Why A Press Release Is Good For SEO.

Times have changed over the last year or so in the SEO world.

Google now officially say that they do not like back links at all for any type of self-promotion. If you follow this rule to the letter, it means traditional link building is out. This doesn’t mean that you cannot build links anymore, as they are still the bread and butter of organic rankings. However, a cost-effective way to spread the word about what you do and build links at the same time, is via a press release.

 

A press release has many advantages in the link building process as you don’t get stung for duplicate content as you are syndicating content, you hopefully get a link back to your website in the press release and via the online press release services, you get to promote your press release via social networks channels. This means that all in, a press release can work out more effectively than a short link building campaign. It also means that your link building is very ‘white hat.’

 

You cannot solely rely on press releases for your link building efforts, as you still need to have links coming from a variety of sources online. The more varied the link types you have coming to your website, the better, but a press release can go a long way to get you links on authority websites and spread the word effectively. If your stories is juicy enough, it may be picked up by journalists and further run into hardcopy versions of newspapers. This means that you need a great story to run when you do a press release campaign. This basically applies to all press releases. Have something interesting to say or no one will pay attention.

 

If you want to find out more about press release packages, please see our PR package page.

Link building Manchester Tips

Hi everyone, another sporadic blog post here! As usual, we are busy promoting clients online and forget to promote ourselves!

Over the last few months, there seems to have been a lot of changes in how the search engines rank sites and how they are dealing with online spam. As with any changes to the search engines, some sites will plummet, some sites will stay the same with their rankings and some may even go up. People have been talking about over optimisation penalties ( having too many links that have the same anchor text words) and having links from bad link neighbourhoods which has affected their rankings.

Our link building work in Manchester has really stayed the same, as we use evergreen techniques, based on what the search engines recommend. You may have short-term success with trying to game the search engines, but in the long run you might as well follow the search engines advice and rules and then you will last much longer than your competition. So, the obvious question is how do we do this?

Keywords
keywords, key phrases, exact match, broad match…. All of these terms will have been thrown at you. Essentially it all comes down to the search engines weighing you for how many links you have back to your website which contain certain words. If the words contained in links around the Internet outweigh your competitors, you should rank higher than them. However, it would be wonderful if it was just about clocking up a higher number of links than your competitor which contained your keywords. Google and the other search engines have many factors they take into consideration when they rank a certain page. The ratio of links with one keyword compared to your other links with keywords, where those links come from and so on. Essentially, it boils down to you trying to rank for keywords which do not have massive sites in the top 10 listing and which you think you can beat within a budget, time and resources you have.
You can get information on keywords from googles keyword tool. Majestic SEO is also a good place to find information on particular keywords. No matter what tool you use, you will need to practice interpreting the data and identifying which keywords you could possibly go for (low competition-how many local seaches per month for an exact phrase, a good number of potential visitor per day). If nothing else, it is better to pick low competition keywords than very high competition keywords. You basically stand more of a chance of succeeding and you won’t put months and months into online promotion with no return.

On page Seo factors
If you currently have an SEO company promoting you online, you may be bombarded with reports and information, but really it comes down to you optimising your site for the main criteria search engines are looking for. This being a working site map, title tag, H1 headings in your content, your keyword a few times in your content and ideally your keyword in your URL. Robot text files allowing the search engine bots to spider your site is also good, but the main thing is to not go overboard trying to cover every on page SEO factor ( an obvious SEO job). If you want a good snapshot of what you have in place for on page SEO factors, download the SEO quake Firefox plug-in. It will give you a nice list of what you have in place and what you need to address. Simply work your way through the list.

Ideally, you want to also be adding fresh content to your site as often as possible. This not only gives new information to your readers, but also tells the search engines that you have an active site worth ranking. Add images and any videos you can to your content.
Run out of ideas for what to put on your website? Think along the lines of how you can help your customers – top five lists, help and advice, tips, worthwhile links on the Internet. Just think about being helpful and document this on your website. As you know about your market, you will naturally include your keywords.

 

As natural as an organic spud!
A cryptic heading I know, but if you want your online promotion to last as long as possible, so everything on-site and off-site must be done as if it happened naturally.
So, on-site just address the main SEO points. Off-site, you’re back links need to come from a wide range of website platforms, on a wide range of IP addresses (lots of different sites on different webspace), with lots of unique content, just as if people were naturally linking back to you.

