You’ve most likely heard of SEO, and perhaps you’ve said to yourself, “What is it and why does everyone keep talking about it?” SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and in a world where most people find new companies through search engines, a solid SEO strategy is key for a successful home care business. Google has an army of search engine “robots” that quickly scan every page on the Web, making note of the topics each website covers. Once they determine what you do, they show your site to people looking for your services based on how relevant they feel your site is.
It may seem like a vague area, and how are you supposed to know if Google “likes” your website? We sat down with our online marketing director, Chris Marcum, to ask this question. In response, he gave four rules that, if followed, will help make your site stand out to Google.
1. Know your value
What problem do you solve so well that someone would be willing to give up their hard-earned money for your services? We see many business owners who want to be viewed as “doing it all.” They’re afraid if they highlight their strength, consumers will assume they’re weak in other areas. While it’s true that an ear/nose/throat doctor won’t treat as many broken legs, there are enough sinus infections out there to keep him in business. If you specialize in dementia, by pushing your expertise through your Web pages, Google will mark your site as highly relevant for this condition. This means they show your website to people searching for help with dementia. While it’s possible to have multiple messages on a website, ranking for them will take more work and time. Focus on one, and once you “prove yourself” to the search engines, you can decide how to grow from there.
2. Understand how search engines read pages
To understand how Google reads a Web page, it helps to view it as “top-down.” This is a general guideline and not meant to be universal, but it can help in prioritizing where you place your keywords. When we say top-down, what we mean is, when you look at your browser window, at the top is the URL field, then the page title, then your headline (H1 tag), then your page content. Your Web address is one of the top items Google considers in ranking a site. If you sell pickles, www.pickles.com would be much easier to rank than www.hectorsfinefoods.com. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find keywords that have decent search volume, and medium to low competition. A decent keyword will generate 10,000-30,000 searches or more each month. Place your highest valued keywords in your URL (while keeping it as short as possible), the page title, your page headline, and somewhere in your content. Do not make your keywords part of an image. It needs to be text on the page, or the search engines won’t be able to read it. Most importantly, your text needs to feel natural – don’t just stick keywords somewhere, and don’t over use them. This is known as keyword stuffing, and Google doesn’t like it.
3. Create great content
Whenever you type something into a search engine, you typically have a question in mind. Search engines know, in order to keep you as a user of their service, they need to provide you with the answers to those questions. Their algorithms are designed to find the best content and deliver it to their searchers. If your content isn’t the best, it won’t be at the top of the list. This is perhaps the most crucial part of a successful SEO strategy. Your site needs to have a blog, with an RSS feed, where you post authoritative, original articles that demonstrate your knowledge. These articles need to provide some kind of value to the reader, and they need to be free. With online marketing, you can no longer look at everything you do as a revenue stream. Your content gives you credibility, and that helps consumers feel secure. Your credibility will generate momentum online, Google will reward your site for it, and that’s when the revenue will come.
4. Demonstrate activity
If a search engine is going to show your site to a consumer, they want to know you’re still in business. The best way to show them that you are is to keep your website active. Add blog, Facebook and Twitter feeds to your home page, and then keep these channels active by posting frequently. There’s no golden number in terms of how often you need to post, but it needs to be consistent and valuable. You should update your general page content as well. Keep in mind, this does not mean you need to give your website a complete makeover. You just need to make sure your pages are up-to-date and not neglected.
When following these rules, don’t expect quick results. There may be a long period of time – perhaps even a year or more – where you won’t see any return at all, and you’ll wonder if it’s even worth your time. But the ability to push through is what separates the successful businesses from those that will fail. At some point, someone will reach out to you and promise quick results. This may sound enticing, but usually involves “cheating” the system. Every update Google makes to their algorithm is meant to catch the cheaters; so taking shortcuts will only put you back to where you started. For solid, update-proof ranking, there are no shortcuts; it will take time. Just remember that SEO is about value and consistency, proving yourself relevant to search engines and prospective clients.