Category: SEO


Keyword Research for Small Businesses

Keyword Research for Small Businesses explained

What are Keywords? According to’s definition, Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called “search queries.”  In other words, you need to carry out research on the words and phrases searchers use online when looking for the products or services that you sell. If you are new to this concept, then our handy guide to keyword research for small businesses will be illuminating.

How do you find out about what users are searching for?

Using Google Autosuggest.

Here is an example of using the Google autosuggest feature to help you see what terminology your customers use when looking for your type of business.

In this first series I am assuming the role of a café owner in Kirkwall Orkney. This is a remote island off the North Coast of Scotland only reachable by ferry. Therefore it will not be an overly popular search term, but will be known by locals and regular visitors. What words should I use in my social media descriptions, web pages, blogs?

First I tried ‘Cafes Kirkwall’

The first result is the Google Map Pack, so I must make sure my business is on Google My Business.

Google Map Pack for SERPS
Search Engine Results aren’t just keyword based


But if I am a café owner in Kirkwall what other phrases are people using to search, are they any specific things they are looking for? In this next example when we look at the Google autosuggest drop down we can see that specific names are being entered, which suggests that locals or regular visitors are searching as they know the business names. So I can make sure my content is aimed at them.

Using Google Autosuggest
Google Autosuggest gives insights into types of customers searching


Looking for very specific phrases is what you should aim for because this gives you something that is not super popular and will be more likely to get you found as you are not competing with as many other sites who will be going for the obvious.

If you are a location based business then you will naturally want to rank for business type and location as above. So how do you go beyond the obvious? Try typing in alternatives and see what Google suggest comes up with. So still with the same theme of being a café owner in Kirkwall, I put myself in the shoes of a tourist and Googled ‘Places to eat Kirkwall’ – Now the autosuggest is getting more creative.


Researching Key Phrases
Trial different phrases to find more niche terms


‘Eat out to help out’ is topical, ‘best restaurants in Orkney’ are two more phrases that could be used in content. Putting in Cafes Orkney yielded a segment of dog friendly cafes and cafes in Kirkwall, how about being more specific again?

Keyword Research for Small Businesses
Try specific terms not just business type and location


Being a rural location, there are not many keywords or phrases to deviate from, so following a basic SEO strategy will yield good results.

But what of busier places like cities? You would have to be more creative. Look what happens in autosuggest if looking for a vegetarian café in Glasgow

Looking for niche terms
Where there is more competition it’s critical to research phrases


Glasgow being a large area – users are specifying different parts of the city and even putting in road names. Therefore, carrying out research beforehand helps you to align what you offer and how you describe your services online with what your users are searching for.

Keyword Research for Service Businesses

What if you aren’t a physical premises and you are a service? There are more tools again that you can work with.

In this next series of examples, I am now an outside catering business. First I googled ‘Outside Catering’ with no specific location. This was in the hope of eeking out some potential blog topics or subject matter for social posts that don’t have to be geographically specific.

Google suggest came up with the obvious geographical ‘near me’ but further down are some interesting angles of ‘outside catering meaning’, ‘for weddings’, ‘ideas’ and ‘company’. Therefore, if you provide outside catering services this is useful information. If you do cater for weddings, then some blogs or pages dedicated to this service on your website or social channels will help optimise your presence.

Use search for blog topic ideas
Try a search without your location for content ideas


Other Great Online Tools

If you are doing keyword research for a service-based business and regularly blog, then there is another feature that you can make use of for blog topics and it’s the ‘Questions People Ask’ segment of the search engine results page. These don’t always appear, it depends on the subject matter, but it’s something to look out for when carrying out your investigations.

Using People Also Ask Feature
The People Also Ask feature is invaluable for content ideas


As you can see there are some potential ideas above ‘What does outside catering mean?’ or ‘What is the average cost of catering per person?’ would be interesting articles to write.

Further down this page there are also other suggestions in the ‘Searches related to outside catering’ segment.

Keyword research for service businesses
Google also offers suggestions at the bottom of each page



As well as Google, Bing will also have similar information and may have different results than Google and may be worth exploring.


