It's February 6th, Valentine's Day is coming up and you haven't bought your significant other anything yet. What do you do? Go on YellowPages (LOL)? Check your newspaper? No. Chances are, you pick up your smartphone and Google "florist" or "flower shop". You quickly get your results. Chances are you don't scroll past the top 3-5 results in your Google search. Less than 30% of us do. The florist who is ranked number 11? They may as well not exist online.
As a business owner, you want your business to be on the first page of Google. You want to be in the top 3 results when potential customers are searching for your products or services. But, how do you get to the top? The answer is a phrase you have probably heard 10000 times, but still don't quite understand it. Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the key.
Investing In SEO Can Take Your Website To The Top
SEO means creating, designing, and writing your website so that Google views it as a solid resource. As potential customers search Google, you want your website to show up as the most useful and relevant resource in relation to the user's search term. There is a lot that goes into optimizing your website so that it performs the best in Google searches. We will get to that, but first:
Google Is The Dominant Player When It Comes To Search Engines
You will notice that when it comes to Search, we really only discuss Google. This is for good reason. Around 90% of searches online, are done via Google. This is much higher in some areas. When it comes to investing your time and resources, I want you to spend it where it will have the largest impact. So, we will be focusing on how to get your website ranked high on Google through SEO.
Organic Search vs. Paid Ads On Google
Rethink Social is huge on organic search. Most SEO companies seem to focus on selling their customers on paid ads. While paid ads and ad words definitely have their place, organic search is critical if you want to take your business to the next level. There are two ways to rank first on search results, organic SEO and paid ads. I strongly believe that businesses need to invest in organic SEO so that their website has a consistent monthly visitor flow. Organic means that search results happen naturally, without the business having to boost results through spending on ads to rank them higher.
Google Ads or paid ads, are where you are paying per click (PPC). You pay a certain $ amount every time somebody clicks on your link. They are tied to certain keywords or phrases, for example, Toronto Physiotherapy. An easy example would be say someone wants to sell Batman costumes for halloween. they would want to pay for "superhero costumes" or "batman" whenever someone searches for those terms. These ads appear to the right or above organic search results. You can tell that they are ads because they have a shaded background and/or border. Not only can paid ads cost a fair amount, they garner less trust because people can see that they are clearly paid ads.
How Do Search Results Appear
Search results are basically a long list of websites with brief summaries for each. There are a couple notable exceptions to this -local three packs and quick answers.Local three packs are a list of the top three local businesses that fit a search query. They appear near the top of a search in a box. The box includes a map showing the location of each business. As you can imagine, businesses chosen for the three-pack are located geographically close to the person who is doing the Google search. Odds of being chosen for a local three pack are improved by making sure your business and its location are listed on online directories. Quick answers are a list of 5-6 most-often asked questions tied to a search. This why it's so important to have a Q & A on your website.
How Is The Order Of Search Results Determined?
The Google ranking algorithm has around 200 factors that go into it - everything from the pictures and words on your website to the amount of time that users spend on your page. Each factor is weighted differently by Google, some having significantly more importance. Strong content for example, is looked upon HIGHLY by Google. As you invest more and more into SEO, this highlights the importance of having amazing content. Don't be one of those people who scoffs at the ideas of a blog. If you're not very skilled when it comes to writing, hire someone.
Here are a few principles to keep in mind about SEO and Google search results:
Your goal should be to make your website work well and be a valuable resource for people. Do that, and Google’s computerized search bots, which spend their days trolling and evaluating all the websites in the world, will more than likely like it too.
In terms of SEO, you can’t care about everything, so determine what changes would do the most to improve your website’s ranking. Sometimes, you’ll need an outside expert to help you figure this out.
There is no magic formula. SEO is an art and science and requires research, experimentation, guesswork and evaluation. And, it is not a one and done project. SEO is on going, as Google is constantly tweaking the way it ranks websites in search results.
What's Your Business' and Website's Goal?
As you invest in your SEO, it is important to ask yourself "why do I want to improve my website's performance?"
For some people, they just want to create a valuable resource centre for others. A health or wellness clinic would have a different goal. Maybe to educate patients? Maybe to drive new patients into their clinic? Maybe both? For a shoe store that only sells online, they'd have different goals. To provide images and brief descriptions of the shoes they carry. As well as making it easy for people.
Write down your goals.
This is incredibly critical to your SEO success. And make it measurable. "Increase organic website traffic by 10% each month" is a measurable and realistic goal.
Rethink Social uses many sophisticates pieces of software to track and measure the impact of SEO. If you can't measure something, what are you doing?
5 Points To Consider While You Invest In SEO
1. Phrases and Keywords are Key To Your Success
Back in the day, people thought that keywords were all that mattered when it came to SEO. Throw a bunch of the correct keywords on your website and your SEO is done. This is far from accurate. SEO is much more complex. Keywords are still extremeley crucial. Proper keyword research is your first step. What are people typing into Google search when they are looking for your product or services? Then, use these words in your website content–and by content we mean copy, headlines, subheads, meta descriptions, taglines, etc.–in a meaningful way.
