Launching a new website is a bit like assembling a giant puzzle. There are many pieces, and some components are best put into place first, while other elements are incorporated later on in the process. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the most valuable pieces as it should be of primary concern well in advance of starting your website. A solid SEO strategy is the entire foundation of a great business website. Neglecting to lay the foundation could result in poor web development and design, formatting issues, terrible URL structures, and more!
WHAT IS SEO?
SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is the process by which search engines “crawl” content (meaning that search engine robots discover fresh, updated content) to measure its efficacy in attracting website traffic. SEO is a component of search marketing that focuses on ORGANIC (free or unpaid) methods to gain attention in search engine results pages.
THE VALUE OF SEO:
New websites are like seedlings. Once you plant seeds, they need to be nurtured with the proper amount of soil, water, sunshine, and nutrients. Neglect equals demise, and the same principle applies to your fledgling business website. Think of indexed web pages, backlinks, and overall authority as “Miracle Grow” for your company’s website. As time goes on and your website grows and develops, Google’s algorithm frequently changes; however, if you’ve properly applied a great SEO strategy, your website will most likely be unaffected! Eventually, you might discover that your business website is dominating your competition in the organic search results! So how’s that for a motivational speech?!
Let’s break down a solid SEO strategy step-by-step:
- URL (Uniform Resource Locators):
It is the address of a web page.
Your URL and URL structuring is kind of important. And by “kind of,” I mean “SUPER IMPORTANT”. Search engines consider URLs to be one of the main ranking factors in determining the content and context of your page. In other words, your url will be associated with your SEO equity, representative of both your brand and the name of your business.
Determine an SEO-friendly URL and customize it for every webpage on your site to align with the targeted keyword for which you’d like your page to rank. This is one of the critical first steps in your SEO efforts.
- LOADING SPEED:
Your average customer won’t wait more than about two seconds for your website to load, be sure you select a high-speed host! Site speed is a huge ranking factor when it comes to SEO, and the caliber of your website hosting provider will HUGELY affect performance!
- GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE:
Set up Google Search Console to achieve optimum SEO benefits. Google Search Console is God’s gift to your website. Don’t be rude. Accept the gift. This program allows you to keep an eye on your website page(s) loading speed, average click-through rate, organic (free) keywords that bring in the most clicks on your website, overall performance and so much more! Be sure to verify your website in the program first, otherwise it won’t collect data.
- GOOGLE ANALYTICS:
A smart addition to any business website in its beginning stages, brilliantly collecting your marketing info. Be sure to review current data privacy laws first!
Make a list of your TRUE SEO competition – businesses who sell, write and maintain top keyword rankings similar to yours – and study as though your life depends on it! You don’t want to be the loser in this competition!
Look for differences and similarities between you and your competitors and learn about the keywords for which they are currently ranking. Don’t forget to check out interesting selling points and the topics of their posts and content.
- KEYWORD GAP ANALYSIS & EFFECTIVE KEYWORD SELECTION:
Perform a keyword gap analysis in order to ensure your website is ranking comparably to those of your competition. This is SEO gold as you can easily filter these keywords in order to overcome your toughest competitor!
Keywords are the nucleus of a solid SEO strategy. Search engines utilize keywords in order to determine the most valuable search results in answer to consumer queries. You need to research keywords before you can build your keyword map because keyword searches are only as effective as the corresponding search result (“search intent”).
Proper interpretation of search intent will only strengthen your website’s role in the various stages of a customer’s buying journey. Longtail, low-competition keywords which mirror your exact products and services will ensure a positive, direct effect on your company’s long term bottom line. Be sure your keywords are in keeping with your company’s products and services and that they match commonly asked consumer questions. Research search volume and know the results which appear for your chosen keyword(s).
It is not uncommon to get caught up in the keyword battle. Fortunately, a reputable Jacksonville SEO agency will have a battle plan for this process which will typically look like this:
- They will review your business website to determine current ranking, top pages and develop criteria for solid SEO and collection of statistical engagement data.
- Next, they will run a keyword gap analysis in keeping with your top SEO competition. They will then broaden the keyword list based on that research, structuring your business website around your website goals, strategizing a means by which to achieve those goals.