The unfortunate thing with SEO, is that there is a lot of misinformation, which boils down to the fact that SEO, when done right, makes money for a website. So, like James Brown said, ‘I’ll tell people most of the things I know, but not all the things I know, as I want to stick around!’ So, you will never be given a blueprint or recipe for ranking any keyword on the Internet and those who are successful online, will give you some information of how it works, but not a complete path from A to B. Also, each site is evaluated differently. With the supposedly 200 ranking factors used by Google, your competitor may be doing better than you in one area which you just don’t know about until you look into keyword research and your competitors links.

Tying it all together
Make sure you cover all the basic on page and on-site SEO factors. Most of these can be done with the knowledge of your website admin. If you have a CMS system for your website, especially word press, these factors can be addressed through the admin panel.
Off-site – find theme related blogs, news sites and free PR sites. Send them a juicy story about why your website is amazing and provides things no other site does. Socially, tell everyone about that content.
Depending on your market, sign up to the big social media sites – twitter ( if nothing else), Facebook and Google+. Get a Google places listing.
Check your website stats for your most popular pages and what key phrases people are searching you for. Add these key phrases to future content.
Get an e-mail list – if you can tell people regularly about what you are doing, they may eventually buy something from you.

All the above boils down to how much time and budget you have. You cannot expect to rank number one for the keyword finance, if you only have a few hours to spare per week or you only have £50 a month to spend on SEO services. Part of SEO is a resources game. If you have the resources and money of Donald Trump, you could probably rank and promote yourself for anything you like!
If you are patient and do your SEO slow and steady, the result should eventually pay off.

If you want to increase your rankings, please contact Bassmedia here for a free consultation.

Top 3 Ways in Which Social Media Affects Your Search Engine Rankings.

You don’t need SEO experts to tell you that the search engine ranking of your website is important for business. Higher rank means greater visibility for the website and consequently, increased business.   

The need therefore is to focus on factors that enhance your search engine rankings. And alongside traditional SEO factors like keyword optimization and link building, social media is today emerging as an important factor for search ranking.

 

The Social Media – SEO Link Exists Because

  • Matt Cutts of Google and Duane Forrester of Bing have acknowledged that social signals carry certain weightage in determining the search ranking of a website. Straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.
  • Google wants to popularize its own social platform, Google+ and may tweak its algorithms more towards according greater significance to your Google+ presence in determining your website ranking. Read here the opinion of 12 SEO experts on this topic.
  • Austin based SEO firm Tasty Placements conducted an experiment which revealed conclusively that search engine rankings for a website that has active social media presence (Google+, Twitter and Facebook) increased by a maximum factor of 14.36 as compared to the control website which was not optimized for social media at all.

Now the question is how to use this information for the benefit of your own website? So let us consider the ways in which social media impacts your search engine ranking.

 

Top 3 Ways in Which Social Media Affects Your Search Engine Ranking

 

  1. Relationships are a Measure of Relevance for Google

We know that Google aims to deliver the most relevant search results to users.

When a user signs into Google Search through his user account, Google considers content recommended by people in his social circle (his relationships) as more relevant and presents them at a higher position in the search results page. So if your website has been +1ed by maximum people, chances of an enhanced ranking in a personalized search are high and will contribute to your business by just that much.

 

  1. Social Media Can Create a Buzz and Enhance Website Traffic

While we commonly believe that higher search engine rankings enhance website traffic, the reverse is also equally true.

If you have created some really great content for your blog and tweeted about it or shared it on your Facebook page with a back link, people are likely to click on the link to your site. This increases traffic to your site, which convinces Google that you are offering something of value to searchers and your search ranking is bumped up.

 

  1. Social Media Enhances Link Building

Link building remains an important SEO factor. Social media enhances link building (and thus search ranking) in two ways

(a)  directly by prompting your followers to like, retweet or +1 your content and thus create a link back to you

(b)  indirectly by allowing you to arrive at the right content ideas depending on the buzz in the relevant social media circles. When you have an active social media presence, you are more tuned in to what your customers want. Naturally content which they want (and find useful) has greater chances of being shared and thus enhances your link building and hence search ranking. Here is a great read on this topic

 

What Does this Mean for Regular SEO?

Let me assure you that contrary to popular belief, regular SEO is not ‘dying’ and is unlikely to do so for sometime at least. Social media optimization is merely an additional SEO tool, admittedly one that looks likely to become more powerful in the future.

As we saw the link between social media and search engine ranking is more indirect than a causal direct one.

So for now, traditional SEO still rules and social media adds an edge to it.