Casting the net wider

Below is a list of online platforms that allow you to carry out more in-depth research.

If you are a producer of regular content, written or visual, the starting point is always keyword research. If you are going to be doing this on a regular basis I advise that you embed the  ‘Keywords Everywhere’ app into your Google Chrome platform. Every time you carry out a query it will display the keywords down the right hand side automatically with some graphical data.


9 Top free Keyword Research Tools 2021


  1. Uber Suggest
  2. Google Trends
  3. Keywords Everywhere
  4. Google and Youtube suggest
  5. Bing forums
  6. Exploding
  7. Wikipedia
  8. Reddit
  9. Answer the public – this allows limited daily searches and there is a monthly fee if you need to go beyond it, but for content creation is well worth the outlay as it is a goldmine for not only keyword research but market research as well.


Where should you use keywords?

Don’t get carried away.

There is an online etiquette around this science. At the end of the day, we need to write for the reader not the search engines. Therefore, the algorithms look for naturally written content, so as long as you start the web page, article or advertisement with the keyword, the rest of the content can use synonyms.

Google looks for around 1% penetration, so for a 300-word article the keyword or phrase only needs to appear three times. One of those will be in the first paragraph and one will be a subheading. Leaving one to show at any other point in the narrative. Anything above this will viewed as keyword stuffing and you will be penalised.

To follow best practice, use your chosen words or phrases in the title of any page or article (which should be labelled with H1 or Header tag you can find this label in your text box editor), a subheading and the first paragraph. The longer the content then there will need to be more appearances.


Blind Bots

If there are images or video within the content, the keywords will need to be embedded into those as the bots that index content can only read text. The keyword labelling tells the bots what the image is about and that it is related to the wider content. There is a box called Alt Text this must be filled in along with other boxes that appear within the image such as description and caption.


Organic and Paid Content

Researching keywords for organic content is straightforward if you look for what people are searching for and you consistently post and create, the tip for organic is get as niche as you can. When analysing words and phrases for paid advertising it can be a bit tricky because you are bidding on them and the prices fluctuate like the stock market and it can be expensive.

Using Uber Suggest or Google Keyword Planner will give you in depth metrics on search volume, words your competitors use, their highest performing articles or pages and what receives the best engagement.

Organic content is always a long-term strategy as it takes time to perform and build brand awareness, so people know that you exist and where to find you.

If you are a new business, paid ads are a great way to get instant visibility based on keywords. If you want to know which keywords are performing well, use these tools to carry out in depth study. It may also be worth viewing the ads in the search engine results page to see what phrase they rank number one on.

The search engine results pages usually return paid ads above the Google Map Pack and above organically performing sites, they always have ‘Ad’ written next to them to indicate they have ranked based on paid positioning.

In this example I googled Plumbers Near Me and the first results were Ads, this is probably due to the time of year, the high demand for plumbers and the amount of competition, meaning it is worth their while to pay for the visibility.


Keyword Research for paid ads
Paid Ads always display with ‘Ad’ next to the listing



Paying other businesses to operate your search engine ranking

It can be tempting when running a business to pay agencies hundreds of pounds per month to run your ads for you. For the average small business this is not necessary. If you are a local business then make use of Google My Business, Facebook ads and other local SEO tactics. If you are an E commerce business then Google Ads will pay dividends, to begin with, try running them yourself. Google has plenty of resources, guides, tutorials and staff to assist you in getting to grips with the science of paid ads. You are best investing time in taking the Google tutorials and learning through trial and error, thus leaving more budget for ads rather than paying third parties.

Thank you

For taking the time to read our blogs. Positive Sales and Marketing is a small business in the North West of England passionate about educating the UK hospitality and freelance artist sector on understanding their marketing.

We offer training and education to enable businesses to take control of their own destiny rather than blindly relying on agencies. We can also offer transparent website design services and copywriting should this be taking up too much of your time.

We work with clients all over the UK and also operate directories for the holiday accommodation sector.

