Anyone who has searched for a service or product on the web can see how valuable it is to have their business listed on the search engines. If your company comes up first, there is an 80% chance the customer will contact your company. If your company’s website is listed on page two or three, the likely hood of a customer contact drops to about 2%. When our customers ask us how they can get listed on Google, we often provide two answers.
The simple non-technical answer:
The simple way gain search engine traffic is to create content on your website that is valuable to your customers.
The more complex answer:
Search Engine Optimization involves a combination of research, website changes, technical changes to your hosting environment and an ongoing content strategy. The following search engine optimization strategy has worked for many of our customers:
Stages of a Search Engine Optimization Strategy:
- SEO Audit
- Keyword Research
- Competitive Research
- On-page optimization
- Technical SEO
- Off-site optimization (Outreach and Link Building)
- Ongoing Content Strategy (Blogs and Social Media)
- Tracking Performance
An SEO Audit reviews your website and other social media profiles to see if these sites contain everything required to rank on Google. The results of the audit will show the following items:
- Is your website is currently ranking in the search engines?
- which keywords are ranking, and which keywords are not?
- Who are your top competitors in your market niche, and how are they using SEO to gain customers?
- Does your website programming contain the necessary technical items that will help the search engines read and categorize your website’s content?
- How fast is your website? If the download time is too slow, customers will become impatient and leave before they view your offer.
- Do you have off-site assets such as social media or business profiles that link to your website?
- Do your industry partners link to your website to give you authority and social proof?
- Is your site easy to navigate? Does the design and content speak well to your audience?
- Is there an easy path to contact your company?
This is just a simplified list of the questions that are investigated during an audit. There are many factors that can help, or hurt how your website will list in the Google rankings. An audit will provide you a list of actionable items that you or your SEO specialist can adjust to improve your results in Google’s search engine.
Basic Keyword Research can be done directly through Google’s search bar. This is a simple way for beginners to get a basic understanding of what keywords potential customers are using to find products and services online.
More accurate and actionable keyword research is best done with the help of industry tools. SEO experts often pay for research tools that dig deep into the search results to mine and organize a wealth of useful information about keywords used on your industry.
With a list of keywords, different analysis can be done to determine if a specific keyword is one used to purchase an item, or research an item. The purpose of key word research is to sort which keywords are worth ranking for. Some of the questions we ask are:
- What are the keywords with the most traffic?
- What is the competition level of the keywords
- Which keywords can we easily rank for?
- Which keywords are we currently ranking for?
- Are there keywords in our industry that we hadn’t though of?
- What relevant questions are customers typing into the Google search bar?
- Which keywords show buyer intent?
Once this research is collected, it is sorted and prioritized based on the effort required to rank. The keywords that will create the most results for the least amount of time and expense are prioritized.
The openness of the internet has provided tools that can spy on your competitors! If you want to compete against the best, a great place to start is to learn about the strategies your competition is using to gain new customers. Competitive research will show you:
- who are your top competitors in the search engines,
- How much search engine traffic do my customers receive from the search engines?
- What ads are your top competitors paying for,
- What keywords do your competitors currently rank for?
- Do your competitor’s web pages rank on page-one of Google?
- What keywords are common in your industry?
- What questions do prospective customers ask on Google?
- How many people in my geographic location are looking for my services on Google? How often are prospective customers searching for my product or service?
On-page optimization involves using the information collected in the research phase to create a list of actionable changes to your website. These changes help Google understand the information and purpose of your website, and thus will help Google send you appropriate traffic.
To review the information collected in the research phase:
- the audit has provided a list of items to change to improve your site’s readability,
- the keyword research has given us an idea of what keywords prospective clients use to find services in your market, and
- the competitive research has provided an overview of how your competitors are using the internet to land new customers.
Armed with the above information, we can prioritize which items to adjust first, and which ones can potentially be left for later. The length of time this takes depends on the size of the list.
This is one of the easiest phases of an Search Engine Optimization strategy because it involves reviewing and adjusting items on your own website. This includes reviewing and fixing items in your site’s structure, placing missing headlines, titles, meta descriptions, image alt tags, and other items that help Google understand the topic of your website.
The tasks involve in Technical SEO involve items that can be more complex in nature. These might include:
- looking at the speed of your website. If your website is slow, you will certainly lose impatient customers.
- Tweaks and fixes to your websites hosting technology, installing compression plugins, cleaning up the number scripts your website uses to display plugins, fonts, and extraneous information.
- Finding and fixing website errors – for example, if search engines lead to a broken or missing page, they will certainly leave and find what they are looking for on a competitor’s website. Google will lower your rank if errors remain unfixed.
- Changes to your Robots.txt file.
- Changes to your hosting platform
- Adjustments to follow or no-follow statuses of certain pages.
- installing SSL certificate
Off-site Optimization (Outreach and Link Building)
Once your site has been optimized, the next focus is on increasing your sites authority in the eyes of Google. This is done by finding QUALITY sites that will link to yours. The process of reaching out to others in your industry involves:
- Asking suppliers to link to your website
- creating relationships with industry partners,
- writing guest blog posts,
- being active in your community, and
- Answering questions on online forums in Facebook and the web.
The warmer your community is to you, the more likely they will help you promote your business.
Ongoing Content Strategy (Blogs and Social Media)
Like it or not, in today’s online economy, every business is now a publisher. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, a plumber, or an athlete. Anyone who publishes information that provides value to their customers will gain market exposure. This is the new economy, and those who embrace the information economy will reap rewards.
The basic equation is this: Provide value to the public, and the public will likely choose you as their service provider.
How do people provide value to customers online?
- Save them time by providing the information they are looking for.
- Inspire them by providing them the ideas they are looking for.
- Entertain them by involving them in the process.
- Educate them by showing them the process.
- Same them time by reviewing products.
How to Deliver Valuable Content to Customers
Business use the internet to deliver value to their customers by:
- writing blogs,
- creating YouTube videos,
- posting inspiring images on Instagram,
- creating process explanations,
- answering questions in on-line chat groups,
- creating how-to guides,
- providing free information guides,
- publishing podcasts
- giving away free lessons
- finding other innovative ways to help prospective customers
How does this help me get listed on Google again?
Google tracks and recognizes the entire internet ecosystem. If you have a large following on Social Media, this will effect how Google measures your authority in your niche. If they view you as an authoritative thought leader, they will give you a higher rank in the search engines.
More importantly though, this is all about getting new customers. Google is one of many search engines. The more people who see you, your designs, your authoritative information, or your work online, the more people know who to call for your service or product.
One More Reason to use Social Media: Online marketers generally diversify their audiences across multiple platforms to protect themselves from inevitable changes in the online ecosystem. So if you are trying to get exposure for your company, it makes sense to use and test as many marketing avenues as possible. Of course, the focus should be on the platforms where your customers are.
Tracking the performance of your marketing is paramount to understanding the return on your investment in SEO, Online Advertising Social Media and off-line marketing efforts.
The general process involves making changes, and tracking the results. Once you know what is working, a wise marketer will double down on the process that created those results.
With SEO, we track traffic increases, track new customer contacts, and set goals.