What do you do when you’re no tekkie but you need your small business website to rank higher in searches? You can hire SEO experts, but there are several easy fixes you can use right now, yourself, to improve your rank. These won’t get you to number one tomorrow, but they are easy and they work!
Zach Arnold, president of family-owned Arnold Machine in Ohio, has improved his website content and strengthened his organic SEO results. A designer and manufacturer of custom equipment, Arnold Machine has now gone from being a regional player to a national powerhouse, attracting new customers and taking orders for more profitable jobs within their niche areas.
Find and Focus on Great Longtail Key Words
After revamping its website, Arnold Machine found that over one 30-day period, they had 500 users come to the site using 500 unique search terms to find them. This means that no matter what words prospects use to search for them, they can easily find Arnold. Why? One reason is that Arnold has mastered the long tail keyword!
We all know that keywords within our website content drive how people find our businesses. What you may not realize is that very specific keywords – which are, by definition, less competitive – can be what sets your business apart. Lots of small business owners like Zach Arnold who have mastered the art of keyword war will tell you that long-tail keywords make up the lion’s share of the search-driven traffic onto their websites.
In case you’re still fuzzy on the whole issue, “head” terms are popular keywords that get searched all the time. For a company like Arnold Machine an example might be “manufacturing equipment” or “custom machinery.” But long tail keywords are way more specific and get you a lot closer to what you’re looking for. Again, for Arnold Machine an example might be: “custom sheet metal fabrication,” or, “full suite of engineering capabilities prototype design and fabrication.”
These long tail keywords are more efficient at generating conversions for you since what you have to offer will be perfect for anyone using those keywords. If you use “pay-per-click” (PPC) ads, too, long-tail keywords tend to be far cheaper. Your website’s analytics will tell you most or all of the search phrases that brought guests to your site; just sort through those keyword referrers and you’re guaranteed to find a bunch of long-tail queries that are already working for you.
“Google Suggestions” and “Google Related Searches” can both give you the next best thing to psychic hotline into your customers’ minds – and in the process they can be awesome sources of long-tail keywords. It’s simple. Just start to type in the biggie head keyword or a very basic one for what you’d like to seek out into Google’s search box. When Google makes its suggestions, it does so based on the phrases real people truly do search. That doesn’t mean that every single suggestion will be gold for you, but they will definitely tell you what everyone is searching for. A few combinations it comes up with will usually be a surprise.
Create Great, Fresh Content for your Website
One important way small businesses can move from being local heros to national players is by generating enough great content on their websites. Michael Harbron, the Sales & Marketing Director for SEOhaus.com, points out that a common problem area for small businesses is not updating with fresh content regularly. Have a great product? Tell stories about it in a blog. Have insights to share from your small business experience? Discuss them in your blog and visitors will share theirs. The more interactive your blog is, the better its impact on your site. “Blogging is a sure fire way to help increase your rankings and make the difference from a few extra thousand visits each month,” Harbron explains, “but make it relevant. Blog about things you think people will want to read.”
The Arnold Machine website had serious limitations before its overhaul. Main criticisms were that the content wasn’t detailed enough and didn’t convey an understanding of how the engineers that comprise the company’s potential customers look for products. The website also failed to demonstrate the company’s full set of capabilities, so Arnold was losing business to competitors.
“Even though I realized our prospects were online, I just couldn’t see how our business could attract new, profitable customers there,” Mr. Arnold said.
For Arnold Machine the answer was a complete web page overhaul with the assistance of Thomas Industrial Network’s Custom SPEC team engineers who created a completely new website for the business, the centerpiece of which is a portfolio of projects that showcases Arnold’s vast range of capabilities. This builds visitors’ confidence, telling them that Arnold can work for them just as effectively.
Does your website show the wide range of services your business provides? Does it show the ways you and your business can meet challenges that might be a little off your usual beaten path? Does it show that you are an expert in your field? If not, you are missing important opportunities.
Visitors to Arnold Machine’s new website can see photos and descriptions of machines that Arnold has built, and view the detailed machine specifications for each featured project. They can see images that are related to the images they click on so they get a more customized experience.
What this means for your small business’s website content is simple. First, you need to understand the needs of people who are likely to be interested in your company. Arnold Machine saw that general sheet metal fabrication needs were driving many of its customers, and as a result they made sure to include many content-rich pages with high-quality photographs to showcase the many ways they provide services in this area. When you can nail down the top areas for your potential customer base and add lots of detailed content in these areas, you are giving visitors to your site a reason to trust your expertise and a reason to visit the site time and again.
Second, you need to generate new content for your website constantly. This doesn’t, however, have to be a major undertaking. As Arnold completes new jobs, they add photos and descriptions of their latest projects so they have more new pages. “As the traffic and inquiries develop, I am constantly adding content to my portfolio pages, and getting still more RFQs,” Mr. Arnold said. As you complete jobs, consider adding new images, descriptions, and even testimonials from customers. All of these constitute the kind of fresh content that will keep your page at the top of the list. Michael Harbron emphasizes: “I can’t stress enough how much blogging has changed the game for some brands and their traffic.”
The Power of Simple SEO Fixes
One simple thing you can do right now to boost your website’s power is pay close attention to how easy your site makes it for people to contact you with questions, orders, or for other reasons. Visitors to Arnold Machine’s site can request a quote or send an email from the site, or they can place a phone call, and the entire range of contact information appears on every page of the website. Generating those first critical contacts from good potential customers is the first important step in the sales cycle for Arnold and it will be for you too. Get that information out there on every single page. Even if it feels like overkill, it isn’t; Harbron comments: “You should give people a very easy way to get in touch.”
When asked about some of the most common errors Harbron comes across in his work with small businesses, he explains: “Time and time again I find businesses have multiple homepage URLs which affect rankings and exposure. Don’t think you do? Well, www.seohaus.com, seohaus.com and seohaus.com/index are all examples of a unique URL. A simple redirect will solve this and can work wonders.”
Photo and image labels are another problem spot for most small business websites. Chances are that at least some of your website photos are labeled something like this:
This isn’t going to help your business. Take a few minutes and rename all of your photos so that they reflect the best keywords for the pages they’re on.
Harbron advises: “Go local. Maximizing your local listings is free and easy. Yelp and Google+Local are great ways to start and market to your local audience.”
Front load your brief headlines with relevant keywords – yes, sometimes the longtail keywords discussed above – and end them with punch. Most people only scan the first two or three words in titles before they move on. What’s more, titles longer than 65 characters get cut off.
Don’t just pack your titles with keywords that you think will be popular. Be clear and accurate about the page that goes with the title. If people who click through are irritated by the lack of connection search engines will be too; they can “ding” you for using too many keywords if you’re just stacking them for rank. Harbron comments: “Relevancy – everything on your site should look relevant.”
Take Away Tips
Arnold Machine’s new website and its ongoing SEO efforts – many of which are maintained in house – are creating huge opportunities for the business. The lesson is clear for any small business: your website can make or break your business as it attempts to grow.
- Investigate how customers are reaching your site. Take the time to understand your best longtail keywords and use them on your website.
- Create rich, image-heavy content showcasing everything you can do. Depict projects and if you cannot, make sure you show the range of your abilities. Update this content regularly.
- Harness the power of the label in your headlines, titles, and photo labels. Don’t neglect your contact information!
- Updating your blog regularly is easy and costs you only a small amount of time, and the results can be astonishing.
- Share your website and content socially.
- Simple, low cost fixes that can drive nice business to your door.Article by Karla Lant