Search Engine Optimization 101

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1 Search Engine Optimization 101

2 Search Engine Optimization 101 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing opportunities, both on your website and off, to move your site higher in organic (not paid) search results. On-page SEO helps the search engines determine what your site is about and how useful your content is for the person searching. Off-page SEO helps the search engines determine how useful others think your site is. The better these strategies are executed, the better the chance the search engines will reward the site with higher ranking. Better ranking translates to more traffic for your site. 2

3 Why does SEO Matter for my Tampa Business? SEO helps match you with people who are searching for your service, product, or the many questions they might have about your industry and what you offer. Let s take James, for example. He is an Independent Financial Advisor in Tampa. His ideal customers might type very specific phrases into a search engine such as how should I invest my money or top financial advisors in Downtown Tampa. Optimizing his website for those terms, by making sure his website includes informative content on these topics, will establish James as an authority for those terms and ensure his website and content is being shared with others (and therefore more likely to show up in search engine results). He is rewarded by the search engines for having content that answers these questions with higher rankings. As a result, the people who need James find him easily. James isn t plugging keywords onto pages that don t make sense. And James isn t trying to beat the system. He is actually implementing safe SEO practices that help him get found and help search engines do their job of delivering relevant content to online searchers. 3

4 Example of How SEO Works: Meet James the Financial Advisor When James established his practice, he created a website to bring in new clients. The first year, he didn t get very much new business from the website and mostly just used it as a place to send prospects or clients he d already met. He then started reading about SEO and decided to hire a local SEO company (like Cox Media Group Tampa) to help implement some of the strategies he was learning about. Together, they rewrote his website content to target some very strategic keywords that research proved his prospects were searching for. They also set up a Google+ Local Page and connected it to his site. Other professionals in his area began to link to his site as well, as his reputation grew. At first, nothing much happened. Soon, he noticed that his site was steadily moving up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It wasn t long before he started getting calls from potential clients that had found him online. Encouraged, James added a personal finance blog element to his page, where he answered frequently asked questions from his customers. Since he was publishing content multiple times a week, the search engines paid even more attention. He is now viewed as an authority on personal finance in his local area. 4

5 How James Used Local Search for His Tampa Businesses It is important to establish your site as a local business in the eyes of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Google dominates the search engine market and has very clearly spelled out what it looks for in ranking sites. Once James decided to improve his rankings, the first thing he did was make sure his site was mobile-responsive, which means his users could access his site and have a pleasant reading experience regardless of whether they were sitting at their desks or on their smart phones while waiting in line at the grocery store. Having a site that is easy to read on multiple devices is crucial for any online marketing strategy, but especially those looking to get found quickly and easily on search engines. As mentioned above, he then created a Google+ Local Page. He was mailed a postcard with a PIN that he had to enter to verify his site. Google now knows that his business resides where he says it does. His Google+ page shows up for local search terms. When a potential client searches for a Financial Advisor in Tampa, his site is more likely to appear on the first page of Google, along with his picture and a map to his location. 5

6 How James Boosted His Links One of the biggest ways that all search engines use to determine rank is backlinks. These incoming links show usefulness and popularity. But not just any type of link will do. The links must be from a quality source, and have a purpose. Gone are the days where you could hire an SEO agency to simply buy links in other web properties. Google implemented algorithm changes in the last several years to penalize sites with low-quality links. James heard about this, so instead of using any black hat methods, he used content marketing. He created compelling content accompanied by beautiful images to his website. He committed to updating his website regularly, to ensure his content remained fresh. He made it easy for readers to share his content on their favorite social media sites. James also got involved with his local community, both off and online. He continues to network with others in the finance industry, professional service providers, his vendors, and other local business owners. As his reputation as an authority on his subject grew, more and more local sites linked to his naturally, which boosted his reputation in the eyes of Google. 6

7 How and Why to Diversify Your Links If you want to boost your link profile, make sure you do so naturally. Provide value across multiple channels. Focus on helping people instead of building links. Not only does this expose your content to more eyes, but it keeps your SEO eggs from all going in one basket. In the past, SEO practitioners could rely on one or two strategies to get a site to rank. For example, article marketing was very popular. A site owner could write a slew of articles and submit them to directories to get multiple backlinks. Many owners did this to the exclusion of all else. This was very effective until Google decided that it wasn t a good measure of a site s usefulness. A new algorithm fighting this tactic was rolled out and many site owners saw their sites rankings severely damaged. Many business owners went from the first page of results to not showing up at all, overnight. Don t let this happen to you. To build a natural-looking link profile, you need a 6 to 12-month link-building strategy. Ideally, you want a mix of the following: 1. Local organizations Engage with everyone in your business community. Links from The Chamber of Commerce and your vendors are particularly easy to get. These sources have a vested interest in your success. 2. Business directories Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, and SuperPages usually have a free listing service that links back to your site. 3. Guest blogging Make a blogger s day a little easier by offering to guest post for them. If you deliver great content, you remove some of the burden of content creation from the blogger s shoulders. In return, you get a link back to your website and exposure to a new audience. 4. Shared content As you are creating content for your site and social media outlets, you will begin to build a following. This is the most valuable type of link of all. 5. Participate Visit other websites and blogs in your industry. Comment on their posts in a positive and helpful manner. Not only do these comments link back to your site, but you will be building your reputation as an authority in your industry. 7

