• Part 1 of The Minimum You Should Know About SEO

The Minimum You Should Know About SEO - Part 1

December 18, 2011
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Few marketing strategies (uh, none) can rival search engine optimization or SEO when it comes to long-term return on investment (ROI). Whether you choose to do your own SEO or hire an SEO company to do it for you, there are a few things you need to know in order to maximize your success.

Let's start with the basics.

What is "SEO"?

Simply put, SEO is the process of making changes to your:

  • Web site's code and site structure
  • Site's on-site or on-page content (text, images, videos, etc.)
  • Overall online presence (i.e. editing your Facebook page, adding your site to various directories, etc.)

The goal of these changes is to make it easier for search engines like Google to find your site and guage the relevance and authority of your web site. Generally speaking, the more relevant and authoritative a web site is, the higher it will rank organically given an individual search query.

Web Site Code & Structure

Think of your web site's code and structure as the foundation of your SEO house. There's a saying in the SEO world, that "content is king"; however, the world's greatest content is worthless if it is laid on top of a poorly coded web site. Think beautiful house build on an uneven slab of mud... it's not going to be beautiful for long!

You might think that all web sites are the same, but you'd be wrong. It's much faster (read: cheaper) to layout a web site as a bunch of images, but text placed inside of images cannot be read (beyond a point) by search engines like Google. It's not uncommon to find a web site that appears to have 1,000 words of content on the page, but because of the way the site is coded, Google only sees ten words!

How can you make sure your web site is properly coded?

You can start by hiring a web site design firm with a portfolio of high-ranking contractor web sites. Your web site is not an area to be "penny wise and pound foolish" - after all, many savvy contractors generate $100,000+ per month in revenue from web leads. Saving $7,000 by buying the $3,000 web site over the $10,000 might seem like a big victory, but if it does you're playing the wrong game! If you're small contractor just getting started and you're forced to take the DIY approach, build your web site on a Content Management System ("CMS") like WordPress. Many (but not all) modern CMSs practically force you to organize your files in a logical manner.

On-Site Content

If your web site's code and structure is the foundation of your SEO house, on-site or on-page content (text, images and videos) are the house itself - the brick walls, roof, floors, etc. Assuming a proper foundation, on-site content is king when it comes to SEO. You need content that establishes and promotes your company as THE authority for what you do in the markets you do it. It really is that simple, but there are other things you can - and should - do to make your web pages even easier to find.

At a minimum, you should:

  • Optimize each page of your website around a handful of similar keywords
  • Feature your target keywords in the following sections of the site: the title tags, meta description, file name, headings and perhaps within a few paragraphs on the page (be conversational and write naturally)
  • Think about WHY someone would reach the page you're creating - their needs, implied questions that go along with the keyword they used to find you, et?
  • Use relevant "calls to action" - those that ask directly get better results

"Keyword phrases need web site pages." Make this your mantra.

When you hire an SEO company (a good one anyway), a big part of what they should be doing (after putting accurate tracking in place, gathering baseline data and optimizing your web site's code and site structure) is identifying target keywords, analyzing the competitors' pages that currently rank for those keywords and updating your web site's pages to better target the keyword in question - or creating a new, more accurately targeted page altogether.

Great SEO consultants are a mix of analyst, copywriter and sales person.

Optimizing Your Overall Web Presence

If you have a properly coded web site and you've been filling it with unique and relevant content - content that establishes your company as THE authority for what you do in the markets you do it - you're already doing more than most other contractors. However, it is difficult to rank well organically for competitive keyword phrases in major markets without an authoritative overall web presence.

At the highest level, the web is sort of a real estate game. Links from other web sites to your web site are like votes to search engines like Google. Getting more votes from relevant and authoritative web sites using your target keyword phrase and you're almost certain to rank higher organically for the word.

How do you get links from other web sites?

Like everything else related to SEO, there are thousands of different strategies and approaches to link building. Again, here's the minimum you must know and do:

  • Add your site to every major social media web site (Facebook, LinkedIn,  YouTube, Twitter, Google+, etc.) - each of these social media sites offer you the chance to link back to your main web site
  • Add your site to other ancillary sites (Vimeo, DMOZ, local Chamber web sites, ContractorTalk, etc.)
  • Ask your suppliers and any partners (ex. if you have an HVAC company, ask your electrician to link to you)

Generally speaking, if you focus on creating great content (think informative - NOT salesy), you'll naturally attract the best type of links - and you won't have to pay a dime for them. The only challenge with this strategy is that it takes time. You can buy links or build elaborate link-wheels if you want faster results, but be prepared to have your site banned from Google altogether if you get caught. If you represent a legitimate contracting company, the juice isn't usually worth the squeeze.

Stay tuned for my next post in this series where I'll show you how to identify the best keywords and track your results!


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Comments (13)

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Displaying 1–13 of 13
  • Thumb_dee-bauer-hubby
    SmallHouseLifealmost 7 years ago

    Yep, seo is definitely important but after being Google slammed on a fabulous, robust, value based site, I'm leaning more towards relationship marketing.. where Google can never take away me traffic!!

    whew.. that felt good to vent.

    dee

  • Thumb_b56d6ad4Author
    BenLandersalmost 7 years ago

    @Dee - Agree. You can't rely on a single marketing source and expect to have a sustainable business. I don't know what being "Google slammed" means, but if you follow the rules - build a site on a well-coded platform, fill it with great content and tell people it exists, you'll never get in trouble and (over time) you should rank incredibly well.

