9 Ways SEO Can Boost Your Sales
How does your website rank in a Google search? Are you in the top two pages? If not, you’re losing business to your competitors.
For example, if you owned an environmental lab, you should be on the first or second page of search results when people search on Google for terms like,
- Asbestos analysis
- Environmental lab
- Fungi analysis
- Industrial hygiene laboratory
- Mold testing
The target is to get you into the top twenty items for as many of your key search terms as possible. Google is the most important search engine since most of searches are done there.
Optimizing your website for Google and more
There are two basic steps to create an effective website presence. The website must first of all be built for your customers so they judge it to be everything they could ask for and more. Secondly, it needs to be optimized so that the search engine robots come to the same conclusion.
The criteria that robots (called “bots” or “spiders”) use to judge the quality of a website is always changing. Google, for instance, has a team of scientists who work develop secret algorithms by which Google bots rank each website. There are hundreds of aspects their robots look for and based on these criteria Google automatically ranks your site toward the top of the list or moves it towards the bottom.
SEO consists of some nine basic steps:
1. Optimize Basic Site Structure
Some websites need an online sign-up form to gather identities or a place to download content. This first step also includes things like setting up a site map and establishing your “preferred domain.” Many websites are listed both with and without the “www” in their name. That cuts your ranking power in half since search engines have to keep duplicate copies of each page as addresses. In other words, one address or the other needs to be set as your “preferred domain.”
2. Market/Competitor Keyword Analysis
Search terms and key words are carefully examined, starting with your chief competitors to see what keywords they use. Which keywords are they strongest on? What are the most searched-for keywords in your industry? What terms have the most competition? What terms are your competitors weak on? What terms are used in your content and which are omitted if any? From this a strategy is developed as to the key phrases we should be using to bring traffic to your site.
To illustrate: the broader the search term, the more websites there are fighting for that listing real estate. For example, “asbestos” for an ecological lab is not a good search term because that will bring up 24,000,000 results: not only labs, but asbestos definitions and data from the EPA and scientific sources, cancer researchers and regulators, removal, asbestos-related lawsuits, medical websites relating to asbestos exposure. In short, you have 24 million fish competition for 20 worms. A search term like “asbestos lab” improves the odds considerably. Instead of 24 million, there are 1,910,000 results. “Industrial hygiene laboratory” improves the odds again down to 898,000 results.
3. Develop an SEO Strategy
From this rather large study, a strategy must be developed. Should the example lab go with “Industrial hygiene laboratory” because of the low relative competition? Or should they go with “testing lab” because that is more commonly what people search for? What terms precisely do people search for?
There are methods of finding out what exactly people do search for. For example, I can tell you that more people search for “toxicity testing labs” than they do “testing lab.” But more people search for “testing lab” than they do for “lab testing” or “testing labs” (plural).
|Looking for a lab?|
|Or are you looking for a lab?|
Furthermore, most people searching for “lab” are not looking for a laboratory, but a dog. There are virtually no searches for “industrial hygiene laboratory.” A significant number of people search for the misspelling “labratory” instead of “laboratory.” Most people searching for the term laboratory are looking for information on Dexter’s Laboratory – a cartoon on the Cartoon Network.
All this should make it more clear why it requires considerable research and a strategy to navigate around or through such hazards and take advantage of your competitor's weaknesses. The target is to find as many “long string” keyword phrases so as to drive qualified public to your door.
4. Optimizing Site Architecture & Navigation
The results of this in-depth evaluation materially influence the design of the web site as well as the way the site is structured and coded. Placing keyword-rich text on web pages won't increase search engine visibility unless crawler-based search engines can easily access that text. A site's design, page layout, navigation scheme, and information architecture are just as important as search engine friendly copy. Web pages should be created in such a way that the site will receive good ranking by search engines. If they aren’t, then any omissions have to be repaired.
For example, are your top keyword search terms used in the titles of your pages and articles? Are they used in the navigation menu so that they appear in your address line?
Furthermore, there are two text tags potentially appended to every image, yet another way to drive traffic to your site. These tags should incorporate your key search terms as often as possible. Moreover, every page has keywords and a meta description appended to it, which is definitely something search engines look at.
5. Content Creation or Modification
In the field of SEO, content is king. This is why it is necessary to have encyclopedic information, a reference library, tutorials, help center, or knowledge center, on each subject of your website. When Google hands out a website in response to a search, they don’t know for sure what you’re looking for. By handing out a high quality website with plenty of excellent content, they are able to cover their bases. That increases the value of Google in the eyes of users. That is why there is no substitute for good quality, relevant articles and information. Having good content means that Google’s customers will be happy if they rank your website over someone else’s. So, do you have enough articles? This foundation-up type of approach is essential for long term results. This can encompass a good deal of writing and rewriting.
