What SEO Is And How It Helps Your Business

search results
  1. What is SEO?
  2. How does it help my business?
  3. How can I start getting my website to rank higher?
  4. How long does it take?
  5. Links vs Content vs On-Page

 

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of optimizing your website so search engines can understand what it is you do, and rank you accordingly.

SEO describes a wide range of skills and services that are required to do things like Create Content, Build Links from other websites to your own, ensure your site structure is able to be read and understood by search engines like Google, and many more.

 

So how does this help my business?

In short, the higher you rank on search engines the more people will click through to your website. The more people click through to your website the more leads and customers you will have. That of course assumes your website does its job. (link here to CRO or website being an asset article).

According to Backlinko the first 3 search results on page 1 get 75.1% of all clicks and if you’re showing up on page 2 or lower you are very unlikely to get any clicks at all.

 

seo results page one

 

So the higher your website ranks in search results the more people click through and have a chance to buy.

 

How can I get my website to rank higher?

Simple…

Start producing content that your audience will search for. Make sure that content is good and provides information that both your readers and search engines will want to read.

Make sure you understand what keywords people use to find you and how well you rank for them.

Find any issues with your site’s structure or code that would be making it difficult for Google to crawl your website. Also, make sure that your text isn’t too small or your site isn’t confusing.

Next, find other websites that are willing to link to your articles and content. If you are partnered with other companies make sure they are linking back to your site.

Additionally, share your content with your audience on both Social Media and your email list. This won’t help your SEO, but it will get more eyes on your content and open up opportunities for people to share your content and contact you to start a relationship.

SEO is not ‘easy’ but it’s not a dark art that you, the website owner, cannot understand. It comes back to making your site talk to the right people and be understandable by search engines. There are complexities and nuances, but ultimately if you’re producing great content and putting in the work your site will start to climb higher in search results.

How long does it take?

It depends on the competition.

Are you going up against someone who’s been creating content, answering questions, gaining links, being the authority in your industry, and has a really clean and user-friendly site? Have they been doing it for a long time? Then it’s going to take a while to climb the search engine results.

However, I find that smaller industries or local businesses in smaller cities have less competition and are able to improve their positions quicker than others in more saturated industries that have been working on their online presence for a long time.

That doesn’t mean its impossible to compete. It just means you should stop putting it off and get to work.

 

Links vs Content vs On-Page … where do I start?

Chances are if you’re reading this you won’t be a seasoned digital marketer or know where to start building your online presence and climbing higher on search engine results.

That’s fine! Just start small, but be committed to consistency.

I recommend you start with Content. Content is an investment that keeps on giving long after you’ve published it.
Content also takes practice. You probably aren’t going to be good at writing blog posts on your first try. You’ll probably be too nervous to immediately be good at creating videos. But the more you do it, the better you’ll get and the more naturally it will come.

Once you start making content and feel like you’re hitting your stride, you should take a look at where you’re publishing your content. Is your website optimized for search engines? Before you get too deep into content creation, go through your website and make sure you are publishing in a format that is going to give you good results for all your hard work.

Make sure your H1’s, H2’s, Title Tags, Bread Crumbs, etc are all in place. Make sure your site hasn’t been marked ‘no-index’ (where your site tells search engines not to crawl its content). Do a page speed test on GTMetrix and see how well your site is doing as far as speed.

Make it easier with a plugin.

Another step I recommend you take is to install a free SEO plugin like SEO Press. Now this will only work if you’re using WordPress, but I highly recommend it.

An SEO plugin will handle things like Meta Data, Schema, and much more for you so you don’t have to learn how to code for SEO.

Next, move on to links.

Once you’re cooking with content creation, and have your site’s structure sorted out and optimized, you can move on to Link Building.

Link building is the one part of SEO that can be done off of your site, but tends to be the hardest part of getting any site to rank well.

You have to convince others to link to your website. There are several ways of doing this, but at its core, you have to ask website owners and publishers if they would be willing to link to an article on your website that their audience would find useful. You can also look for opportunities to guest blog for other websites.

Guest blogging is a great way to find link opportunities because you are helping the site owner by creating content for them in exchange for the link. I find it’s the least uncomfortable of the two conversations to have.

You will have to ask for more links than you can expect to get. If you ask 30-100 people for a link, expect to get 5-15. The more value you can offer the more likely you are to get the link, but it’s still going to take work to stand out from the crowd.

