As a business owner, the end goal of any digital marketing strategy is to drive traffic to your website where that traffic converts into sales or leads. It is important to understand that increased traffic comes from multiple sources. Search engine optimization is only one part of the online marketing mix.
It is important to set the right expectations for local SEO or traditional SEO. We surveyed what the SEO experts had to say about it:
You Should Expect to See Results From SEO Within 6 to 12 Months... SEO should show results within a 6- to 12-month period. By results, we mean a measurable increase in traffic and associated leads or conversions - SEMRush.
...It will take from 4 months to a year… - Google
Search Engine Journal and other top SEO firms all share similar findings. SEO takes time, and the more competitive the market, like New York, the longer and harder it is. I do not mean this to be discouraging. On the contrary, it only highlights why to avoid any SEO firm that claims “crush”, “fast”, etc.
Building the right keyword strategy begins with knowing the questions that your customer is trying to answer. However, it’s more than just the question itself, but the intent or the why behind the question that is most important.
Typically, these questions are motivated by what we call insights. Insights are the emotional drivers behind why your customer is looking for answers. Often marketers use a tool to group these needs into clusters or categories.
Understanding how these needs cluster together can help you gain a better understanding of the intent behind the question. This enables marketers to uncover related keywords and google searches that might not have been as immediately apparent.
We go into the mechanics of building a keyword strategy in earlier posts. However, as a rule of thumb, we use:
As we said from the start, it is important to set realistic expectations for your SEO campaign from the start.
On-page optimization is as it sounds. It deals with the steps you can take to ensure that we optimize the content you publish on your page for your keyword. Each page should focus on one keyword or key phrase.
We work with our clients to build a detailed keyword map to link each page or blog post to a specific keyword. Then cluster those keywords into themes. We align those themes with the emotional drivers discussed above.
For local SEO and local search, it is important to have keywords that apply to your neighborhood, city, or region. For example, in New York, you may choose to write localized content for Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.
We created a simple checklist to help with on page optimization.
With our clients, we complete this together. However, we cover on page techniques in greater detail in other posts.
This is the hardest part of any SEO campaign. The sheer volume of noise makes it a daunting challenge for any individual.
Off-page SEO focuses primarily on link building. However, this is where local SEO and traditional SEO diverge somewhat.
Local SEO places more emphasis on proximity. It weighs local listings more heavily. We will cover this separately.
Google’s initial algorithm was born using linking as a ranking factor. While how they are used has changed over the years, they remain a major ranking factor.
A good white hat agency like ProStrategix focuses on building quality, relevant links from trusted sources and sites. The best link building is organic. An unnatural pattern in links will be flagged and discounted.
With link building, it's the quality that matters more than the quantity. Links from trusted high-ranking pages can really amp up your results.
This is the tool that we use with our clients. It helps us to stay focused on those opportunities that have the greatest impact.
This is an example of a GMB listing with only the key elements highlighted:
The more complete and active your Google My Business listing is, the more likely that they will include you in the local box. GMB is Google’s way of establishing the legitimacy of the business.
The 3 MOST important elements are business name, address, and phone number (NAP). We will discuss the importance of other listings in demonstrating both relevance and prominence. However, if you do nothing else, make sure your NAP is consistent with what it stored on GMB.
The next places to cover on GMB are collectively called tags. Again consistency matters, so we discuss how to add these same data using schema code. You will want to remember what you put on GMB.
In general, directories and low domain authority links can appear spammy, and we normally avoid them. However, there is an exception. Local listings that are tied to a physical location where you operate validate your proximity.
Great sources for local listings are Chambers of Commerce, local news outlines and organizations, neighborhood associations to name a few.
Local search differs in how it ranks pages. It weighs proximity, local prominence and local relevance more heavily. Social media, while not a ranking factor, can help local businesses gain more local links. Sponsorships or local events promoted on social media often contain links back to sponsors or event locations.
The most important factor is mobile friendliness. Google rankings are set to mobile first. This means that mobile performance has a direct impact on ranking. Therefore, you can do all the above perfectly and not rank well if your mobile site is slow.
Mobile is now the dominant device used on the web. If your site doesn’t perform its best on mobile, half of your market is at risk. Learn how to fix it.
When creating a website that can compete on mobile, speed is everything. If you look at the studies over time, bounce rates on mobile have been rising as expectations have been increasing. When Google ran this study in 2017, 4.5 seconds was sufficient.
A similar study, one year later, showed that rate had dropped to three. Most SEO and performance tracking software today use 1 second as the breaking point.
Technical SEO covers the computer coding of the page. There are several coding best practices that can help bots call your site better and improve user experience. When bots can find and index you faster and users find what they need quickly, your rankings will benefit.
There are two relatively quick fixes you can do on your own. These are robot.txt and sitemap.xml. Robot.txt allows robots to crawl your page, and sitemap.xml provides a map.
Since SEO is one element of the overall digital marketing mix, we believe that the best company is one which considers all the traffic sources not just organic traffic.
At the end of the day, your business is likely to care more about total conversions than the conversion rate from one source to another. We find that separating the marketing elements by specialty creates a significant management challenge.
We believe that managing one agency is much easier than trying to manage four or five. Obviously, we are biased. Therefore, we wanted to provide you with a few expert opinions on the subject.
In closing, we would like to leave you with the following thoughts.
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Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile
Generating leads is one of the hardest things for a new small business to do. To get a client base, you first need to get clients.Gain More Insight!
SEO is an important tool all SMBs should consider. Search lets you be visible to potential customers when they are looking for a solution you provide.Gain More Insight!
Managing an SEO campaign of a small business requires a strategic choice between cost, time, and quality. You can have 2, but at the expense of the 3rd.Gain More Insight!
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