When you want to find the answer to a question, you search Google. When you want to buy a new set of golf clubs or find a new local take-out restaurant, you search Google. When the majority of people want to find your product or service, they search Google at some point.
If your website is at the top of page one for searches for your service in your area this will bring you a steady stream of free leads every week. That’s about as close to free money as you can get! So, the question is – if someone in your area is searching Google for your product, are they going to find you or someone else?
In this post I’m going to teach you the three most important factors in getting your site showing up at the top of the search rankings for the search terms that generate quality leads – with step by step instructions for how to apply this knowledge right now.
This is by far the most important factor in search engine marketing, the first thing you need to know is what your potential clients are going to be searching for in Google. Usually this will start with “service + city” but there are many variations that get a significant amount of searches each month.
The best tool to use for this is Google’s own keyword research tool. You can find it here: http://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner . Google maintains this tool for use with it’s paid advertising platform, but you can use it for free. You will need to sign up for an Adwords account but you won’t need to provide any payment details or undertake any paid advertising in order to use the tool.
Once logged in you will be able to enter your starting keyword idea (service + city) here:
The tool will then search for related terms and return a list of keywords and search volumes. You can then pick out all of the keywords related to your business and save these in a list. For example here is the list of relevant keywords I found when I searched for “mortgage broker Jacksonville”:
If you’re not yet convinced of how valuable Google can be to your business check out those average monthly searches – that’s 380 ultra targeted leads a month! There’s probably that many searches again using longer variations that aren’t included.
Once you’ve got this list, examine the average monthly searches and decide which term you should use to describe your business. Generally you want a title that covers as much as possible. Having extra words is no problem, but a word missing means you’re less likely to rank for a term including that word.
As you can see above, the important variation here is the addition of the state, and the use of the word “companies”. If your website only uses the title and headings “Digital Dave – Mortgage Broker in Jacksonville” you’d be less likely to rank highly in Google for all of the potential clients adding “FL” to their search terms or using “companies” instead of “broker”.
In my example above I would target the search term: mortgage brokers in Jacksonville FL
This search term includes most of the other terms inside it, so if I optimize my website for this term I’ll rank for all of the terms I’ve highlighted in the table. This is called a key phrase.
So now you know what your potential clients are searching for in Google, it’s time to ensure that your website is properly targeted towards these search terms. There are a few extremely important areas on your website that are essential to ranking highly in Google. Your long search term covering as many keywords as possible needs to be included in three primary areas.
Firstly – you are probably not be maintaining your own website. If this is the case, don’t worry, your web designer will be able to make these changes very quickly and easily. I’m going to go into a little bit of detail here about how to update these items just in case you want to do it yourself, if not just skip down to the check list below and pass it on to your web designer to put into place. It shouldn’t take them longer than 30 minutes for the average website.
Quick Guide: On-Site Keyword Optimisation in WordPress:
If you manage your own website, chances are it’s using WordPress. If not, it should be easy to find documentation on how to update these three attributes on your platform. Here are the steps required for the WordPress users:
Login to your WordPress dashboard
- Go to Plugins > Add New
- Type “All in one SEO Pack” into the search box
- Install the All in one SEO Pack, and then activate it.
You will now have some additional boxes at the bottom of each page and post when editing them. These boxes can be used to fill in your keywords as outlined below. You will just need to edit each of your pages (particularly the home page) and add the keywords as explained below. The boxes look like this:
You will also need to locate your <h1> tags on each page. These usually enclose the main heading on each page.
What you need to put in these fields are explained below on the checklist.
On-Site Keyword Optimisation Checklist:
Title tag: This is the heading that’s displayed in Google search results, and the text displayed on the top of your web browser when you are on a website. Here is an example from my website:
Your title tag needs to contain your full key phrase, your brand, and any other essential information, this tag has a maximum of 60 characters. Anything beyond 60 characters will be ignored by search engines and most likely cut off a visitor’s screen. Unfortunately in our example I can’t see a way to get both broker and company into the title while still having it read well.
It is possible to target and rank well for additional keywords that aren’t included in the title, but this is much more complex and beyond the scope of this guide.
Meta Description tag: This is the short blurb that’s displayed for your website in search results under your title. It looks like this:
Deciding on the text for your meta description tag will be difficult, you only get 160 characters and this tag has two purposes. Firstly, it needs to entice your potential client to click on your website in the search results – it must be compelling and make sense. Secondly, it also needs to contain your keyphrase and if you can make it work you have the opportunity to get some extra keywords in here as well for additional search terms.
You can see in the image above for the Smart Skink Marketing website that I’ve managed to target the leads keyword as well in my description. Don’t try too hard if it’s not going to work though, the primary concern is for your description to hit your main key phrase and be professional and informative.
Meta Keywords tag: This tag is less important now that Google has the ability to evaluate your entire website’s purpose as a whole, but it does still remain an important part of on-page optimisation. This tag tells Google what keywords your page is about. Just enter them here separated by commas. For the Jacksonville mortgage broker example I would enter this:
mortgage broker, mortgage company, mortgage originator, Jacksonville, FL, Florida
<h1> tag: This is the tag that indicates the heading of the page. It almost certainly already surrounds your main heading on each page. It’s essential that this tag contains your keyphrase. In our example, Digital Dave should ensure that he has a title something like “Digital Dave, Your Trusted Mortgage Broker in Jacksonville FL” as his heading.
Body text: You should have a minimum of 600 words of text in the body of the main page. Flashy graphics can look nice, but it’s proven that search engines value information, so to achieve the highest rankings you will need to have text on your homepage. The content of this text is up to you, but it needs to contain your keyphrase in the first paragraph (not necessarily all together, just have all the words there somewhere).
So that’s the basics of optimising your home page for the best search results. I would highly recommend you go further and repeat this process for each of your other pages on your website as well, targeting different keywords for a broader reach. Even if the topics of the other pages don’t get a lot of searches, you only need one search to land a new client. Having these fields filled in on your website will greatly improve it’s value and authority in Google’s eyes.
So you’ve now got the perfect website, it’s time to let Google know! A sitemap is a map or list of all of the pages that exist on your website. If you submit a sitemap to Google, it will check out your site and update it’s search results based on your changes. Having a sitemap submitted to Google also contributes to higher search rankings.
To learn more about sitemaps or to submit one for your site, visit Google’s Webmaster Tools here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/
In my opinion the easiest way to generate a sitemap is via a WordPress plugin. There is a plugin called “Google XML Sitemap” which will do everything for you.
The Next Step for Google Domination:
Completing the steps above will result in you having everything on your end optimised perfectly, and I’m confident this will provide a significant improvement your search traffic. If you’re in a less competitive area or have a well established website this might be enough to get you to the top of page one all on it’s own.
However if you’ve taken the steps above and you’re not yet at the top of page one consider this, what if someone else has done the same thing? How does Google choose who to rank higher?
In the case of two sites both being optimised for the same topic, Google will rank the site that it considers has the most authority higher. Now there are countless factors Google considers here, but the primary factor is inbound links from other websites.
If your website is new, poor quality, or unimportant then not many other websites will write about you, or link their readers to you. Conversely, if your website has inbound links from many related authority websites, blogs etc. then Google infers that your website must be of a high quality and provide value to its readers and will rank it higher in the search results. So the next step is getting trusted websites to link their readers to your website. This will push you up the search rankings even further.