The easiest way to get links is to ask people you know and work within your industry or similar industries. People are way less likely to ignore your links offers and requests if they know you.

You may be asking “can I just make good content and people will link to it?” Yes! You can do just that, but when you’re not ranking for any keywords in your industry or niche it’s going to be hard for people to find you and link to you. That’s where your content sharing strategy can really help.

 

This sounds like a lot of work, can’t you just do it…?

Yes, yes we can.

Prairie Giraffe specializes in SEO for small businesses. We utilize an easily understood SEO Pathway system that allows us to help most businesses at all stages of their SEO journey.

All SEO Pathways start with an SEO Audit. We have to understand where you’re at and where you’re trying to go in order to best help you. From there we recommend one or more of our SEO Pathways; Content, Link Building, and On-page. With your approval, we go to work improving your site’s SEO and helping you rank higher on search engine results pages or SERPs.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, let us know by filling out our contact form or check out our SEO Services.

Why Local SEO Matters To Your Business In 2020

The last time you searched Google for a florist or coffee shop you probably ended up visiting somewhere nearby. You are not alone. In fact, 72% of people who perform a local search will visit a business that is within five miles of their current location. (1)

At a time when almost everyone has a smartphone, it is no surprise that having a strong online presence is essential. Research has shown that 97% of people learn predominately about local businesses online. If you have a business that provides products or services to customers in a specific geographical area, then optimizing for local search is critical.

What is Local SEO?

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are the methods employed to increase a website’s visibility for local search results. Local search results appear for certain types of search queries. These include queries where the user enters terms like “near me” or a specific geographical location like “Chicago mechanic”. Searches for brick and mortar businesses will also produce local search results. Local search results come in the form of the Local 3 Pack and Google Maps. There are also specific organic local search result pages (SERPS).

local map pack
Local Map Pack Results

The importance of optimizing for local search

In 2020 most businesses realize the importance of local search and are actively seeking to improve their visibility. Those businesses are competing heavily for a limited number of spots. As the name suggests the Google Local 3 Pack, only provides three spots for local businesses to appear. In order to get your business featured in this highly valuable online real estate, you need to be properly optimized for local SEO. Google Maps and organic local search results are no less competitive. In order to beat out your competition, you need a solid local SEO strategy in place.

How to optimize for local search

While there are many factors that go into local SEO, there are some relatively simple things that any business can do in order to improve their local visibility. These include:

Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a local listing service for businesses provided by the search engine. GMB is a powerful tool for optimizing for local search and best of all it is completely free. If your business has been operating for some time, then there is a good chance a GMB listing will already exist. Start by performing a Google search for your business, if there is a listing you will then have an option to claim it.

You can then fill out all of the correct business details and select an appropriate category. Google wants to ensure that the details regarding your business are correct, so you will need to verify your address. Generally, the easiest way to do this is via mail. Google will mail you a verification code that you can then enter on your GMB account to confirm your address.

Google My Business has a number of features that you can use to further enhance your listing. One of these is photos. In order to showcase your business use a selection of photos that includes; the exterior and interior of your business, team members, and the product or service that you provide. It is important to use a high-quality image that provides a positive reflection of your brand.

Google Reviews

Having in place an active system to collect Google Reviews can have a big impact on your local visibility. Google reviews are used as a ranking factor for local search. Google reviews will also appear in the Local Pack and Google Maps. A business that has a large number of good reviews will receive a higher click-through rate (CTR). In addition, Google Reviews provide powerful social proof about your products and services. This means not only are prospective customers more likely to visit your website if you have good Google Reviews but they are also more likely to buy.

NAP

Name, Address, Phone (NAP) is a key concept in local search optimization. It encapsulates the idea that these details should be consistent both on your website and across the internet. Search engines want to provide their users with the best possible experience. If an address is listed in one way in a business directory and a different way on their business’s own website, then the search engines can’t be certain which is correct. Inconsistent NAP details are actually fairly common. Over time details about a business such as the address or phone number will often change. While the business may update their own website, these changes are not reflected on other websites. Tidying up these inconsistencies is important for improving your search engine rankings.

Conclusion

Having a strong online presence in local search is critical for all local businesses. Searching online is the predominant way that consumers discover new businesses and decide who they will purchase from. Getting the basics right by employing the methods detailed above is the first step to improving that local online presence.

