Confessions of an SEO Expert
“Hi, my name’s Phil and I've been neglecting my SEO.” I’ve been paying attention to my clients' SEO like a hawk, making sure we’re doing all the essentials: creating new content fixing broken links watching the competition increasing organic search visits and most of all pleasing their website visitors But I have to confess I’ve hardly changed a thing on our own website, so big surprise ... we’re not getting any organic leads. I'm coming clean because I want small business owners to see how vital it is that they communicate through content. I'll tell you in a bit how you can watch the transformation on our own website, and learn the tricks of the SEO trade while you're at it. I’ll get back to my confession in a moment, but if you’re a small business owner and you’re not sure what SEO is or how it can help you, let me give you the quick and dirty explanation. How SEO Can Help Your Small Business Grow You have a great product! Or you have a great service! People are already searching the Web for what you sell or do. So you want your website to be listed in their search results, so they can click through to your website and buy your stuff. Seems simple. But it absolutely will not happen without careful attention to your website content. How can you make your website findable by people who are already looking for what you do or sell? You optimize your website for search. You create web pages that tell people all about it, and make them want it … from you! And you use the right words in the right places. You avoid disappointing people with missing pages. You don’t try to lure them in with a promise you can’t deliver. It’s a simple concept, but doing it well is hard work. Work you’ll be glad you did for a long time. What happens in a Search? When people search on Google, Bing or any other search engine, they’re typing in keywords to find what they are looking for.
Search engines do their best to match up a searcher’s “query,” the words they type into the search box, with the content they anticipate will meet their needs. Google wants people to be happy with the websites it recommends to them. Google takes cues from all sorts of things and has a ton of data, so they’re pretty good at matching up searchers with what they’re looking for. The trick is to find out how people are searching for what you do, so you can capture their interest with your content. Search Is All About Content Search engines constantly scan websites, making note of what the pages are about so they can give a good recommendation. They look at how the page is formatted to draw clues on what is most important. They look at hidden metadata and tags to interpret images and videos. They are computers, so there are some very specific (and sometimes tedious) things you have to do help them, but for the most part if you please your audience, you’re good. Communicate well. Don’t just stuff paragraphs full of the words you think people are searching for. They’ll bounce, and you’ll lose credibility with the search engine. You have to do the hard work of writing. Not just a beautiful description of your product … you have to share your expertise … give us an idea of how to use that contraption we’re thinking of buying from you. Show the aspiring artists among us how you made that beautiful merchandise. We’re still going to get it from you … we know our DIY projects never turn out right! Put into words and pictures and video some of the heart and soul and knowledge that makes what you do so worth paying for. Tell us a story where we’re the hero and we’ll buy every time. How Do You Know If Your SEO efforts are working? If you’re putting in a lot of hard work, you’re going to want some validation – something that tells you it’s worth it! The main way we measure the effects of SEO is through the number of Organic Search Visits. That’s what we call it when someone types keywords into Google or Bing, sees your website in the results (below the ads), and then clicks. So in the broadest terms, the goal of SEO is to increase the organic search visits to your website. How do we know how many organic search visits we have? Most website owners use Google Analytics. That’s what we at Yardstick do, and getting back to my confessions, it’s not pretty. A Very Sad Story Want to see something sad? Here’s a look at traffic to the website over the last 7 days. The blue line represents total visitors. Ignore the first day … that’s a fluke. On average we’re looking at about 4 visitors a day. The orange line represents the organic visits, which are about 3 per day. That’s because for the last year we’ve relied solely on referrals for new business. We have done little to no content development or SEO for our website. We have no hope of being found on Google, without a paid ad. We need to work on our SEO! Want to See Us Grow? So we’ve mapped out our content and SEO strategy over the next 6 months, and we want to invite you to come along. Not only will we share with you how we’ve helped our clients grow, we’ll give you a front row seat as you watch the growth come home. Join us to see the transformation! Subscribe to our mailing list! Email Address * Subscribe How do you get more search traffic? Figure out exactly what you do Figure out what words people are using for what you do Create content that does a great job of matching up the two Prime the pump by getting links from other websites, social and email marketing, or paid search Keep up the content development You probably already know what you do. You tell others on the phone and in person every day. Maybe you are a bookkeeping firm who helps individuals and businesses keep their financial books straight, prepare tax returns. Those are the facts if you will. But are we using the words someone looking for your services would use? We have to find out. Doing Keyword Research – Or, “Spying on the competition” There is plenty of information available to those who will look, and a number of really good tools to help. The task at hand is to create a Keyword Plan. Exactly how to come up with a plan for your keywords is a topic for another day, but you can get started like this: List the words people use to describe what you do in broadest terms (in this case “bookkeeping.” Read your competition’s website for help. Find any common synonyms (in this case, “accounting”). Now go down a level to the specific products and services (“payroll,” “part-time CFO services,” “audits, reviews, compilations,”) and find those synonyms too. Now take these lists of words (each list is a keyword and its synonyms) and use a tool like Ubersuggest to find out how often people are searching for them. Sort these lists in descending order by number of searches per month, and there you have it … how people are searching for you. That gives you both a general list as a start for your home page, and specific lists for your products or services. The next part of your keyword plan is to decide which page you are going to optimize for which keyword. The page may already exist and just need fine tuning. Or you may need to create a new product/service page, or write a blog article. Subscribe to our mailing list! When we say “keyword” in search marketing, we mean a word or group of words. “Manure” is a keyword. “Cow manure” is also a keyword. “Slippery co…” well, you get the idea You’ll want to use the keywords frequently, but not robotically, within your content. Make it helpful to the humans, and the computers should be happy too You should also include the keyword in specific places that search engines are looking for, such as: Meta Title Meta Description URL path H1 Tag In the first paragraph of the page body Internal links to the page – You should link from one page to another, when it makes sense. But don’t link the words “click here,” link your keywords. When you create content that people will want to consume, it will drive them deeper into your site. Google will take notice, and feel good about sending traffic your way. Be sure to use catchy headlines, short and engaging phrases, helpful photos and graphics (with ALT text), and especially video. Now what? Once you have optimized your website according to your keyword plan you have started well. But SEO is a continuous process. Search engines favor new content, and search language changes over time. Update your pages every few months to show it’s still relevant. Review traffic to your content regularly and add to or enhance content that is getting the most traffic (here we are looking for Organic Search Traffic to particular pages). Use tools like Ubersuggest to make sure your website is free from errors such as missing pages and broken links. And follow guidelines for word count in places such as the Title, Meta Description, URL, etc. Keep on creating. It will likely be months before you start to see any increase in traffic, so don’t wait on results from your first page or article before writing your next. Think Like a Forrester, Not a Gardener SEO is a critical factor in a healthy website, but it’s not magic. Think of it more like planting a forest than growing a garden. It will take longer, but it will also live longer and continue to support other efforts. A healthy collection of winning content is the perfect companion to an advertising campaign. You can jump start your traffic. While the ultimate goal of SEO is attracting search traffic you don’t pay Google or Bing for, you can give the process a
boost with a small Paid Search or Social Marketing campaign. Traffic begets traffic. But do your SEO work first, or you won’t see the results you’re looking for. Ready to begin? We can help! If you find yourself ready to increase your organic traffic, but you know your time is already spoken for elsewhere, we can help you! Yardstick Digital Marketing can provide the keyword research, help you create and update content, and keep an eye on the SEO analytics of your website. You do what you do best! We’ll help with the rest. Any questions?