We would love to hear from you, give us a call on 01257 433331 or 01744 670055 or email

You can also find us on Twitter @Psalesmarketing or Instagram possalesmarketing  – please follow us to read our blogs or receive daily inspiration.





Guide to Google My Business

Guide to Google My Business

Google My Business is the number one on your to do list if you are a business serving a local community and you want to enhance your local SEO strategy to make sure you get found. There are two aspects to operating it which we cover in this guide to Google My Business.

  1. Set Up
  2. Maintenance

This may seem like stating the obvious but 95% of small businesses we have worked with to help set up their GMB then neglect it. It is important that you develop the mindset early on that this a platform similar to your social profiles, it requires maintenance.

The best way to contextualise GMB in your mind is to see it as your virtual shop window. Searchers are people walking down the high street, they land in your area virtually and then you appear on the street amongst other similar businesses at the same time. Searchers can peer through your shop window by looking at your images, opening hours, reviews and services, all whilst still in Google. If they like what they see they can go into your virtual shop by clicking on your website.

If you don’t have a listing then you are not visible and if your competitors are then you will be losing valuable leads.

Here is an example – We Googled ‘Pubs Orkney’ this is what we got back as a search result – a map with pins on and the list of entries matching this description, straight away we can see key information. Name, photograph, reviews, opening hours.


Guide to Google My Business
When carrying out a search you will see the Google Map Pack


Then when we click on a particular listing we get more information, again without leaving the search engine

As you can see this is promotion gold and it costs nothing to set up and maintain. Naturally, Google are a business, and they want you to pay to boost your listing, this will become more prevalent in years to come. However, many small businesses see the benefit of having the free GMB listing in getting enquiries from people they don’t know.


Users can see important information such as directions, save, call, breakdown of reviews and a description of the cuisine.

Guide to Google My Business
When searchers click on your listing they can see more information in the search engine


As we scroll further down the listing we can see feedback from customers, address, phone number and health and safety information.


Guide to Google My Business
All the information about your business can be seen quickly


So if this is something you have used yourself as a consumer but haven’t yet claimed for your business, here is our guide to setting up and maintaining your Google My Business account.


Setting Up Your Google My Business Account

  1. Head over to Google My Business
  2. Click Manage Now Button and fill out information as it takes you through the set-up wizard. Once completed it will take you to your profile. This needs to be verified either via phone or card through the mail. Sometimes Google only offers the mail option.
  3. Make sure you complete all the fields


Guide to Google My Business
Claiming your listing means filling out your profile fully


The main focus at first is Info – make sure you use keywords in this section.

Then insert photos to showcase your business, use the correct placeholders for each image. Your logo has a logo placeholder and this is the only place it should appear. There is a cover photo which will need to be an image that showcases what your business does. Then other photos include exterior and interior photos if you have a physical premises that customers visit. Then other images should be added regularly to keep your listing up to date. Like you would a shop window, you wouldn’t leave it the same all year round, you would refresh it according to the seasons.

Next list your products or services, depending on your type of business.

The website tab gives you a free website based on the information you provide. At time of writing this is pretty basic and only includes information from your posts and updates, not products and would not be a great alternative to a full website.

Then go through your dashboard to make sure that you have completed everything that you can. Here is a checklist of how to make sure that you have fully utilised your profile.


Guide to Google My Business
Use this checklist to make sure your GMB profile is functional



Google Compliance

If you follow this guide to Google My Business you will keep Google happy. Bear in mind you don’t own this listing, Google can remove or freeze your listing without warning. They also remove images they don’t think are appropriate to your business. They will also not show reviews they think are fake

If you set your account up on a desktop computer, you can download the app for a tablet or phone and this has quite a few more features that you may not get on desktop as it is predominantly a mobile first platform.

If you are a physical business, hotel, guest house, self catering accommodation, salon, pub, restaurant, shop – it is highly recommended you invest in the 360 degree tour service. This will increase engagement, visibility and enhance the likelihood of receiving bookings.

Plus it is unlikely your competitors will have gone down this route, giving you a visual advantage.


