In order to make SEO easier to execute, let’s work together to make sure you understand some basic definitions. What I provide here is only the essential SEO jargon. If you want to drive yourself crazy, you can find thousands more confusing and unnecessary terms relating to SEO.
This book wants to cut out the fat and give you what you need so you rank your website and turn it into a money machine.
I acknowledge that at first this may still seem overwhelming. Breathe deep; it will all start to make sense soon. The goal of this information is to get you started on a do-it-yourself program or as a resource when looking to hire someone to do it for you.
On-site vs. Off-site SEO
The SEO process can be divided into two separate activities.
- On-site SEO refers to things you do to your website directly. This involves the text, pictures, schema and keyword metadata. Don’t panic. I will explain these terms below.
- Off-site SEO involves activities that are not directly related to your website. This will include things such as setting up a Google My Business page, a Facebook business page, online directory listings and link building activities. These terms will be covered in the next chapter.
In this chapter, we cover the On-site factors starting with Keywords.
The first thing you need to understand is the concept of Keywords (aka Search Terms). A Keyword or Search Term simply refers to a word or phrase that someone types into Google to find you. Even though the term Keyword makes you think of just one word, it is more often a series of words. They are usually phrases that are typed in when someone is looking for a resource or an answer to a problem.
These Keywords need to be placed on your website so Google knows what to rank you for. Examples: “Plumber Missoula” or “Roofing Contractor Indianapolis IN”
IMPORTANT TIP: Make sure you put the service before the city name in your Keywords. More people than not, search type the service first and city second so in doing it this way you increase your chances of ranking for a more popular Keyword. Example: “Fencing Company Denver” instead of “Denver Fencing Company.”
You need to make sure these Keywords are placed in your Meta Title – sometimes referred to as Title Tags. You can see this on any website by hovering your mouse over the tab in your browser.
In WordPress you will typically place this within the Page Edit screen. It is important that you include Keywords in the Title Tags of all your different service pages, not just the Home page.
Some WordPress themes will allow you to do this, but if not, you will need to install a free WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO. To learn how to install a plugin go to YouTube.com and search “How to install WordPress plugin.” There are many easy-to-follow videos to step you through this process.
If you are using other platforms, then you will need to search around to find the Meta Title section. Just insert one Keyword or phrase per page followed by the Business Name. Example: Plumber Missoula – Bobs Plumbing and Heating Services.
Resist the temptation to insert multiple Keywords into the Title Tag. Google is very sensitive to this and may issue a penalty for “Keywords Stuffing.” If you want to rank for more Keywords, then I suggest simply creating additional pages to target those Keywords. To rank in multiple cities, please see Chapter 12 for an in-depth explanation of what Google will and will not allow.
The next important onsite SEO element is unique content – meaning the text or words on your site. It is a good idea to have at least 250 words or more of unique content on each page you want to rank. Is your content unique? Don’t be so sure. You MUST run every page of your site through a free service called Copyscape.com. If it shows more than 125 words on any one page being duplicates from another website, then it could be hurting your rankings.
We have found that a lot of business owners will copy and paste content from someone else’s website then make a few changes and call it their own. If it doesn’t pass Copyscape.com, then you may be hurting yourself. Keep in mind this really only applies to pages that you want to rank.
At the time of this writing it is not important to worry about pages such as the About Us, Contact Us, FAQ, etc. Primarily it is the service pages that you will want to rank. If you don’t want to do the writing yourself, you can hire inexpensive “ghost-writers” on services such as Craiglist.org, Textbroker.com or Fiverr.com.
However, you may need to test a few writers until you find one that speaks in your “voice” and is knowledgeable about your industry.
Low Franchises Get Away with Duplicate Content
Whenever I start talking about duplicate content penalties, I frequently get questions on how some bigger companies can continue to use duplicate content and avoid Google penalties.
Google does not treat all business or all websites the same. Websites and businesses that have been around for years and have proven themselves to Google as solid established entities will receive some leeway. They get special treatment when it comes to duplicate content and other penalty-related issues.
Google’s goal is to weed out spammy websites or fake businesses that are new to the scene. If you are a small locally based operation, it is best not to test Google on this. Just trust my experience. We are positioning your website to have the best chance of ranking.
How to Fix Duplicate Content Issues
What do you do if you see duplicate content on your site? For our clients, we immediately hire a writer to rewrite the content or come up with something new. We then run it through Copyscape.com and if it passes, we replace the content on that specific page.
What if you see that someone else has completely copied your stuff? First, contact them with a cease and desist order. If they don’t comply, then contact their hosting company. If they still don’t comply, the host will possibly suspend the website until the issue is resolved.
The Mobile Factor
So, we have already spoken about your site being mobile friendly for usability reasons, but it is also crucial for SEO. Since Google’s big mobile update, I’ve seen sites drop 10 spots or more simply because they are not mobile ready.
