The 5 Keys to Successful Organic Search Engine Placement
We’re often asked, “How do I get my website to the top of Google”? Before delving in, it’s worth noting that the answer is not exactly the same for every keyword. In fact, it’s just the opposite; every keyword has its own unique signature as to exactly what it will take to earn the number one spot. Some keywords are easier, and some are harder than others. Some require doing this and some require doing that. So to accurately answer that question begins with asking the question “for which keyword phrase”.
To understand how search engines work, the top search engines automatically score our websites, very similar to a credit score. You receive positive points for the things you do correctly, no points for the things you do not do, and negative points if you break one of the search engine’s rules. Add those points together and that determines where websites rank, from the first to the last site listed for any search we conduct. The website with the best score is ranked number 1, the second best score is ranked number 2 and so on.
Roughly half of your score (50%) is earned from your company’s onsite presence and the other 50% of your score is earned from your company’s offsite presence. Onsite presence means exactly that, “things that are on your website”. And offsite presence refers to all the “online references” to your company, not contained on your own website properties. In other words, the information about your business contained on 3rd party web properties.
In order to “raise your site’s ranking” for your targeted keywords; both your “onsite and offsite corporate presence” must be optimized to achieve the best possible score. To achieve this coveted “first page ranking” on the “search engine results page” (SERP); there are 5 key steps that everyone must take, regardless of their industry.
Professional Keyword Analysis & Selection
Perhaps the most critical part of a successful search engine optimization campaign is choosing the correct “keyword phrases” for targeting. To be a top contender you must make keyword choices wisely as the “chosen keywords” set the direction for the entire SEO (search engine optimization) effort. Finding out months into a campaign that the wrong keywords were chosen, can literally reset the clock back to zero.
Things you should know:
- The number of keywords any website can target is limited. A simple rule of thumb is “you can target one tier-one keyword phrase per primary page of your website”. Thus a site with 5 primary pages would ideally be limited to successfully ranking for about 5 keyword phrases. Trying to optimize the 5 page site to rank for 10 or 20 phrases will produce mediocre to poor results for most all the keywords chosen. (If you want to rank for 20 tier-one keywords, you need to think in terms of growing your website to about 20 primary pages in depth.)
- Tier-one keywords are the most competitive, most popularly searched terms. Tier-two keywords are moderately competitive, moderately searched. Tier-three keywords are lightly competitive and lightly searched.
- A “primary page” is a content rich page. Typically, “Contact Us” pages and other pages with minimal content, do not contribute to the overall SEO effort.
The Keyword Analysis Process
- ENet begins with an interview and questionnaire to learn which keyword phrases the Client believe their customers would use to find them in the search engines.
- Our techs then research the number of times those keyword phases are actually searched for and the level of competition associated with each phrase.
- Using popular search engine data obtained from independent reporting services, we seek out the most relevant and popular keyword phrases that searchers are actually using.
- We then prepare a comprehensive “Keyword Analysis” report showing Clients the most popular keyword phrases, the number of monthly searches conducted, and the number of websites competing for those terms. Our keyword reports provide detailed data on the most relevant 50 to 100 keyword phases for your business.
Onsite Search Engine Optimization
Armed with an exact list of targeted keyword phrases, it’s time to optimize all of the code and content of the site towards the chosen keyword phrases. At ENet, we begin this process by performing a comprehensive analysis of how the Client’s site is optimized now and by examining what the top competitors for each keyword have done to optimize themselves. Then a strategy is developed for what’s needed to “out score” the competition.
Content is King – The most important element of good “Onsite Search Optimization” is quality, unique content. Delivering the kind of content that users will find meaningful is what search engines want most. With content as the foundation, the task begins of optimizing that content and the HTML code that displays it.
A partial list of onsite optimization activities include:
- Optimization of the site’s existing content to the chosen keyword phrases.
- Expansion of the site’s content to support the chosen keyword phrases ( may incur additional charges)
- Insuring your site is mobile friendly
- Creation and optimization of the page meta tags.
- Implementation of optimized filenames, image names & directory names.
- Restructuring of poorly written HTML source code
- Controlling content headings through optimized CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
- Optimizing inter-linking within the web pages of the site
- Creation of optimized text-based navigation of the site
- Installation of an Onsite Blog (included with most plans)
- Addition of Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter links
- Creation and implementation of customized 404 Error Page
- Addition of robots.txt file for excluded content
- Creation of a search engine friendly site map
Beware of bad SEO practices that could get you banned from today’s popular search. ENet only uses proven and ethical means to optimize your website for submission to the major search engines based on the rules set forth by the search engines themselves.
What We DON’T DO:
- SPAM the search engines with doorway or entry pages. Most search engines are detecting and banning sites that use this practice.