Guide to Google My Business Profile Maintenance


Maintaining Your Profile

It is important to include your GMB as part of your scheduled tasks of maintenance alongside your other social media profiles. It won’t require as much attention. Changing images once per month or updating them and posting once per week is enough.


There are 4 staple post types on GMB

  1. Events
  2. Update
  3. Product
  4. Offer
  5. Then an additional Covid-19 update



Naturally if you are holding events you would advertise these on Facebook, possibly Eventbrite but remember to also update your GMB listing. People looking for events will see your events first probably as part of GMB as Google collates and summarises local events in the search results from a number of platforms. This has an inbuilt calender so the listing will expire once the event has taken place.



These are for general updates and news of your business. If you blog you can put an image, introductory paragraph and link to blog behind a Call To Action button. These disappear after 7 days so it is important to keep this fed at least once per week.



If you are in the habit of posting special offers and incentives, this is a great feature. This is has a scheduler built in which means you can run the offer between certain dates and it will disappear when the listing expires



If you have a new product to add and you want it to be highlighted or you want to feature particular products due to seasonality use this post feature.



Find ways to encourage your customers to leave reviews. Ask for a truthful review, don’t encourage them to only leave positive reviews and don’t incentivise this goes against Google’s guidelines. It is healthy for businesses to have slightly negative or constructive feedback and it reassures potential customers that you are authentic, after all which business never has a disgruntled customer? None!

It is important that for every review that is left that you respond openly to it, both positive and negative.

Don’t ask friends and family to leave reviews and don’t post negative reviews on competitor sites.



Most customers these days prefer instant messaging features as a way to engage. For GMB you have to activate the messaging feature once your profile has been verified, so don’t overlook this and forget or you will be missing valuable enquiries.



Regularly review your insights to see what traffic you are getting and what type of customers are viewing your profile. See how many have rung or got directions straight from your listing.


Use Questions and Answers function

This function is not within your dashboard as it is a feature that is open to the public to post questions to you and anyone can answer them (Yes, we know! Anyone). Therefore keep an eye on what questions get asked and naturally you respond to them first if you can. But a good tip is you can also post questions on there, so if you have FAQs post them as a question and then post the answer. This is great for your optimisation as it provides quality content in the eyes of Google.


Sync with Bing

You can set up a similar account with Bing, the other major UK search engine for those using Microsoft Edge. All you need to do is claim your listing by clicking the new user button and it will ask if you have GMB account.




You click Import button and it will pull all that information through without you having to retype everything in. However, any changes you make to GMB, remember to manually sync with your Bing account, you do this by going into your Bing and pressing the Sync button.

Thank you

For taking the time to read our blogs. Positive Sales and Marketing is a small business in the North West of England passionate about educating the UK hospitality and freelance artist sector on understanding their marketing.

We offer training and education to enable businesses to take control of their own destiny rather than blindly relying on agencies. We can also offer transparent website design services and copywriting should this be taking up too much of your time.

We work with clients all over the UK and also operate directories for the holiday accommodation sector.

We would love to hear from you, give us a call on 01257 433331 or 01744 670055 or email

You can also find us on Twitter @Psalesmarketing or Instagram possalesmarketing please follow us to read our blogs or receive daily inspiration.





Tips for Local SEO 2021

Tips for Local SEO 2021

When running a small business, the question we get asked the most is how can I raise awareness of my brand more effectively? There are no quick solutions, but if you are a business that operates mainly to clientele in a specific geographical area, there are immediate measures that can be put into place to start to maximise your local visibility online. Here are our latest tips for local SEO 2021.


LOCAL Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Local search, this is the term given to people who are searching for goods and services that are based in their own communities.

In the early days of Google when we could only really find websites, getting to Number 1 on Google was the goal for businesses to get found. In those days businesses could do this by putting their location in their domain name. Google had basic local indexing tools such as maps, but as it has evolved it has enabled local search to be more relevant.  Small businesses have a wonderful suite of free tools that allow users to find information about them swiftly without having to leave the search engine. Interactive buttons also make it easy for users to directly call you , visit your website, or get directions instantly.  One of the main features Google has brought in is Google My Business.