 

References
(1) https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
(2) https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/12-local-seo-stats-every-business-owner-and-marketer-shouldknow-in-2019-i/549079/

Online Reviews: An Integral Part of Your Marketing Strategy

“Fans are vanity and sales are sanity.” These are the words of Lori Taylor who clearly understands how any business thrives in today’s market – by increasing sales. That said, in digital marketing sometimes businesses think the fight is for more fans or more engagement, even more clicks or views are what lead to success. When in reality these mean nothing if they don’t lead to one major component – sales! Sales are going to keep your business going and help you grow when the time comes.

 

That’s why I’m a firm advocate for user-generated content, and in particular – reviews. Reviews are the only proven, time-tested method to successfully and consistently increase your sales, and that’s why most “digital businesses” use reviews.

 

The internet is, after all, a network of peers, and those who go online are clearly influenced by what others say. Therefore they seek out their experiences and input before making a purchase decision. It’s relatively easy to do, so it’s no longer reserved for expensive purchases but for simple products and services that may even cost a mere $5. That’s because reviews are central to the decision-making process and have become an integral part of the human (and social) psyche.

 

Bottom line: If you want to succeed, a portion of your marketing budget has to be dedicated to increasing your online reviews.

 

4 Website Review Benefits

 

All the benefits I’ve mentioned regarding online reviews drive conversion rates – which ultimately lead to increased sales and higher turnovers and profits.

 

  1. Acts As Social Proof

 

If you’re a relatively new or smaller brand or business you don’t have much social proof, but the two aspects of social proof (confirmation and affirmation) are what makes online reviews so successful. Reviews either confirm that other people are buying your products or services and loving it or they’re affirming that you’re a reliable brand.

 

In the mind of whoever reads them, they’re the only step they need to take before going ahead with a transaction.

 

In fact, all the internet and social media reviewers are is modern-day critics.

 

  1. Builds Trust

 

There’s nothing that’s more trustworthy than reviews. People talk about what they’ve experienced and how they’ve been affected – and they’re willing to share that information, whether good or bad. Those who read it trust that candid message. In addition, your business reviews will show up first for specific keywords before any of the content you’ve created has a chance to relay the message you’d like.

 

  1. Starts an Authentic Conversation

 

People are so suspicious of ads and social media content these days, because they immediately smell an agenda. They know businesses use social media and many influencers to control a narrative.

 

That’s why they turn to Yelp, Google, and Facebook reviews. Because these are far more honest and are a real-life encounter given by someone who’s actually been a client or customer of your business before.

 

When they do decide to get in contact with your business they’ll be far more willing to do business with you.

 

  1. Secures Your Reputation

 

You can tell people countless times, and position yourself as a reputable brand, but that doesn’t have as much of an effect when building your reputation. It’s the public who decides what your reputation will be and then they spread that information.

 

Your reviews are essentially people helping other people make informed decisions about whether your business is reputable or not. Your reputation will only be secured if you have a good sprinkling of online reviews.

 

 

But, in order to get these benefits from your reviews you can’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Wondering if all the customers or clients that had good experiences will turn to Yelp or Google or if that one client with the only “negative experience” will be the one to write a scathing review.

 

You need to get ahead of the conversation and use software or a web application that’s automated and proven to work. Enter Signal Hype.

Use Signal Hype If You’re Serious About Profiting From The Digital Space

I was amazed when I first discovered Signal Hype – it does what you need it to do, and does it much better than most other software platforms out there. I have been using it for clients ever since as well as recommending it to business owners.

 

My recommendation is: If you’re serious about growing trust online and profit you need to be using Signal Hype.

The ROI from Signal Hype is phenomenal, as one business discovered when they managed to get 150 reviews in a span of a few weeks.

The features offered by their web application are remarkable. They’ve simplified the process, so you get more reviews on the sites where you’d most want them – Google, Facebook or Yelp – and easily puts the power of your online reviews back in your hands.

 

Some of Signal Hype’s Best Features

 

For your convenience, I’ve highlighted four of Signal Hype’s best features so you know what you’re getting out of the deal. But if you want a comprehensive list of their features visit the site directly.

Get Reviews On The Sites You Need Them Most

 

Whether it’s Yelp, Google or Facebook Signal Hype integrates with all of these (and more) so you can direct your customers to post reviews where they’re most needed. The process stays the same but it gives you control over where you get those 5-star reviews and can be a great measure if you’re trying to recover from a low rating on a specific site – or if you notice you get more leads from a particular site.