This post was written by Yasir Khan, founder of Quantum SEO Labs.  The company offers social media and SEO strategies for clients in diverse niches.

The importance of a press release.

Up until recently, any PR duties I was given, were sent to a PR professionals who could dedicate themselves to that sole purpose.

However, as part of the link building process, you can submit press releases which could possibly get picked up and syndicated. This will not only give you press coverage, but also possible links from high authority websites.

Recently, I wrote some press releases for a client and submitted them to free and paid PR websites and industry specific news portals.
These were really done in the aim to get some authority links. The press releases however, was picked up and published on two news sites and one of the top industry portals.
This has given the client some great news coverage along with some authority links, giving the new company some needed news coverage to push the brand.

If you wish to put out a press release yourself and get the most coverage, it is still advisable to hire a PR professional. Like any industry, they do it all the time, so will be most skilled in this area. But, if you have a limited budget, you can write a press release on a newsworthy story (it has to be interesting and something to grab people’s attention, not just this is us and this is what we do! – Anything unique you are doing, the new wave doing things or something revolutionary!)
You can send the press release out to free PR websites, these being okay but they will not do as good a job as the paid websites, like PRweb.com.   The paid PR services will get your press release out to more areas and you should get more coverage.
Submit your PR release to industry specific news portals.

If all goes well, you should have your press release featured on newspaper websites and within your industry news portals, with some authoritative links.
The process is quite straightforward, you just need to write a great press release and put some effort into submissions.

Try it and see if you get any success.

Post Penguin and Panda SEO Tips.

Here is one of my rare posts on my blog (as per usual, off doing work for clients are not promoting my own website……ahem!)

Anyway, if you have been involved in online promotion for the few months,  you will have no doubt have read or experience the effects of Google’s panda and penguin updates.
There is plenty of information on the web on what these updates did and meant to websites.
The crux of the updates essentially means that some of the SEO tactics that work before, no longer do so. But the main thing to think about moving forward are the essentials you will need to promote yourself not only in the organic listings but via other channels online.

Some websites have been hit hard by the recent updates, some sites kept their rankings, while others only drop by a few places. No matter which camp you fall into,  it is worthwhile to note a few takeaways for moving forward with a link building and your on-site SEO.
Below are some pointers for moving forward with your website promotions. I will try and keep the points as  short and sweet as possible.
The tips are a little bit ad hoc, but what you need to move forward is all below.
We are based media can help you build your links upif you have been hitby the recent updates, which we will include the elements below.

Panda updates – essentially for on page stuff. Penguin updates – essentially off page, biggest update in years.

Off page factor. – Only 40 % MAX. of your link profile should now the for a keyword. The bigger the variety of keywords the better. – LOTS of link text variation – Link diversity. – Site relevancy, min. 15% relevant links.   Google +1, (setup author profile, pen name.)(google+ in lots of ten at time at most.) Facebook like/shares. Web 2 property links. Youtube links. Do follow and nofollow – a spread of both. Article links. Press Releases. Sidebar links (in blogs on other sites.)

Dis-qualifiers. – Over 40% dead links – get rid of these links or create more links to counteract the dead ones. – Social factors less than competition. – Links not disverse as competition. – Abnormally high exact match keywords – spread out your link text types.

SEMrush – shows traffic in the past on google. it will give the timeframe for the google up date history, what each update was about. Looks you should see if you are hit for an over optimisation penalty ( too many links to one keyword) or if you had any bad links from blog networks, etc.

Look at own site and competitor site anchor text density. Use the terms from competitor anchor text in own anchor text links.

Look at link types – wide range of links needed – forums, social, etc.

Link to buffer site! – do not send all your links to your main website. Send all your links to a bunch of web to properties or article sites that have high PR with quality articles. This way if you get a penalty the article sites get it and not your main website.

No exact match keywords anymore. Have to do – ‘logo design’ = my logo design, great logo designs, i want a logo.

 

Essential on page SEO elements.

Since the recent Google algorithm updates, a lot has changed in the SEO world, but also as always, some things have stayed the same.

Link building and SEM is one side of the story, but also what you do on your site is equally as important.

Covering every single SEO aspect on-site and on page is a clear flag you are over optimising. So, below are some hints and tips that you can implement to make sure your on-site visitors find your site a great resource along with the search engines!

If you have WordPress installed on your website, you are the lucky ones as you have a plethora of plug-ins and ways to optimise your site very easily. If you are using another CMS system, then make sure the areas below are covered on page and on-site.