Google My Business

If you are a small business and your target market is predominantly within a local radius, claiming your Google My Business listing is vital. If you don’t you are missing out on some key visibility and putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage.

If Google My Business is new to you and you are not sure how to set it up or use it, then read our Google My Business guide. Once you have set up your Google My Business you will then need to do the same for Bing as this is the UK’s other large search engine. This is straightforward and can be done via Bing Places which simply pulls through your GMB listing information and syncs it up. If you have a physical premises, be sure to claim your Apple Maps pin.


Local Directories

Local directories are useful for local businesses to register with. Some may charge a fee and some will be free. The most important factor to consider before jumping on any local directory you find is quality. Google and other search engines will penalise you if you link to poor quality external sites, so make sure the directory is highly regarded locally as a good source of information and one that the community regularly relies on for up-to-date information. This could be the classified section of your local paper, local councils, local business groups, or Chamber of Commerce.


Online Directories

Building links on directories is also known as citations, so over time to boost your overall online visibility it makes sense to periodically list your business across UK reputable websites that may be specific to your sector e.g if you were a counsellor the BACP website. There are also more generic business directories such as or Thomson Local and it is important to spend a few weeks building up your presence on these as well. Here is a list of the top UK directory sites and a tool to help you with this task.

Word of Caution

Google sees instant mass presence as spamming. For example if you are on no directories today and then suddenly appear on 50 tomorrow that would look like spam to Google. This strategy should be approached over a period of weeks maybe adding 2 a week to make it more organic.

NAP Critical

Building citations is a time-consuming task and this is another reason to list on directories slowly. It would be wise to keep a record of all the directories and online platforms where you have listed your Name Address and Phone Number (NAP) to keep track of where you have listed your business and where to go should details change.

The critical element of this is to ensure that your NAP is consistent across your online channels. This includes your own website, Google My Business, Bing, Apple Map, Eventbrite, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Basically, anywhere you list your business, the Name Address and Phone Number must be identical. This allows the search engines to correctly identify your business and build up a healthy profile of your activity which will boost your online visibility.

Lesser Known Tips for Local SEO 2021

Here are some more unusual tips for local SEO in 2021 that you may have overlooked.

Affliate Links

Do you naturally network or work closely with other local businesses, running joint campaigns, doing guest blogging or putting reciprocal links onto each other’s website or social platforms will also add credibility to your online presence.



Keywords are the heart of your online content, from social media bios, posts, about sections, web pages, blogs. Local SEO is no exception. Carry out keyword research for the topic your posts, pages or blogs are about and make sure 5% of the copy incorporates them. To be effective keywords or phrases need to appear in the heading or title, the first paragraph and one or two subheadings depending on the length of the content. They should also be featured in your meta description.

To optimise local search, research keywords and phrases that are relevant to your location and business and the variations.


Creating Local Content

If you regularly blog or write features on your platforms, create some of your content around local matters. This will add to your relevance score and be great for SEO.


Local SEO 2021
Local SEO statistics from Google Infographics



Multi Location Listings

If you have multiple locations for your business you can create a page for each location either on Linked In through Showcase Pages or on Facebook, or even on your own website. Vary the content on these pages though as search engines hate duplicate content.



Getting reviews from customers is a great SEO booster, not just for local SEO but generally. Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business profile or your Facebook Page. This will give you credibility with the search engines that you give great customer service and therefore you will rank higher in online searches.



Sponsor a local football team or event and this will give you content to post online, affiliate links and mentions online.



Advertising on Facebook allows geo targeting, the selection of who to display your ads to down to postcodes. This will make you extremely visible to local potential audiences. If you collect an email list or have lots of followers you can even display to look alike audiences to double your exposure. This will only be for as long as the ad is live but it is a great way to boost visibility during quieter times of the year.


Thank you

For taking the time to read our blogs. Positive Sales and Marketing is a small business in the North West of England passionate about educating the UK hospitality and freelance artist sector on understanding their marketing.

