SEOdamian's Blog

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I Ranked Well in Google, Where Are My Sales?

A client asked ‘I am ranked well on my keyword search term, but I am not getting many calls for my service – what gives?’

In the years of working with businesses even before the Internet, one of the biggest issue I have found, is that many businesses do not understand their solutions from their customers perspective. They look at their business from the supplier/seller side. They try to sell the best drill, forgetting that customers want to buy holes.  They sell the best shoes, forgetting that customers are buying a fun run, or how to win the marathon, or how to get a date. It has been a problem for so many businesses that 95% will never celebrate their 5th birthday  So how to translate this wisdom into Internet sales?

Create a more complete keyword list

Understand your ranking well may be in the wrong category. The customer IS searching for the right term, if you are not ranked well in that term it is your issue, not the customer’s. This is another place where the customer is always right. So a few questions and suggestions:

  • Make a list of all the different keyword search terms your perspective customers would be searching for you .
  • Then take some time, ask some friends and double your list of keyword phrases.
  • Now call your best 2 customers, ask them how they would search for your product or service.
  • Then feed it into Google’s keyword suggestion tool – https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Now you have a list of keywords phrases. This usually is a much longer list than most businesses start with. This is part of what you hire experts for – to develop this list. The trend is to use longer phrases, as the shorter ones are usually more generic as each year passes. The short ones are more competitive, even if they get more traffic. But start with the longer ones, as they are usually easier to rank higher on, and also often incorporate the shorter phrases.

Now optimize each page of your site for a different phrase.

Are there any geographical indicators in your keyword phrases? If so, then think like your customers and consider that they consider themselves the center of the universe, not you and your business. They are probably searching from their home, not your business as the center. If your business is technically located in Warrenville, then cover the surrounding area. This is especially important if you are located in a suburban area where one town blends into the next town at the end of a strip mall and many customers many not even know where the town lines are. If you are in a larger city, don’t forget to refer to the city and the neighborhood names. Again focus on your customers location, more then yours. So optimize or add text that indicates you serve them –

Serving the Western DuPage lllinois area including: Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville, and Boilingbrook for dental patients like you for over 10 years. Supporting the Lisle Lions Football team and the Naperville Hockey Booster club.

Change this up on the different pages (but be truthful of course – lies will kill you more then poor rankings). You can put a tag line at the bottom of each page, you can have different descriptions in your description and TITLE tags, you can describe your location with ALT tags on the photos of your location, you can talk about your staff and the towns they live in. All of these help Google and your clients understand that your business is in their neighborhood.

Of course you need to optimize your titles to include your keyword search phrases in a way that attracts your customers to want to click on your site. If you were looking at these page titles on a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which would you click on?

  • About Us
  • About Joe’s Lawn Service
  • Joe’s Lawn Service
  • Joe’s Lawn, Kingwood
  • Kingwood TX’s best Lawn and Garden Maintenance service keeping your yard sharp, and your pocket book full since 1998.

Who are you more interested in considering – you or your customers?

Once you have these in place, make sure you have Google Analytics or some way to measure your traffic to determine if the problem is – not enough people getting to your site, or not enough people taking action on your site. Without numbers, it becomes very easy to solve the wrong problem. Especially if the real problem is harder to solve.

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December 2, 2009 Posted by | Community, copywriting, local marketing, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge a (web) Page By It’s Title?

The TITLE tag is one of the most important part of any webpage. That is what tells your browser to put up at the top of the screen between the BluE and ‘- Internet Explorer’ or the Firefox logo and ‘-Mozilla Firefox’ or after the compass in Apple Safari . It is even in a distinct color from the rest of the browser.  This is what gets listed in the tabs of your browser to help your visitor get back to your site while switching between the others sites competing for your attention. The TITLE tag is also a trusted part of what Google determines your webpage is about.

But most importantly, this is the underlined, Bold and Blue text that shows up in Google’s’ results page (SERP) – This is where you get to 1st sell your potiential visitor that they need to click on the link and come visit YOU!  This text is your best chance to get a person to decide what that your site will meet their desires better then the 9 or 99 other pages listed next to it. This is where if you fail, it is pretty clear it is your fault for not meeting the needs of your potiental visitor.

So how to get your potential visitor to choose you?

