Disclaimer: Grapevine Marketing does SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) for a living. We also do a lot of other things, like design and develop websites, and manage online marketing campaigns.
But today, we’re going to let you in on a little secret about our business, and the business of other Search Engine Optimization and Marketing firms you may meet.
Are you ready for it?
The secret is: there is no secret trick to SEO.
Sure, there is a strategy, and there are tactics. There is absolutely a formula for best results. And there is plenty of time and effort that must be put into a program, over the long-term, to develop those results. There is tracking and monitoring, management and tweaking, and an adjustment of the strategy and tactics when needed.
But there is no trick. There is no way to fool the search engines into thinking your website is something it’s not. Or into thinking your company is something it’s not. And there is definitely no quick-fix, magic bullet, short-term, or guaranteed solution to drive a website to the top of organic search listings for searches that are actually going to result in sales or leads.
So how do we, and other SEO consultants, help you achieve results? We play by the rules that the search engines have created (see below), we monitor changes to search engine algorithms, and we help you improve the online representation of your business or organization. It’s not a quick-fix, but rather a long-term strategy that will generate results far greater than you could ever imagine. It’s an investment of time and effort that will serve you far better in the long run than nearly any other short-term solution.
Here are the Rules:
- Develop Great Content and Add to it Regularly (like, every day or weekly at a minimum)
- Make your Content easy to Find and Easy to Share
- Help People Get to Your Content. Real people.
- Make your Content so Amazing that Those People WANT to Share it with Others.
- Make sure your Website, Blog, and Social Media profiles are Well-Designed, Branded, and Attractive.
- Make sure each of those includes your most Important Tactics and Calls to Action. (what do you want people to know immediately when they arrive, and what do you want them to do?)
- Use PR (press releases, guest blogging, article distribution, etc.) to get your Content out to the Masses.
- Use Social Media to get your Content out to the Masses.
- Blog. Frequently.
- Comment and contribute to Online Conversations outside of your Site and Social Media channels (ie: on complementary business’ sites and channels)
- Request a FREE SEO Review of your current website and online marketing efforts. Because there is a lot more to this list than we have space to include here.
No matter what industry you’re in, you probably use a lot of terminology that your clients may not be familiar with. From industry jargon to complex medical terms; to the formal names of products and techniques; you likely have a very different way of explaining your business than your potential clients do.
The problem is: prospective clients can’t find you online because you’re not speaking the same language.
The key to writing your website copy in such a way that you can easily be found by prospects searching for you is to think like a client. For example, an ear, nose and throat doctor would commonly define their practice by those terms (ear, nose, throat); while a person searching for them would commonly use words like ‘allergy’, ‘sinus’, or ‘hearing’. A heating/cooling technician may refer to his services as HVAC repair, while his prospective clients are searching online for “air conditioning repair”. Although two phrases may have exactly the same meaning, search engines will only return results that use the same words and phrases.
The next time you sit down to write a blog post or a page of copy for your website, ask yourself: “how would my client say this”. You may find that you’ll need to incorporate actual questions into your headlines, or reword entire sections of copy. But the closer your copy matches the exact phrases being typed into a Google, Yahoo, or Bing search, the stronger your performance will be, in search engine rankings as well as conversions from new site visitors.
In our minds, we all know that potential customers and clients are concerned about the “what’s in it for me” factor, but have you gone through a review of your website and marketing materials to make sure you are addressing your customer’s needs in your copy? Are you using the keywords they would be using to find your products or services in the search engines?
If you’re not sure or could use a refresher, here are a few simple ways to get your site copy where it needs to be for top performance:
- Conduct a simple Keyword search on Google
- Visit Google and perform a few searches for words or phrases your customers may be using to find your product or service. Is your company in the first 20 results? Great! If not, check out the competitors at the top to see what keywords they are using, and determine whether you should build those into your site.
- Next, read through a few of the most important pages on your site. Do your most important pages contain strong use of the keywords you searched for, or do they focus on the product/service/company? If you are lacking in keywords, now would be a good time to consider rewriting those pages.
- Scope out the Competition
- Beyond the top-ranked sites in the above example, also check out the websites of your closest competitors. Are they written from the customer’s point of view? Do they address needs or benefits that you do not? This is a great way to determine whether you can build onto or revise your site to better meet your market’s needs.
- Ask a trusted friend (in a different industry)
- Friends and colleagues who are willing to be bluntly honest with you can be a great source of advice when considering how to make your website or marketing materials more customer-focused. Ask for open feedback from those around you, or post your site to a forum where others can voice their opinions and recommendations.
- Take the First Step
- If you find that your website needs some work in the customer-benefits area, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to completely scrap and rebuild the site. Most likely, it will be a matter of rewriting some page copy. The easiest and quickest way to develop customer-focused content is through blogging. You can add a simple blog to your site, and write once or twice a week on a topic that is interesting to your customers. Use the keywords you found important to determine what topics to focus on, and just start writing. You’ll be amazed at the traction you can start seeing by taking this simple step.
If you’re not sure how to get started, contact us at Grapevine Consulting for a Complimentary Search Engine Optimization Analysis.
– Melissa Albano