Articles must use your keyword search terms with a certain frequency. Too much and you get penalized. Too few and it will seem that your articles are not relevant to the website. In these examples, your website will be penalized with a lower ranking. There are also default error pages included in your website. These can be modified to include keywords and links because search engines read them!
Another important way of enhancing content is to include downloads, tutorials and articles such as a “FREE Consumer Report – Dangers of Toxic Mold” that people can download. Your website starts to become an information resource and that drives traffic to your door.
6. Index Verification and Exclusion
Some websites have material that search engines read which is counter productive to your web ranking. This needs to be checked for and any extraneous pages/materials need to be purged from your website.
7. Internal Linking
Internal linking is important to good ranking. This can be enhanced so as to deliver a more effective result.
For example, where a website might say “…Founded in 1987, the company today is a recognized leader in the laboratory industry providing specialized testing for asbestos, lead paint, and indoor air quality.” By creating a link from the section I bolded to the pages in the website discussing this in more detail, the web engines will record “specialized testing for asbestos” along with the page those words link to. Should someone search for “specialized testing for asbestos” – bingo, Google will have a link fitting that exact phrase and will be more likely to hand out our specific environmental lab upon that search request.
8. Submissions to Search Engines
Your web site needs to be submitted to the search engines. There is no guarantee they will find it at all unless it is submitted to them. In other words, we have to say, “Hey, we have a website here! This is the address. Here is a site map showing all the pages you can index.” This has to be done by hand, formally and individually for each search engine supplying to them a site may in a particular format called an “.xml” file.
9. Basic External Link Building
Lastly, comes is External Link Building. One gauge of site quality that the search engines look at is popularity. This is demonstrated in how many other websites link back to your website?
External links are not something you acquire passively. You have to go out and get them and there are many tricks of the trade in making this happen. One way is to write articles and then submit the articles (linking back to your site) to various websites that carry articles on various subjects. There are also referral websites. There are forums that can be responded to giving a link back to your site. Another way to generate external links is to start a blog with valuable information. People who discover it and who like it, will link to your blog and that creates an external link to your website – a major factor in improving your website ranking.
Long-term SEO success is based on relevant content, competitor analysis and a continual tweaking and monitoring of all the nine categories outlined above. The market and your competitors shift over time as,
- New websites come online
- New content is added on other sites and/or new links are created
- Your competitors may hire SEO people to improve their popularity
As these factors change, your market share (ranking) may vary. To stay on top of your rankings, one needs to monitor the market and maintain your rankings by working at it on a continuing basis. For a systematic, methodical program to monitor your web site I can offer the following:
- Tracking of keywords and long-string keyword phrases such as “asbestos lab testing in Kansas”
- Regular evaluation of site statistics.
- Strategic adjustment to your web site as needed. Required copy can be written by me. Or if you choose to develop your own copy, I can provide guidelines for you to follow so that your content includes the keywords and phrases that will help you the most.
- Recommend changes. For example, if you have a video on your website Google often will rank you higher.
- I will create a monthly report presenting up-to-date information on how many people visit your website, what the most popular pages are, etc. If people drop off on a certain page in the website, we can see where we lose them and act to fix that.
- Link building to get you as many external links as possible. This requires research into your field, posting on forums, and creative writing.
Ultimately, content is king. Once your site is structured correctly and designed well, it is still the content that will ultimately influence your rankings the most.
Any copy I create will be done with Search Engine Optimization in mind, so that you receive not only excellent copy that sells your customers on the value of your services, but also sells search engines on ranking your website higher.
Speed of Results
Few SEO professionals will guarantee ranking every website among the first pages of Google. Some industries are much MUCH harder than others. However, it IS often possible. Standard and intelligent measures to optimize your website are well within the budgetary reach of most businesses.
Immediate results are also not always possible. Speedy results depend in part on factors beyond our control. To wit, search engines have to crawl the site, index it and bring those results to the Search Engine Results Pages for your keywords. In some cases a website will be crawled once a month; sometimes less often! Hopefully “if we build it, they will come” and soon.
Results also depend upon the competition for each keyword we target. Sometimes one can see results in days, sometimes it takes months. What is certain is the longer you postpone SEO for your website, the longer you will fail to capture your share of all the new customers who are searching online for the type of products you provide. The sooner you start, the sooner new business and new profits will find you.