Have you ever felt like you have been screwed over by an SEO (search engine optimization) company? Or maybe it was a company that was hired to set up and manage your PPC, SMM, or other digital marketing campaign that left a sour taste in your mouth. Did you feel like you were just wasting your money because you weren’t sure what they were doing and the results just weren’t there? You’re not alone. We run into this a lot when talking to new clients.
First off, no one can promise you absolute first page or top 3 rankings. Turn and run. Google’s algorithm changes often and isn’t something that can be tricked or manually manipulated in any way. There are just too many factors for someone to make that guarantee. Google makes the rules, we all have to follow them.
When hiring an agency for this type of work, we advise that a business owner have a general idea of what work is being performed and what results to expect from those efforts. Take a little time to educate yourself enough to have a constructive conversation with your SEO. You want to be able to ask the right questions to validate them prior to hiring and also be able to gauge if your campaign is working or not throughout the contract. You want to be able to make sure that everything is being done to make your campaign successful once they get going. Don’t be convinced that just because you are ranking for high volume keywords, your campaign was successful. If you don’t see more leads coming through your site or more sales as a result, then something needs to be reevaluated and corrected to consider the campaign a success. Here are some things to consider when setting up a successful SEO campaign for your business’s website.
Have a specific goal in mind
When you hear SEO, most think of just merely ranking higher in Google. Most don’t take into account that you can rank differently for different pages on your website and for different keywords. While search engine optimization is, in its most literal definition, optimizing your site so search engines can easily understand the content of your pages, paying an SEO professional to get you that first-page spot in the SERPSearch Engine Results Pages should always be targeted to return on that investment. To do that, you need to look at more than just where you rank and focus more on what you’re ranking for and what you want that user to do once they click to your site. Be specific. Likely, you are trying to increase sales on a specific product or service that you offer. I recommend looking at your most profitable product or service and go after terms and phrases that people will use when searching for those things. We will be able to target traffic for all of your products and/or services, but picking out a key item or two for a focal point can return a higher profit on your investment.
For instance, let’s say you own a pest control business. You offer all kinds of pest control services, all of which have their own page on your website. Each of those pages will be targeted to bring in traffic for people searching for specifically those services. BUT, say you want more termite treatment contracts. Through content marketing, we can create blog entries for topics like “the real cost of having termites” or “signs to look for when you suspect you have termites” or “how professional termite treatment can actually be less than doing it yourself”. These pages become opportunities to rank for more termite related keywords, validate with search engines that this website has rich information about termite services with internal links to core pages, and is a good opportunity to build trust with a prospective customer as an authority on that specific treatment. Now, this is just one way that we can focus on your goal, but you get the idea. Now that we have the goal in mind, the next two steps will help us reach that goal.
Do the keyword research
Your SEO expert should have the tools and know-how to research any and all keywords that can help you reach your goal. For each keyword you are targeting, consider how many people are actually searching that keyword or phrase with respect to the location of your business, competition, and user intent. If you are taking this campaign on yourself, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner or MOZ for free to help you analyze these metrics. Make sure that if you are a business that serves only, or mostly, local customers, that you are targeting your local area where you will capture the best customers from. Some of the terminologies may be foreign to you so here is a small list of definitions for you while you dissect your keyword metrics:
Search Volume: This is the average times per month that this keyword has been used in a search. You can look at the US as a whole or narrowed all the way down to one city.
Keyword Competition: This is the competitive density of advertisers paying to use the keyword in their ads.
CPC (Cost per Click): This is the amount that you WOULD pay if you used the keyword in a pay-per-click campaign each time someone clicked through your ad.
Trend: This will show you how the search volume for your keyword has looked over a period of time, usually 12 months worth.
Results: This is how many URLs populate the search engine results page for your keyword. Essentially, how many sites you will be competing with.
Keyword Difficulty: An estimate of how difficult it would be to rank well in organic search for your keyword based on your competitors.
