Optimize your website for higher-quality leads and more sales
People use search engines such as Google and Bing every day, and to the average search engine user, the process can seem pretty simple. Type some words into the search bar and the search engine instantly delivers relevant results. In reality, the process is far more complex.
Each search engine has patented algorithms for ranking search results. Google uses more than 200 major factors and thousands of other signals to determine the most relevant website for each search. Results may differ based on device, location, previous searches and perceived intent.
Search engine optimization is the process that ensures your website gets its highest possible ranking in the organic search results. Key elements of SEO include:
On-page, such as keywords, content and metadata (words and signals in the site’s code);
Off-page, such as links to your site, clickthrough rate, reviews and overall web presence; and
Technical, such as site architecture, page speed load and types of code.
Measuring SEO success
There are many tools that can help you analyze and improve your SEO efforts. Two of the most important are Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Search Console tells you how Google interacts with your site, shows your inbound links and identifies issues with your site and optimization. Analytics provides information on the users that came to your site, how they found your site, what their actions were once they arrived and site performance metrics.
SEO success can be measured by how much traffic is delivered to your site, whether it is quality traffic, and most importantly, how much of that traffic converts from visitors to buyers. What counts is the bottom line — is your site generating higher-quality leads and more sales?
An ongoing process
Fixing SEO errors can generate an increase in both site ranking and traffic in just days or weeks, but overall SEO gains take a longer time — especially for new sites.
Google states that, in most cases, SEO providers need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefits.
As the search engine ranking algorithms are constantly changing, beware of utilizing outdated tactics that may now have a negative effect. Due to the complexity and potential impact of mistakes, most home service contractors use an SEO provider.
You will want to work with a reputable SEO company that will be a partner in your success. Each SEO company has their own approach and may include different tactics and efforts in their program. Be clear on your goals, know what is included in your contract and ensure you receive regular reports on actions and progress.
Working with an SEO provider
The good: Initial meetings should include a discussion of your goals, the proposed strategy, a timeline for activities and results, and how results will be measured. A good SEO provider will ask about your business to define target keywords and important locations, as well as request access to accounts, such as your website CMS, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business and social media.
Your SEO provider should communicate with you on a regular basis and provide deliverables, such as audits, a list of links gained, new content or optimization of existing content, and weekly or monthly reports. Expect to get suggestions for improvement that might include a content marketing plan, add-on SEO services such as link clean-up, speed fixes for your hosting company or analytics data you can apply to other marketing efforts.
Some things to look for are increases in website traffic from your service area and ranking improvements. Position shifts up and down on a daily/weekly basis is normal — you want to see an overall steady improvement and consistent average.
They should also ask what you are experiencing in your company. Successful results would include getting more contacts that convert to appointments and generate more revenue. Go over your company focus, promotions, and goals for the upcoming quarter. It is particularly important for HVAC contractors to adjust for the seasons. End the meeting with a plan for the next month.
The bad: A clear indication that an SEO provider may not be a good partner would be a lack of questions on their end about your business or for access to your accounts. Be wary if they don’t provide an audit of your site, report on actions they have taken or show results.
Another red flag would be if they don’t make recommendations and won’t share their techniques. It isn’t “secret sauce” — if an SEO provider is following best practices, they should be able to describe them.
The ugly: Be wary of guarantees of first position rankings and claims of quick results. An unscrupulous SEO provider may say they have achieved success by showing many first position rankings or taking credit for traffic increases. Upon closer examination, the rankings are for low or no-value keywords and the traffic increases come from bots or people outside of your service area, or even through your own existing marketing efforts.
Another warning sign is seeing poor quality “spammy” links to your site from other sites that are not relevant, don’t have valuable content, offer links for purchase or are from a foreign country. This is especially concerning if many links have optimized anchor text (the clickable words for that link) using targeted keywords such as “your city” plus air conditioning contractor. A sudden drop in rankings or traffic drops may indicate a penalty from Google caused by SEO activities that violate the guidelines.
What SEO services are right for your company?
The SEO services needed to maintain or improve your website performance will differ based on factors such as website maturity, current performance, competition to rank in your market, what is missing or needs to be fixed and levels of data that you want.
A new website on a new URL will require much more work than a mature site that already ranks well. Contractor websites in small population areas with low-volume search traffic and little competition need less effort than those in large, competitive markets. You will also want to consider your goals, budget and projected results.
Use this checklist to determine the SEO services available to you, to compare proposals from potential SEO providers or to review action plans with your current SEO provider. RJ 2.0