Everything You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization to Level Up!
Whether it’s website design, social media, blogging, or optimization, do you know what your top online competitors are doing?
Do you know how to stay on you’re A game?
Are you falling short to the competition?
When you know what your competition is up to, you can examine your own online presence and take the steps you need to level up. It may not be rocket surgery, but we’ve found again and that most people don’t do the simple things they need to do to rise above the crowd.
When it comes to success, many see the mountain, but not many do what it takes to climb to the top. – Nicklaus Suino
Michigan Search Engine Optimization Simpleton’s Guide...
Not because you’re a simpleton, but because getting things done quickly and simply is the key to staying on your path to the top.
Step Zero: do these steps using Google. The other search engines hardly matter. Seriously.
Step 1: Make sure you’re in a “naive” browser.
That means you should either clear your browsing history or use “private browsing.” What you don’t want is a search that already knows your preferences, because then you’ll get results Google thinks you want instead of objective placement numbers.
Step 2: Type in one of your most important target keywords. Hit return. (I told you this was for simpletons).
If you sell cars, that keyword could be “buy new car [your city].” If you do nails, it might be “nail treatments [your city].” One of the things we do is website design, so we might type in “website design Ann Arbor.”
Step 3: Make a note of what sites appear on page one in the organic listings.
Ignore ads, maps listings, and referral and compilation sites like Yelp!, Lawyers.com, Wikipedia, etc. Focus on a list of 5-7 websites for real businesses that offer products or services similar to yours. Those are your primary online competitors for page one real estate.
Step 4: For each site, record the following information...
- URL – that’s the expression in the search bar that looks something like this: https://www.michiganseogroup.com/
- Page title – usually shown in the gray or blue space at the top of your browser window. For example, our Contact page’s title is “Contact Michigan SEO Group.”
- H1 Tags – you may have to “view source” to find which text on their page is designated H1 (the most important header).
- Text Content – don’t copy the whole text on the page, just note how many times your target keyword appears. You can use the “Find” function in most browsers to make this quicker.
- Source Code – sometimes your target keyword will appear in the source code but not in the visible content. Don’t copy the code, just note how many times your target keyword appears. You can use the “Find” function in most browsers to make this quicker.
- Internal Links – how many links are there from that page on your competitor’s site to other pages on the same site? There are a bazillion free third party tools out there for this ... just Google “internal link checker.”
- Outbound Links – how many links are there from your competitor’s page to other web pages? Most link checker tools will give you this information, too.
- Inbound Links – how many links are there from other sites back to your competitor’s site? Most link checker tools will give you this information!
- Updating/New Information – how often does your competitor add new content to their website? Look for items marked “new,” company info pages, new product offerings, dated blog posts, embedded Twitter feeds, news, etc. ... anywhere your competitor is working to keep their website current and relevant.
Step 5: Get the same list of information for your web page related to the same target keyword.
Step 6: Here’s what you’re looking for with each factor: basically, are your competitors doing a better job than you are at each of these tactics?
- URL – is your target keyword in the URL?
- Example: in https://www.michiganseogroup.com both the words “Michigan” and “SEO” are keywords related to what we do and where we do it. We might also have chosen “websitedesignannarbor.com” but that’s another topic.
- Page Title – is your target keyword in the Page Title?
- Closer to the beginning is better. Most web gurus say Google doesn’t pay attention to more than 60-70 characters.
- H1 Tags – is your target keyword in any H1 tags?
- It should be in at least one. More than one is probably incrementally better, but not significant enough to put a lot of effort into.
- Content – is your target keyword in your text content?
- Google gives the most weight to the first appearance of your target keyword, and progressively less weight to subsequent appearances. We recommend including it about three times, using reasonable, non-spammy sentences with the keyword. No “keyword stuffing”!
- Source Code – sometimes you’ll find a large number of your target keywords in the source code of a competitors page (we’ve found 60, 70, even 100 on some pages). It’s unlikely that more than a few will have an impact, but you don’t have to worry as much here about keyword stuffing if the usages make sense to Google.
- Internal Links – you want a few links from your target page to other pages on your site, and a few from other pages on your site back to your target page. Keep in mind that linking between pages that relate to the same content will give you more of a boost.
- Outbound Links – linking out to other pages with related content can help you a bit. There was a time that Google explicitly mentioned making your page a “hub” that links out to roughly three authority sites on your target topic. We think that’s still an effective tactic.
- Inbound Links – how many links are there from other web pages back to your target page? Even more important, how relevant and authoritative are the pages that link back? A few highly related authoritative links back can be more effective than dozens of random backlinks.
- Updating/New Information – how often do you add new content to your website? Is the information relevant, helpful, authoritative and engaging? You should create a strategy to continually post content on all your platforms and make sure that content is optimized around your target keyword as well as helpful to your existing and potential customers.
Your first mission is to make sure you are doing at least as well as your competitors on these basic SEO tasks. We’ve found that clients who do these things well move toward the top of the Google rankings and tend to stay there. If you manage to get all this done and done well and your website is still struggling, you may have to dig deeper to find out what higher level SEO work is needed.
Is Your Marketing Team Utilizing Search Engine Optimization? Is Your Marketing Cost Effective?
“Am I getting a good return on my investment, taking into account not only what I have to pay my marketing vendors (ad placements, pay-per-click, website hosting, business listings, mailings, brochures, etc.) but also what I’m paying my marketing person/team?”
You might be stunned at how often the answer is either “no!” or “I don’t know!”
Great marketing, especially search engine optimization can transform your business both inside and out. It all starts with making sure you know exactly what you’re aiming for. If you’re having trouble figuring that out alone, call us to discuss a strategic planning session. The power of a little knowledge is incredible!
Ann Arbor, Michigan Search Engine Optimization Company: SEO Ann Arbor, A Business You Can Trust!
We do website design, social media management, blogging, content creation, pay-per-click management, and SEO every day, and we’re pretty good at it. Our clients’ websites get to page one of Google, either quickly or over a reasonable period of time. Because we work with SEO every day, we know what to look for, and we have efficient ways of doing it. We’re also local, so if you have questions or concerns you can sit across the desk from us or call us on the phone (in the same time zone!) and we’ll make sure your questions are answered.
If you’re revitalizing your marketing strategy consider search engine optimization. Call us at 877-815-6974 to arrange a visit. If you’re more comfortable with email, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or just contact us here. We’d love to start you on your journey to a robust online presence and success on the Internet.
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