Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of programming your website to be properly indexed in search. Search engines look for specific information to categorize and index all the pages on the internet. Poorly configured websites that can’t be read by search engines can’t be indexed by them and generally have a hard time appearing in search.
First, let’s get one thing strait. There is no secret that will magically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but there are many small modifications that can be made to parts of your site to improve its search performance. Modifying your site incrementally can lead to small improvements, and combining these enhancements with a good online strategy will make the improvements more substantial.
Don’t lose focus on the purpose of search engines. They want to be used by users, and they want to help them find what they are looking for. Think about it this way, every search typed into Google – or dictated to Siri for that matter – is essentially a problem that a user is looking to solve. Either they need information, a product, or a service and they want to find the best solution to their problem.
When we find a client who is the best or has the best solution to a problem related to a specific search phrase and they don’t rank number one, we get excited. This is a really good fit for us because all the challenges related to getting the top spot are merely technical.
Example 1: Being discovered for a specific search phrase
For example, you are a dentist and want to consider the search phrase “best rated dentist in Winnipeg.” This search is a specific factual question. The user needs to know who the best rated dentist is. A good SEO professional will be able to see what ratings are factored into the rank position. This will be a mixture of signals from the local news, online reviews, and other factors such as location and device. If you have the best ratings and you are not appearing in search then you have a problem. Any decent SEO expert will identify and remove the technical barriers preventing the search engines from getting all the facts correct and easily help you.
It’s harder when your not the best rated dentist and think you should show up for the search phrase “best rated dentist in Winnipeg.” Some misguided SEO companies will try to skew the facts or provide misleading signals to the search engines. They may publish links from puppet accounts declaring you as the “best rated … ” or they may inflate your review scores with fake testimonials. This approach can sometimes work but 1) is very risky, 2) takes effort, and 3) is temporary. If your SEO provider attempts to skew information in this way, then your honest efforts are also jeopardized. The search engines need to protect their credibility and they won’t trust you anymore once you are discovered.
What makes us different is that we don’t play these games. If we determine that particular search phrase has value, then we prescribe ways earn the exposure, not fake it. In this case: get more honest positive reviews. When you are the best rated, you will be discovered because people are searching for “the best rated dentist in Winnipeg.”
Remember that each search phrase is a unique problem that needs to be solved by a user. The first example above addressed the technicalities of a single – very specific search phrase. The assumption was that the search phrase was valuable.
The value of a phrase to your business will vary with geography, device, and market. Phrases change with time. Some phrases carry a lot of competition while others do not. When you thing about search as a sequence of problems then solutions then you will see the economic parity. Economics (and business) centre around filling needs. When a particular search has a solution which matches the needs of your target market, the search is valuable to you.
The single most important marketing tool is analytics. Website analytics help to understand the traffic on your website. Search Console (Google) and Web Master Tools (Bing) help you understand search traffic related to your website. Social media admin panels provide insight into your social audiences. And third-party tools can provide insight into your competitors. Analytics will indicate the volume of traffic and can be used to segment the traffic by topics, themes, or search phrases.
You can use advertising tools to determine the cost of certain phrases which will give you an idea of what your competitors are willing to pay for. These same tools will often include an estimated traffic volume which is also useful. You will likely want to appear for the best of the best keywords, and that will take a lot of work. However when starting out, it’s always good to look for the low hanging fruit – which are the longer keywords you can easily rank for (or already do).
Conversion tracking is one of the easiest ways to track valuable customers and how they behave across your web properties. A conversion is a measurable activity that has tangible value to your business. Phone calls, quote requests, e-commerce sales are all measurable conversions.
Example 2: The long-tail search phrases no one else thinks of
For example, you are a pizza joint. Your website has analytics and you have a Facebook page that your staff operate. You find that you are getting a lot of calls for vegan pizza with Greek olives. Because you are smart, you know to check your website analytics. You see a recent spike in on your menu page. The traffic is all coming from Facebook. You view your business page on Facebook and the Insights tab shows you that one of your recent posts is getting a lot of engagement. In fact, you are getting about an order for every 10 engagements. Reviewing the post, you see a local hockey player just commented favorably on your vegan pizza and recommended getting it with the Greek olives. You have identified a niche phrase that you can convert into customers.
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