SEO Rules That Rule
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is more important than ever before in the competition for qualified visitors to your website. With 84% of B2B marketers using content for lead generation, according to Search Engine Watch, there is far more to generating traffic for your site than what meets the eye. Previous rules included carefully planned page titles, headers, meta information, and more – but with the number of sites growing from 2.5 million in 1998 to over 1 billion today, SEO tactics must expand as well. The old rules still apply; but industrial marketers focused on SEO need to stay current on the latest tactics and best practices in order to stay ahead of their competition.
How Does Google Rank Sites?
While other search engines such as Yahoo, Bing and Baidu have their own formulas for ranking websites, we will focus on Google – whose model is often imitated. The simple truth is Google does and needs to maintain excellent and relevant searches for each keyword entered into their engine in order to remain at the top. The more people who use Google in typed and even spoken searches, the more they get in advertising dollars, the more they have to innovate new products in both the successful (self-driving cars) and the not so successful (Google +). In order to make all of this possible, Google implements hundreds of changes per year, making any one algorithm signal a waste to pander to.
Almost all Google searches are first dependent upon the user’s:
- Specific keyword – burger restaurants vs. burger recipes vs. Bob’s Burgers, etc.
- Your location – searching for a burger restaurant in Houston gives different results than New York or wherever the search is being conducted
- Sign in – Google users who are signed in will get different results than those who are not, such as friend recommendations for burger restaurants
- Device – phone vs. tablet vs. desktop/laptop will yield different search results
Top 4 Ways to Capitalize on Google’s Current Algorithms
1. Put your best foot forward
It doesn’t matter how well you incorporate your chosen keywords into your site if it is not user-friendly. Your website is competing with hundreds and sometimes thousands of other companies who do the same thing you do, so building a well-designed site with user experience in mind is critical. On-site search engine optimization is of course, important; but you must begin with a site that is:
- Responsive on all devices, from smart phones to tablets to laptops to desk tops. *IMPORTANT NOTE: Google is now penalizing sites that are not responsive when searches are done on mobile devices. Mobile searches now outnumber searches done on desktop computers. If your site is not mobile responsive, you could be cut out of the results presented to many potential customers.
- Has fast page load speeds
- Free of errors such as broken links
- Well organized so that visitors can find the content they’re looking for easily and quickly
- Content rich: your site should contain various types of content that appeal to visitors at different stages of their buying journey (White Papers, blog posts, video, etc.)
- Concise and convincing: if you don’t capture a visitor’s attention within seconds of landing on a page of your site, chances are they will move on to another. Make your brand messaging come across loud and clear on every page. Keep text to a minimum and make every word count!
- Search engine friendly: let your webmaster know to allow access for Googlebot to crawl the code and resources needed to render a site in a browser
2. Determine and maximize relevant keywords
This includes a combination of keywords that are relevant to your site and relevant to the user. If any of these keywords overlap, they may be the ones, although it’s also worth considering how high the competition is (this is when “long tail keywords” should be considered). The keyword strategy for an industrial, B2B business will differ from that of a retail business wanting to attract local customers.
First, remember that using the keywords you want to rank for in the body content of your site is just the beginning. Those keywords should also be used in page titles, meta descriptions, image descriptions, and any other portion of a web page that search bots will crawl when judging where to rank your site.
Know the four kinds of keywords you should be using:
- Commercial – These keywords are essential to any call to action (CTA) on your site, be it a contact us email, filling out some type of form, downloading a White Paper, signing up to receive new blog posts or newsletters, etc.
- Content – These keywords should be used in articles, blog posts, video and other content on your website in order to entice users to visit the site, even if it’s just to browse. Click here to read about how great content and intelligent SEO deliver results.
- Social – Keywords that are interwoven throughout your company’s social media pages, particularly if you depend heavily on local business.
- Long Tail – These keyword phrases get very specific and are usually the ones that will bring the most qualified prospects to your site. For example, rather than “centrifugal pump”, “centrifugal pumps for refinery in Houston TX”.
3. Be mindful of back, internal, and external links
One constant about Google’s search algorithm is ranking sites higher that have large numbers of incoming links from other websites, or back links. But beware: it’s not just about the number of links. Google is also looking at the “authority” the linking site has. Authoritative sites have huge amounts of traffic, are content rich, relevant to your business, and follow all the good rules of SEO. A single blog on LinkedIn can pay off huge in the department of back links. With close to 400 million users and counting, LinkedIn obviously has a great deal of authority. Good SEO’s know how to get back-links from authoritative sites and this is one way they help to increase your site’s ranking in searches.
Internal links are also important for Google’s criteria, as well as allowing visitors to get to where they need to go quickly, even if it’s just to a contact or services page. Make it a point to include internal links on each page of your site, as well as any new content you add such as blog posts.
External links can also help, especially when linking to relevant sites that can back up your content such as statistics, data, relevant studies, and more. Just as with back links, the more authoritative the site, the better.
4. Take social media seriously
If I had a dollar for every time someone in an industrial company told me “social media won’t do anything for us,” well … you know. These are people who are sometimes managing significant marketing programs for large, international companies. Wouldn’t you think they would stay current with the latest trends in marketing?
There are so many reasons why this type of thinking is just plain wrong. Here are a few:
- Social media gives your company the opportunity to engage with potential customers real-time. Make an acquaintance in a LinkedIn group and it will be much easier to get a face to face meeting. Offer your expertise (for free) today and the person you help may become a paying customer tomorrow.
- Social media marketing can position your company as a leader in your field. Of course this won’t happen if all you post are sales pitches or conversely, trivial “have a happy Monday” kinds of posts. Produce quality content – post it on your social media pages – engage in groups and with your followers – and eventually you will build credibility. It’s as simple as that.
- If you promote your company as “innovative”, a “technology leader”, or some riff on this type of differentiation: you absolutely need to have an active social media presence. When any company claims to be the leader at anything and I go to their website and see that it is dated looking and they don’t have any social media pages … they’ve lost me. Yes, perception IS reality. Leaders lead – they don’t follow behind and jump on board when it seems there’s no other choice.
- Perhaps the #1 reason for actively engaging in social media is that it is the NUMBER TWO signal Google uses when ranking sites in a search. At least for now, Google sees a company that is active in social media as being more authoritative and subsequently, probably a better source of information to the person searching.
The Bottom Line …
In the end, there is no magic formula for outsmarting Google. However, doing something is better than pretending SEO isn’t important. Follow the practices outlined in this article and in a matter of months you should begin seeing improvement in your keyword rankings and qualified traffic to your website. It’s also important to remember that the world of search engine optimization will continue to evolve and change, and so will the “rules”. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to partner with a marketing firm that offers SEO services or hire someone internally whose sole purpose is SEO and maintaining the health of your website.
There are many resources on the Marketects website that will help educate you in the area of SEO and Inbound Marketing. And if you decide you need outside assistance, we’re just an email or phone call away. We love helping industrial companies build integrated, robust Inbound Marketing programs!