As anyone who knows me knows, I LOVE finding new tools (toys:-) that make my work more relevant, effective and efficient. And the last few weeks have been a time of discovery. Not only did I recently partner with Boostability to help my clients expand their SEO efforts cost effectively, but I have also recently found new ways to do my Eyes on the Web® reporting that give my clients more comprehensive and detailed information in a more concise format.
These new tools also include;
an amazingly detailed Keyword Ranking Checker
a Google Local Tracker to see how your local page ranks against your competitors for your top keyphrases
a Citation Tracker (to check on the citations to your site compared to your competitors) and offer suggestions for new citations
a tool for creating Citations at many popular sites quickly and easily.
a handy widget for helping to increase the reviews of your site
a super-cost effective method for monitoring online reviews of your site at many popular review sites
If any of these services or services sound interesting to you, please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been doing SEO since before it was an “industry” like it is today. However, as time has gone on, I discovered that as a solo-entrepreneur it has become harder to offer all the services involved in good SEO on a long term, consistent basis. So, slowly, I stopped offering those services that were less cost effective for my clients and focused only on services that I knew would deliver value: basic on-site SEO based on comprehensive Keyword Research, Google AdWords Advertising, Google Analytics and other Internet Research)
That is, until I was introduced to Boostability.com (Thank you Betsy Brand!) I spent quite a bit of time talking with a representative at Boostability and I LOVE the way they work. They’re based here in the U.S., they offer a full complement of SEO services at a reasonable cost, they are fully transparent about the SEO tasks they complete each month. So, I become an affiliate. This allows me to focus on what I do best…helping businesses find the relevant information they need to improve their business on the internet and let a great company like Boostability handle the details of full service SEO.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not the magic answer to getting your website to show up at the top of the Google Search Results for every phrase remotely related to your business.
Google’s algorithm is constantly changing and being updated. Google’s goal is to provide relevant results to searchers. The Goal of SEO is to make sure that a website has enough information on it (in the right places) and enough signals pointing to it (links, social media, YouTube, etc. etc.) to let Google know when it legitimately SHOULD show up at the top of the search results.
SEO is also about making sure that people who KNOW they are looking for you can find you. See this post on Cocktail Party Searchability for reference.
Keep your perspective when optimizing your website. Recognize that just because a broad, generic phrase truly is relevant to your business, depending on how many other pages out there on the internet are also related, you may or may not be able to get high visibility for that phrase. Focus on providing really excellent, relevant information to your visitors. Answer the questions they have, help them solve their problems.
No matter how many times Google’s algorithm changes, if you make your site the best it can be and focus on providing relevant information, your SEO and other marketing efforts will work together to get your site the best possible visibility in the search results.
I know that there are a lot of SEO companies out there that charge businesses by the keyphrase. That is, pay us $150+ per month for top rankings for 3 keyphrases. At first, it sounds like a good deal, right? Someone promising that you can get TOP rankings for at least a few phrases.
But here’s the thing… a large percentage of all queries in the search engines are unique queries (I am researching my stats here, but seem to recall reading that it was up about 58%).
So do you really want to put all your SEO eggs in only 3 keyword baskets? I don’t think so.
The value of keyword research is finding the keyphrase variations that people most commonly use related to your business. But even that is only your best guess at which keyphrases to optimize on. As I have recently mentioned, AdWords can be a great way to refine your best guesses into real data, but even so… you’re always trying to figure out the phrases that lead to action. And it’s an ongoing game, not a “once and done” proposition. That’s why it’s so important to review your analytics to see which words, which visitors, which traffic turns into the best customer for your business.
Ok, I will get off my soapbox. Before you jump into a contract with someone charging you by the keyphrase, make sure you know enough about your own business to know if those few phrases are really going to generate new business.
One of the most important things for small business owners to remember about optimizing their websites is that you have to be sure that the people who KNOW they are looking for you can find you. I call this “cocktail party searchability.”
You’re at a party or other gathering. You meet someone. You think they might want to do business with you, but you don’t get as far as exchanging business cards. When they get home, will they be able to find your website online? What if they only remember your first name, last initial, what you do and where you are from… but that’s all. Can they Google and find you?