Increase The Amount of Reviews

 

Signal Hype’s software reminds customers and clients to review your business online. And then they guide these clients through the process so it won’t take them long at all. It’s as simple as writing an Amazon review or an AirBnB review but for your small business. It’ll literally take 2 minutes to do which takes the “hassle” out of writing a review online – and is an extremely pleasant experience for customers.

Alert You Before You Get A Negative Rating

 

Negative ratings can be catastrophic for smaller businesses. The worst part is you won’t know someone had the intention of leaving a negative review until it’s plastered all over the internet and affecting your overall score. Thank goodness for Signal Hype! They’ve removed the element of surprise and will warn you about clients who intend to leave negative reviews so you can intervene before they’re published. Now you have the opportunity to rectify a complaint or make amends, so your clients will leave a good review.

 

Synchronizes With Employees

 

Your employees will also be able to get customers to leave reviews based on work they’ve completed, which takes the burden of alerting and sending out reminders for completed work off your shoulders. Your entire team can use the Signal Hype platform which means more reviews, more of the time!

At the end of the day Signal Hype has placed the power back into the hands of businesses, and given them what they need to succeed in an era of social proof.

Sign up for your 7 day free trial of Signal Hype now, to see the benefits firsthand.

Does your company have a COVID-19 advisory notice on your website?

  1. Who needs an advisory notice.
  2. Why you should be posting your notice and policy.
  3. Examples of advisory notices and announcements.
  4. Where you should post your notice.

 

These are crazy times. People are scared, the stock market has tanked and there is no toilet paper anywhere.

But despite there being no tp, you still have to operate your business. However, some things will probably have to change for a few weeks to a few months. Some of these changes affect your customers and because of that, it’s a good idea to have a notice on your website and social media to keep them updated.

Who needs a COVID-19/Corona advisory notice?

COVID-19 affects different businesses in different ways. For instance, if you’re running a doctor’s office or clinic you may not be seeing certain patients for a set amount of time. You may be doing more conference calls when you would have had in-person meetings. Or you may not be shaking hands anymore.

There are a whole range of changes that you may be making to help keep your staff and customers safe and your business operating. If COVID-19 is affecting how you do business in any way perceivable by your clients you should post a notice or advisory statement.

Why you should be posting a notice.

Posting your notice lets people know you are on top of the situation and whether you are still operating or not. It keeps everyone on the same page.

No one likes to be surprised by a sudden change. So if how you do business has changed because of a crisis or emergency a notice keeps everyone in the loop and lets them know what to expect.

Examples of COVID-19 Notices.

These are just examples and range from huge corporate franchises to smaller businesses. Not all of them will be right for you, but can give you an idea of what needs to be covered by a notice.

Starbucks
Hubspot
AlixPartners
Appliance Repair Company

As you can see there are different types. From just letting everyone know it’s business as usual with some precautions taken to “We won’t touch you”.

The type of notice will depend on your situation but you should be letting people know:

  • Nothing has changed and you’re monitoring the situation
  • Who to contact with questions.
  • Changes in hours
  • Changes in staff locations “so don’t bother stopping by our office, everyone is at home”
  • Any changes in your procedures and processes
  • Delays or postponement of services
  • Discontinuations of services
  • Or anything else that may affect how your customers do business with you.

The reasoning behind any of the changes can also go along way toward putting people’s minds at ease and get ahead of questions people may have.

Where should you post your notice?

These notices don’t help anyone if no one sees them.

We recommend you put them up in the following places.

  1. Your website. Having a pop-up or bar at the top or bottom of your site linking to your post is a great way to make finding the post easy without disrupting your whole site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Email your customer list. Chances are no one is visiting your site every day. So an email is a great way to reach those people.

3. Post a link to your policy on your social media accounts. Just like everyone isn’t visiting your website every day, people aren’t looking for your email either. Posting to your social media accounts is another way to get people’s attention and let them know what’s going on.

There may be other places you could post your notice like a newsletter. The goal is to get the word out and avoid unnecessary disruptions. So post wherever it makes sense to you.

 

Wrapping Up

This post is not legal advice, health care advice, or human resource advice. Just observations we’ve made as both a customer of businesses affected by the Corona Virus and an agency taking care of companies being affected.

So we’re here to help however we can. If you need help posting a notice or advisory statement feel free to contact us with a copy of your notice and we’ll do our best to get it posted for you, or refer you to someone who can help you get your notice added to your site.

Should I list my company on Yelp or other listing websites?

Should I list my business on Yelp?

