One of the most exciting things that can happen to a business is for it to get a #1 ranking in Google and suddenly the phone won’t stop ringing. Over 90% of the clicks go to the top 10 results in Google. Getting a good rank is important to many businesses. Try these 10 ideas for improving your rankings:
Continuous Keyword Research
When you use the same words and phrases on your website that your audience is using in their search, you’re one step closer to signing a new client. This is the cornerstone of any SEO plan. That’s why it’s so important to do research on how your future customers use Google to find the services you provide. There are several ways you can do this:
- Ask your current customers what they’d type into Google to find services like yours. This is going to be a great jumping off point for your research and the insight they give is invaluable. If you have a large customer base I’d recommend sending a survey out over email. This will allow you to cultivate a large number of responses in a short amount of time as well as give you a large sample of search terms.
- Another great resource is your current team. They know your product inside and out and know the problems it solves. Members of the sales team and those who answer the phones are especially valuable because they talk to customers and prospects on a regular basis and hear the questions they ask. Be warned though – your team may suffer from the Curse of Knowledge and give you biased feedback.
- If you run a pay-per-click campaign you should regularly dig into your Google Analytics data and see how people are getting to your site. Look specifically at the phrases they’re using when your ads are generated. Most of the search phrases are generic or don’t apply to you but as you dig through the data you’ll find some keyword gems that you never thought of but speak directly to your target market.
- An important but undervalued offering is Google Webmaster Tools. We won’t get into all the components of the toolkit but the one should look at is the “Search Queries” report. You’ll find it under the “Search Traffic” menu. The Search Queries report shows you search queries that returned your URL as a result. This data is valuable because it shows queries in which people clicked through to your site and those where you didn’t get a click.
- There are tons of tools out there to assist in your research. Since you can find extensive lists in other places, we’ll leave our recommendations to two of our favorites: Google Keyword Planner and Uber Suggest.We don’t do any kind of keyword research without using both of these tools.
Optimize the Keywords on Your Pages
Where and how you place your keywords on your page makes a huge difference in how you rank. Your page titles are the most important and are most effective when your targeted keywords are at the beginning of the page title. This makes sense because the page title, much like the chapter title in a book, tells the reader what the page will be about. You’ll also want to make sure the exact phrase is parsed throughout the page. If it’s possible, you’ll also want to make it stand out a little as a header and as bold or italicized text.
Create Unique Pages for Each Offering
Differentiating your pages makes it easy for Google to know what your page is about and how to rank it. For example, an auto repair shop should have one page for tires, one for engines, one for radiators and one for brakes. It eliminates confusion because Google doesn’t have to ask, “Is this page more about brakes than radiators?” Your customers will like it better too because it allows them to quickly find the information they’re looking for without having to scan through a lot of irrelevant information.The rule of thumb is: One Page, One Keyword, One Focus. This means that one page should be built one keyword grouping. This page should have one focus/desired action for the visitor (like scheduling an appointment). In the instance of the auto repair shop, this could be to talk about it’s “Signature Brake Service”. You don’t want to talk about the brake service, the latest recall on brakes and how NASA is developing new, space-age brakes for the Mars Rover as this would cause too much confusion.
Take Control of Local SEO
Did you know that 25-35% of searches (and higher on mobile) are for local businesses? And if you’re a business like a restaurant or a plumber, that number is even higher. The first step in ranking well for local searches is to make sure you have a local business page. Google, Bing and Yahoo all have their own directories and you’ll want to make sure you have a business listing in each one. It’s important that your listing is uniform across all listings too. There is evidence that suggests a minor difference in two listings like having Blvd in one and Boulevard in the other can impact your ranking. Do you use tracking numbers on your website? That would affect your ranking so be sure to weigh the pros and cons of all your decisions.
Encourage Customers to Leave Positive Reviews
You could make the argument that this could go under “Take Control of Local SEO” but it’s important enough to have it’s own point.Reviews are important for two reasons. First, they have a direct impact on your local rankings. If you have dozens of positive reviews across the major review sites, then Google is going to give you a boost. You’re more likely to show up in the local rankings too. This is known as the 3-pack and the 10-pack.Second, if you have lots of positive reviews, you’re more likely to get more customers.Think about this scenario for a second. There are three new restaurants in your neighborhood that you’re considering visiting on date night with your spouse. One has twelve 5-star reviews and four 4-star reviews. The second has one 5-star review, seven 3-star reviews and ten 1-star reviews. The third has one 5-star review and one 2-star review. Which one are you going to visit?If you’re like most people, you’re going to eliminate the second restaurant right off the bat. It just doesn’t sound like it’ll be a good experience. How would you decide between the first and third? If you’re adventurous or if it has the style of food you’re craving, you might try the third. But most of your customers want to play it safe and go with the restaurant that has the highest reviews.