  1. Don’t waste it.  Don’t use ‘generic’ titles that are written from the perspective of the website – Home, About, Contact. There are 4.2, 4.1, 2.6 Billion pages you are competing against respectively compared to 436 Million for Fire, or 126 Million for Pizza (95% easier to rank at the top of).
  2. Don’t be too specific. If people are searching for your business name – ‘Smith’s Itailan Bar and Grill’, then use that. But usually they are not, they are searching for a restaurant.  You potential customer probably does not know he is looking for you specifically, but what solution as a good or service that you provide. List that good or service from the customers perspective. If they know your restaurant’s name, they are a different kind of prospect. They deserve a separate page with ‘their’ own Title. That may well be the ‘Contact page’.
  3. Don’t be too general, there are 327 Million restaurants sites listed on Google. Of course they are all over the world, and all types of quality and cost. Some of the sites are not even about specific restaurants, but related to restaurants – including goods and services for restaurants. If your customers are looking for you, they won’t be looking for your vendors selling your restaurant cleaning supplies. Typically this is where you want to get geographical – Naperville Restaurant limits the selection to 1.7 million pages. Again, another reduction by 95% in competition. But you may need to limit yourself down some more – Naperville Pizza Restaurant – cuts the pages down to 63,000 – again cutting your competition by another 95%. Balancing 2 and 3 can be a challenge – the key is to look at how your visitor will look for you. The perspective is from your visitor’s search box, not from your business or web design
  4. Sell your site.  This is where the advertising industry earned their living for decades. How to write quick headlines that attracted you to read their ad further, in a short compelling fashion. If you had the following titles which would you click on:
  • Joe’s Bar And Grill, Downers Grove
  • Downers Grove’s restaurant for dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill
  • Downers Grove’s best restaurant for casual dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill with nightly chicken dinner specials ranked by Zagat’s review

The third one tells a story like any good headline should, while at the same time giving the search engine the information it needs to place it well for your visitors search terms on Google.

Now that you are on the right track on how to craft a TITLE tag, perform some searches from a visitors perspective for your site. Look at the different Titles and see what catches your eye as well as what communicates that the page is what you are looking for. Search similar topics on Google and Bing to see how effective Title tags are constructed.  Take some time to learn what is most effective at drawing you to click on a link. This will help you learn how others are looking at your Title tag.

When you are crafting your Title tag, take some time and even consider soliciting some feedback as to what best attracts someone to your site.

Once you have crafted your Title tag to meet these criteria, consider testing – try different titles every 2-4 weeks and see what creates the most traffic based on your Google Analytics (free) or whatever tool you use to track your sites traffic.

How did you craft your Title tags and what did you learn along the way?

October 23, 2009 Posted by | How To, HTML Issue, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Breadcrumbs-Not Just for Meatloaf Anymore

Sounds like a good fairy tale (Hansel and Gretel) … but isn’t that what Google is all about, helping the searcher tell a story?

As many of these posts speak about, what is good for the visitor in making a better experience to your site,  is often good for the Google Spider – that robot computer that wanders the web and looks at websites to determine how to return results for our searches.

So part of making a better visitor experience is to have breadcrumbs as part of your website’s pages to make it easier for a visitor to know ‘where they are’ relatively speaking on your website.  This also will improve your search engine ranking.

A Breadcrumb definition from Wikipedia-Breadcrumb (navigation):

Breadcrumbs or breadcrumb trail is a navigation aid used in user interfaces. It gives users a way to keep track of their location within programs or documents. The term comes from the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel in the popular fairytale.

These navigation aids are typically near the top of the page just below the ‘navigation bar’ that map out how you would ‘logically’ get from the home page to the current page in a very structured ‘top-down’ fashion.

Typical breadcrumbs look like this:

  • Home page > Section page > Subsection page

This may seem redundant since the navigation bar or the back button may also let you follow that same path if you came in from the home page and followed the top-down structure.  But more and more, traffic analysis (using Google Analytics, WebTrends or others) show that visitors do not prefer to walk through your site in the same fashion as you design it.  This lets them wander around and still facilitates them not getting ‘lost’ in the site.

