Be the Owner You Need to Be
February 1, 2013
Modern day marketers know a website is a requirement for doing business. But just putting up a website won't get you very far. Potential customers have to be able to find your company's website when they look for a home service provider on search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
So how do you get your website to show up? Search Engine Optimization. Also known as SEO, this is an ongoing process to ensure a website ranks in organic (non-paid) search results. The goal is to appear on the first page of results for as many search terms as possible, as only about 10 percent of searchers will look beyond that. As a business owner/manager, you should understand the basics of SEO to ensure your web team is using best practices.
Following are some basic SEO terms, helpful tips and cool free tools to review your website:
On Page & Off Page
SEO includes both On-page and Off-page optimization efforts. On-page includes placing specific words and phrases your customers might search (known as keywords) in your website content and code, and structuring your website to be easily indexed by search engines. Off-page SEO is primarily the process of gaining links to your site from other trusted websites. Some other Off-page factors that search engines value are age of your domain (the older, the better), length of your domain registration (5+ years is good;<1 year is not), traffic volume and social media engagement.
Determine the words for which you would like to rank
--Include both primary service/product words like plumbing and more detailed phrases (known as "long tail" keywords) such as "high-efficiency gas furnace," then use Google's Keyword Tool to see monthly search volume.
--Include location keywords like "Reno" so search engines will know your website is relevant when homeowners search for a business in their area.
-- Have enough occurrences of keywords in your content to make them stand out to Google as a pattern, but not so many that the visitor experience is ruined by awkward copy.
--Successful SEO targets keywords potential customers are searching for. Think of your customer's problems instead of the solution and include keywords they might use to describe their problems.
The most important thing you can do to improve search rankings is to have a unique, keyword-rich title tag describing each content page. Title tags tell search engines if the page is likely to be relevant so be sure to include location keywords. Title tags also appear as clickable links in search results, with words from the search query bolded to help people know the page is a match.
To see your title tags, hover your mouse over the page tab at the top of the page and a box will appear showing your full title tag. Or to easily see all the different tags and meta data used in SEO, download SEO for Firefox and use the SEO X-ray.
The keywords in your primary navigation are very important to search engines. Take advantage of this by using your most competitive primary phrases like electrician or heating rather than a non-descriptive term like services.
Placing specific keywords near the top of the page; bolding, italicizing, or underlining them; or using them as the text in a link, lets Google know that these are valuable.
The most important factor in Off-page optimization is getting links to your site from other relevant websites. Google considers these to be "votes" for your website. If a competitor ranks better in search results than your company when both sites seem equally relevant, they may have more, or higher-quality, inbound links. Quality factors include content relevancy and rank of the webpage the link came from. You can see the links to your website with Google Webmaster Tools. Or try www.OpenSiteExplorer.org, which is also a great way to see your competitors' inbound links.