Posted in Blogging Tips, Business Motivation, Copywriting Tips, SEO, Writing in General

SEO 101: 3 Search Engine Optimization Tips For Getting Found in Tucson (And Anywhere Else!)

After my recent move, I was in the market for some new furniture.  Actually, I was in the market for a lot of new furniture:  a couch, chair, kitchen table, coffee tables, beds, lamps…everything.  And as much as I wish I could tell you that I’m absolutely made of money and can afford anything I want at any time, the truth is that I am your typical middle-class American living in your typically expensive city of Tucson, Arizona.  Budgeting is always a concern.  So I needed furniture that was quality, yet budget-friendly, and that could be delivered soon.  That ruled out the big name stores, for sure.

Anyway, in my attempt to plan my furniture shopping trips, I took to the internet to find stores here in Tucson that might sell what I was looking for at prices I wanted to pay.  Considering search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge part of what I do in my business, I felt pretty confident that I’d find what I was looking for with relative ease.  But guess what?  I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are a business person and you have any sort of online presence…and especially if  you’re targeting local customers and clients…you MUST focus on local search engine optimization!  Let’s face it:  not every business can/is/wants to compete in the national or international marketplace.  And that’s perfectly fine.  But if you ARE competing for local customers then here are some things to keep in mind:

 

  • Use the name of your city, town, county, or state in your keywords:  In my situation (above), I needed quality, affordable furniture in the Tucson market.  So naturally I searched for keywords that included “Tucson” in the description.  Otherwise, my results were worthless for meeting my particular needs.

 

  • Include words that your customers would use:  Nobody wants to equate the word “cheap” with their business products or services.  But if your customers are looking to save money, there’s a very good chance they’ll use it in their search query.  So put away your pride and use the language of your people.  It’s the difference between being found online…and not.

 

  • Provide  useful, targeted content to read:  Maybe it’s just a pet peeve of mine, but I just don’t understand the concept of throwing a bunch of photos up on a site and calling it a day.  Is there anything worse than going through the hassle of actually finding a business’ website only to see that there’s absolutely no useful information on it to help you decide whether you even want to make the drive to visit??  I don’t think so…So write something.  Describe your product or service.  And don’t forget to use words that your customers would use!

 

Think like a consumer.  What would you, as someone looking to make a purchase, type into that little box on your computer screen?  Keep in mind that YOU know your business products and services better than your customers or clients, so keep it simple.  And if you’re targeting the local consumer, don’t forget to throw in a few mentions of where you are–city, county, state…whatever your idea of “local” may be.

 

And remember, if you need help…I might know someone who can get your website up to speed and getting found–in Tucson and beyond.  *ahem*  🙂

 

 

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Posted in Business Motivation

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Dead…Kinda

Photo credit www.onlinebusinessasia.com
Photo credit http://www.onlinebusinessasia.com

Ok, so maybe the title of this post is a bit dramatic.  After all, we all know that SEO isn’t actually dead.  Just look around at all of those experts selling their SEO services and guaranteeing results!  The demand is definitely still alive and kicking.

But here’s the problem:  SEO has changed dramatically in the last few years and so-called SEO experts aren’t ncessarily keeping pace.  Gone are the days when creating a successful website meant paying close attention to things such as keyword density, keyword-specific coding, and minimum lengths for posts.   While keywords still play a vital role, current best practices have more to do with overall site mechanics and structure than anything else.  In fact, according to Evan Bailyn, a well-known SEO and social media expert, there are only four on-site pieces to consider for ranking with Google:

Keyword-rich meta page titles:   When I work with clients in improving their websites, this is one of the first elements I look at.  Why?  Because meta page titles are “your only opportunity to tell Google what each page on your website is about.”

For example, let’s say you sell popcorn machines.  And let’s say your family has a long history of selling these popcorn machines and you want to share some of that information with visitors to your site.  So you create an amazing page dedicated to this topic and you label it “About Our Company.”   That seems logical, doesn’t it?  But guess what?  It doesn’t provide any information to Google regarding what your website is about.  Google gets that information (mainly) from the title you give your page.  In this example, a better page title would be “Our Popcorn Machine History.”

SEO-friendly URLs:  This isn’t necessarily something you need to consciously focus on anymore because any quality CMS (content management system) will automatically handle it.  For example, the URL to this particular post will reflect the post’s actual title (which I haven’t decided on yet…it’s the last thing I do when writing!).  Keeping with the popcorn machine theme from above, however, you might see a URL such as http://www.yourawesomesite.com/how-to-use-a-popcorn-machine.  Avoid long strings of numbers, letters and funky characters.  They mean nothing to a search engine!

Clean code:  This mainly applies to those of you who are creating websites from scratch–HTML, CSS, PHP…the whole shebang.  If this is your preferred method (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing it this way) then be sure you get a thorough review of the site’s coding to ensure Google can read it properly.  If, on the other hand, you use a platform such as WordPress or Wix then coding shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s one of the perks and conveniences of using them instead of building from the ground up.

Sensible site structure:  This is another common error in my experience with new clients.  It’s important that your visitors are able to easily navigate the site.  The rule of thumb is to not bury any of your pages deeper than two clicks from the homepage.  For example, your site visitors click “Products” on the homepage which opens up another menu where they can select “Popcorn Machines.”  And then, once they’ve clicked on “Popcorn Machines” they are given an option to select either “Home Use” or “Professional.”  This means your visitors had to click three times to get to the information they were seeking.  Google likes it to be easy and transparent.

You’ll notice that the only everyday SEO tasks you’ll need to worry about are those page titles.  Everything else is more of a “set it and forget it” situation.  But keep in mind that SEO is an ever-changing art.  What works today might be obsolete tomorrow.

Periodically analyzing your website to ensure current best practices are in use makes excellent business sense.   “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

P.S.  Did you know that I offer website analysis as one of my concierge services??  Yep, I sure do!  Contact me today and let’s get started!

(Information contained in this post was taken from SEO Made Easy:  Everything You Need to Know About SEO and Nothing More by Evan Bailyn.)