Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of making your business, viewable to search engines and thus improving the quality and quantity of your web traffic. I talk with many small to medium business owners who deeply cherish the personal relationships they have made to build their business. There’s little doubt that doing business with people you trust is the best way to build a business. Yet, the addition of thoughtful content and effective promotion of that content leads to exponential search traffic and new possibilities.
There’s an industrial Houston-based HVAC company that benefitted from a Microsoft blog write-up on April 19th, 2020. The blog, buried deep in Microsoft’s website, was no doubt lightly read, but produced a backlink from microsoft.com, an extreme authority in the website world. On a scale from 0 to 100, here’s what happened to that HVAC company’s domain authority based on that single link from microsoft.com.
Domain authority is a relative score that describes a website’s relevance for a certain subject area. Literally, overnight, Google’s search bots gave the HVAC company a tenfold increase in keywords and fivefold increase in organic traffic. How and why can that happen? And how can equipment and service providers intentionally obtain similar results?
Making content worth reading is the first step. Where do you even start? Too often, equipment/service providers build websites that showcase their equipment or technical prowess rather than HOW THEY MEET CLIENT’S NEEDS. Case in point, here’s a snippet from my first consulting client’s landing page:
Cool equipment. But people don’t go to a machinist shop to geek out — they want their specific needs solved efficiently and economically. Quality content is focused, thorough, and directly aimed at your client’s needs.
Contrast the two paragraphs of copy:
Example 1: We are Piping Fabrication Brothers, and have been in business for 30 years. We provide the highest quality product at the lowest prices. Call us today for all your piping needs.
Example 2: We are Piping Fabrication Brothers, and have been in business for 30 years. Size your pipe instantly, select the right fasteners, or call us today for any piping needs.
The first bit of copy is a salesperson peddling wares. The second copy provides the reader value, whether a monetary transaction occurs or not. Providing value free of charge builds trust, which at some point translates into real revenues.
It's not just text that’s important content. Imagery and videos and sites that include both of these types of mediums naturally rank higher than competitors that simply provide text only.
On-Page SEO Optimization
Ok, so you’ve created great content and are ready to publish. Before you do, let’s talk about how the Google search engine (and any modern search engine) operates. When you Google something, Google doesn’t actually go out to the web. Instead, Google presents a pre-built map of the best possible options for that keyword. This pre-built map is generated from a Googlebot crawling around the web and making the best possible interferences from on-page content and linking.
To get your company on that map, think of the Googlebot as one of the robot vacuum cleaners and your website is the apartment. Turn on that robot vacuum with no preparation and your apartment probably gets mostly clean. But pick up the sweaty gym bag and pizza box, block the robot from going under the couch and the results exponentially improve.
Here are the most crucial tips to make a clear path for the Googlebot :
- Links — Google likes pages link-both internally and externally. This helps Google makes easier sense of the interconnection between on-page content and the web at large. Any page should link internally and externally add coherence to a Googlebot’s web crawl.
- Keyphrase — The key phrase is the primary term you want a page to rank for. It should appear in the title, opening paragraph, and moderately throughout the content. In the early days of Google search, people crammed the entire webpage with the keyphrase they wanted to rank for. That worked for a few years, but Googlebot is a lot smarter now and sees keyword stuffing as spammy behavior.
- Image alt attributes — If an image can’t load due to connection concerns, the image alt tag appears instead to add content. The Googlebot also prefers images that have the alt tag populated.
- Text length — The right answer here is usually at least a few hundred words. Anything less and it is hard for the Googlebot to understand the page’s context. Longer, more extensive articles (750+ words) weigh heavier than lighter content.
Other important elements such as title length, meta descriptions, and meta-text congruency round out the relevant factor list. The good news is many website text editors have this type of functionality built into them. And if not, websites such as ahrefs.com provide their own bots to unearth SEO shortcomings.
Link, Link, Link!
Ok, so you have great content and your on-page SEO is killer. Now it’s time to turn your attention to links. Internal links help Google make sense of your content, but getting links from external sources to your website is where the magic really begins. These external links provide clear signals that the content is reputable.
A few months ago, my neighborhood did Momenta Tech a solid and posted our business contact information on their website, but no backlink. Does that really matter? Well, depends. Backlinks vary wildly in power and it turns out that my neighborhood’s domain rating (DR) on a scale from 0–100 is so low, it's not even on the scale.
Any impact to Momenta Tech’s organic traffic would be minimal at best by requesting a backlink from the neighborhood’s site. So I didn’t bother them. But let’s return to the case of our HVAC company being featured in the Microsoft blog.
Remember the tenfold increase in keywords and fivefold increase in organic traffic from a single backlink? Many equipment and service providers do work for clients with high authority domain websites consistently yet never think to ask for a relevant backlink. Doing so not only is free of charge but can literally 5x your inbound marketing funnel instantly.
If that’s the case, then shouldn’t your organic traffic increase dramatically by stuffing a company backlink into Facebook, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn, and Facebook, right? Not so fast. There are two kinds of backlinks “Do-Follow” and “No-Follow”. The ones that help with SEO validity are “Do-Follow” and usually have centralized content ownership and distribution. So focus on cultivating good relationships with high authority “Do-Follow” websites.
Do three simple things when constructing your website and content and you’ll be light years ahead of the competition:
- Create thoughtful content, ideally using a mix of text, videos, and images.
- Set up that content to be consumed by the Googlebot by following standard naming conventions.
- Thoughtfully seek out backlinks from high authority domain sites.
Best of luck and keep providing great products and services!