Build Links to Your Site
Getting links to your website from other websites has always been and always will be (at least for the foreseeable future) a key component to ranking well in Google. Think of each link you get as someone endorsing you and your website. Most websites are small and carry a small endorsement. But some websites are large and influential (like Fortune magazine or ESPN.com) and carry a lot of weight. You’ll also want to know your audience. If you have a site that sells parts for old Corvettes then a link on a car-enthusiast site is much better than a link on grandma’s knitting club website. Here is a great resource to learn more about link building: http://moz.com/blog/category/link-building.
Have a Variety of Anchor Text
For those who don’t know, “anchor text” is simply the word, phrase or text that is used in the link. In our 6th point, the anchor text is the same as the URL to the webpage. Here is another example of anchor text will send you to my LinkedIn profile: Denver’s most handsome internet marketer.Anchor text from outside websites is an important component of the ranking algorithm. However, like most other components of Google’s ranking factors, people began to abuse it. It used to be that you could obtain a very high ranking for specific phrases just by having lots of links with that same phrase as the anchor text.Now Google wants to see a variety of anchor text (which is more natural way for links to point to your site) and it will raise flags if all 200 links to your site are the same.As an example, anchor text a realtor might expect to see to his website include: Denver real estate agent, Fred Smith – Realtor, agent and Denver Realtor. A wide variety of anchor text amongst many links will help you rank well and keep you off of Google’s radar.
Learn to Use Follow, NoFollow and Canonical
A lot has been written about these three terms and they can be used effectively to make your site trustworthy and SEO friendly but here are the basics that will cover most of your needs:Follow – this is a piece of code you put into the HTML of a link to tell Google and the other search engines “I’m linking to this site and it’s one that I know and trust.”
NoFollow – This isn’t quite the opposite of above but it essentially says, “I’m linking to this site but I’m not endorsing this site.” This is used most often for paid advertising on your site or on pages where anyone can post a link (like blog comments or profile pages).Canonical – You’ll see this in the code of pages of large websites or websites with dynamic content. Occasionally you’ll have pages on your site with duplicate content. When this happens, the search engines can get confused as to which page it should count as the “original” page. The canonical tag solves that problem by telling the engines which page should count as the primary resource.When you have time, look up follow and nofollow.
Submit Your Sitemap to Google & Bing
This is a quick-and-easy tip that I see many businesses skip. You can set up both in minutes and begin to reap dividends in days. You’ve probably heard of a sitemap but you may not be totally sure of what one is. In the most simple terms, it’s shows the location of all the pages on your website. (Get it – it’s a MAP of your webSITE.)If you’ve designed your site in a popular CMS like WordPress or Joomla, then you can install free software to generate a sitemap for you. You then register your site with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools and do a copy-and-paste of the auto-generated URL of your sitemap. As you add more pages to your website, this page is automatically updated. The next time Google or Bing crawl your sitemap, they’ll see you’ve added a new page and they’ll add it to their crawl list. It’s a great way to let the search engines know where all of the pages are on your website and improves your chances of getting more visitors from search.
Create a Blog and Update It Regularly
The search engines love to see regularly-updated blogs on your website but there are a couple of rules you need to follow:First – You and your organization have to be committed to blogging. Treat it like you would any other project and set goals, deadlines and involve different people from your team. At the very least, you should update your blog once a week. And if you ever go a lengthy period of time without adding to the blog, remove it. Have you ever visited a website whose blog was last updated in 2012? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see that? If you’re like you ask yourself, “I wonder if this company is still in business?”Second – Speak to your target audience. I love cat videos as much as the next guy but does it really belong on your business blog? While you can make the occasional exception for silliness, you’ll want to be laser focused on providing content that reinforces your position as an expert in the field. Ask yourself, “Is this a question a customer has asked me before?” If so, write a blog about it. Also ask, “What are problems common to my customers?” Write blogs about those as well.Third – Keep an eye on the comments. Don’t be surprised if customers ask questions or write complaints in the comments section of your blog – it’s their way of reaching out to you. Embrace this part of the communication process!
If you are diligent about following these 10 tips, you’ll see your rankings improve tremendously!
What tips would you add to this list? Add them in the comments below!
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