Now we have the lingo, let’s look at the metrics. First, I will mention a metric that will not come on any report. This is often the most overlooked or neglected thing when doing keyword research and picking focus keywords… INTENT. What is the person really looking for when they are using that keyword or phrase in a search? As a pest control management company looking to increase termite treatments, you want people that are looking for termite service over those looking for chemicals or how to DIY termite service. You want to pick keywords that you imagine the user will use when they are looking for what you offer. Put yourself in their shoes or ask a friend or family member what they would type into Google or ask Alexa if they were looking for pest control services.
Next, look at volume. Typically, the higher the volume, the higher the competition will be and the difficulty to rank will be higher. Don’t let this deter you though. Search engine optimization is a long game, but with lasting effects, and when done correctly, you can overcome your competition for those first page results. Main pages of your website, like services pages, should be targeted for the relative, big volume keywords while blog pages should be focused on picking up the possibly lesser volume, but more specific keyword traffic.
Look at trends in your keywords. Are they trending up or down? Are they seasonal? We recommend looking for relevant keywords that have a steady trend all 12 months for your main pages. Now if you are season business or sell seasonal products/services, then make sure that the keywords that you are looking at are trending up and steady during the relevant time frame. You want a good flow of traffic to your site at all times to improve or keep your ranking.
When looking at keywords for SEO, we don’t need to worry about CPC since that cost only is relevant for paid advertising using that keyword. However, ranking organically for the higher cost per click words is a good strategy if the keyword intent will help get you more business.
You can get a better idea of what I am talking about by taking a look at what a keyword research report looks like below.
Using the information that we have above, and keeping our goal in mind, let’s put what we learned to work. Using our pest control company example, we want to choose keywords with good monthly search volume that a potential customer would be using if they were looking for a company that handles termite control in your local area. I like the keyword phrase “termite inspection” from the above report for our pest company. It has a good monthly search volume, shows the right intent to meet our goal, it trends well month to month, and the difficulty is fairly low (pro tip: you can rank for any keyword difficulty, just plan on it taking more time to overcome the competition with the higher difficulty keyword phrases). Most importantly, now that we have our keyword, we need to make sure that the content of the page delivers what the user will expect based on the search phrase we picked. The page will need to have information and a call to action that revolves around termite inspections.
Lastly, now that we are in a position to get the click, we need to get them to complete an action to convert the user to a customer once they are on the site.
Set up to convert
So you got the traffic to your site, but that alone will put zero profit dollars in your pocket, leaving your goal unattained. Once they made it to your site, you want them to complete an action of some sort.
Remember our customer’s intent and build the call to actions around that.
In our case of the pest control company, I would like to see a readily available area to make an appointment, a clickable phone number to call and/or address for directions, and a special price or coupon for you internet shoppers.
Along with the call to actions listed above, we will use text content that speaks to the ability, qualifications, and value that your business offers over your competitors. Google’s is looking for some key elements that show you want to Educate your user, show Authority on the subject, and build Trust with your user (read more about EAT and how to build your website for Google Rankings). Plus, people buy with feeling, so you want to make them comfortable enough to actually use the CTA’s. For our pest control company, we would recommend offering a free termite inspection to entice our user to make an appointment, call, or fill out a contact form.
So you can hopefully see now, that you don’t get a trophy for simply ranking with any random keyword. If no one searches that keyword, then it doesn’t matter where you rank for it. And if you are ranking for a keyword where the user doesn’t intend to buy anything from you, you’re just going to hurt your bounce rate. All three of these points need to be a focus when selecting your keywords and optimizing your pages. Also, make sure that you have the proper analytics set up so that you can track your user’s habits once they enter your page and how they got there. Use this information to adjust your page CTA’s or flow to capture the lead better. Again, there is a lot more that goes into running a successful campaign, but now you are a little more informed about what you or your agency should be doing to make sure that you are going to return on your investment.
And if keyword research is the first step of an SEO campaign, On-site SEO is the second! Read more about that here.
If you feel like you aren’t getting enough traffic to your website, Kodeak can help you narrow down your issue. We take a deep dive into your analytics, online marketing campaigns, and/or your web design UI/UX (user experience) and let you know where you are losing your potential clients or customers. Our assessment is free and will help you better understand how your website and marketing should be working for you. Feel free to call us, email, fill out a form here, or chat with us on the site. We are happy to help!