2. Does Your Website Do It's Job?
Google will send users to the website that provides the best information on their search terms or questions. You need to know exactly what people are typing in and target this accordingly.
3. AN FAQ Or Q & A Page Is a Quick Way To Improve SEO
Why provide an FAQ? It is a great way to quickly answers your visitors questions. People like easy. Not only does it quickly answers potential customer's questions, it also improves your Google ranking. If you do it right, your FAQ may even end up as the "quick answers" box on Google, which appears at the top of many search results.
4. Consistent Website Content
It makes me cringe when I see website that haven't been updated in 2-3+ years. This is especially common in health and wellness. Don't be that person. This will sink your Google ranking AND it makes you appear unprofessional to potential new customers. It's as simple as updating your main page's content, refreshing a blog post, updating photos, this all makes you more compelling to the Google search bots. Your business' content marketing strategy doesn't need to include posting daily blogs. You can post twice a month and it will greatly help your SEO, as long as the posts are well thought out, thorough and in depth.
5. Get Website Visitors To Stay Longer and Increase Engagement
Google also looks at website engagement, so it is crucial to keep visitors on your website as long as possible. Here are some ways to improve engagement.
Include internal links to related information. If you wrote a blog about how to correctly use a snow shovel, link back to it as you write about your best selling shovel. Same goes for a YouTube video you might have posted on your website that shows snow shoveling do’s and don’ts. When you include these links, visitors will click on them to see this additional, related information, and they will stay on your site longer.
Encourage customer reviews and comments. Provide a way for customers to review your products and comment on service. Customer reviews and comments show that you are connected to your customers. And the better the reviews, the better for your business, of course.
Display professional connections. Linking to other reputable sites is often a good thing. For example, if you own a hardware store and are a member of the National Remodelers Association, the Better Business Bureau or other professional association, point out that your business has this connection and include a link to these organizations. A link from an authority website is a vote of confidence.
Make linking to social media easy. Make your social media links visible and obvious. When your website visitors use them, it connects you with other potential customers and it improves your SEO.
Make Your Website Easy To Navigate To Improve SEO
Strong website design makes it easy for users to navigate your website and find the information that they're looking for quickly and easily. Being mobile friendly is also key in 2018.
Is It Time For a Website Redesign?
If you haven't redesign your website in the last 2-5 years, it is probably time to bite the bullet and invest in your business. Some signs that it's time to update? Your website is starting to look dated, cluttered, and takes a while to load, and isn't helping your business grow. Modern websites with fresh and sleek design do best when it comes to search results. Like a shiny new Tesla vs. a 1993 VW Hatchback.
Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
I notice that in some areas it is evenly split when it comes to people searching on a laptop vs smartphone. In most though, it is heavily dominated by smartphones, many times above 90%. Focus on universal design. This means that your design works on any screen, anywhere. Making your website mobile friendly is an easy way to improve your ranking and stay ahead of your competition.
Get rid of bad backlinks and outdated information
Google’s computerized search bots lean toward websites that adhere to good housekeeping. In web terms, that means regular “cleaning,” in several critical areas. For example, weird websites can get linked to yours. These links damage your site’s credibility and hurt your status in search rankings. We recommend that our clients upload a disavow file to their Google Search Console file every few months. This allows you to see who is tied to your website that shouldn’t be and toss them out!
Write your own title tags, URLs and meta descriptions
There are many behind-the-scenes ways to customize your website, and using them improves SEO. Most content management systems (CMS) make it easy to write your own descriptions. Here are several elements I recommend that you take the time to customize:
These descriptions show up in the tab of your browser when you open a new page. They are like a website’s headlines. You should take the time to make them accurate and complete descriptions.
These text blocks–just a few hundred characters– show up when Google picks up a page from your website for its search results. By writing these descriptions yourself instead of letting Google grab a piece of content from the page, you can make sure that that copy includes key words or phrases and also give the user a clear and concise snippet that tells them why they should click on your site for more information.
Every page of your website has a URL. If you don’t customize it, your CMS system will simply spit out a name like this http://acmecorp.com/styled-4 instead of http://acmecorp.com/services.
Your customers might search for a product or service through Google image search so take the time to write descriptions of your images using your CMS system. Without the descriptions, your images won’t appear in Google Image search.
Learn The Basics of SEO - Your Business Depends On It
You may have opened your business because you're a skilled doctor or maybe you know more about shoes than anyone you know and can sell them like hotcakes in person. But ignoring SEO is a huge mistake. As a business owner, you may not be responsible for your website, but it's still important to have a basic understanding of how SEO works so that you can:
1. Improve your SEO results without wasting time and money
2. Know what will help your website perform better on Google and bring in more new customers
By implementing these easy to do suggestions, you can start to improve your Google ranking immediately. Your SEO expert will be able to tell you which work best with your business' goals. If you do choose to hire someone externally, make sure they ask you questions and give you reasons for any changes that they want to make. If you don't understand, ask. If they can't explain it clearly and simply, they do not understand it themselves.
Happy Growing :)