This is an old joke nowadays:
Q: “Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?”
A: “The second page of Google search results”
I know… it’s not even funny. But the fact is, unless you’re right at the top of the page when someone searches, nobody will ever find you.
A lot of business owners have a half-hearted attempt at SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, before giving up completely and leave it in the too-hard basket. I understand this because it can feel confusing and overwhelming. The thing is, once you understand the elements involved, you might be surprised at your success.
Think of SEO as being like an octopus. You need to satisfy each ‘tentacle’ to get that coveted first place on search results.
To do this, you need a multi-faceted approach which covers two things: content and credibility. Basically, you must give people a reason to visit your website, that’s the content. Then, you have to give Google a reason to believe your website is worth visiting – adding credibility.
Since we’re seeing SEO as an octopus, I’ve broken this post down into eight steps for Google domination.
#1 Define keywords and search terms
Let’s say you’re a business coach and you’re based in our nation’s capital, Canberra. Sure, ‘business coach’ is a search term which is relevant to you and you should include this on your website. But unless you have a zillion bucks, you’re not going to reach the top of Google’s search results page for that term. There’s simply too much competition.
Here are some more search terms this type of business should consider adding to its website:
- Canberra business coach
- Small business coach in Canberra
- Affordable business coach
- ACT business coach
- Best business coach in Canberra
When choosing your keywords, use a combination of what you believe people will naturally type into their browser and recommended Google search terms. To discover these terms, one simple way is to type a basic search term into Google, then to scroll down and see what else Google recommends. For ‘business coach canberra’, Google also recommends ‘small business coach canberra’, ‘professional coach canberra’, and ‘executive career coaching canberra’.
Some other keyword research tools include:
To build on your basic keywords, consider more so-called ‘long-tail’ search terms. For example, a business coach may write a blog post for their website titled ‘How much does a business coach cost?’ as a way of attracting people who are in the market for this kind of service.
More about blogs shortly….
#2 Revise page titles and metadata
To view the page title of a webpage you are visiting, hover over the tab at the top of the page. It should describe what the business does, saying something like ‘Effective small business coaching | Canberra’.
The closer your page titles match your keywords, the better, especially when it comes to SEO. If you are on WordPress or pretty much any other platform, your page titles should be easy to edit.
Metadata is the content you use to describe an individual page. When done well, metadata will include search terms and will stop at around 130 characters in order to be easy to read.
Here’s a metadata example from a garage door company in Sydney. It is highly ranked amongst search results when you type ‘affordable garage doors’.
[This site is doing well with its metadata, however, a red flag may change this company’s SEO ranking very soon – I’ll tell you why shortly]
You don’t have to use the same search terms in the metadata on every page of your site. In fact, it can be better to mix it up so as to attract a wider audience of web browsers.
#3 Create original content
For a long time, the saying has resonated across the marketing world, “Content is king!”
Google and other search engines like sites with plenty of content to engage and inform the people who want to use them. This is why regular blog posts, videos, opinion pieces, researched articles and infographics are imperative when it comes to ranking well on Google.
With every piece of content you add to your site, look to use your keywords. Make it interesting and helpful to the people who may be looking for services like yours. As much as possible, post regularly so Google’s algorithm can tell your website is being actively updated.
[Here’s another Canberra business which performs well in search results. You can see here the title is a potential search term for its target audience of business owners]
Once you have created and posted content, share it! Send links in e-newsletters to your database and add updates to your social media account. Post on Twitter and tag influencers in your field. If they share it you could boost your website traffic considerably.
Another thing Google ‘likes’ is seeing traffic coming to your website from lots of different sources so spread that content far and wide.
#4 Review your traffic
Google likes website which people come to from many different places and which they stay on for a decent amount of time.
If you don’t have it already, add Google Analytics to your site so you can see how people are coming to your website, how long they are staying and which pages they are visiting. You can use this information to constantly tweak and optimise your website performance.
For example, if you notice a rush of traffic to one of your blogs, you may wish to write a series of posts on the same topic in order to gain more exposure. You may also want to consider creating a paid Facebook campaign to promote the post and therefore expose your product to even more people.
#5 Google My Business
Setting your business up on Google My Business is straightforward and free. Simply visit google.com/business to get started.
The advantage of using this free service is that you add your location, your opening hours and your contact details. This means that when people pick up their smartphones and ask “Where is the nearest XXX?”, Siri (or Google Assistant) will be more likely to recommend your business. Even better, if they ask “Find a phone number for the nearest XXX”, they can be on the phone and speaking to you in seconds.
What’s more, once you have added yourself to Google My Business, you can start asking your customers to upload reviews. The more five-star reviews you have, the higher your chances are of being one of the top ranked results in Google search.
[Search for ‘best pizza Canberra’ and Briscola is one of the top results thanks to its strong review score on Google My Business]
Google My Business is imperative as we enter the age of voice activated search. Instead of looking at listings, people will be asking Siri for help. They won’t look further than the first result if it provides the information they are seeking.
#6 Site performance
The next aspects of SEO don’t require a huge amount of work from your end as the business owner because they relate to site quality.
To improve your ranking on search results, your site needs to load quickly. Anything over three seconds (it seems short but it is an age nowadays) will result in people clicking off your website. This is a double-whammy as Google will notice people don’t stay long and will decide you’re not all that great.
Check your site performance by visiting Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ to see how your site performs on both desktop computers and mobile screens. This conducts a quick analysis and will tell you which areas can be improved on.
[This simple tool tells you how quickly your site loads for the average visitor]
Once you have had a look at your site performance, talk to your developer about how to optimise it.
#7 Site security
I previously shared Ace Garage Doors as an example of a company doing well in search results thanks to its clear and concise metadata and its strategic use of keywords.
However, you may have noticed a little grey ? icon at the end of the page title. This is from a plugin which flags ‘unsecure’ websites. At the time of publishing, Ace Garage Doors has an http://, rather than an ‘SSL secured’, https:// link. This means it does not have an added security layer protecting the site’s visitors from hackers.
Come July 2018, Google will be penalising these types of sites and will give them lower search result ranking. Now is the time to add SSL security in order to maintain your SEO status in the second half of the year.
This is another one for your developer. Give them a shout and ask them to upgrade your site. An upgrade shouldn’t cost more than a couple of hundred dollars and your digital marketing team will thank you.
#8 Be mobile friendly
You’re sabotaging your business if your website is not secure and doing yourself even fewer favours if your site is not mobile responsive.
It is a fact that more online searches are conducted on phones rather than desktop computers nowadays. If you are providing a bad user experience on mobile, not only will people click away, Google will decide your site is pretty schmeh and it won’t recommend it to users.
You do not need two different websites! Almost every web-building platform allows for ‘responsive’ sites which learn if they are being accessed on mobile and display themselves accordingly.
[Mexican fast food chain GYG displays nicely on a mobile and allows customers to order ahead from their phones]
If your mission is to reach the high heights of incredible search results, you must first and foremost have a great looking website. It must be optimised with the right search terms and keywords to allow your users to find you. Finally, as much as possible, you must encourage traffic to reach your site from all angles, not just from search results.
Paid advertising is also a strategy to ‘win’ when it comes to Google. Have a chat to us today about which approach is best for your business.
Related Tag: Marketing Automation Consultant