  • Thumb_derrick%20fiveash%20onwer%20%26%20operator%20of%20fiveashrenovaitons
    fiveashover 6 years ago

    I fully agree with you. Nice article.

  • No-avatar-62
    VirtualLeideover 6 years ago

    Well written article. Google can tell when you get hits within a months time rather than a course over 6 months. Which is not a good thing so with that being said It takes patience to have It done properly and to see results.

  • Thumb_avatar11928_1
    THINKPAINTINGover 6 years ago

    SEO is like a woman, just when ya think you have it all figured out....bam

  • Thumb_b56d6ad4Author
    BenLandersover 6 years ago

    @Thinkpainting that's a good analogy! Thanks for reading.

  • Thumb_%e5%a4%8d%e4%bb%b6%20the%20most%20popular%20cabinet%20door%20style
    chimaosuover 6 years ago

    what's mean seo ? is it a way to help your website to ranking well ?

  • No-avatar-62
    jdillerover 6 years ago

    Make sure you talk about long tail keywords and keyword tools in your next blog post.

    You did a good job explaining site structure, but a picture would have been cool. 99% of the sites I see dont have the urls set up correctly...It kinda sad they paid a website company

    Also, you should have talked about linking internally.

    And yes..I'm an in-house SEO for a contractor in Northern NJ. (Isn't my boss lucky!?)

    Note to everyone: Don't hire a "website designer"...Hire an SEO specialist...once you see ROI, you can add pretty pictures and coding to your site...Also, don't hire your nephew or that kid down the street that's good with computers. SEO changes every day. Whomever you pay must be able to prove they keep up with industry trends...not Call Of Duty

    Questions, let me know

  • Thumb_b56d6ad4Author
    BenLandersover 6 years ago

    Posted by: chimaosu

    what's mean seo ? is it a way to help your website to ranking well ?

    SEO stands for "search engine optimization" and the short answer is "yes!"

  • Thumb_b56d6ad4Author
    BenLandersover 6 years ago

    Posted by: jdiller

    Make sure you talk about long tail keywords and keyword tools in your next blog post.

    Yes sir!


    You did a good job explaining site structure, but a picture would have been cool. 99% of the sites I see dont have the urls set up correctly...It kinda sad they paid a website company

    Good points - although, I try NOT to be exhaustive with these posts.

    Also, you should have talked about linking internally.
    And yes..I'm an in-house SEO for a contractor in Northern NJ. (Isn't my boss lucky!?)

    Depends what he or she is paying you - hiring an outside firm would probably be cheaper ;)


    Note to everyone: Don't hire a "website designer"...Hire an SEO specialist...once you see ROI, you can add pretty pictures and coding to your site...Also, don't hire your nephew or that kid down the street that's good with computers. SEO changes every day. Whomever you pay must be able to prove they keep up with industry trends...not Call Of Duty

    AMEN!!!

  • Thumb_avatar72246_1
    room2roofover 6 years ago

    I believe Natural backlinking to High ranking sites is the key after your site is optimized. The more links placed manually, the better rank because it shows valid activity on a continual basis......Just make sure your content is good, on topic and keyword rich.

  • Thumb_theroofer.info
    TheRoofer.infoover 6 years ago

    SEO is a pain in the ass here is a way to avoid all that work and still get customers from Google without risking a cent. Making Personal Relationships with the right people is a way better ROI for your time and money than SEO. Find a similar business or even a competitor that already has a website with great SEO and make a new friend. One thing that has helped me get more customers is to form personal relationships with other contractors that are on page 1 of Google for services similar to what I offer. The best example of this is www.jnrind.com His site has great SEO for Roof Cleaning, but he passes on many tile roof cleaning jobs and has no interest in cleaning cedar roofs. Since I have invested in equipment for cleaning those types of roofs all I had to do was get him to met with me on a job and show him that I really am one of the best choices for tile roof cleaning and possibly the best for Cedar Roof Cleaning and preservation. For a few years now he has referred these jobs to me. When he runs a PPC campaign and gets even more calls that miss his target customer I pitch in and contribute to the cost of his monthly PPC. I am benefiting from his advertising and his referrals so it is only fair to contribute. He only pays for the cost of PPC from his target customers which are home owners with Asphalt Laminate Roofs that need moss or algae removed. I also get some referrals from JNRIND.com for roof replacement and any repairs he does not feel comfortable doing. I make the majority of my income from the seo work charles@nwesource.com and I did to my site www.ThePortlandRoofers.com but it took almost a year of working on seo of the site to get a daily ROI. Making a friend personal business contact is much easier and way more fun than trying to write content that both Google and potential customers will like. All I had to do was get Jesse the owner of www.JNRIND.com to come see my work and then buy him a few beers and let him beat me in buck hunter.

  • Thumb_b56d6ad4Author
    BenLandersover 4 years ago

    SEO is a pain in the ass? So let me get this straight - you're going to rely on someone else to optimize their site and then suck up to them in an attempt to get referral business? Wow... now you've really outsourced your future. You have to hope that that person/company knows what they're doing SEO-wise and then you have to kiss their ass. No thank you. I think it's far easier to handle Google's algorithm(s) than the emotions of another small business owner!

Displaying 1–13 of 13
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