- An experienced Jacksonville SEO agency will know how website users will find content via Google organic searches as well as searches taking place directly within your business website.
- They will create a comprehensive keyword list, spanning the entire consumer buying journey. This list will include all correlating service and product keywords and will be organized into content which scales and compounds your organic search volume long term. This is known as “content verticals” (website sections such as “about”, “location”, “hours”, “blog”, etc.).
- The final step: the creation of your keyword map! This masterpiece involves clustering keywords into corresponding groups. Those groups are the foundation to the creation of your website’s products and services, landing pages, blog posts and more!
In its entirety, the above process is the roadmap to selecting the most effective keywords tailored to your business website according to how you want them to rank.
- CONTENT CALENDAR:
Perhaps the word “calendar” is enough to send you running to your nearest Jacksonville SEO agency as you cringe at the thought of deadlines and time constraints so commonly associated with this dreadful word. Here’s what you should know: a strategic content calendar means you will consistently and intentionally stick with a plan for attracting and retaining customers (a.k.a. “$$$). It’s so easy, even a caveman can do it.
- Prioritize your keyword map sections beginning with the pages your website needs NOW (“products” page, “location” page, etc.).
- Write your content and optimize it by incorporating keywords in your metadata, URL and H1 (similar to your title tag and describes the topic of your page and its content).
- After your content is published, you will need to track your keywords for performance. Good content can move up in search engine rankings as it gradually lends credibility, authority and trustworthiness to your business website. Be patient as this process will take some time.
- Be consistent! Determine how many new website pages you want to incorporate per week or month and stick to it! You should always be cranking out new content because the effects of SEO are COMPOUNDING. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- URL OPTIMIZATION:
Be sure you are correctly structuring your content by incorporating keywords into your URL. Once again, your URL cannot be changed!
- CORE STRENGTH:
We all need to have our vitals checked regularly. Our pulse, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and temperature all play a role in determining our overall health. Don’t neglect your core web vitals! Google has endless contact to “weed” through in order to determine who places highest in search engine rankings. Page experience and core web vitals help search engines determine the winners! Type your domain into “PageSPeed Insights” to find errors and fix them.
Be sure that you are creating a user-friendly experience on your business website. Your ranking largely depends on this! Site-impaired consumers will appreciate your optimized alt text on your website images! For hawk-eyed consumers, bright colors can be blinding, making for a terrible user experience. Be sure buttons are properly labeled and that fonts are legible and easy to read.
While self-promotion is generally considered a social turn-off, the opposite is true when you’re running a business! Just as you would promote your grand opening or the launch of your new company website, you need to promote the heck out of your content! Most consumers won’t aimlessly wander into your virtual storefront. Share your content across as many platforms as possible: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and anything else you can think of. You’ll improve your SEO value and Google will pick up on increased consumer engagement, resulting in establishing a business website as trustworthy.
Preparing a strong SEO strategy takes time, patience and careful planning. SEO will ALWAYS be the firm foundation which supports the overall structure of your business website, growth and bottom line! SEO births organic website traffic while fostering long-term repeat business, lending credibility and trustworthiness to your brand. Be sure you develop a plan for continued monitoring and optimization in order to keep up with your competition. The results are quite lucrative!
What is SEO?
“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization. This explanation will likely leave you questioning, “What is Search Engine Optimization”? SEO is the process by which free, organic leads are generated via search engine results.
How does SEO Work?
SEO is paramount to the success of your digital marketing plan and relevant keywords are the engine which drives the SEO machine.
A keyword is one which best describes content on your webpage. A keyword is also a search term that boosts website ranking on search engine results. Keywords determine how search engines are utilized. When a consumer searches for a specific phrase or keyword, the search should lead them directly to your company website. Keywords are nothing short of foundational to a consumer’s search of your business. Relevant keywords must be woven into your search phrases in order to improve your website’s search engine ranking. The goal isn’t for all your keywords to be high-ranking. The goal is to incorporate keywords which could be most profitable for your business. The more relevant the keywords, the greater the yield of positive search traffic.
In fact, you could be penalized or permanently suspended by Google for implementing such tactics. You’re better off focusing on providing a user-friendly experience for browsing consumers. Avoid paying for bad back links, don’t incorporate pesky or intrusive ads, don’t replicate content and don’t use your website link to spam others with comments or redirect consumers from other websites. How rude!
