Editor’s note: Go Local Interactive is a digital marketing agency that works with a number of pest control firms. The following is the fourth in the video series “Building a Strong Digital Marketing Strategy.” In this video, John Jordan, co-founder of Go Local Interactive, explains SEO and how can it help your business. Below is the transcript from this video.
Building Your Foundation: Hi, this is John Jordan with Go Local Interactive. And today we are going to go through the fourth video in our series dealing with how to build a strong digital marketing program from the foundation up. Today, we’re gonna cover SEO. SEO is one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of digital marketing primarily because those that practice SEO tend to keep all of their best practices behind a curtain, if you will, and they don’t like to actually disclose what they would refer to as their “secret sauce.” We’re in the business of demystifying digital marketing in general here at Go Local and one of the things I’d like to really help with is to help you better understand what is SEO, exactly how can it help our business, and how do I go about selecting an agency or a staff member that can help with the SEO endeavor.
SEO (Ensuring Crawlability and Readability): SEO starts with crawlability and readability. It’s nothing more than that. You’re trying to increase the likelihood that the search engine can easily crawl, read, and index your website by interpreting all of the information you have there to share with your potential customers.
Organic Ranking Factors: Before we get into that in a little bit greater detail, I wanted to take a step back and remind you of the three pieces that are integral to a successful organic strategy. The first one being Local Listings. Local Listings established your local relevance in the marketplace you’re looking to serve and that was the last video in our series. The second one being SEO. This is a collection of tactics, over 200 of them to be exact, that are integral to helping the search engine better ingest or understand, index, read, interpret, understand, whatever word you’d prefer, your website. And then the third piece is content which we’re gonna talk about in the next video in this series.
All three pieces are critical to your organic success and I always like to use the analogy of a stool. A stool typically works better when it has three legs or more on it, so, in this instance, think of a three-legged stool. If you were to remove one of those legs and it only had two legs or remove two legs and it only had one, it just wouldn’t perform the way it was intended when it was built. So, in this case, for an organic strategy to perform or gain the rankings you’re seeking to gain, you have to have all three components we’re mentioning here. One that we’re going to focus on today is SEO.
Organic Ranking Factors Part 2: SEO is complicated. Now, I didn’t put this slide together for the intent of making you dizzy. It is more intended to show you just how complicated it can be. These are not all 200+ of the known ranking factors that are out there but a good number of them listed here. And, you can see some of the interrelationships they have between not only traditional SEO efforts but your listings, your content development, strategies, etc.. This is a host of things that SEO firms work on. These are some of the more commonly recognized or known SEO ranking factors some of which Google has come outright and confirmed through different forums. They’ve told us through different actions they’ve taken. They’ve told us or reaffirmed that these things are important.
An example would be page speed. Google not only confirmed that page speed was important to user experience but that it was in fact part of their ranking algorithm years ago. They also came out and gave us tools to actually measure ourselves and see ourselves through their eyes in terms of how our sites perform on a page speed basis. So, anytime Google speaks and kind of comes out in the open and confirms something as part of their ranking algorithm, it’s important for us to listen and understand those things. Now this can be a little bit messy, a little bit busy to interpret and understand so I’m going to give you one that’s a little bit more digestible.
SEO: Crawlability & Readability: We like to think about all of those 200+ ranking factors as being critically important but you can only knock out so many of them at once. You have to prioritize and start to build that SEO foundation over time, really strengthening all the areas of weakness that are identified in your website from an SEO perspective. Again, all with the mindset that you’re trying to increase the crawlability, the readability of your website. Make it as easy as possible for Google to interpret and understand what you offer to customers through your website, what goals you’re seeking to achieve through that site, and when you’re most relevant for when those people are out there actually searching. Now, all of these are things you’ve probably heard of like backlinks and title tags and UX or user experience, H-tags, accessibility, etc..
These are all things where you’ve likely heard the terminology, you may just not understand or interpret what influence they have on your ability to rank or actually show up more frequently within the search engine results page. So, that’s what we’re here to try to help you with is to better understand that. And, I’m also going to have time today to kind of skim the surface. But, hopefully after you’ve seen some of this information, it’ll help you to do a little bit more research on your own and better understand at least how SEO works and what it’s intended to do for your business.
SEO Tools: Now, to perform SEO correctly, you have to have at your disposal a lot of different tools. These are just a few of the tools that my agency uses here at Go Local. Each has their own intended purpose or goals, but many of them are available to you at no cost. Obviously having access to your own Google Analytics accounts, using your own Google Tag Manager account, Google Search Console accounts are all things that are available to you that can help you to better understand the traffic that’s coming through your site and the use of that traffic, the data that’s being portrayed through that traffic to your site, conversion activities, etc.