If you have WordPress as your CMS system, install the ‘All in one SEO’ plugin. It covers all the essentials you will need for on page SEO. When you first install the plug-in, you will need to go into the settings and add the criteria below. I won’t explain why only the elements below need checking, but suffices to say they are the main SEO elements you need. The list below should be how you see the elements listed in the all in one SEO plug-in setup page.

‘All in one SEO’ plugin for the settings page.
Plugin status – Enabled.
Home title, description – include ‘keywords.’
No meta keywords.
Post Title Format – %post_title%
Page Title Format – %page_title%
Category Title Format – %category_title%
Archive Title Format – %date%
Tag Title Format – %tag%

Only tick -
‘Use noindex for Archive’
‘Use noindex for TAG Archive’
‘Capitalize Category Titles’

Once you have set up the all in one SEO plug-in, you can go to a post and add to the form boxes in the SEO plug-ins section in the post.

The basic on page SEO criteria are – your main keyword in the title tag, description tag
A 300+ word article.
To make the juiciest page possible, below are a list of criteria to cover for each page in full. Some parts apply only to WordPress sites, so if you don’t have WordPress, you are missing out!

1. post title Should have primary keyword phrase.
2. permalink – keywords in url.
3. meta title keyword in – in’seo pack’ section.
4. descriptions and headings.
5. internal linking to your site pages in content.
6. outbound links onpage to relevant sites.
7. h2 or h3 for additional keywords, images alt tag, add video, pod casts in content.
8. ‘all post’ or ‘all pages’ of your posts list shows which pages need keywords.
9. 300 word articles. .
10. outbound links near bottom of article.
11. social media links, letting page readers share your content (‘AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget’ plug-in for WordPress)(facebook, twitter, google+, social bookmarks, help people hare cool stuff.)

Don’t over do the ‘onpage’ SEO. Don’t be afraid of some outbound links, if they are relevant to your post or site. You are adding relevant resources to your page. Adding social bookmark links so people can share your content is vital.
WordPress has quite a few plug-ins to allow you to do this. Also, stop adding tags to your WordPress site, only add the post to one category and get rid of your archive posts. Why? It’s creating duplicate content. You want your content in only one place on your site.

The above stuff does take a little more time than just sticking in a title or post, but the effort is worth it to make sure your page is as relevant as possible. The more relevant your page the more chance it has to rank naturally and attract human traffic.

SEO principles for 2012.

We have seen in the last year or so the search engines tighten their belts on what link types are allowed and what type of content is permitted.

About a year ago, many articles were de-indexed from the web as they had no worth and little readability. This was a good thing. We have now seen Google apparently de-index most of the pages from private blog networks. On one level, this is a good thing. It has stopped an easy way to acquire links which were paid for. On the other hand, some of these blog networks had a long-term business plan to provide quality articles, which they thought would work. However, Google didn’t think so and have stated that this was done as these type of blog networks were manipulating the results.

I think we have to look at both sides of the picture. These private blog networks were in place to essentially manipulate the organic listings. As in the case of buildmyrank.com, you submitted 150 word article with a link. If it passed build my ranks quality criteria, it will be posted on one of the blogs in the network and you gain a link and a bit of passed down PR. So to build links on build my rank, you had to write daily content for each link or get someone else to do it for you. This seemed okay on the surface, but the resultant blogs had tons of 150 word articles on totally separate themes. This is where most of the problem lay. Non-themed blogs, full of unrelated content. Only there to gain link juice for its paid-up members. If these type of blogs were the main content of the web, we would only see short content, only there to get link juice.

However, if you look at any news website, it is full of unrelated themes, with varying lengths of articles. Because the blog networks content could be about anything and not about current news, it was also seen as negative. Although the article submitted were usually short, networks such as build my rank only allowed content which read well, had proper punctuation and grammar.

The other argument is that a lot of people built links with the best of the blog networks, as they thought they were legitimate links. Paid for, yes, but you still have to put in the work to write content and hopefully have it but live. Now all those links are gone and we have a knock-on effect. Businesses and SEO people have potentially lost work and rankings. Dropped placings for businesses means less sales. Should search have this much control?!? These networks were in it for the long term or the best of them were. They wouldn’t have gone down this business route otherwise.