If you remember nothing else from the post, remember this: slow and steady wins the race and cheaters never prosper! While bad SEO tactics can be tempting, nothing yields free, organic search leads like quality content and following good SEO practices. Plus, you will avoid pesky penalties and or permanent penalization for wrongful shortcuts.
Local SEO in Jacksonville
In short, SEO means more money in your pocket. Employing a reputable Jacksonville Local SEO company can only multiply those dollars, drawing free, organic leads to your business website!
Hats off to you if you already know what an ALT tag is. You are likely way ahead of the game. In fact, most people outside of the marketing world have never even heard of an ALT tag. So, for those who don’t know, what is it?
An ALT tag is an HTML component which is applied to graphics and acts as an alternative for search engines. The application of ALT tags can hugely affect where you rank in search engines as they interpret your graphics and images. For example, when Googlebot reviews a given web page, properly formatted ALT text images affect that page’s index and rank. ALT tags play an important role in web accessibility, allowing people who use screen readers to process page images. This is a huge benefit for vision impaired consumers.
If you are a part of the majority of business owners who assume that their images aren’t all that important, think again! According to the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, the U.S. is home to ten million blind or visually impaired consumers. One out of every thirty Americans are legally blind! Perhaps it has never occurred to you that these consumers also shop online or maybe you also suffer from vision impairment. Simply put, you can’t rely on your written content alone to explain your product and services. You must optimize your images to cater to ALL consumers, vision impaired and otherwise, thus improving the overall experience on your website.
Fortunately for you, the process of editing, adding and updating your ALT tags is quite simple, but first, you must know where to find them:
- Right-click on a photo on your website of choice to check if ALT text appears.
- A menu should appear which will allow you the option to inspect the HTML.
- A pop-up or pane should display HTML.
Now pat yourself on the back because you’ve just learned where to locate an ALT tag!
Editing ALT tags is so easy “even a caveman could do it”, to borrow a few words from Geico. There are different methods, depending on which program you use, however here is the process for Microsoft Word:
- Right-click an image and select” Edit Alt Text”.
- Accurately and succinctly describe the image content.
Here’s the deal: depending on the image and what said image conveys, you need to be specific in your ALT tag description, ensuring you’re conveying the purpose of the image. Be sure to use proper grammar, capitalize and punctuate just as you would if you were writing a letter.
As you continue to grow your business, diversifying your website content, don’t forget to scan your images routinely for missing ALT tags so as not to alienate your vision impaired consumers who are reliant on screen readers to pick up on those tags. If this seems too overwhelming, don’t forget that we are experts! We will never leave you standing without your tags on.
Reviews are crucial to the success of your business as 93% of customers base their purchasing decisions on consumer reviews. If your overall review rating falls below 3.3 stars, consumers won’t engage with your business.
Your responses to your company’s reviews play an equally important role in consumer engagement, influencing purchasing decisions. When you fail to respond, you send a message that you do not care about your customers.
ADA compliance issues appear to be on the rise for real estate professionals. But what is ADA compliance when it comes to websites. To put it simply, ADA refers to the American Disabilities Act, which requires all public spaces to be accessible to those with disabilities. This includes things like handicapped parking spaces, ramps, and bathrooms. In late 2019 the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Dominos Pizza after a federal appellate court ruled that a blind customer could sue the chain under the Americans with Disabilities Act because he could not fully use their website through screen reading software. You can read more here.
Although non-compliant websites are not technically illegal, if an individual with disabilities comes across your website and is unable to access certain features of it, they can sue on the basis of the ADA. Because most courts have interpreted websites to fall under the category of “public space” as defined in the ADA, most judges rule on the side of the plaintiff and companies have to either settle out of court or pay large fines. We have recently learned that a very large number of realtors in Florida and at least one local Real Estate Association has received demand letters and complaints from a law firm alleging violations of the federal and Florida Fair Housing Acts. The firm alleges that the realtor’s and the association’s websites fail to provide accessibility options for the disabled.
These notices have been received by real estate professionals statewide. Though it does not appear that the actual complaints have been filed in federal court at this point, the demand letters threaten litigation. If an association receives such a letter, the association should contact the local board attorney and the National Association of Realtors® immediately. If a realtor receives such a letter, the realtor should contact their broker and attorney. Deciding whether to fight a demand or settle a claim is a legal decision.
