Gone are the days when SEO was the only way to get to the top and build traffic. Today, there are many more options – SEO, local SEO, social media, paid ads, email marketing and the list goes on. With so many choices, business owners are not sure where to begin. What is best for a small local service business? What is the best investment for selling products nationally?
SEO (search engine optimization) remains a powerhouse when it comes to marketing any business. SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to rank high in “organic” search results.
If you are considering starting SEO (either in-house or outsourced), you need to make sure you understand three important factors – layout, keyword selection, and alternative listings. This can help laser-focus your efforts in the places that will matter most.
The Layout Matters
Studies show that when people search, most of the clicks go to the top ranked sites. In fact, on a standard results page with 10 organic listings – over half the clicks go to the top five. Position one has an average click-through rate of 28.5% and it drops from there.
Not surprisingly, when the search engine changes the results page layout by adding paid ads, local listings, local service ads, and other features – the click-through rate for position one (organic) drops significantly.
Search engines like Google often show paid ads, local results, and other types of listings before organic results. Although the traffic you receive from organic search results is free – the placement can severely limit your success.
Not All Keywords Are the Same
You may have heard that keyword choices (and research) are very important. But what does this really mean? It means you should have a good idea of what terms are relevant and popular, and you should know what the competition looks like.
However, it is more important that you know what the search engine results pages (SERPs) look like for each keyword you want to target. Does the layout of the page hinder your ability to get traffic even with a good ranking? Are your competitors there? Search for each of your target keywords and see how the landscape shapes up.
Identify the keywords that make sense to target through SEO versus the ones where other methods may be more profitable.
Alternatives Outside the SEO Box
If you consider where the clicks happen, this is where you want to be positioned – whether it is paid advertising or not.
Local Service Ads
A Google product, local service ads allow you to showcase your business at the top of some search results. You only pay if a customer calls, books, or messages you directly from the ad. Local service ads are available to specific industries and regions. If you qualify, you pay per lead not per click.
Paid ads appear on properties like Google, Bing, Facebook, and others. Advertisers bid to display their ad or listing in the results of search engines like Google Search and on non-search websites, mobile apps, and videos. Although you must pay each time a visitor clicks, when set up correctly – paid ads are highly profitable and measurable.
Local Listings (Local 3-pack or Local Maps)
Google’s local listings appear based on their algorithm and knowing where you are when you search. Getting listed here is the goal of many local businesses and Local SEO is the way to get there. One of the first things to do – claim and optimize your Google My Business profile. Beyond that you should focus on building customer reviews and acquiring as many relevant, local citations as possible.
Focus your desires on getting traffic, not positioning. Clearly communicate those goals to your in-house team or SEO company. A good SEO company should be able to customize a plan with selected services to help you achieve your specific goals.