If yes, you have achieved “cocktail party searchability.” It’s a big plus for small business owners and solo-preneurs. Try it out. Make sure that the people who know they are looking for you can find you.
One of the most important things your website can do is provide relevant information to your site visitors. Ultimately, that’s all that really matters. Working like crazy to get “top rankings” for your site doesn’t matter if, when visitors get to your site, they can’t find what they are looking for.
This week we decided to try take-out from a local restaurant we haven’t visited before. I searched for them on Google (restaurant name + location) and their site popped up right on top – great! But when I got to the site, I searched and searched and could not find a phone number!? I was able to find the phone number by doing a search on Google+ for the restaurant, but wouldn’t you think someone visiting their site should easily be able to find a phone number? Even the Contact Us page only had an email link and no phone number.
This is just one small example of a website missing what a visitor might consider very relevant information. When developing the content of your website, it’s so important to shift viewpoints and see things from the perspective of your site visitor (clients or potential clients). What are they going to want to know about your business?
WHO you are
WHAT you do
WHEN and HOW they can reach you
WHERE you are
WHY they should do business with you
If your website is not answering these questions for your site visitors, easily and accurately, there’s no point in spending money to get great search engine rankings. Build your site for your visitors; provide relevant information, answer their questions. Then, and only then, think about how to get your site better visibility in the search engine results.
Social: Tw, 2; FB, NA, +1, 23 (note: FB stats do not appear to be correct, I know ASU has lots of likes)
Age, May 2013
Pages Indexed: 5
Social: Tw, 10; FB, NA, +1, 0
At first glance, based on these stats there is no way that farmboy should be outranking AllSmokedUp. But wait! Although farmboy’s business was started in October 2012, the website has a start date of May 2013. That’s only 2 months ago. It looks like they may be experiencing what I have seen frequently with Google results… a brief “moment in the sun” of great rankings within about 2-3 months of a new site starting up. I believe it’s part of Google’s algorithm that “rewards” recency and “newness” for a brief period before the site sinks back into the abyss for 6-8 months and then levels out to its “proper” position in the natural search results.
Well, it looks like we’re in a “wait and see” period. I’m going to watch these results and see if my theory holds… that this is the “moment in the sun” for that new site and there isn’t a conspiracy to boost the natural search results of sites that advertise on Google AdWords.
There are a lot of companies offering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) services. How do you know which one is going to be the best fit for your company and budget?
It helps to have an understanding of how search engines index and rank websites. Knowing how the search engines work and how competitive your important keyphrases are can help you judge how much assistance you will need to improve your website visibility. Google didn’t used to be as transparent as they are now about how the search results work. These days, you can get guides directly from Google on how to improve your website’s visibility.
Consider your budget, both the money you have available to spend on internet marketing and your time…. sometimes it’s better for you to invest some time in learning what needs to be done and doing it yourself. Google has a whole SEO guidebook filled with helpful information, that I highly recommend. However, if the whole idea of DIY SEO/SEM makes you break out in a sweat, it’s time to bring in some experts.
Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:
Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what time-frame? How do you measure your success?
What are your most important SEO techniques?
How long have you been in business?
How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is search engine advertising vs. search engine optimization. SEM agencies set up ad campaigns that show up on search results and/or related websites based on your company’s keywords and location. The primary overlap between SEO and SEM are the keywords you would like your site to be more visible for.
I primarily use Google AdWords for SEM and they have recently instituted an audit procedure for advertising agencies to be sure that the agency is being transparent about the keywords being advertised, the average costs per click and other statistical information about the campaigns. The questions to ask an SEM company are similar to those you would ask SEO firm. Make sure that they are willing to be transparent with you and share any analysis data that you ask for on a regular basis. Checking the analytics is the best way to know if your campaigns are working or not. If you’re interested in giving AdWords a try, let me know (I have coupons for new advertisers.)
As with most things, it helps to get a referral from someone you know and trust, ask around to get recommendations.