Many green businesses would like to gain exposure by ranking on the first page of search engines and use their ranking to drive customers to their site and eventually turn them into a sale or a lead. This is a great goal to have since according to Google, almost 95 percent of browsers do not go past the first page of results when searching for a product or service.
The main problem that small businesses and entrepreneurs encounter is not only knowing where to start when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), but also having a game plan to reach their goals. Following these tips can help boost rankings and establish a stronger online presence:
Set Specific Goals
Set your goals and ask yourself relevant question, such as why are you doing this? What do you want people to find on your site? Why do you want people to find your site? Moreover, is simply a customer viewing your site enough or do you need a stronger call to action?
Be sure your goals follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) rule, a goal that is completely unattainable would be useless. A sample goal for a green business promoting solar panels could be “I want 500 local homeowners to find my website and register for updates on solar panels within two months.”
Use SEO Keywords That Will Get You Noticed
After setting a few preliminary goals, brainstorm ideas and make a list of search queries that customers would likely use when searching for your company. Use keywords that will be the best fit for your green business. For instance, from the example above, ranking for Solar Panels may be tough, so try ranking for a more specific term, such as “energy saving solar panels”.
Do not rely solely on yourself when establishing search phrases and keywords, survey customers for their opinions, as well as use analytics tools such as Google Adwords and Google Insights for Search.
Be sure that during the research phase you create a list of your competition and take note of who they are linking to and who is linking to them. This list will be useful later when you search for links.
Quality Content is a Top Priority
After Google’s Panda update, content has become an important ranking factor; however, not just any content will do, Google expects original, relevant, and fresh high quality content. The official Google blog even said after the release of Panda:
This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites – sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on. It is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.
When posting content be sure to take advantage of blogging platforms and always make sure the content is original and relevant. Take note of how the Solar Sphere blog posted “Wind vs. Solar: Which Makes More Sense for Your Home?” This article not only is relevant and interesting, since Solar Sphere sells solar panels, but also offers a great photo to grab your attention. As said in the above-mentioned quote, high quality sites with original content will be rewarded with higher rankings.
Not only does Solar Sphere do a good job of producing quality content, but their blog also has a great ad ratio. Even though Google’s Adsense team says blast ads all over your page, Panda says that is a penalty. Optimize your site with a content-to-ad ratio that is in favor of meaningful content.
If you are not that great of a writer, hire a freelance writer to produce the articles you request. You can expect freelance writers to charge, on average, anywhere from $10 to $30 for a quality article.
Organically Build Links
Link building is the process of building links to your site from other reputable sites. This can be difficult, but is also one of the best ways to boost your search rankings. Google crawls every page and has an algorithm that determines how strong pages are and how relevant the pages are that link to them. Keep in mind, Google can tell if the links are paid for. Paying for links is a Black Hat SEO tactic that is frowned upon by Google and can cause your site to be lowered in the search rankings. Legitimate strategies for building links include:
- Simply asking for the link
- Giving away content or tools
- Developing a widget
- Social media campaigns
- Using public relations
Is Social Media the Future?
Social media has been moving toward becoming a strong ranking factor, which can been seen in major search engines like Google with the +1 button and Bing with the Twitter Search Engine, and don’t forget Facebook, who doesn’t allow personal information to be indexed, but does allow shared information to be indexed.
Only Google actually knows how much social signals affect search rankings, but the fact is that Google provides real-time social sharing through +1 and if Google finds that important, so should you. Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs and a keynote speaker at PubCon 2009, said:
A social network made by Google impacts search.
It doesn’t get much clearer than that; however, Bing makes it clear as well through the Twitter Search Engine on Bing. This tool allows you to search for tweets in real time. While Twitter may not directly push traffic to your site, Jen Lopez performed a study that proved that tweets and retweets of links have a direct positive affect on traditional SEO.
Some may see social media as a “time suck”; however, not only is social media good for your SEO efforts, but is good for building engagements with customers and forming brand advocates. Be aware that social media SEO moves from keywords to conversations and your goal in social media should be to build engagements. Green America does an amazing job of building engagement with their Facebook fans. Notice how they have even developed a tab called “AskGreenAmerica” that encourages their followers to ask questions and get involved.
SEO is constantly changing and can be a difficult task to master, but with patience, the right keywords, and keeping up with the latest trends, your business can land at the top of search results and stay there.
About Matt Polsky
Matt Polsky is the Senior Content Manager for VA Mortgage Center.com, providing insights on SEO, social media, and all things small business.