Lastly, as it was recently pointed out, SEO in principle is manipulating the results. I don’t know one company who have built a website with any intention of promoting it online that have just built the site and left it there, hoping people will just come across it. If you have a wonderful product or service that everyone is talking about, then you may organically promote yourself from people naturally linking to you. However, most businesses employ an SEO person or agency to promote their website online. In some way or other, this is manipulating the results. Just as paying more than the next person per click, manipulates paid search engine advertising.

If this de-indexing of the blog networks is to make sure the lengthier, more in depth, theme related content reaches the top of search then fine, but the mass de-indexing does seem a bit Big Brother like and a making example of.

But this is really all academic at this stage. The search engines rule the roost and we play by the rules. If you are promoting yourself online, then the same basic principles apply as they always have. Get quality content out there and lots of it. This will take you time and money, but over time it will work. As social signals are playing a bigger part these days, you can also get busy in this area. But obviously, this will depend on your business type.

A webpage is of worth when it is seen as quality content that has some age and has been referenced or cited many times, i.e. linked to. Cover these areas over time and you should do well.

Bum clenching time for blog networks!

The new cliche being banded about at the moment in the SEO world is, ‘the only constant is change.’
This is true at the moment as a few of the top blog networks have reportedly had all their listings  de-indexed by Google.
In the next few weeks we will see the outcomes in rankings, as a lot of people have relied on these blog networks to create links for their clients.

Google has reportedly done this to try and make sure these type of the networks cannot manipulate the results and as a way to provide more relevant results.
However, a lot of the most well-known blog networks have known that to be long lasting, they have to provide quality content. Although they did to a point, the content that was posted to the individual blogs was completely separate in theme and arguably short in length.
Some of this content may have been worthwhile for people, both for back linking and human readability, but this means nothing, as the big G made the decision that these networks had to go.
This means, no matter how white hat the content was, if you posted on these networks, they now do not count.
It’s a shame on one level, as legitimate, white hat SEO tactics tried to provide quality content to get quality links. But this is now just academic.

In the long run, it may be for the best, so that more lengthy, unique articles are only available on the web.
We saw this last year with a lot of the article directories getting slammed for posting trash content. Everyone saw the benefits of this, as no one wants to search for ages only to find search listing of a trash article.

So if you have relied on blog networks for part of your link building or even all of it, where do you go from here?
Some talk has been on still creating a blog network, but one of your own that is completely private and only for your own use. But eventually, will you be found out?
Personally, if this has happened to the largest networks it is not really worth the time, energy and money to have it done to you sometime in the future.
You may be thinking, if you create your own blog network and keep it as private as possible, you will not get hit. But the whole point of the blog network, is to build it and make it more for worthwhile. This will mean at some point in the future, search engines will find your footprint. If they do, you may go the same way as the others.

There are plenty of ways you can get quality link juice without using blog networks.
You will still have to produce quality, unique content, as you always have done. You just need to work at it harder, produce more and work to get that quality content on quality sites.

Link building in this way, takes time and energy, but if done right you will get links that will hopefully stick and humans will find as a worthwhile resource.
Ultimately, this is what the web should be about anyway. You do a search and in no time fine quality information.
If the web is just going to be full up of junk articles, then the originators of the web who worked in academia to transfer information more efficiently, will be turning in their graves(or labs!) as we speak!

Produce quality content on the web and it will ultimately be a better place. (……. that along with less crap videos on youtube of cats falling off chairs..!)

 

Are organic listings still relevant to SEO?

2011 saw many changes in the SEO and SEM world, mainly due to big G’s updates, some good,  some bad.
The panda update got rid of a lot of crappy articles on the web, more emphasis on Google places for local listings, more emphasis on social indicators for sites, the loss of keyword data from analytics and Yahoo site Explorer being closed.
If you work on the Internet, you have to expect constant change. These changes, are put in place and we have to then go off and work with them.
So, does this mean organic listings are still needed for companies to promote themselves online?
The answer is surely, yes.
Organic listings are still the number one way the people to find what they are looking for online, no matter which search engine they use.
The way in which the organic listings are arranged and ordered, may change over time, but people’s mind-sets are now trained to go to the organic listings as the first stop for finding information online.

