2018 is here, which means it’s time to take a fresh look at how your business is growing to reach your vision.
Positioning your business as the answer for people who are searching online for a solution will sustainably grow your business toward your goals for 2018.
Hi everyone, thank you so much for joining us on this lovely Wednesday, January 24th!
This is the first official webinar in the PHOS Webinar Series! To give you an overview of what we’re doing here, the PHOS Webinar Series is part of our core value of leadership.
To us, leadership is our passion for education and empowerment. So that’s really what we’re trying to do here with this webinar and future webinars, is to empower you to be a better business owner and a better marketer.
Our topic today is Fill Your Lead Funnel: Sustainable SEO Strategies for Success in 2018.
To give you some context on who you’re hearing from today, we’ll introduce ourselves. We have Alexis Eldayrie, an Inbound Marketing Executive, and Jon Saxton, also an Inbound Marketing Executive on the marketing team here at PHOS.
PHOS Creative is a strategic digital agency headquartered in Gainesville, Florida. We really focus on four key competencies.
Search Engine Optimization
Today, we’re going to be discussing one of our favorite inbound marketing strategies: search engine optimization. Now, we’re a company that enjoys definitions, so let’s start with that. Moz defines SEO as being the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
When we talk about traffic, we are talking about traffic from search engines, or “organic traffic.” So, this isn’t traffic from Facebook or AdWords, or even when someone directly types your URL in the address bar. This is when someone finds you organically by searching terms, phrases and sentences in a search engine.
Without much surprise to you all, Google is the big player here. That does not mean Bing and Yahoo should be ignored, but it’s safe to say that if you’re doing it right on Google, you’re doing it right.
Now, if you’re tuned into this webinar, you most likely understand the value of rankings on search engines and what that means for your business. But we can’t stress enough that you absolutely miss out on potential clients and customers when you don’t rank on the first page of Google search results.
We like to joke in the studio that if you need a place to hide a dead body, put it on the second page of Google search results… but jokes aside, the numbers speak for themselves.
|Your 2018 SEO Checklist|
Focus on Mobile
60% of all searches are done on a mobile device.
That’s data straight from Google. It’s about 50% worldwide, and 60% here in the US.
Obviously, this varies by industry. We have some clients as high as 80% mobile, and some well below 50%.
A B2C jewelry company with a younger audience is going to skew more mobile. Some industries may skew older and blue collar, and are likely to be more desktop-heavy.
Regardless, there are two categories or reasons to focus on mobile: SEO and user experience.
In terms of SEO, Google’s goal is to serve the best website/best answer for a user’s search. For that reason, following the search shift, Google now rewards sites that are optimized for mobile devices. Conversely, it’s devaluing sites that aren’t.
Nobody wants to pinch and awkwardly scroll just to navigate your site. You’ll lose customers that way.
Instead, delight users who are shifting and searching on their phones. You’ll rank better, bring in more traffic, and keep more potential customers.
Make Sure Your Site is Secure
Another big move from Google in 2017 was their announcement regarding websites served on HTTP.
HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol. It’s the application that allows your website’s server to talk to your web browser. A secured HTTP is denoted by HTTPS and it encrypts the data passed along your connection so that it’s secured.
As of October, Google Chrome released version 62. And with that release, pages that exclusively contained forms that you needed to log-in for or submit credit card information would trigger a Not Secure” warning unless your site was migrated to HTTPS.
So, what does this mean for SEO? Well, Google has announced that they are considering adding HTTPS links as a ranking factor for their algorithm.
There is no indication that not having a secured site currently hurts your rankings, but that could quickly change.
Eventually every unsecured site will have a red warning, like this one, regardless of whether the page asks for sensitive information.
Make Your Content Stand Out
Content is king. This is a phrase marketers have been using for years. If SEO is how you get found, content is what customers find. Without content, there is no SEO.
And content means more than just blogs and articles. That’s certainly a part of it, but content includes landing pages on your website for specific services, the content on your homepage, videos on your site, and more.
How to Make Your Content Stand Out
We’ll first talk about how to make your content stand out. The first and most important part is to know your audience. Everything stems from this.
In SEO you can get caught up in all the technical details and what search engines want, but in the end, we don’t care about search engines. They’re just a tool. We care about people.
Know who your audience is, starting with general demographic data. Does your audience lean more male or more female? Does it lean towards a certain age group, or income profile?
Then, lean into what they want – what are their pain points that you can help them solve, how do they like to be spoken to, what format do they want to consume content in, articles or videos or webinars or infographics.
Once you’ve done that, turn around and look inside for a bit. Find what makes you unique.
Maybe you have a perspective nobody else in your industry or your area does. Maybe you have proprietary data that you’ve collected. Maybe you have a unique experience, either individually or as a brand, that gives you a perspective others don’t have.
That’s what’s going to stand out.