- Cloak you website. Some SEO companies will make multiple copies of your website and register each one in the hopes of gaining higher positions. This is regarding as another form of spamming.
- Keyword stuffing or any other form of hiding keywords that may be discouraged by the search engines such has having text colors match background colors of the page so users can not see them but search engines can. Most search engines will detect and disallow entry for use of this practice.
Professional Offsite Search Optimization
With your website in optimized shape, it’s time to focus on your company’s “offsite presence”. An offsite presence consists of all the mentions to your company that do not occur on web properties that you own. When other reputable websites post content about your company and provide links to your website, the search engines consider these endorsements of your website. In essence they conclude “your website must have value, look at all the other websites talking about you”. Consequently, you earn more points and rank higher in the search results for the keyword phrases your content is optimized towards.
Offsite optimization points focus on 4 main areas:
Social Media – A presence on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter is critical to a site’s overall ranking performance. We often hear from B2B clients, “We don’t do business with consumers, we don’t need a Facebook account”. We educate them that whether they conduct business on Facebook or not, some search algorithms scores their social media presence. No presence, no points. If their competitor has a Facebook page, that competitor is receiving points that they are not. Consequently their competitor will outrank them.
3rd Party Content Placement – Also known as “Content Marketing”, the objective here is to get news and information about your company, its products or services; placed onto 3rd party properties. As mentioned above, the more other websites that talk about your business, the more the search engines consider your website valuable. And the higher up the search engines move you in the results.
Link Popularity – The number (and quality) of the 3rd party websites that link to your site has a dramatic influence on your site’s overall search ranking. The primary impact of Google’s “Penguin Updates” is grading the “quality” of the sites that link to yours. Linking is much more a quality over quantity issue, since the Penguin release. ENet begins by getting backlinks to your site from a groomed list of high quality websites. Our monthly SEO campaigns include on ongoing effort to increase both the number and quality of the 3rd party websites that link to yours.
Domain Maturity – Your Domain Name contributes in two main ways to your overall search ranking: 1) the age of your domain, the older your domain name, the more ranking value it has and 2) if there are keywords contained within the name. Experience shows that having keywords within your domain name has considerable value. We’ve often seen websites that had “mediocre optimization” ranking on page one primarily because the searched for keywords were contained within the domain name.
The Marketing Message
Once your search engine optimization is complete and the traffic problem to your website is solved; you are going to encounter a totally new challenge known as your website’s “Conversion Rate”.
Your website’s “Conversion Rate” compares the “total number of website visitors” to the “number of visitors who take a favorable action”. If you are a service company, the desired action may be for visitors to “telephone you”, or “fill out an online request form”. If you are an ecommerce website selling products online, the desired action would be for visitors to make an online purchase”. This desired action is your “desired conversion”.
Whatever a conversion means to you, the goal is to increase the number of visitors who take the desired favorable action (the conversion rate). Your “Conversion Rate” is a direct result of your website’s marketing message. All websites have a marketing message, the question is…is it a good one, or is it a bad one? The better your site’s marketing message, the better your conversion rate.
Internet averages tell us a good conversion rate is between 3% and 4%. However properly done, a good marketing message can produce conversion results of 5% and even greater. The 3 elements of a successful marketing message give you the building blocks for creating your site’s marketing message and improving your results.
The elements of a Successful Marketing Message are:
- A “Clear Message”
- A “Good Offer”
- An effective “Call to Action”
Professional Search Marketing Maintenance
With the 4 steps above completed, your corporate web presence is now tuned. However it’s critical for businesses to implement a consistent SEO strategy if your website is going to sustain optimal ranking in the popular search engines. If you walk away it will only be a matter of months before your web presence is behind the curve and your ranking begins to drop.
There are two primary reasons for this:
- Search Algorithm Changes – The search companies continually modify their policies, procedures and search algorithms several times per year. When the search engines change, if your website is not adjusted to meet these new rules, you’ll begin to see a drop in your ranking. It’s not rocket science, the companies who consistently stay at the top of the search results are the same companies who are diligent with keeping their web presence in compliance. What worked yesterday in optimization may not necessarily work today.
- Competition – Your competitors are smart people too! They are also trying to figure out how to get their site to the top of the major search engines; in their minds, hopefully past yours. Since there is only room for 10 websites on the first SERP (search engine results page) most businesses will not make it. To be a dominate player in your industry it’s essential to study your online competition and do a better job of optimization than they are doing
Its worthy to note: Your ranking competitor is not necessarily your heads up competitor. It is anyone who wants the same keyword you do. This will include authors of books, trade/industry websites, government & university websites, even Wikipedia.com. Whoever wants the same keywords you do, is your competitor.
Want help? Speak to one of our Client Care Specialist about developing an SEO and search marketing strategy for your organization.