 

Yes, Yes You Should…

Your goal should be to be as easy to find as possible. So adding your listing to Yelp is a free and easy way to add a citation and increase the chances your business will be found.

But there are other reasons as well.

For one, Apple Maps relies heavily on Yelp for local business information. So for those Apple and iPhone users who actually use Apple Maps, you need to have a strong Yelp profile to show up on Apple Maps as more than just another name on the list. Apple Maps will also pull reviews from Yelp to display. Like how Google does on Google Maps from your Google My Business listing.

But no one I know uses Yelp…

While this may be true, and Yelp isn’t all the rage like it used to be with the rise of Google Maps and My Business. It’s still one of the main sources for reviews and local business information on the internet.

Yelp tends to be especially popular in areas with a dense population more so than rural communities because it relies on large numbers of users to be truly valuable. But, even if you don’t live in downtown Houston, you can still benefit from showing up on the listing app. Being verified on Yelp helps provide social proof. Proving that you are more than a fly-by-night business who can help your clients and solve a problem.

If you are in an area where there is a lot of reliance on Yelp. Then commit to completing your profile and even run a few ads on Yelp and have them promote your listing. Keep an eye on your analytics and watch for ROI. Make sure you’re making a profit and if you are, keep going, promoting your profile and running ads.

So, yes, you should get a Yelp profile and fill it out the best you can, add your location, contact info, and images of your business and your staff working. But don’t stop there. Look for other business listing citation services that can help increase the chances of you being found online.

Here are a few you should also consider:

 

If business citations and local SEO are just too much work to learn and seem overwhelming, contact us and we can get your business listed on many local citation services for a low flat fee.

Do you really deserve to be at the top of Google?

How long will it take me to get to the top of Google?

I get asked this question pretty regularly, and the answer is, it’s complicated.

But let me counter with another question… What are you doing to deserve being at the top of Google?

 

Are you doing what it takes?

SEO (search engine optimization) is pretty involved. It also takes time for search engines to notice your content and start ranking you higher in the results.

But, are you creating valuable content? Is there any reason the people you want to see your website should click on your link instead of your competition’s beside the fact that you want them to?

Are you creating content?

Are you answering questions your clients might have, long before they decide to work with you? 

Are you showing your work? 

Are you the most relevant site for your industry and the site that will make people’s lives better for having visited it? 

 

Be a resource, not a menu

If your site is just a static list of services, chances are you will be beaten. Not necessarily by someone who provides better services, but by someone who talks about what they do and how they make people’s lives better.

So what are you supposed to do?

Start simple, but be consistent. 

Start by answering questions. Chances are when people call you or talk to you they ask similar questions. Start answering those questions on your website. This is a great way to show you know what you are talking about, that you solve specific problems, and show search engines that you are an active resource.

Commit to doing this every day until you run out of questions to answer. Along the way, you will have other ideas about things to write about. But if you ever run out of ideas, circle back to questions.

It makes sense right? What do people fire at you before signing on with your company? Questions!

 

Show your work

Before and after pictures are great! But don’t just through up pictures and leave it at that.

This is another opportunity for you to write about your process, your results, the challenges you overcame, and why your customer is better for having chosen you. Don’t be preachy, but be factual and provide context to the projects you complete.

It’s one thing to tell people you know what you’re doing, it’s another to prove you know what you’re doing. This helps build trust with potential customers.

Then once you’ve piqued the interest of a potential customer, they can circle back to your blog and FAQs where you’ve already invested time in answering any questions they may have.

Now that you’ve done all this work, don’t forget the next step.

 

Provide CTAs on every page

If there’s something you want people to do, make it easy for them to do it.

Whether that’s calling you, filling out a form, signing up for a class, buying a product. Whatever it is, they shouldn’t have to hunt for the next step.

 

I’ve written content, now what?

Be sure you’ve submitted your site to Google Search Console.

Your site will be discovered and indexed. Especially if you’re adding content to it consistently. But, you can help the process and see if things are improving by submitting your site to Google for indexing.

 

Where should I write this content

If you have a WordPress website, then you already have blog/post functionality built-in.

If you don’t have WordPress or don’t have a “blog” section set up on your site, you may need to create one or have your web designer do it for you.

There are other solutions. If you have a Squarespace or Wix site these have Content Management Systems as well, though they may need some additional setup.

 

If you become the best resource in your industry, show your projects and work, then not only will you most likely be at the top of “Google” but you will be difficult to unseat.