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A Q&A on SEO with Nelly Phelan of ELK

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

The majority of Australian customers regularly use search engines to find and research a business, but as Telstra’s most recent Small Business Intelligence Report tells, only 26 per cent of small businesses were using search engine optimisation (SEO) to be more easily found.

ELK is an Australian fashion company built on both bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce – and SEO has played an integral role in its online succes

In this quick Q&A, Nelly Phelan, senior marketing and communications manager for ELK fashion and accessories, gives us her fundamentals on finding more customers online – and helping more customers find your business.

Nelly Phelan, senior marketing and communications manager for ELK fashion and accessories.

Smarter Business: When the first 3–5 links in search results are often paid or sponsored, how can a small business with an organic SEO strategy compete?

Nelly Phelan: Ensuring you have a good organic SEO strategy as well as backlinks from other sources is essential to achieving good-quality rankings and a competitive edge. 

This means including lots of keywords in your website content to strengthen your organic SEO, while also reaching out to anywhere your business is mentioned online and asking them to feature links from their website to yours, to increase backlinks.

Focus on combining your customers’ needs with your unique offer. ELK is renowned for its beautiful ‘wooden jewellery’ and ‘resin jewellery’ – words that are not as highly competitive in comparison to, say, the term ‘necklace’. However, they are words our customers use when searching for a business like ELK. 

Identifying more specific or niche keywords such as these, which are relevant to your brand, is a great way to establish a competitive edge.

Smarter Business: With search algorithms regularly changing how sites are indexed and results ranked, how can a busy small business keep up with today’s SEO trends without spending more time than it can afford?

Nelly: Make the most of the tools available in the marketplace. A good example is Ranking Coach. It provides bite-sized, easy-to-manage checklists to help you build your organic SEO strategy in a time frame that works with your schedule. 

Checking in on your rankings each week and spending just a little time ticking off the list of activities to help improve your ranking position will reap rewards over time.

Smarter Business: It’s not unusual for a small business to receive regular emails offering professional SEO services, but many small businesses seem to adequately manage their own SEO for free. When might it make sense to pay someone else for SEO, and how do you separate the good from the bad?

Nelly: Start with the basics you can manage, such as organic SEO content on your website and reciprocal links. Identify keywords unique to your business existing customers and potential customers are searching for.

Leverage free tools at the outset, and once you have some good organic traffic and a budget to commit to the long-term, research local SEO agencies that specialise in small business. Clearly communicate your goals and, together with the agency, develop a time frame as well as measures for success.

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