By Keith Hodges

For small- and medium-sized enterprises, the yearly marketing budget can be the making or breaking of a business year. Exposure results in customers, who result in sales, which result in revenue, so it really is crucial that businesses take marketing seriously and make the most of their budget. Spent wisely, it becomes the key driver of growth and can result in improved figures, setting the foundation for a strong financial year.

Getting the most out of your digital marketing budget means knowing where to spend it most efficiently, how to attribute budget and how to utilize key touchpoints in the user journey.

Invest in Local Areas

If you’re a business offering services specific to a local area, then investing in digital services is an indispensable way of expanding your reach locally.

There are several different ways of doing this. Paid search, or PPC, allows you to set radius targeting to a specific area. So if you’re running a plumbing company in South East London, you can bid to appear in search results for users enquiring within the area in which your services are available, or perhaps in a new area which your business wants to target. This will allow you to attract local users looking for your services, without wasting budget reaching users in irrelevant locations.

Further, an SEO agency will be able to aid you in building local profiles, setting up Google Business pages and creating local profiles on relevant sites within your industry.

Improve User Experience on Your Website

Whether this means rebuilding the website from scratch or simply tweaking what you already have, 2018 is the year to invest in user experience. Offering a site which is attractive and easy to navigate is fundamental to keeping users on your website, having them view multiple pages and ultimately making the conversions you want them to.

Since an overwhelming number of users now search primarily on smartphones, your website should be optimized for mobile as standard. When tracking rankings, whether you do this yourself, or through an SEO agency, mobile rankings should be tracked separately to ensure you’re getting the reach you need.

Ensuring the user experience is clear, concise and drives users to take an action on your website is essential. If you have a number of drop off points (particularly en route to conversions) working with an SEO agency will help you to identify WHY users are dropping off, and the guidance of an SEO expert will enable you to make data-led decisions to improve performance and increase conversions on your website.

Page Speed

Over the course of 2018, Google will begin to use page speed as a ranking factor in its search engine results pages. The result of this, of course, will be that in order to rank well for the terms you’re targeting, you must ensure that your website is quick and optimized for loading. In order to achieve this, it is important to look at everything from how servers deliver the website to the way in which code (Javascript and CSS) are rendered.

Although it can seem like an impossible task to optimize script and loading, SEO agencies can offer the best assistance in identifying the key areas for improvement and providing improved code and updates.

Use the Tools Available to You

Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager are all going through revamps to improve the data they provide, their layouts and the value they offer to businesses. These free tools are priceless for helping you understand how your website indexes, how well it performs and the benefit it has on your business.

For many SMEs, the website is a core member of the sales team that is fully within your control. Using the above free Google tools will allow you to understand these key areas in order to make informed decisions, resulting in commercial advantage for your organization.