We’ve all gotten them before. Spam emails from off-shore SEO companies promising to make our site #1 in Google for only $99 per month. If you’ve suspected that such claims are ludicrous, then you’re right. We won’t ever promise you a #1 ranking on any keyword nationally, but we can help you realize your dreams of owning a successful business by outselling your competitors on the web. And if you’re a nonprofit, we can help your organization increase its online visibility with clients and donors.
Search Engine Optimization—Its Real Worth
Search engine optimization can be incredibly beneficial to your company or organization. But to understand its true worth, you have to focus on your site’s overall visibility, not on specific rankings for particular keywords. In fact, chasing rankings alone is like a dog chasing its own tail—a silly endeavor that is a complete waste of time. The days are over when you could game Google and other search engines to rank your site in the Top 5 for specific keywords. Instead, your goal should be enhancing your visibility among those people searching for your products or services in a specific market, whether that is your local geographic area or a national or global region.
If your site isn’t being found by the customers you hoped it would, then there’s a good chance it hasn’t been optimized for the keywords those customers most often use to search for your products or services. In other words, the language and phrases used on your site don’t match the language being used by prospective customers searching for products or services on Google and other search engines. Writing your site’s content using select keywords appropriate for your audience is the linguistic side of SEO, but there’s also a technical aspect of SEO that you should tackle first.
Technical SEO Site Audit
Before building a keyword inventory for your site, it is important to first understand how keywords are used by Google and other search engines to deliver customers to your site. This aspect of SEO, often called Technical SEO or On-Page SEO, involves the correct positioning of keywords and their embedded language within the code of your site’s pages so search engines can find them. If you have great keywords, but don’t place them in the correct slots, Google and the other search engines won’t easily recognize them. Google uses 200+ ranking factors in its search algorithm, and many elements of Technical SEO are primary ranking factors.
Site Audit Features
Before researching keywords, we recommend that clients identify underlying problems with Technical SEO by performing an audit of their site’s primary content pages. Regardless of how many pages your site has, we can perform a full Techical SEO site audit that includes a detailed report of the following:
- Scans of your current site and three competitor websites to determine their adherence to Technical SEO protocols, including title tags, keywords, SEO friendly URLs, anchor text, and header tags.
- A speed test to discover those scripts, images, or page content that are unnecessarily slowing down your site and affecting ranking.
- A Google site indexing test to see how well the search engine has indexed each page of your site.
- An HTML alidation test to determine how well formed your HTML code is and whether any code errors exist.
- Searches of both outgoing and incoming links to determine your site’s popularity and trustworthiness.
- Confirmation that your site is connected properly to Google Analytics and Google Search Console and that no errors are being reported.
As you can see, a Technical SEO audit doesn’t examine the relevance of keywords or page content; instead, it analyzes whether you have provided all necessary data required by the search engines to make sense of your site’s content — title tags, keywords, SEO friendly URLs, anchor text, and header tags. For example, many people are unaware that when placing an image on their site they should include a short description of the picture in the alt attribute of the image element, like so:
<img src="/assets/images/logo.png" width="500" height="230" alt="Alpine Lakes Design logo" />
This alt attribute was originally developed to allow those with visual disabilities to use special programs that read page content aloud (at a speed way too fast for those of us with 20/20 vision). Today, however, search engines also use the alt attribute for indexing purposes so web users have a better chance of finding relevant images. Depending on which authority you listen to, the alt attribute should be no more than 100 characters or about 16 words +/- 8 characters, so it’s much like writing on Twitter. Phase 2 provides a great guide on writing alt attributes.
Though correcting problems with Technical SEO can be done at any time, we strongly recommend conducting an audit before conducting keyword research so you’ll better understand the various technical ways in which keywords are used in a comprehensive SEO strategy. Additionally, a thorough understanding of site traffic via Google Analytics is necessary to focus your keyword strategy on problematic pages of your site.
Building an inventory of relevant keywords is the foundation of any content development plan, but it is only one of several steps. The larger goal is developing basic, but alluring language to use when marketing to those searching for your goods and services. Relevant keywords are what bring users to your site in the first place, but well written sentences and paragraphs help convince users to buy your goods or services once they are there. We can help you discover those keywords that most likely to drive traffic from a targeted market to your site, but we can also help you embed them in effective marketing language using the guidelines of Technical SEO.
Using a variety of open-source and commercial SEO tools, our team conducts in-depth keyword research to find those terms that are currently driving traffic to your and your competitors’ sites. By comparing the two, we can then suggest ways to correct problems with your current keyword inventory and how to leverage problems on your competitors’ sites to your own advantage. The outcome is a detailed Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Report that serves as a road map for besting your competition on the web. By implementing the report’s recommendations, you can be assured your site is achieving maximum visibility for those terms most relevant to customers in your market. Over time, a well-implemented SEM plan will bring quality traffic and increase sales to your site.
Long-Term SEM Plans
Search Engine Marketing, however, is not a one-time moon shot. Instead, it’s an ongoing strategy that requires continual review of keyword research and content development plans. We often compare SEM to caring for a garden—you plan your garden over the winter, then plant in the early spring. But continual vigilance and adjustment is required to stay ahead of pests and weeds over the summer and fall. Because new companies are entering the web each day, and Google constantly tweaks its search ranking algorithm, it’s important to stay on top of such changes and be ready to adjust your content strategy accordingly. If you’re interested in a long-term Search Engine Marketing plan, just let us know, and we’ll prepare you a quote.