We have been working with real estate professionals for close to 10 years. ADA compliance is a problem that we can help them solve. We have partnered with a company that is transforming web accessibility by replacing a costly, manual process with automated, state-of-the-art AI technology. This allows us to rapidly roll out a cost-effective solution that not only protects against lawsuits but also and even more importantly creates a more inclusive website.
This solution helps:
- Achieve WCAG 2.1 & ADA Compliance
Ongoing WCAG & ADA compliance even when website updates
- Get a Certification & Statement
Accessibility statement and certification of performance
- Receive Daily Compliance Monitoring
Re-scanning and fixing accessibility issues every 24 hours
- Ensure Monthly Compliance Auditing
Emailing you a professional compliance audit every month
If you or a real estate professional you know is in need of help with compliance. We are here to help. With a cost starting at only $490 per year per domain up to 1000 pages. We will get you set up and install the code on your website at no cost as long as you provide us with the required access. If you want to sign up and install it your self just click here.
As business owners continue to adjust and adapt to a what seems to be a new normal. Getting started can be one of the hardest things to do, you may ask yourself what do I do first? Everyone is now looking online, where do I start? These have been common questions over the past few weeks. To help our clients and friends we have compiled a basic checklist of things that you work on. Use this check list to not get pulled in several directions at the same time.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, and Get Started.
Building a strong local SEO presence in Florida comes down to three key aspects. First, you must optimize your Google My Business page with verified information, Google Posts, and reviews from your customers. Once your Google My Business page is optimized, you should then move your focus onto your website. Optimizing your website for local SEO comes down to your internal linking structure, meta-content, location pages, local content, and how mobile-friendly your site is. The last step to dominating local SEO involves building your external links from directories and other authority sites within your industry.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Page
Optimizing a Google My Business page gives you the benefit of showcasing your business information right on the Google search results page when potential customers are searching. Optimizing this page involves ensuring all information is verified, posting to your GMB(Google My Business) page, as well as receiving and responding to customer reviews.
The first step to setting up your Google My Business page involves making sure Google has accurate information and getting that information verified through Google. This process is streamlined with a simple registration process. Once all information is filled out and accurate, Google will ask if you’d like to verify this information. Verifying your information is the key to getting your page to appear in search results. They typically send a postcard to your business address with a pin number to verify your mailing address. Sometimes there is an option to verify with an automated phone call. If you already have a GMB you can sign in by visiting https://www.google.com/business
Now that you have a verified Google My Business page, you can start posting to that page. This involves creating short articles related to your business and posting them through your Google My Business. These posts are a great opportunity to build customer trust by showing you truly know what you’re talking about. You can also tailor these posts to your local area to improve your local search engine results.
You’ll also want to try and build a steady flow of reviews from your customers. There are systems available to help you get your customers to submit reviews. Our local reputation management platform is one of those systems. Once you start generating reviews, you’ll want to respond to those reviews. Responding helps you demonstrate to Google that you are an active and engaged business. It is also recommended you set up Google My Business notifications as well.
Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO
Now that your Google My Business page is all set up and verified, the next step is optimizing your website. This comes down to optimizing your home page, Meta Data, setting up your internal linking structure, building out content, and adding a location-specific page.
Your home page should clearly state who you are, what you do and where your business is located as well as the areas you serve. Internally your website’s page title, header tag and meta description should echo this.
While the ranking of Meta Data factors is debated, it is a fact that they play a big part in a visitor’s first impression of your website.
Now setting up your internal linking structure helps your users to easily navigate your website and for Google to index your website accurately. Typically this involves setting up an XML site map. There are plenty of tools to create this. There should also be a link to an HTML version in the footer of your website.
Next you’ll want to build out content and optimize that content for local SEO. This involves setting up meta descriptions, accurate URL tags, well thought- out headers, and image alt-descriptions. Setting up these internal content structures as well makes for a great way to include all of your local keywords in your content without overloading your site with keywords and making it awkward to read. Doing the basics right is an easy way to beat your competitors in search results.