These breadcrumbs also let Google know how to relate your pages to each other and what makes your site have some coherence.  This helps it index well, because it can also define what the different mean by defining each link (not just ‘home’ but ‘main page for Evanston IL Handyman with 20 years experience’) by have a descriptive ‘crumb’ that has a clear ‘TITLE’ tag in the HREF line describing the links back to the ‘parent’ pages. For example:

<div id="breadcrumbTrail"><a href="/" title=”Schaumburg Books”>Home</a> &gt; <a href="index.shtml" title=”Sell Books and make money”>Sell Books</a> &gt; Inventory Solutions </div>

Use this layout ‘trick’ to take the opportunity to tell Google exactly what each page is about, and have your site rank higher for the description you want, not what the witch wants.

Unless of course you have the new AT&T iPhone with GPS, but that is another story.

A good article on implementation of breadcrumbs is at http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/17/breadcrumbs-in-web-design-examples-and-best-practices-2/

June 29, 2009 Posted by | How To, HTML Issue, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

FAQ – Get More Traffic by Saving Yourself Time.

Want to save time and get more traffic to your website?  I recommend answering your visitor’s questions as clearly and completely as you can.  This takes the advice written by Michael Gerber, decades before the Internet was even opened up to the public.

If your website is a part of your business, I highly recommend reading Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited.  It is written partly as a parable to describe the entrepreneurial myth of many small businesses. It is part parable, and part information. Gerber uses the story of Sarah, a struggling business woman, to describe the process of the written steps you need to take to improve your business. Whether your business is large or small, the website needs to have an entrepreneurial spirit.  Therefore, I recommend reading and integrating this classic book that has formed the foundation of the businesses I have started, and the hundreds of  business’ I have consulted for.

If you are trying to get more traffic to your site as easily as possible, I recommend creating or extending your FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on the site. The idea of the FAQ is to collect all the different questions that customers ask on a repeated basis with answers.  Why does a FAQ get you more traffic? Because when properly designed  these pages will be descriptive of the terms that customers use to look for answers on your site.  These terms will probably be repeated just enough without seeming ‘spammy’. So take the time to write out the questions and answers on separate pages to let users understand your site in the context of the questions your visitors are looking at your site.

It has also been suggested that Timothy Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week is another great resource that really explores the idea of defining your business on paper in a way that can ge shared with others. There are some great concepts there and clear steps outlined on how to document your business and create FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions pages.  He has made a whole lot of money on implementing effective (both cost and time) ways of making money on the web following his own advice.

Are you a newer business without the traffic and experience of  knowing the questions your visitors will ask? Time to do some market research.  Larger business’ will pay a decent dollar to go out and see what perspective customers are thinking about. If you cannot afford to pay, it is time to get guerrilla in your approach.  Ask friends, set up a kiosk at a flea market, hang at  coffee shop, go to your kids soccer game and ask what questions do you have. Be ready to collect the questions, and test the answers. Stop by the library and read about market surveys and how to create your tests with as little bias as possible.

I would recommend a FAQ page that has all the questions on one page, then link to each question and answer on a separate page.  On the page, I recommend the following:

  • A clear title that states the site name, short version of the question, and contact info (800 number).
  • A clear description of the site and question in the Description META tag.
  • Keywords META tag related to the question and answer keyword phrases.
  • Question summary
  • Long question
  • Short answer with key phrases in them.
  • Longer answer with key phrases and links to other pages as appropriate to the site or off the site.  This is your chance to really explain and give the background appropriate to understand your site and what you are trying to have each visitor walk away from your site with, knowledge wise.
  • Ideally, ‘breadcrumbs’ to how you got to this page from the home page of your site.
  • Ideally, links to the rest of the site navigation system in text and graphical.
  • Ideally, UGC – User Generated Content where visitors are allowed to comment and ask follow up questions and give responses.
  • Ideally, have short poll questions to begin to truly understand how users view your pages (4 questions at most, ideally only 1).

These steps generally will create content that will allow the search engines to ‘understand’ your site and help rank you well on a variety of search terms. The key is to explain your site from the perspective of someone who does not know anything about your site.  Do not assume your users have much background when they come to this page and ask the question, if for no other reason than this is the case for Google. It does not automatically understand anything and it is up to you to ‘explain’ your questions to the search engines.

