The Importance of Being Number One
Did you know that there are approximately 4,464,000,000 searches on Google every day?
Think back to the last time you went to Google -- either on your laptop, your iPad or your smartphone -- and typed a word or phrase into the search box. How many results did you glance at before clicking one?
We're willing to bet that it was only a handful, and almost certainly fewer than 10. In other words, it's fairly likely that you found what you were looking for on the first SERP (or search engine results page)...just like 90% of searchers do.
That's right, 9 out of 10 searches are satisfied by a page one result. The top result, in fact, garners about half of all click-throughs.
It makes sense, therefore, that your business wants to occupy that coveted top slot. So how do you get there, and stay there?
First, An Intro To Keywords
Let's talk about keywords, since they are essential to understanding search engine optimization.
Keywords are the words (or phrases) that form the basis of a search. So if you're visiting Des Moines, IA and you're looking for a pizzeria, you'd likely type in "pizza Des Moines." This is called a geo-targeted keyword, since it relates directly to a specific location.
Or you might search for something like "where to get Sicilian pizza in Des Moines" or even "who has the best pizza in Des Moines" or "Des Moines pizza late night delivery."
These are long-tail keywords, or natural language keywords. They better reflect how people actually search, especially if they're using voice search.
Now imagine that you're the owner of a pizzeria. In addition to geo-targeted keywords, you're going to want to rank on various terms like "thin crust pizza," "Sicilian style pizza," "gluten free pizza," "meatball subs," "mozzarella sticks," and so on.
Your results will likely vary, depending on your competition and on what kind of SEO strategies you implement. You might achieve a number one ranking for "gourmet pizza" but only be on page two for "pizza delivery after midnight," for example.
Search volume is also an important factor. Unless you are a huge multinational corporation with a sophisticated CRM and nearly unlimited SEO budget, chances are you won't rank for simply "pizza," no matter what (that's part of why those geo-targeted keywords and long-tail keywords are so important).
Your SEO analyst or digital marketing professional will help you determine which keywords to target and develop a strategy for doing so.
Now, How to Rank for Those Keywords
An effective SEO strategy, like a CRM system, is multi-faceted and diverse. It will entail some or all of the following initiatives:
You will want to make sure that keywords actually appear on your website a certain number of times. This is called keyword density. Shoot for a density of around .5 and 2.5% percent.
Companies that blog get 434% more indexed pages -- and the more indexed pages you have, the higher your ranking, the more web traffic you'll see, and the more need you'll have for a well-developed CRM.
It's important to keep your blog up to date, and to write blog posts that actually provide value and information to the reader.
High Quality Content
There once was a time when you could "keyword stuff" your web pages, or fill them full of poorly written, even nonsensical text, as long as you had the right keyword density.
There were even software programs created to spin your content, spitting out new combinations of words so that your site looked freshly updated.
Ever since the Panda algorithm of 2012, Google has been cracking down on keyword stuffers and poor quality content.
It's no longer good enough to outsource your content needs to non-native English speakers or, worse, to bots. Content marketing in 2017 means hiring professional writers and editors (or contracting with a marketing company that can do that for you).
Your website has to be well organized, with an easy to use interface. Google penalizes sites that are cluttered, poorly designed, or not optimized for mobile usage.
Make sure you have contact information that's easily accessible from every page of the site. Keep your navigational structure simple, and for heaven's sake, get rid of Flash and other outdated design elements that slow down page load times.
In short, every page on your site, including those blogs that you're regularly posting, needs to provide something of value to the reader, not just to the Google spiders.
Small- to medium-sized businesses that provide local services need to claim their local search listings on Google and on other search engines.
It's particularly important for these companies to have mobile-friendly websites, since over three-quarters of Americans now own smartphones, and search on mobile devices is poised to overtake desktop search within the next few years.
Get Ready to Shift Gears Quickly
SEO is constantly changing, so you need to be agile in your approach to SEO.
Since Google's share of the search engine pie is over 77%, when Google says "jump," digital marketers respond in unison, "How high?"
It may seem unfair, but the search engine juggernaut's sometimes-seismic algorithm updates have resulted in an entire industry of professional analysts who work to figure out what's happening.
It's unlikely that you can spare the time from your core business and CRM to learn the intricacies of this industry, so it's probably a good idea to leave the SEO strategy -- and execution, in many cases -- to a digital marketing company.
From researching keywords to claiming your local listings; from managing your content needs and posting to your blog; from implementing pay per click advertisements and optimizing your existing site for search, a digital marketing company can be worth its weight in gold when it comes to getting your site to page one, position one.