Remember the days when you could simply name your company “AAA Concrete” to ensure your business would appear first in the local directory? Those days are behind us. We now live in an era when “Google” is a verb.
So when a potential client begins a search for a reputable decorative concrete company online, what steps can you take to control how close to first your company appears in online search results?
Three little words will make a big difference: search engine optimization. When you are ready to intentionally boost your website rankings, here are six key techniques that will make a big difference.
Keywords are, well, key. Keywords are those words which potential clients type into the search box hoping to find the concrete contractor of their dreams (you). For example, in Colorado someone might type in “Colorado decorative concrete.” Without those words in your website, you will never be at the top when the search results come up.
Search engines have these fancy little diggers of information called “robots.” These robots scan the text in your website and hand the results to the search engine. If your website does not contain the words people use to try to find you, it will not get matched up with their queries. My rule of thumb is to have keywords about three times on an important page. But be careful about trying to force a keyword too many times. The robots are onto that trick and they will blacklist your company from the results page.
2. Photos and their “alternate text”
How do you cram your website with keywords without having it look text-heavy? You should include your keywords in the main text (what shows to people who visit your page), but if you need to find an additional home for those keywords, there are clever places they can hide.
For example, when you add a photo to your website, you can add “alternate text” to go with it. Alternate text is what shows if for whatever reason the photo does not load properly. This rarely happens, so this “error” text is a perfect place to plant keywords, especially when they are relevant to the photo.
Let’s say one of your keywords or phrases is “residential stamped patio.” Load a photo of an example of a residential stamped patio, describe it as such in your caption, and put “residential stamped patio” in the alternate text too.
3. Online directories
There are hundreds of free online listing directories. Go to the most popular ones and make sure your company is listed. Many allow you to list your website — be sure to fill out that blank. If you’re limited on time and resources, focus on the top ones like Bing, Yahoo and Yelp. Do a search of the “top free online business directories” and you’ll discover a multitude of places to list and link your business for free.
4. Social media
Social media acts as a great aid to any marketing plan. It gives your business an additional way to reach to your market. Plus, it allows for additional links back to your website — come on, No. 1 ranking! Ideally, use your keywords in as many social media outlets as possible, and always list your website. Social media outlets I recommend are LinkedIn, Facebook (great for internal marketing and posting photos of recently completed work), blogs (great brag boards that can be filled with lots of keywords) and Twitter.
Also, remember people love images more than words, but always label each photo and describe it so it comes back in search engine results.
5. Valuable content
To maintain a high ranking, you need people actually clicking on the link to your page, so be sure to have valuable content that encourages them to click and come back.
Tracking the results of your efforts should not be costly or too time-consuming. Your website hosting company most likely offers tracking tools. Google also offers some free tools for your use. Both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools help you strategize and measure the progress of your search engine optimization efforts. They give advice, show errors and provide recommendations. Plus, boosting your online relationship with Google by using the tools it has to offer certainly can’t hurt your rankings any.
Remember, any online campaign or plan is similar to a good diet or exercise plan — it may take two or three months before you see results. Some of the listing services I mentioned above take several weeks before making your listing available to the general public. It also takes the little robots months to scan sites to determine their validity and ranking. Patience will help as you rise to the top.