Search Engine Optimization August 9th, 2021
As a business owner looking to improve your online presence, there are many different strategies and tools available at your disposal. If your goal is to showcase a new product online, you might want to consider using social media platforms (like Instagram) to display your product for the world to see; just keep consumer expectations in mind. If you’re looking to bring in immediate inquiries and customers, then an online ad campaign on Google or Facebook might be right for you.
However, if you’re looking to grow organically and sustainably, then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the tool you need to build your online presence and get those top Google rankings. Google rankings are extremely competitive, but don’t worry – small businesses beat big businesses on Google all the time. The key question a small business owner has to ask themselves is, what keywords can we and should we compete for to rank on page 1 of Google? This blog aims to answer just that.
If your business website just launched over the past few days or weeks, then the most valuable SEO advice for new websites is to focus on the core pages of your site. You’ll need to adequately showcase your business and what you have to offer before you can expect to bring in new customers.
This blog will assume that you have a website with some service pages already in place. From there, the first place that I would look to inform your decision would be Google Search Console. If you’ve ever wondered, “What keywords do people use to get to my website?”, or “How often does my website make impressions on Google?”; then Google Search Console is the free, informative platform for you. It’s valuable, easy to use, and something that’s recommended for anyone who’s looking for website performance insights. You can learn more about Google Search Console here.
There are 3 main insights from Google Search Console that will help determine which SEO keywords you should implement to improve your Google rankings. We’re looking to answer the following 3 questions:
These three questions each address 3 crucial factors for you – plausibility, customer intent, and relevance.
The rationale for the first question is straightforward. If your website has already made impressions on Google for a specific keyword, then it’s much more likely for you to increase the number of impressions that you can make for that keyword. It’s important to remember that your website cannot show up on Google for all of the keywords that you might like, and you should first focus on the keywords that are within the realm of possibility for you.
This is why a local tutor would be better off focusing on the keyword “Reading Tutor Services Toronto”, rather than “Reading Tutor”. Even though the latter might be a more desirable keyword to rank on Google for, the former is a far more likely possibility.
The second question is meant to address consumer intent, and also answer the question ‘Is this keyword really worth ranking for?’ As mentioned earlier, we’re looking to separate the best possible keywords to rank for from similar variations. This is where the click-through rate associated with each keyword can inform you on which appearances in the Google search results are more valuable than others.
If you’re choosing between a keyword that’s made 10,000 impressions for your website in the Google search results compared to a keyword that’s made only 2,000, it would appear to make sense to choose the one with the higher number of impressions. But if each of those keywords corresponds with a click-through rate of 0.5% vs. 5%, then that will practically translate to only 50 visits to your website for the first keyword, compared to 100 visits that come about through the keyword with 5 times fewer the impressions on Google. This is because the 2,000 impression keyword is most likely a high-intent keyword, while the 10,000 impression keyword is more likely to be a low-intent keyword.
What does this look like in practice? Consider your local tutor who’s not only looking to increase online traffic to their website, but to actually bring in new students for tutoring sessions. They may be more inclined to rank for a more general keyword, like “online tutor”, as opposed to a narrower keyword like “online hourly high school math tutor”. But the latter is more likely to correspond with a student who is looking to make contact with a tutor in the short term, while the former is more likely to correspond with a student who is looking to do initial research, and only make a decision in the long term.
Ultimately, the narrower keyword will affect the bottom line for our tutor much more than the general keyword. This is because the intent of the narrower keyword is more transactional, while the intent of the general keyword is more navigational. You can use your business experience and best judgment to differentiate between lower-intent keywords that focus more on research and navigation, compared to higher-intent keywords that focus on making a transaction or performing a task.
The idea here is to focus on both the keywords that already make impressions for your website on Google, along with the keywords that lead to more visits to your website from Google. You’re looking for that perfect sweet spot between a keyword that makes a high number of impressions for your website on Google, and a keyword with a relatively high click-through rate to your website from Google. This way, your SEO promotion activities improve both your Google rankings and your website’s traffic generation. Luckily, Google Search Console displays the impressions, clicks, and click-through rate that your website sees on Google. Even better, you can look at this from the keyword perspective, or the page perspective.
So if you’re looking to choose entirely between different keywords, you know exactly what to do and what metrics to compare. Also, if you’re looking to choose between the keyword options that will help promote a specific page on Google, not just your website as a whole, then GSC will help inform that decision as well.
Finally, the choice of which page to focus on using SEO promotion brings us to our third question, ‘Which keywords can my business thoroughly discuss and address?’ The strongest SEO strategy possible uses a combination of effective off-page outreach and link-building, and on-page optimization and content. The insights we gather from Google Search Console remain incredibly valuable, but this is where we need to turn to the pages in place on our website to critically evaluate their content.
There’s a reason why the most valuable SEO advice for new websites is to focus on the core pages of your site. Google won’t rank a website on its first page no matter how successful your off-page outreach and link-building efforts are if the website page itself doesn’t thoroughly and credibly discuss the keyword that’s searched. So key service pages that do just that are an absolute necessity. You should aim for at least 1,000 words of original content, including visually engaging additions like pictures and videos. It’s also important to optimize technical website elements like meta-data, header tags, and schema markup. You can read a more detailed blog about how to write articles that get your website visibility here.
Practically speaking, what does this look like? It’s not enough for our local tutor to tell the world that he or she offers reading lessons and math mentoring sessions. They’ll need to include:
– Information on the initial assessment and evaluation that they perform to fine-tune their lesson plan to the particular student’s needs.
– An outline of their learning strategies and skill development techniques in detail.
– Videos, images, positive testimonials, and FAQs throughout each core service page of their website.
Essentially, everything to answer the who, what, when, where, and how that students and parents seek about every element of the tutoring service that they are considering. These detailed, thorough service pages are what ensure that online users will be informed, inclined and comfortable to give our tutor a call and book their next tutoring session!
The best SEO efforts are holistic – they cover the entirety of the online user’s search process. From a Google search to your website, to actually booking a tutoring session. That’s why both on-page content and optimization, coupled with off-page outreach and link building are crucial to achieve your SEO goals. If you can use the insights we discussed in this blog, and choose the right keyword for your business and your website (while keeping in mind those 3 crucial questions); then you’ll be better off on Google, and online, than your competitors.