We offer training and education to enable businesses to take control of their own destiny rather than blindly relying on agencies. We can also offer transparent website design services and copywriting should this be taking up too much of your time.

We work with clients all over the UK and also operate directories for the holiday accommodation sector.

We would love to hear from you, give us a call on 01257 433331 or 01744 670055 or email




Directories for SEO 2021

Directories for SEO 2021

Directories for SEO 2021

Are directories still relevant in the SEO strategy race in 2021? Why do we ask? Since the inception of the internet, links in and out of your website have always played an integral part to your website’s optimisation. As search engines evolve, they don’t have the same significance these days, but they certainly can’t be ignored. Looking at how users search for information, directories are more significant in allowing you to advertise to your target audience rather than gaining ranking on Google.

This blog examines the advantages of using directories, the different types you should look for, paid vs free and top tips to avoid mistakes that could penalise your site.

Directories and why they matter

Have you got your business listed on a directory site? In the olden days most businesses made sure they had a listing in the Yellow Pages, now in the online world the choice is infinite. But with so many other platforms on which to showcase your business, why would you use directories in this day and age?

The Benefits of using an online directory

  1. Targetted advertising – Directories are usually constructed to serve a particular niche or geographical area because the two main reasons people will be searching are to look for local services or to research something in a specific sector. Directories provide a one stop shop for users so they don’t have to waste hours trawling the internet, some also offer supplementary information and blogs readers may find useful. Therefore you are likely to be seen by your target clients if you are listed on a directory.
  2. Increases the visibility of your website –  as directories have good traffic more people will find out about you
  3. Cost effective advertising – Some directories charge a fee to advertise as they have enhanced features and are a good source of information for your clients. Given that users will value these sites, this is a cost effective method of advertising as what you would pay for a year, you would normally pay for a week in a hard publication such as a newspaper or magazine.

Directories and Search Engine Optimisation

When you have a business website you want it to be as noticeable as possible to online searchers. The more times your business and website are listed on multiple sites, the more traction they are gaining and the business becomes more visible to the search engines. This is a term called ‘link building’ or to give it its technical term, citations. This is a strategy that can give you more prominence in the search engine results pages. But before you go gung ho with listing your name on as many different directories as possible, exercise caution as you could come unstuck, here are some top tips.


10 Directory Listing tips

The search engines now focus on quality when assessing your online portfolio. As well as your own channels on social media and your website, they will look at where you link to on the wider internet and the nature of those links can affect your ranking. Therefore, it is imperative that if you are using directories as a link building strategy that you follow these simple guidelines.

  1. Only link to reputable sites – directories need to demonstrate that they are not just set up for the purpose of link building, they have to have a purpose, providing information or serving a specific need.
  2. The main categories you should consider are – local directories – these serve your local community and are ideal for local pubs, restaurants and shops. They are usually set up for the community to access key information so are very credible for the search engines. Sector specific directories – these are good if you want to be found by users searching a particular niche such as counselling, hair salons or accommodation.
  3. NAP consistency – wherever you list your business online, make sure you are consistent in the use of your Name Address and Phone number, this is known as NAP consistency. Don’t list a landline on one directory and your mobile on another, or list your address differently by missing a line out. This will cause problems when Google is indexing your information.
  4. Don’t suddenly link to lots of sites all in one day, stick to around 10 listings per month, otherwise Google will see this as spamming activity.
  5. Although NAP have to be consistent, you can vary your descriptions between directories as you don’t want too much duplication.
  6. If relevant, don’t forget to include Google My Business as part of this strategy
  7. Keep a log of where you have listed your business so you can update all entries should any data change and to avoid duplication.
  8. Don’t just focus on free sites, paid sites can offer value for money.
  9. Here is a list of the UKs reputable generic business directories , also focus on sector specific ones too.
  10. Self Catering Scotland is a blog directory for the self catering accommodation sector in Scotland offering interactive listings

Positive Sales and Marketing can help you with Search Engine Optimisation, content writing, getting a website or training you on online marketing. Please get in touch, we would love an informal chat with you about how we can be of assistance.