And, just like with unique content, don’t assume your site is mobile friendly. Find out for sure by doing a Google search for “Google Mobile Test.” Do a quick check with Google’s Free Mobile testing tool. See chapter 3 for more information.
Social Media Links
The last thing I want to mention on this topic is placing links from your website reaching out to your social media business pages. When I say links, I mean when you click on a graphic on your website, it takes you to a new website or page on the Internet.
For example: you will want to have a graphic for Facebook somewhere on the website so that it appears on every page. When a visitor clicks on that graphic, they are sent to your Facebook Business Page (which we talk about setting up in the next chapter).
Don’t get carried away here. We all know there are 100s of social media sites out there, but the most important are Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and possibly Angie’s List.
Just put links from your website to the ones you have set up. For tutorials on how to do this in WordPress, go to YouTube.com and search for “How to create a link in WordPress.” Keep in mind we are not talking about posting anything to your social media sites; we are simply linking over. For SEO purposes, you just want to show Google that you have properties on the Internet other than your website.
Image Alt Tags
Image Alt Tags, also known as Alternative Text, are associated with the pictures on your website. Google cannot read images and so you have to tell them what the photo is about. It also aids people with visual disabilities to identify pictures. Keep in mind that Alt Tags are different than the caption.
With WordPress, click on the edit icon for an individual picture and you will see an Alt Tag field that allows you to insert your Keyword. You can easily insert Keyword(s) into the Alt Tags similar to the page Title Tags, but make sure to use only one Keyword (or Keyword phrase such as “HVAC Contractor”) per picture per page to avoid “Keyword Stuffing” that can result in a Google penalty. The method for editing Alt Tags differs from platform to platform.
The words contained in your website’s URL or web address changes from page to page. These are called Permalinks and are an often-overlooked ranking factor that should not be ignored. Make sure the words after the slash have variations of your Keywords for that specific page. An example would be:
You can set the Permalinks in the WordPress Dashboard under Settings.
Other platforms will vary in how Permalinks are set. You will need to research your specific platforms settings in this regard.
In the next chapter, we talk about the importance of having a correct Business Name, Address and Phone number on all of your listings across the Internet. It is also important to have it correctly set up on the website itself. This is done using something called Schema code.
To generate this code, simply do a Google search for “local business schema generator.” There are many free websites that will help you generate the necessary code. At the time of this writing our company, Big West Marketing is using www.microdatagenerator.com
Once the code is generated, I recommend copying and pasting it into the footer of your website so it shows up on every page. This step will make it easier for Google to match your correct Internet profile information with your website information.
There is a lot of debate when it comes to putting Keywords into the content of each page of your website. At the time of this writing Google’s penalty filters are very sensitive, so my opinion is that less is more.
I recommend writing content that is targeted to the visitor, not for Google. Instead of repeating the Keyword over and over throughout the text, use variations that sound natural.
What Not to Worry About
If you search the Internet, you will find hundreds of free SEO analyzer programs. They ask you to enter your website and then give you a report with lots of errors and corrections that need to be made. In my opinion, most of this information is useless. It is either outdated or is a marketing ploy to get you to spend money to “fix” these errors.
A lot of the metrics these reports talk about sound very important and may have been valid at one time. Some of the more common metrics they will talk about include the following list:
- Meta Description
- Meta Keywords
- Keyword Density
- H Tags
- Image Titles
- Image Descriptions
At the time of this writing, I have found that the factors listed above are not critical to Google ranking success, especially when it comes to ranking in the Google local listings section.
It is easy to get bogged down with all the thousands of possibilities and opinions when it comes to SEO. My advice is to keep it simple and focus on the big important factors that I discuss in this book. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect, just aim for pretty darn good and you will still be way ahead of your competition.
Now that we have covered all the most important On-site SEO factors, it’s time to go beyond your website. We are going to start working with Off-site SEO that will really get your website visible to Google and help boost your business to the top of the rankings.
You may be feeling overwhelmed with TMI or “Too Much Information.” Relax! This will fall into place. Remember, most of your competitors will have thrown in the towel by now. 90% of success is just showing up and not giving up. You are on your way!
Table of Contents
Intro to Book: The Service Business Money Machine
Chapter 1: The Power of Making It Easy
Chapter 2: Navigation Menus and Pages
Chapter 3: Going Mobile
Chapter 4: Website Look and Feel
Chapter 5: Domains, Hosting and Websites
Chapter 6: Building Trust On The Internet
Chapter 7: Video Power!
Chapter 8: Closing the Deal
Chapter 9: SEO – Understanding the Game
Chapter 10: On-site SEO
Chapter 11: Off-site SEO
Chapter 12: Google My Business FAQ
Chapter 13: Facebook Marketing
Chapter 14: Bringing It All Together