Then, think about what you’re actually offering in content.Offer something useful. It could be educational, it could shift their thinking, it could be a tool or data or template they can use. Make your content useful for your audience.
Setting Smart Meta Tags
Pivoting a bit to a more technical aspect of content and SEO, let’s look at setting smart meta tags.
When you’re searching something in Google, really what you get are a blue title for a result, a green name of the site or sometimes a URL, and a grey description.
As a business or as a marketer, these are your only chance to entice somebody to click through to your site.
So let’s compare and contrast these two. I searched “Dog Hotel New York” and these are two of the first three that came up.
Starting with the first one, we see a title tag that looks good, it has some of the keywords I was searching for, along with some variations along those keywords.
Looking at the meta description, it really describes the business, the site, and what I can expect if I click through that link.
Looking at the next one, New York Dog Spa, the title is the name of the business. That’s ok, but it doesn’t really give me more information about the business.
It doesn’t look like they have their meta description set, which means it’s really just pulling from some HTML code on their website. In this case, a Twitter feed. It’s not professional.
Maybe it’s a small thing, but I wouldn’t trust my dog there, as a proud dog owner.
This really makes a difference. Like I said, this is your only opportunity to entice somebody to click through to your site.
If you’re doing this right, you’ll make people want to click through, and then serve them with content that’s useful to them, in the format that they want.
Help Your Customers Find You
If you’re a local business, you may or may not have heard about local SEO. Local SEO is defined as the practice of increasing the search visibility of businesses with a primarily local service area.
Local SEO strategies are crucial for local brick-and-mortar businesses with a physical location. I’m talking about all of you mortgage companies, dentists, HVAC companies and more. If you have a physical location, there are a lot of local SEO strategies you can take to make sure people click on your page in Google.
If any of you have ever searched for anything on Google, you’ve probably seen their local pack show up, also known as their “snack pack.”
In 2017, Google changed the local pack to show only three businesses. Previously, it would show up to 7 results. So, chances of showing up in snack pack already have gone down.
Unfortunately, there is no magic button that puts your business in the local pack. Google has a pretty complex algorithm, which decides which business goes there and in what order. But there are a couple of things that you can do this month to increase your chances:
- Make sure your NAPW is consistent and correct. NAPW stands for Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website. Google loves consistency and views it as trustworthy. So, it’s important that your NAPW is consistent across all of your listings and your website.
- Keep your Google My Business profile fresh. Add relevant photos, update hours on the holidays, respond to reviews, and add a description to your listing about your company.
- Get more reviews (and respond to them!) You’ll notice that every business showing up in our example local pack has reviews, and good ones. This is HUGE for getting your page seen by people. Not only does it help you get in the local pack, it helps you stand out against competitors visually. Encourage your customers to leave you a review on Google any chance you can. And once they do, make sure to respond to all of them, even the bad ones.
Again, none of these things guarantee your business in the local pack. Much of this is based on location. our results here in the studio are different than someone searching for UF. But, when someone is close to your business, you have a higher chance of being in the top three is you follow those three tips.
Don’t Set It And Forget It
The way people search changes all the time. Look at desktop searches 7 years ago vs. mobile searches today. Google changed how it ranks results based on that.
Similarly, voice search is growing and search engines are going to respond to that as well.
There will always be changes, and there will always be something new. Even just looking back at the last few months, Alexis talked about Google’s change on HTTPS, and no doubt that will continue to change in 2018. Google’s now allowing longer meta descriptions.
There are tons of sources on the web where you can update on everything that’s going on. Moz is one of the best SEO resources on the web.
Even Google itself puts out content to help businesses provide better ways to reach their audience through its search engine.
So make sure you never stop educating yourself on what’s coming next.
Looking internally, Google offers some good platforms for tracking your results.
Search Console is a platform that gives basic data on how you’re being found, what search terms people are using when they find your site, and that can actually lead to some good insights.You might find some search terms in there that you didn’t originally think of.
Google Analytics gives you a deeper view into overall trends in clicks and traffic.
One strategy I like is checking out competition. If I know I’m trying to rank on the first page for a particular keyword, I’ll Google that keyword and click through the first 10 results and see what they’re doing.
I’m not advocating copying or stealing their content or anything like that, but look for overall trends. You know that if those pages are on the first page, those pages are the ones that Google trusts and values. They have to be doing something right.
So see if you can find some overall trends that Google seems to be valuing, and see if any of that is applicable to your own business.
Additionally, SEO really works best alongside other strategies. Make sure to add variety to your marketing campaigns – as long as it makes sense for your business & customer.
Don’t push out content for the sake of pushing out content, but do vary your tactics. Think about the best way to convey information, or how people want to consume it.
In the webinar we gave some time for folks to ask questions. If you have questions about anything we’ve talked about, or SEO for your business, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d be happy to help.