8 James Weekly Link Building Schedule This is how James breaks down his schedule: Every Day He posts helpful tips on his social media company pages and links back to a relevant post on his site if applicable. He also links to all sorts of content that his customers and prospects would enjoy from a variety of other websites and blogs. Monday He spends 15 minutes submitting his site and business information to business directories, or updating ones he might already be on if necessary. Tuesday He spends 30 minutes participating in the comments section of blogs in his industry. He makes note of which blogs might be good guest posting opportunities. Wednesday He writes a post for his blog, making sure to publicize his content to all of his social media channels. Thursday He has a meeting with the SEO company he hired. They discuss keywords he s currently ranking for, where the biggest opportunities for growth are, new research and information on SEO that might be important to his strategy, and review his Google Analytics. Several times a month He attends some type of local networking function where he always invites people back to his website to learn more and connect. By creating a scheduled and sustainable plan, James is able to increase his portfolio in a natural and diversified manner. If the benefits of one type of link disappear tomorrow, his other sources will fill in the gap. This makes his site less vulnerable to the changes in search engine algorithms that inevitably occur. 8

9 How James Got Started with SEO The first thing you need to determine is the set of keywords that will define your site. James provides financial planning services in Tampa. Before he could begin optimizing his site, he needed to define what his potential customers are typing into the search engines when they look for his type of service. This wasn t something James really knew how to do (he s a great financial advisor, but not a SEO expert) so this was one thing in particular where he needed to hire SEO experts. With the help of his SEO agency, he was able to uncover the following results for keywords that might make sense for his business and goals: Keywords Monthly Searches Estimated Traffic financial planning tampa tampa financial planning tampa bay financial planning tampa financial planners financial planners tampa florida financial advisor tampa financial planners tampa fl 48 9 financial consulting tampa fpa tampa bay 32 6 financial planner tampa financial advisors tampa 40 7 financial advisors tampa fl 40 7 financial planner florida financial planning tampa fl

10 Keywords Monthly Searches Estimated Traffic tampa financial advisors financial planners tampa 48 9 tampa financial advisor financial services tampa tampa financial planner certified financial planner tampa financial planning associates tampa financial services financial planning florida financial advisor tampa fl florida financial advisor florida financial planners 48 9 financial planners florida tampa wealth management The Monthly Searches column show how many people are searching for these terms worldwide. The Estimated Traffic column shows what amount of traffic James can expect if he ends up on the first page of the SERPs. As you can see, the key phrase tampa financial advisor returns the highest estimated traffic. It is followed by financial planner tampa. Financial advisor tampa and financial planning tampa are tied for third. These four keywords make up the main keyword set for James site. Once his site was optimized for these words, James rotated the other key phrases through his content to capture that traffic as well. If he were able to make it to the front page of the SERPs for all of these key phrases, he could have potential traffic of over 500 hits a month. 10

11 With the help of his SEO company they implemented a SEO strategy with the following plan: He used the highest traffic keyword tampa financial advisor as his tagline He made sure tampa financial advisor advisor was a part of the meta description on his homepage, as well He used one of his top four keywords at least once a week in new content He incorporated 2-4 keywords on every website page or post He made sure not to overuse his keywords anywhere He wrote for people first, search engines second. His focus was on helping people solve their financial problems, and he was able to incorporate keywords naturally He shared his content regularly through social media It has been two years since James started his SEO efforts. Since then, he has established himself as an authority on personal finance in the Tampa area. He has a robust link portfolio and is performing well for a long list of keywords. More importantly, his phone is ringing and his practice is thriving. 11

12 Other Ways James Optimized his Site A robust link portfolio and quality keyword-optimized content are two very important strategies for SEO. However, there are still other things James did to improve the performance of his site: 1. He made sure his site was easy to navigate. 2. He submitted a sitemap to Google. 3. He optimized his images for the web, realizing that they don t need to be print quality in order to convey the right message. 4. He included alt-tags on every image in case a user couldn t download (or see) the images in his blog. 5. He organized his posts using tags and categories. 6. He eliminated ads on his site, choosing instead to advertise his own financial services. 7. He put his name, his business name, his address, and his contact information at the bottom of every page. 8. He analyzed his traffic regularly using Google Analytics. 12

13 Last Words: Is SEO Right for Your Business? SEO doesn t have to be another marketing tactic that seems overwhelming or too hard to implement. By hiring the right partner to help with your online marketing strategy, you can begin showing up in search engines for the keywords your prospects are most likely to use at all stages of the buying process. Learn more about how Cox Media Group Tampa helps businesses with their SEO. CLICK HERE TO SET UP A FREE CONSULTATION And we ll provide a complimentary website and online marketing review for your business.

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