize you for providing a poor user experience.

This is because Google will see an H1 as the primary title of the page. Therefore, if you’ve loaded your page with large H1’s because you enjoy the stylistic choice, rather than correctly using H2’s as sub-headings, Google will likely be seeing a poor and confusing user experience.

When it comes to meta-descriptions, stylistic choices can once again come over technical best practice. Meta-descriptions are the short snippets of text that are visible under your website’s link when search engines generate results. They are often around 155 characters in length and intended to provide a short description of what can be found at the link’s destination.

To compete for prestigious positions on Google’s search result pages, you’ll want to ensure that your meta-descriptions are accurate, concise and contain relevant keywords. By doing this, you’ll be showing Google’s algorithm that your website is far more relevant than your competitors to a potential customer’s search query.

Conclusion

UK

For the last few years, Brexit has in many ways has been a synonym for economic uncertainty, and until there’s some sort of clarification on what the actual terms of the country’s withdrawal actually are, economic certainty is unlikely to return to the UK anytime soon. 

Therefore, by applying these SEO steps to your business’ online platforms, you will be taking a pro-active approach to protecting yourself from this economic uncertainty. 

Within a few weeks of applying these actionable steps, you should begin to notice a gradual increase in your website’s ranking on Google’s search result pages, as well as its incoming traffic. By increasing your website’s search rankings, as well as its traffic, you should also hopefully be increasing your business’ online exposure, in turn generating further opportunities to profit. 

I think any business owner would agree, that when you’re making sales and generating revenue, feelings of economic uncertainty begin to be replaced by feelings of economic security.

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Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell is a content writer with over a decade of experience in the Digital Marketing Industry. Having worked with name-brand multinational organizations, she knows what it takes to improve a website’s performance on Google. She’s currently the head of Current & New Business Management at Gorilla Marketing in Manchester.

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