But, other tools out there like Stat, which we use as an agency for keyword ranking reporting, helps you to better understand what customers are coming to you for, or rather for what different types of searches they’re coming to you from, where you’re ranking, and kind of trend that over time. It’s important that we don’t use our own search behavior to evaluate in that instance where we’re ranking because Google is going to give me a different result than someone like you who has different search behavior. So, if we can get kind of that unbiased look through one of these tools or licensed software, to get an unbiased look at how we’re displaying to other users out in the marketplace that haven’t been to our site before, that’s going to give us a better understanding of where we truly lie in terms of rankings. And, that’s where a tool like Stat can come in handy.
Another tool on here: Hotjar. We use that for heat mapping and better interpreting that user experience and seeing how consumers are actually navigating through your site and what they’re interacting with and how they’re engaging with things. You can learn a lot of interesting things from tools like Hotjar where you can see if people are trying to click on things that aren’t actually clickable on your website. It could be a clear indication they are seeking more information and you’re just not giving them the ability to get to that information. Again, all these tools can be really helpful from an SEO perspective. This is by no means a complete list, just to give you an idea of exactly how many of them are out there.
What a Customer Sees: Now, let’s start with, kind of, the basics. This is what a customer sees, right? I’ve taken a screenshot of our homepage of Go Local’s website. And you can see, kind of, visually what’s available to you as a user on the page. But, it kind of stops with the visual.
What Google Sees: This is, for that exact same page, what Google sees. They are seeing the source code behind each of the pages on your website and that’s where a lot of the real SEO magic, if you will, is taking place. That’s where title tags are defined. That’s where meta descriptions are placed. That’s where H-tags are labeled. That’s where schema markups and other SEO tactics are being identified. That’s where a lot of the optimizations can take place for page speed and otherwise. So, it’s just important to understand that what we see as a consumer and that visual representation of a website is not exactly what Google is seeing when they’re crawling, reading, indexing, and interpreting your website. They’re looking more at what behind-the-scenes is powering that page.
On-Page SEO at Work: So, here’s a real-life example of that in practice. I did a search here in the Austin area for pest control. You can see in the Google search bar here that it says “pest control Austin TX”. One of the companies that’s showing up fairly prominently on the first page is ABC Home and Commercial. And you can see their title tag is written to very much match-up with the way I searched. “Pest Control Austin TX” was my search and their title tag reads “Pest Control, Austin, TX ABC Home and Commercial Services.” They’ve also reinforced it down here in the description, the meta description. “Pest Control in Austin” is part of the text or verbiage that’s provided to me as a user. So, that’s kind of step one of what you actually see in the search results page.
So, how is this being derived? If you look at the page you actually land on when you click through the ads, it takes you to a Pest Control Austin, TX, page. This first highlighted area here, this is the actual title tag for this page. It’s the wording that appears in that tab in your browser. That’s your title tag. That’s defining for Google, if you think of it in terms of a newspaper article. It’s like the headline, if you will, for that page of your website. It’s important that it incorporates keywords that match up with the way you believe consumers are searching in the area and what you’re going to offer that consumer through that page of your website. You can see, in this instance, ABC has also reaffirmed on their URL structure after the .com you have a /Austin/pest-control. That all has an influence on why they’re ranking so well when I’m searching for “pest control Austin, TX”.
If you go down a little bit further, you can see there is something here called a breadcrumb. It actually gives the user the ability to jump backwards in pages on the website, but it also reinforces for Google the structure of your website and, again, gives you another opportunity to reinforce certain keywords that are important, in this instance, “Austin” followed by “Pest Control in Austin, TX”. So, these are all ranking factors and things that are influencing ABC’s ability to rank when someone is searching in that specific manner on the search engine.
Now, as you scroll down a little bit further, you can see I’ve highlighted here the H-1, the first tag that appears on that page: “Pest Control in Austin, TX”. You can think of H-tags or header tags as nothing more than a way to break up the content on a page by assigning a headline to that section of content. Again, if you go back to our newspaper analogy, you’ve got your title that draws people in and gives them a good idea of what exactly is offered through that page. Then you have within that article, you may have different sections of content that are broken up by their own individual titles that kind of give the reader an opportunity to understand what content wise is being contained within each of the sections in that newspaper article. Your website is managed much the same in that you have an H-1, an H-2, an H-3, or header-1, header-2, header-3. This helps Google to better understand and interpret how the content is being broken up on that page. And, again, it gives them a better idea through keywords you’re using in those header tags of what type of relevance you have on different types of terms.
If you further read on, you’ll see, I’ve also highlighted within the content on this page, some of the terms that reinforce, again, when this particular page is relevant. You can see I’ve highlighted Austin, Central Texas, and Austin, again. You don’t want to do this too much because it can be considered something we call keyword stuffing, and Google kind of frowns upon that. They see it as you tricking the system into believing you’re more relevant than you actually are. But, in this case, the content was incorporated in an appropriate manner into the flow of text. And, Google can see that it’s being used correctly in terms of how it’s being displayed to users, those keywords in the actual content itself. So, again, all of this is intended to reinforce for the search engine. And, these are just three or four ranking tactics out of, again hundreds that can be utilized to help rank better and, in this case, rank for “pest control Austin, TX”.
