Search engine optimisation or “optimization” is the process in which the content on your website is edited and improved to include terms and structure that a search engine robot can read clearly. Well that was the idea before it all started going crazy.
Now, search engines look at all sorts of things: website speed, links from other websites, whether readers are actually reading your content and finding it useful based on time on page, the list goes on… they call this Googles “algorithm”. And every time google has an ‘algorithm’, businesses on the internet either succeed or suffer based on their new rules.
The latest one to really consider is a very practical one: Mobile friendliness. If people looking for information on a smart phone or mobile device type in a search term; where is google going to send them? They show results of websites that a) match their search terms filtered by their algorithm and b) websites that can best be viewed on their device. In fact, websites that don’t respond to mobile just are not coming up on mobile search as much.
Search engine optimisation is more of a holistic approach. It encompasses every aspect of usability; ease of use, text size, relativity (is your content relevant to the searched terms) and then some other factors that continue to bewilder and confuse the public and professional SEO consultants alike.
Try this for an example:
Search google.co.za for “vehicle mechanic”. One would expect to see a list of “vehicle mechanics” available for service. Perhaps even a map of vehicle mechanics nearby. Its clearly not so. Paid ads may come up for vehicle mechanics but the rest of the results are jobs. Yes, jobs. Google is receiving so many job searches for that term they think you are looking for the same thing. Your customers have probably typed that in too and the paid results are getting the click.
Now try the same example but use your location in the search: “vehicle mechanic durban” (replace durban with your town name. Same thing. Whats going on? Surely those terms will find a vehicle mechanic in durban? Here is the “aha” moment; people are not searching for a vehicle mechanic specifically, but rather the credibility of a vehicle service center or business that services vehicles. Customers are also using normal language; where to service my vehicle in durban, vehicle service centers in durban, etc.
Search for “vehicle service center durban” or “service my vehicle durban” and map listings, relevant results and some portal sites offering a number of businesses in the industry come up in the results.
Sometimes the answer lies in the question. When people are looking for your business, what are they looking for? Or rather, what specifically are they looking for? That’s the first question.
The second question is: when your customers are presented with a list of results, which one do they click on?
Here is a list of results from my search:
For this specific term, your customer is probably ready to pay for the service right away and ready to make contact. A little bit of insight will tell you that;
a) he is a brand new vehicle owner and looking to service his vehicle for the first time (under 20%)
b) he has had a vehicle for some time and is either unhappy with his current service center or is looking for a center closer to his location (50%)
c) he is looking for a good price on servicing his vehicle (30%)
You could probably find some more interesting insights which will help you to focus what you are offering and also provide your customer with what they are looking for. Its easier to fill a need than to create a new one. In the example above, one can determine that customers are looking for a service center nearby with a good price or value proposition.
In the image you will see a whole column of paying advertisers on the right side of the results. These are Google Adwords customers all bidding on the term “vehicle service center” and its derivatives.
Google Business Listings
Directly under the map are Google Business listings and businesses that can be found on google maps. If your business allows customers to your location this is the next VITAL requirement as you can clearly see.
The results that follow are websites that have use SEO to come up in the results “organically”. This means they have not paid to come up so high, but google sees their content as relative to the search term above millions of other websites.
Enter Search engine optimisation (SEO)
So we have ticked all the boxes:
- the right keywords
- good content on the website relative to the search terms
- google business listing
- mobile responsive website
We are also coming up there with all the others but still not getting the click through we want. Googles algorithm also factors click through into their ranking criteria – if users search for a keyword and a website is getting the most clicks, they have done their job right? I beg to differ. Some businesses have monopolised industries for many reasons other than good service. Customers are often looking for alternatives and google’s robot cannot determine the actual dynamics their customers face when dealing with companies in person. All they can do is try to determine these factors by relevance and bounce rate. i.e. they will keep sending traffic to websites that stay relevant and visitors keep frequenting, i.e. websites with a high click through ratio (CTR).
So how do you even break into the market? And how do we get high click through?
Analysing the results in the image we can see some very clear insights:
- Google Business listings come up first and on the map. The listings that show their phone number and address will most likely be contacted first. The same applies for those with websites; they will get the click first.
- Because the map results are so specific to the term; the customer will probably click on “More vehicle service center” before scrolling further down. This opens google maps with more listings and all the paid and organic results are GONE! They do put a little link back to the results, but by the time your customer gets to this point, they are more inclined to contact one of the listings rather than go back to the search. Remember this is directly related to the nature of the search term. Virtual services have a totally different problem.
- If your customer overlooks all the extremely relevant results above, what is going to stick out?
We could continue to analyse the results but this should be enough to give us a good shot at beating the competition.
Value proposition and credibility
A clear value proposition always stands out. Price (a Special perhaps) and Credibility (a group or branches) are where the traffic goes to next. If we are only depending on organic results, we need to make sure that our title and description have the right words.
Wrapping it up:
So we have all this useful information, how can we put it into practice?
- Make sure you have covered all the bases you can cover: A reputable web design company or SEO consultant will be able to assist you in setting up the requirements.
- Tailor your titles to offer value in as few words as possible using the keywords you are targeting.
- Keep your customers happy.
We can go to all this effort to get customers but keeping them is far easier than getting new ones. Make sure your staff is closing the deal and keeping your customers coming back. They are people after all and after using the internet to find you, building relationships with them is the single biggest factor to success… and that has nothing to do with SEO at all.
If you need help with your website or require the services of an SEO professional call or email EditMe. We get businesses found.