Understand that unless you have been writing interactive copy for decades (and the Internet has only been public for 15 years), you will need to continue to learn how your visitors interpret your site. That is OK, and the fun of online marketing.  This will require you to continue to tweak and improve your site. Google actually prefers to see sites that continue to evolve rather than act like the US Constitution (and even that we keep considering changing on a regular basis with admendments).  Remember, it is a lot easier to change a website than it is to change our tax code and laws, and ‘they’ change that with great frequency (usually for the worse, unless you have million dollar lobbyists, but I digress).  Sucks that we have 100 Senators, not to mention the hundreds of Representatives, and they have a whole lot of staff just to work on the wording of our laws.  Are you better than 600 legislatures and thousands of staff in your ability to write your website FAQ pages?  If so, please contact me ASAP, we could make millions together! Otherwise, keep reviewing your questions and answers and keep improving your responses based on your feedback of how well you are communicating.

The key is to put in writing on the site all those amazing visions you have for helping others with your site. It really needs to be written down and not just in your head.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | E-Myth, How To, Reference books, Simple | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What should I do 1st to get ranked high in the search engines?

I am often asked, “What do I do first to get my site noticed on the search engines”?

Of course it is important to understand that SEO or Search Engine Optimization is best if it is an ongoing process to react to the world of other websites and changes in Google and other search engines way of ranking well. But we all want to take a pill and feel better in the morning, so here are some quick pills to take.

First, understand that Google has about 72% of all search engine traffic, so that alone says you should do whatever Google want. Second, the next 2 biggest search engines (Yahoo.com and Microsoft’s search engine-whose name seems to changes weekly) get most of the remainder traffic. Google basically sets the rules for ranking well on search engines – so lets do what Google wants.

So the question becomes – what should I do to rank high with Google.com?  3 ‘quick’ steps:

  • Register your domain name for at least 2 years. The reason for doing this is because Google thinks you will be around for a long time, and rates a website with a domain name registered for multiple years higher than a ‘fly by night’ one year registration. If you don’t have confidence that your site will be around for more than one year, then why should Google think you’ll be around and rate you higher?
  • Put a ‘good’ title on your page – a title that someone who does not know you would understand what the page is about without seeing the page.
  • Put a description on your page in the ‘meta’ tag section – again if you were emailing a description of the page to a stranger, that would let them know what the page is about and why they would WANT to visit it.

Domain Name registration

When Google looks at a new site, it is just like when we meet someone new.  We are trying to determine if that person is worth the effort to get to know. If that person is just stopping in the office, but you do not expect to meet again (say a friend of an employee that is leaving) – you probably do not put much into getting to know them. But when the new boss (that you think will stay around till at least your next review).  You prioritize her a lot higher and listen much more intently. So how does Google know a boss relationship vs. someone in the hall?  One hint is how long you register your domain name. If you register for 2 years, then you have ‘signed the lease’ for at least 2 years. That sense of commitment shows Google you plan to stick around and to value over someone who did not commit.

Page Title

When creating your website page there is a line of code called the TITLE line.  It can look like this:

<title>Social Media Marketing - Reputation Management, The Other Side of Social Media Marketing</title>

Notice this is not the typical ‘Home Page’ description. This is a keyword phrase and a clear benefit that includes the keyword phrase. Remember this might be the only thing that someone sees of your site in order to determine whether to visit your site.  Limit to around 70 characters, because that is what most of the search engines consider, as well as visitors read before making a decision. Your business name is usually not the correct title – unless someone is searching for you by name. If someone is searching for you by your product or service, that is what your site should be about.  Your website should be about your perspective customer’s needs, not about you.

‘Meta’ Tag Section

The meta tag section is the part of the website page that describes what a page is about.  This area has been abused in the past 13 years as people have tried to ‘game’, the search engines.  So search engines ignore most of the meta tags except the ‘description’ – this is what Goggle usually uses to describe your site in its listings. Because other people will read your description, it tends to trust it more.  A sample description of a page is:

<meta name="description" content="If you need Photoshop brushes or just love Photoshop brushes then come to Phatbrush. Phatbrush has High Quality Photoshop brushes of all kinds. Our Photoshop brushes will satisfy your hunger." />

Conclusion

These are few quick hints.  I will explain more as we go through different posts, but these are some quick hints that you should be able to implement in a day. Depending on Google, results may not show for a few weeks or more, depending on how often Google visits your website.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | domain name, How To, HTML Issue, Simple | , , , , , | Leave a comment