On-Page SEO at Work Part 2: On the next page, I’m going to take it a little deeper. Had I scrolled down a little bit further on that same page I was on, the Austin Pest Control page, you would see that the content is broken up and I have this “Bed Bug Treatment” highlighted section. I have “Fire Ant Control”, “Roach Exterminator”, and a few others. If I click on that “Bed Bug Treatment” link that exists on that Austin Pest Control page, it now takes me to a new page. Notice what changes. The URL changes from Austin/pest-control to Austin/pest-control/bed-bug.
So, now we’re distinguishing for the search engine that this page is not only relevant when people are searching for Austin and pest control, but it’s absolutely critical when someone is searching for bed bugs as the pest problem in Austin, TX. So, again, if you look at the title tag, they’ve adjusted it for this page. Now it reads Bed Bug Treatment, Austin, TX, as opposed to the prior page which was Pest Control, Austin, TX. So, now this page is essentially signaling to the search engine, it’s most relevant when someone is searching for bed bug solutions in Austin, TX. Again, the breadcrumb follows the same pattern. In this instance, it goes from Austin to pest to bed bug treatment in Austin, TX. The first header tag, Bed Bug Treatment in Austin, TX, has been adjusted.
You can see within the content they also have, again, mentions of “bed bug” multiple times. So, again, this page has been specifically designed to rank when people are searching in Austin, TX, for bed bugs. So, again, we’re just highlighting a quick transition from a pest control page to a specific pest control, Austin, bed bug page. Those little nuances have been addressed here which is what’s allowing ABC in this instance to kind of win those micro battles in terms of the search results page. They’re showing up organically because they’ve done the right things from an SEO perspective.
Again, there are hundreds of SEO tactics that can be implemented on the page. I’ve just gone through a small number of them in this quick video to give you an idea of exactly how these things, when implemented correctly, can impact your ability to rank on a search engine’s results page. I hope this has been helpful.
SEO and Schema Markup: But, just to make sure I hammer it home a little bit more, I’m going to give you just a couple more examples. This one, I mentioned earlier, is the term schema. Schema is, for all intents and purposes, when I describe it I use the Dewey Decimal System. If you remember the old card index files you go to in a library and you can pull the drawer out and kind of go through the card index and you can understand where in the library is that book that you’re actually looking for. Schema is very similar to that in that it helps the search engine better understand the structure of your website and the type of content you are trying to offer to them.
In this case, we’re showing you an example of a couple of different types of schemas. There are lots of different types. We’re showing you the FAQ schema and reviews schema. On the left, you can see how it’s portrayed through the search engine results. So, this was a snapshot directly from a search results page where I was searching for wasps and Orkin came up and there were these little questions with an accordion that you can click and it’ll show you the answer to that question. This is content that is being pulled directly from Orkin’s website in this case and it’s been marked as FAQ schema. And, that’s essentially telling the search engine that the type of content they are looking at is a question and answer format, it’s FAQs.
That allows the search engine to actually pull that content directly into the search engine results page. And, as a result, Orkin’s presence on that page goes from maybe a half inch of space of real estate up to two to three inches of space depending upon how many of those questions Google chooses to pull into the search engine result itself. So, in this case, they are seen as an authority on this topic because they’ve offered questions and answers that Google is seeing as commonly asked through search queries. So, they are doing exactly what Google has told them to do. Give us a way to understand and interpret the content on your website in this case through schema mark-up and, specifically, FAQ schema mark-up. And, now, they’re being rewarded by Google pulling that information into the search engine.
And, you can see over here on the right, this is how it’s actually portrayed through the source code, that schema mark-up specific to FAQs. The example at the bottom, this is an example from Angie’s List where they have actually a star rating appearing on the search that I conducted in Austin for pest control. You might wonder sometimes when you see a competitor their star rating is appearing there next to their organic listing in the search results. That’s not by accident. They’ve actually included schema mark-up specifically for reviews, reviews schema, in their website. So, you can see here on the right this is a snapshot of how Angie’s has put that into their source code and is, again, helping the search engine understand that this star rating is coming from a specific source and it’s labeling it as a reviews schema. So now the search engine can interpret that information correctly and pull that star rating into the search result and display it right next to your organic listing when it’s displayed. So, again, these things don’t happen by accident. And, there’s hundreds of these tactics that are kind of happening in the background if your SEO firm or SEO employee is doing all the tactics on their side. Hopefully it gives you a better idea when they’re implemented correctly what it actually looks like or what it can mean to your business in terms of how you display in the search engine results.
SEO is the Foundation to Your Digital Marketing Efforts: So, again, it was kind of down and dirty on SEO but I hope that this was helpful. As always, please feel free to reach out if you have questions. And, in our next part of this series, we’re going to be talking a little bit about content and how content can help you to build topical relevance. Until then, this is John Jordan with Go Local Interactive. Thank you so much for your time, and we’ll talk to you soon.
This content was originally published here.