Google places.
The main hurdle most businesses have in the organic listings, is Google places or the equivalent on other search engines, sponsored listings at the top of the organic lists and pay per click ads.
Depending on which keywords you want to rank for, will depend on how many Google place listings are on the first page. Google place listings usually come up when you type in a keyword and the locality, e.g. locksmiths Manchester.
If you are listed at number one in the organic search and there are seven Google place listings above you, it’s only natural for someone searching to look at the Google places listings first.
Now if you want to have a listing in Google places in a locality not centred on your business, you’re going to have a hard time being listed, So, your only option is organic search and pay per click.
With Google places, make sure you have no duplicate listings – type into the Google search box your brand and telephone number, to check there is no duplicate listings. If there are, delete the ones you don’t need. Also, make sure all the fields in your Google listings are filled out with as much information as you can. Take a look at other people’s organic listings, preferably in the top three and see what is working for them.

Organic listings.
You still want to rank in localities where your business is not based. You now have paid per click and organic search to focus on.
Talking to fellow SEO chap, who only specialise in pay per click, stated that they don’t bother with organic search as it takes too long. To rank highly in organic search, can take a few months to rank highly, especially for competitive keywords. The benefit of organic search is that your listings will stick and last much longer. Also, as what has been always been said, people naturally look at the organic listings first as we read left to right, as our eyes are naturally drawn to the top left corner of the screen. Also pay per click ads only last as long as you are funding them.
If you have X amount of money to spend on online advertising, where do you spend it?
In truth, both organics and pay per click cannot be ignored. With a little knowledge and a few online tutorials, you can get the very basics down of handling a pay per click campaign. A small, very targeted and focused pay per click campaign can help your organic listings, so they can work hand-in-hand.
Organic listings are more convoluted to make work and arguably need a lot more experience with the link building process. The other advantage to this being, as links are built for a client, web surfers should naturally find your links and if they find the content interesting where the link is placed, they may naturally visit your site or link to your site, creating a talking point or further promoting your site. Work done for you without spending a penny.
So, basically organic listings take longer to work but have a more long-term effect and can be used to naturally spread the word about your business around the Internet.
Like any other marketing or advertising,  this takes a lot of time and leg work. This is where the cost comes from for promoting an organic listing.
As a business, you can do some of the online promotion yourself. Creating links in itself is not hard to do, just time-consuming. To make this effective though, you need to have a link building plan, know where to put these links, how to link them together properly, what type of links to get, content creation and reporting are all needed for an effective campaign. You can also read up on research the processes you need to do the above. But the question is, how much time and effort will you put into this which will be taken away from you focusing on your business efforts.
I use the example of building a house. If you want a house built, it’s quite possible to learn all the skills needed, buy the materials, get a few hands to help you and off you go. How good the house will be at the end, is questionable if you’ve never done this process before or even a few times before. For the amount of time and effort you need to learn all the skills and implement them to a professional level, may cost you more time than the money you will save.
This is the same for online promotion. People in the industry are performing this work and researching all the time, to make client’s campaigns the most effective.
For the foreseeable future, organic listings will be the number one way people will find information on the Internet and to rank highly in the organic search can be the difference between a good online promotion and about one.

The changing face of SEO.

…yet another sporadic post here. As per usual, client’s work comes first and thoughts, opinions, etc. get left. (i hope your already thinking, ‘but you need to add content to keep up your rankings, hit the longtail keywords, etc.’)

I know i am mentally chastised by you all!
SEO tactics for ranking organically have changed somewhat over the past 12 months, mainly by changes to the Big G, so we all follow.
For many, in these economic times of doom and gloom, where we all have to tighten our belts, as a few banks went a bit bonkers with our money, we are all looking for ways to better spend our money and get better return on our online investments.
Doing this right means you can carry on with the lifestyle you want and enjoy hopefully, the nicer things in life.
Promoting yourself online is a time consuming job, a question of resources. If you sell clothes online, could you compete and beat Marks and Sparks? Maybe, but probably not. They have more resources to sepnd and put in place than the small trader.
Thus, if you are an SME, think for online like you would offline, what customersa are going to buy from you and what are they looking for?
Add useful content to your website constantly, offers, discounts, ‘only 10 left at cut price, so hurry!’, make your products in short demand. Anything you can to show your successes, what your up to…..all adds up. Make you titles of your content/blog/news long tail keywords -(find these by looking for the latest news on google about your business area, then replicate those, for a very simplified method.)
Get on all feee index sites where reviews can be added. Ask happy customers to put testimonials. If they are happy with you, they should be ok adding a few short sentences on how wonderful you are.
Creat a buzz, hook about your business. Think like a PR person would. An interesting story to put out about what you are doing. Get a friend to help as this is not always good to do on your own.

There are many things you can do on your own and like anything in life, it depends on how much time and resources you have.
Hope the little tips help!