Adding location-specific pages makes it easy for Google to determine what areas or locations your website is most relevant to. These pages can be incorporated into the “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages which are found on most sites. This involves a simple extension into Google Maps that can be applied through a wide number of plugins. This will also link your website to your Google My Business page.
Finally, you’ll want to start writing blog posts applicable to your local area and the services you offer. While it may seem counterintuitive, offering information about how your customers can do the work themselves is a great way to build consumer trust and drive traffic to your site. You’ll find most people end up contacting you for work once they realize the skill required to actually do the work.
Building External Links
Now that you have an optimized Google My Business page and a great website that is ready for traffic, you’ll want to find other websites and directories in your industry that can provide links to your site. The number of links directed to your site makes a huge impact on your ranking in search engines. This can be accomplished through local directories like your local chamber of commerce, large business directories, and other authority sites in your industry.
A great way to build links from high authority sites in your industry can involve offering to write a piece of content for them in exchange for a link. This will help you build your audience by allowing their visitors to see your knowledge within the industry and possibly visit your website. By having links from other authority sites it shows Google that your site provides value to your customers as well as the other websites. Most high authority sites have an email address you can contact, so start emailing these sites today with an offer of writing content in exchange for a link!
While each of these areas may seem like a lot of work, they do work and make for a great investment of your time. Local SEO is a great lead generator for any industry. If you work at it and your website ranks well it becomes an extremely inexpensive channel that generates a recurring stream of customers. Organically generated customers typically have a higher confidence level. And tend to have a higher conversion rate. It is worth considering allocating budget for local SEO, as part of your ongoing marketing efforts.
For those of us that already have a verified business in Google My Business, we have some interesting news. You can now update your business info directly from the Google search engine result page. Please remember that need you to make sure you’re logged in to your Google My Business account.
Let’s try editing your Google My Business Page right from the search page
Let’s dive right in and see how it works. To get started, just type the name of your business in the Google search box and you will see a menu right above the search results. Again, you need to be logged in to your Google My Business account. After you click the edit info button, you will see all the fields you are able to edit become highlighted.
From here, you will be able to upload photos, see the number of views, check and respond to any customers reviews, and even access detailed info about your site metrics. The best part is, you can do it from any device, in your office on your desktop or right from your mobile device.
Google heavily relies on the business owners to provide accurate and updated information to their users. Google realized early on that if they want valuable content for free, they have to make the process simple and easy.
Now lets take a quick look at Why Google would do this?
For starters, who is best suited to provide the most accurate information about a business? The business owner, of course. Google decided to create a process to outsource the business info-update process, and now this process has just become a little more efficient. The good news is, this is a win not only Google but it is also a win for clients of local business because they get info directly from the business owners. The business owners win by getting to provide info directly to potential clients. Google wins by having the most up to date, timely and accurate local business info. A win-win-win situation for everyone!
If you are a business owner and you have not setup your Google My Business page, please contact us and we will send you a free guide.
SSL Certificates, what are we even talking about? SSLs is the backbone of Internet security by protecting information as it travels the web. Often website owners balk at purchasing SSLs if their webpage isn’t set up for online shopping/money exchange. That is a mistake. SSL’s provide critical items like privacy, data integrity, and protection for your website and visitors to your page. SSLs digitally bind cryptographic keys to a website’s details. When Marlin installs an SSL on your server, it activates the padlock you see in your address bar and “https”. This creates secure connections between server and browser, protecting everyone.
Why do you need an SSL, especially if you are not running an e-commerce site? Data security between servers is increased. Your Google Ranking automatically increases when you provide your users with SSL protection. Trust is built and enhanced with your customer base when they know you’re doing your part to protect them. Should you have a form that visitors must fill out – whether it’s for an inquiry or something else to gathers information from the user, this type of data collection would prompt for the verification of your SSL. If you do not currently have an SSL on your website, then the user will be see the “unsecured content” message on their screen before they could proceed to the next page.
If a customer can trust that your site is safe and protected, then you will see your conversion rates increase!
Now you’re ready to jump into the SSL game, what next? SSL certificates must be issued from a trusted Certificate Authority. Marlin can help you through this entire process and can provide a list of trusted CA root certificates. Give Marlin a call and our experts will get you and your website ready to go!
Take a look at the different SSL certificates that we offer.