If you are like many small business owners we work with, you have little time to stay on the bleeding edge of recent SEO trends. The small business owners that we work with devote their time to growing their business, servicing their clients, and managing the daily administrative workflow that comes with wearing many hats at one time. The purpose of this article is to save you time doing needless research on what’s working in search optimization in 2019 and to keep you ahead of your competitors who are implementing many advanced SEO strategies including the ones outlined below. If you follow these recommendations closely and execute them regularly, we firmly believe that 2020 can be an outstanding year for you. This article is well-researched and provides substantial depth on how you can implement these strategies for your small business today.
It Is All About the Searcher
Google’s primary mission is to provide users of its search engine with the very best search results. Google knows that if they fail to provide relevant results, searchers will look to other search engines and other sites like Amazon and Facebook to meet those needs. With so much on the line, it is easy to understand that Google constantly changes their algorithm to provide a better experience for each user of their search engine. You may have noticed that we used the words searcher and user; we will use them interchangeably from this point on as for our purposes they mean essentially the same thing.
Searchers express their intent most commonly through keyword searches. For example, if a searcher is looking for a dentist and they live in Buffalo, New York, they might type “dentist Buffalo” or “find a dentist near me.” Google will then provide the most relevant search results possible. Google search results show a list of dentist near the searcher. Although proximity is a critical ranking factor, there are many things a dentist could do to improve their search results and create a better experience for users. The first way to do this would be to create a dynamite description tag. What is a description tag, you may ask? A description tag is a descriptive text below the link to your website in Google’s search results. Check out the screenshot immediately below to see a sample description tag for a Buffalo dentist.
You may be asking what components go into making a great description tag; after all, it sounds kind of complex. No worries; we have you covered. We outlined the formula for creating a description tag that will drive people to your site.
- Your description tag should be no longer than 155 characters.
- Answer two questions: What service or product do you offer? Why should I buy from you and not someone else?
- Focus on the customers’ needs rather than how awesome your business is.
- Include a call to action.
Okay, great. You wrote a description tag that converts, and people are coming to your website. What’s next? Your site should include the items on the website conversion checklist below if you want them to not only stay on your site but buy something from you.
- Phone number: Make sure your phone number is “above the fold”, which means it is immediately visible to websites visitors when they arrive at your site.
- Trust badge: If you belong to professional associations or have specific credentials, add those badges to your website as social proof.
- Testimonials: Provide testimonials from previous clients, preferably with a picture.
- High-resolution images: Nothing turns people away from a website more than low-quality images that do not show happy customers using their product.
- Give something to people not ready to buy: Examples include a white paper, a PDF download, etc.
- The contact form on each page: Many websites ask users to go to their Contact Us page. We believe that’s a mistake as many users will not even scroll down on the website homepage. We advise having a contact form on each page of the website.
- Call to Action: Tell people which action you want them to take. Do you want them to ask for a quote, attend a demo, or call now?
As we indicated above, many customers are not ready to buy right away despite the fact that you followed the steps above. If you want to increase your conversion rate further still, we recommend that you maintain a blog that speaks to the needs of your unique customers. Your blog is like a salesperson that works 24 hours a day. Your blog can help you build rapport and trust with its readership. Remember to talk to your customers every day; no one understands the concerns, thoughts, fears, and hopes of your customer base better than you. That gives you the edge when creating targeted content specifically aimed at individual segments of your audience.
We recommend that you start a link building campaign to increase the authority of your website. Links to your website from other websites are like votes for your website in Google’s eyes. Counting links among the ranking factors is what set Google apart when they initially introduced their search engine in 1998. Before Google came along, other search engines simply looked at keywords on the page and the site’s metadata to determine relevancy. Google took a different approach; they decided to have users vote on what content was most useful and use links from users as a popularity metric. Attracting links to your website is the most difficult part of any SEO campaign. We recommend that you find an SEO agency with a sterling reputation and deep experience in link building. Firms with experienced link building teams have a deep reserve of quality sites for link building purposes. It is still okay to work with an agency with fewer link building resources if they use a white label SEO service to provide the backlink firepower your website will need to increase your search presence in Google search results.
Write Longer Content
Five years ago, the average length of a blog post was closer to 400 words. Although that is still common, we strongly advise you to write content that is 2,000 to 2,500 words in length. Research by top SEO agencies has shown that it takes a minimum of 2,000 words of content to hit page one on a consistent basis. Long-form content outranks shorter content for several reasons. The first reason is that longer content allows the author time to go into greater detail, which increases time on page. Time on the page tells Google that people find your website useful and Google is more likely to show your website and its search results in the future. The second benefit is that you will be able to add more keywords to your blog post. Third, more extensive content will position you as a thought leader to your readership, which will make them want to read your other posts, engage with your brand, and make them more likely to become a customer in the future.
Now that you are creating longer, more detailed content, it is important to personalize that content for your target audience. Readers will disengage with content that is not relevant to their problems and to help them improve their business. Writing personalized content is the best way for you to create a one-on-one relationship with each reader. If you are personalizing your content correctly, that means you are breaking down your overall audience into smaller segments. Focus on solving one specific problem for one segment of your customer base. Content that tries to solve multiple problems at once can be confusing to readers, which will cause them to bounce away. Once you have created three or four such blog posts, we believe you will see an increase in relevant traffic. Additionally, you will be able to connect with your customers at various points in their customer journey.
We hope you found this blog useful, and more importantly, we hope that you begin implementing the advice to focus on the searcher, write longer content, and to make sure it’s personalized. If you begin implementing these recommendations faithfully during the last half of 2019, it is our conviction at 2020 will be a prosperous year for your business.
Editor’s Note: This article is written by Adam Stetzer, he holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has published on the topics of Internet marketing, absenteeism, employee and customer satisfaction, productivity and safety, and culture. He has founded several technology firms and is currently CEO at HubShout, a white label SEO reseller firm. In his 25 year career, he has worked with companies such as General Electric, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Verizon, AT&T, Ford, LendingTree, American Express and ChevronTexaco. Adam has advised over 1,000 small business owners and blogs frequently.