Understanding the basics of SEO (search engine optimization) will help you ask better questions, make better decisions, and get better results.
Its sole purpose is to give your business visibility on the internet – to get your business found by prospective customers in natural unpaid search results (aka organic) and on other websites, in addition to your own website.
Your website’s job is to convert visitors into leads who schedule an estimate or otherwise contact you.
Your role is to turn these leads and prospects into paying customers.
Below are the basics of Local SEO you should ensure are part of your monthly SEO services package.
Local SEO Services Checklist
Step 1: Keyword Research
Ask for a List of Your Keywords
The foundational first step in SEO is uncovering relevant and popular keywords (words and phrases) people search with online when seeking the services you provide. There could be hundreds of variations for your business. Guessing what they might be isn’t effective.
An SEO professional has the tools and expertise to research demand and supply, determine intent and relevancy, analyze your competition, and prioritize for maximum return.
Local SEO services should generally begin with a focus on your best 10 to 30 keywords. It can take months for these keywords to reach their full potential in your marketing, and then they need to be maintained.
But when this initial batch of keywords is performing effectively, your SEO service provider can move on to the next batch of 10 to 30 keywords.
It is this process that continually broadens and deepens your visibility on the internet for more and more search terms across the market area you serve. SEO is ongoing – a permanent, but also cost-effective marketing strategy when done correctly.
Here is a list of 25 top keywords for a residential painting business that an SEO service might start with (in no particular order).
painters in [city] painting
So what should be done with these keywords?
Step 2: Content
Ask for a Content Plan
Fresh content should be added to your website regularly to truly succeed at SEO. Each page on a website should focus on ONE keyword or phrase and a few very close variations. This is how Google determines what the page is about so they can index it properly to appear in search results.
Therefore, a content plan (or schedule/calendar) should be developed that features each of your top keywords. Referring back to a painting business, here is a simplified example:
If your website already has existing pages, that content is included in the content plan, and then new content is scheduled and created over time, to align with remaining keywords.
Ideally, a contractor or home services website should aim for a minimum of 30 pages.
Depending upon your budget, it could take one to two years to reach this goal. After that, you can continue adding pages or utilize blog posting for fresh, ongoing content.
If you already have a blog, don’t let it go stagnant. Continue posting as you build the static page total of your site.
Content shouldn’t just be about keywords and search engines.
It also needs to be of professional quality, clearly communicate the information your site visitors seek, build trust and credibility, and incent them to take action (i.e. contact you).
Step 3: On-Page Optimization
Check for Optimization of your Website Pages Periodically
On-page optimization can be described as the use of HTML code/tags and SEO best practices within the content of your pages to influence the search engines and guide them toward displaying your pages appropriately in search results.
Certainly, this task requires experience and expertise, which is why you hire an SEO professional to get it done effectively.
Every content page on your website (targeted to prospective customers) should be optimized.
If you want to check a few of your pages for the most basic optimization, follow these steps:
1.) Search for your business name and location in Google.
2.) Scroll down (or click through search results pages) until you find the listing for your business website’s home page.
3.) Look at the title of your search result in blue (or purple if it’s been clicked). In the example above, the title is “Quality House Painting | ProTect Painters Minneapolis”.
The keyword in this title is ‘House Painting’. It also identifies the business name and location.
If your title includes the word ‘Home’ – which is the default for ‘Home Page’ – it hasn’t been properly optimized. Does your title have a descriptive and relevant keyword?
4.) Below the title is the page description. In the example above, the page description is “Choose our high-quality house painters for your commercial or residential projects! Call ProTect Painters of Minneapolis SW Metro.”
The description should repeat the keyword once, accurately provide an overview of the topic of the page, and include an incentive or call-to-action so that your prospective customer is motivated to click it and be directed to your website.
This search result is like an advertisement for your business and it’s competing with all of the other businesses displayed on the page.
You want your title and description to be the most desirable one to prospective customers so it gets more clicks.
There are more on-page optimization strategies. In fact, Google looks at over 200 ranking factors.
But page title is one of the most important. If it’s not effective, the page probably isn’t optimized properly.
Step 4: Internal and External Linking
Ask for a Monthly Report of Your Inbound Linking
Another essential aspect of successful SEO is to link related pages of your site to each other. This is called internal linking.
If new content/pages are not created, crosslinking is limited and dormant.
External linking, when your website is listed and linked to from other quality, relevant websites, is extremely important for SEO success. Local business directories are one necessary external linking tactic.
In addition, the slow build of external links (aka inbound linking) on industry-niche websites, hyperlocal websites within your service area, matching external links your top competitors have, social links, and credibility links such as articles, posts, or comments on other websites spread your business visibility and authority across the internet.
External linking should be a monthly endeavor as part of your ongoing SEO services program.
Local SEO Services Create Momentum for Consistent Organic Lead Flow
SEO can take awhile. When you can expect to see results depends upon the current condition of your website and online presence.
Here’s the Process:
First, a foundation is built that includes keyword research, website optimization, cleanup or setup of local business directory listings in the most prominent directories, and competitive analysis. This can typically be completed within the first 30 to 90 days.
Second, a content schedule is developed and new website pages and/or blog posts are added to your website, usually 1 to 3 every month. Inbound linking continues as your website is listed in more local directories, industry niche sites, local service area sites, etc. Depending on your SEO Services, you should see 2 to 5 new links each month.
Third, other opportunities reveal themselves determined by your industry, service area, competitors, goals, and priorities, special offers, seasonality, etc. One-on-one planning and consultation with your marketing strategist achieve continued growth.
These opportunities could include social media, such as Facebook and Twitter; paid advertising in various forms; project photo optimization; video optimization; growing your collection of online customer reviews; building repeat and referral business, and more.
Fourth, continual analysis of performance and results is required in order to fine-tune and improve marketing efforts. This may take shape in the form of keyword rankings, Google analytics, Google search console, website audits for technical and structural integrity, and a variety of additional key performance indicators.
You should receive some type of reporting, documentation, or other communication regarding the performance of your SEO campaign.
SEO Services are One Piece of a Much Broader Marketing Mix
SEO takes care of the organic side of things on the internet – leads that come from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engine results as well as directories and related websites.
But don’t rely on the search engines as your primary lead source. Due to changes and updates in their search algorithm, the activities of your competitors, and other variables, SEO fluctuates too much to be 100% dependable all the time.
Other marketing tactics to explore include:
- Direct Sales
- Building Repeat and Referral Business
- Public Speaking and Promotional Events
- Writing and Publicity
- Advertising (online and offline)
- Paid Lead Generation Services
- Direct Mail and Job Proximity Marketing
Outside of networking, referrals, repeat business, and related ‘feet on the ground’ strategies, SEO services are your most cost-effective, long-term marketing tactic. When done properly, SEO should produce the most leads for the least financial investment.