What is SEO and how do I improve my Google rankings?

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

When you begin an SEO Program with Net Elevation, here’s what to expect.

Step 1:  Select Your Keywords

First, just make a quick list of simple keywords that explain your services. For example, an accountant might choose “Accountant”, “CPA”, and “Tax Advisor.” Keep going until you have a reasonable list.

Next, your web consultant will research these keywords, taking into account the competitive levels, and looking for variations or alternate keywords that might also help.

Now you are ready to finalize your list. All keywords can be loosely classified into 2 basic categories…
A) “Buying Intent” Keywords
People searching for buying intent keywords are looking for your product or service now. For example, someone who searches for “tax help Orlando” likely needs to have specific tax questions answered as soon as possible.
Your initial focus should be on buying intent keywords since those are the searches that are more likely to generate leads and customers for your business. Incorporate those keywords into the content on your homepage, and create service pages for them. Your homepage should be focused on your #1 most important “buying intent” keyword. And then each of your service pages should be optimized for keywords related to those specific services.
B) “Research Intent” Keywords
Research intent keywords show that a prospect is “just looking” or potentially looking to handle the work himself. The person might want your services eventually, but not today. For example, “what does a cpa do” likely indicates that the prospect is just beginning to wonder how an accountant can offer help. Or, a person researching “how to plant a dogwood tree” may not want to hire a landscaper right now.
Research intent keywords should not be of top priority since they do not drive quick conversions. Hang onto them, though, as they are excellent for FAQs and blogs. These informational posts introduce you to prospects who might remember you when they are ready to make a purchase.

Step 2: Optimize For Your Keywords

Now that your keywords are finalized, you can move on to optimization. You need to separately optimize for them in 2 places—your Google My Business profile and your website. Here’s what to do:

A) Google My Business

Think of your Google My Business page as a mini website that will show up in the “Map” section of Google local listings. It offers a brief snapshot of your business.

The important thing to recognize is that Google prefers to show Google My Business pages for lots of local searches. Google realizes that when people are searching for a dentist or a yoga studio, they want to see local results — and Google shows the “Map” results (Google My Business listings) above the regular website results.

In order to rank on the first page, your Google My Business page must be fully completed and entirely accurate.
B) Website Optimization

Start with your homepage and service pages, which are considered your core pages, and optimize them for your selected buying intent keywords. Later, you will optimize your blogs and FAQs, or content pages, for your research intent keywords.

Here’s how:

i) Homepage

The most important element on your homepage is a 50 to 65-character title tag, which is roughly equivalent to a book’s chapter title. An orthodontist’s homepage might use a title tag like this:

Orthodontist in {Your City} | {Name of Your Practice}

Next is the meta description, which should be 100 to 150 characters long, describe your core services, and end with a call to action. For an orthodontist, it might look like this:

{Name of Practice} offers quality {orthodontic services keywords} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today to schedule your free evaluation.

Next, make sure you’ve got a well-written H1, the visible headline on your page. It should be concise and easy to read and should include your main Google category. Here’s an example homepage H1 template for an orthodontist:

{Name of Practice}: {Orthodontist} in {City, State}.

Finally, consider your page copy. It should be 500 to 1000 words in length, tightly written and edited, and peppered with your primary keyword in a natural fashion. Give some background information on your company, briefly describe your main services, and end with a strong call to action.

Also, make sure you have a prominent call to action “above the fold” on your homepage, so it’s obvious how to contact your company, without scrolling down the page.

ii) Service Pages

Each of your core services should have its own separate service page. Optimize each for a buying intent keyword, following the same steps that you used for your homepage.

For example, if you’re an attorney with multiple practice areas, you’d want to have a separate page for each practice area (such as estate planning, criminal defense, and personal injury). And each of those pages should be optimized for the service keyword as well as the geographic keyword.

For example, the title tags for the pages could be structured like this:

Estate Planning Attorney in {City, State} | {Name of Practice}

Criminal Defense Attorney in {City, State} | {Name of Practice}

Personal Injury Attorney in {City, State} | {Name of Practice}

iii) Locations & “Service Area” Pages

If you have multiple locations, we recommend building out a page for each location.

And if you travel to your customers/clients, we recommend building out a Service Area section of your website, with 5-10 pages optimized for your 5-10 top priority towns within your service area.

Each page’s title tag could then have the service keyword and the geographic keyword pertaining to your primary service and the town.

Step 3: Request Reviews

Online reviews are crucial for 2 reasons. First, they let Google know that you have a legitimate business. Second, they can help convince prospects to give your company a try. All reviews are valuable, but Google My Business reviews are obviously the most important for improving your Google rankings.

The best way to get reviews on your Google profile is to send your customers a direct link to where they can post a review. We recommend sending your customers an email with that direct link. The only problem is that Google doesn’t make it super easy for you — you have to create this direct link yourself.

Here’s how to do it. Search for your company name, and you should see a Google My Business profile preview in the top-right of the search results. you’ll see the “Write a Review” button next to your company name, below your profile preview. Click on that link, and then copy the full URL in your browser. That’s the link you’ll want to share with your customers. It’ll be a long link, so just hyperlink it in your email, and say “Click here to leave us a review.”

People are generally eager to help, and doing this regularly can ensure a steady flow of recent reviews.

Step 4: Track Your Results

It’s important to track your results, so you know what’s working and what’s not, and how to improve over time.

Here are the most important metrics to track:

A) Rankings

The search results that Google displays are customized based on location and your previous browsing activity.

B) Traffic

To track your traffic, or visitors to your website, use Google Analytics.

We recommend keeping an eye on organic search traffic trends on a long-term and short-term basis. For example, you should review the long-term SEO traffic trends over the past year, and also compare the most recent completed month (January 2020) to the previous month (December 2019), as well as to the same month from the previous year (e.g. January 2019).

That way, you’ll have a sense of whether your traffic is growing over time, and you’ll also know how each month stacks up to previous months. And if you have a seasonal business, then it’s important to measure against the same month in the previous year versus the previous month.
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