NOTE: This is a follow-up to a talk I gave to the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, to give people a written reference.
The Chamber is a diverse audience, but everything you can read here applies in spades to plastic and cosmetic surgery. It’s probably even more applicable, because your business is so very personal.
Let me know if you’d like to dig into this a little deeper, and remember, we’re helping practices just like yours capitalize on Facebook’s very-much-improved advertising and targeting abilities. That’s Capitalize, with a capital C. It’s like the early days of AdWords, when clicks were cheap, and practices were built quickly and easily.
First, a big thanks for letting me get up in front of the whole room – I get passionate about this stuff, hope I didn’t ramble too much!
I’ll recap the items I mentioned as well as providing a little more detail, now that you can consume this info when and if you need it in the future…
Please note that my top 10 tips will probably change a bit just about every time the wind blows – it all depends on the day, and what soapbox I’m on, etc. I don’t claim that this is the perfect list, but I tried to be as relevant as I could to the Chamber, and not duplicate some of the more common advice out there – unless it is really important that is.
So without further ado…
10. People buy from people!
They don’t buy from fancy logos, buildings, or many of the other pictures that people use to represent their company. They want to know about you and your staff and what makes your company tick. The About Us page is often the second-most visited page on a website, so make it good. Make it personal, add trust elements (see item #9), and give prospects and clients multiple ways to contact you – and then get back to them quickly.
Sure, there is a line between being personal and looking like a tiny mom-and-pop shop, but if the personal approach didn’t work, do you think over 50% of Fortune 500 CEOs would be blogging?
Speaking of the Fortune 500, I want to strangle them when I see About and Contact pages that have only web forms to reach them, and say something like “we reply to most inquiries within 48 – 72 hours…” Way to make me feel like you care about my business. But I digress.
Finally, it has been shown that Google’s spiders are looking for “about” information, as well as contact information, and will ding you (a tiny amount, but nonetheless) if you don’t meet their minimum standards.
9. Add “Trust Elements” to your site
The average web searcher is so wary and skeptical these days that they are just looking for any reason to cross you off the list as a potential scam, and move on to the next business. Sure, what you say about you is important, but what others say is even more important.
Therefore, trust elements include things such as testimonials (the more info and different types of media – audio, video, etc., the better), BBB badges, Chambers of Commerce badges (hmmm, that one should be a given for this audience, right?), “hacker proof” and “virus proof” and related badges, and any others you can possibly get. Take a quick look at GoDaddy.com, the #66 ranked site in the entire world (ahead of the New York Times, Weather.com, etc.), and count the badges toward the bottom.
This is also another “signal” used by Google when taking stock of your site and trying to figure out how much to trust you and how to rank you.
8. Social Media is a “slow dance”
Most people just intuitively get this at this point with social media, but make sure that you are focused on building relationships with people through your social media presence. Sure, people love a deal, but if that is all you ever talk about, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to get people to know, like, and trust you…which leads them to become a client.
Besides, the search engines have publicly stated that they are taking social media interaction into account as yet another “signal” about your website. If you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter or Yelp, but there are 5 complaints on ComplaintsBoard.com and another 5 on RipoffReport.com, guess what opinion Google will be leaning toward for your business?
7. Get listed on InsiderPages.com, SuperPages.com, Manta.com, and HotFrog.com
It’s Free. It’s pretty easy. Do it. (Even I can’t say much more than that.)
6. Get listed on Yelp!
It’s Free. It’s pretty easy. Do it. Okay, sorry…but this one is important enough that I’ll make it even easier. Go here:
Yes, this is more effective for pizza places and nail salons, but it is important to your business as well, whether it is a bottled water delivery service (couldn’t resist, see below), or a traditional retail store – trust me and do it.
5. Get listed in Bing’s Business Portal
Free. Go now: http://www.bing.com/businessportal
4. Get listed in Yahoo! Local
Free. Go now: http://listings.local.yahoo.com/ (and yes, the basic/free version is fine.)
3. Get listed in Google Places
Even if you ignored #7, #6, #5, and #4, PLEASE don’t ignore this one. It is also free, and arguably the most important of these types of sites.
This week, you can access it at: http://www.google.com/placesforbusiness (it changes frequently, but you can always Google “google places add location” and it will be the first 1 or 2 results.
We feel strongly enough about this one that we are going to spoon-feed you. Here is a step-by-step, 4-part video that should answer any question you have about this process. There are no remaining reasons not to do this tonight or this weekend if you can’t do it now. Again, the video series can be found here: http://honestwebsitemarketing.com/google-places-help-step-by-step-setup
2. Does anybody have a problem that an “Acme and Sons, LLC” product or service can solve?
NO! They have a “tax audit representation irvine” or a “water damage santa ana” or an “adult braces el toro” problem.
As such, does Google want to send those searchers to a page that it thinks is about “Acme and Sons, LLC”…whatever that means?
Again, NO! They want to send their searcher to a page titled with the product or service that is being searched for. Seems simple enough, but the so-called “title tag” is one of the most misused yet simple-to-fix things on your website. Take a quick look around your website and see if this can be improved.
“Acme and Sons, Santa Ana California – Water Damage Santa Ana”
“Water Damage Santa Ana – Acme and Sons”
can have a big impact.
A 5-minute discussion with your webmaster should be able to solve this problem and have a big impact on your results.
P.S. Yes, we use our company name first in our title tag on some pages. But in this case, our company name is the top keyword we want to rank for. We get several inquiries a month from people searching for that term, and it is one of the reasons we picked our slightly clunky, non-creative company name/domain name!
1. Who cares if you are ranked #1?
Give me 10 people and let me pick the keywords that I can get them ranked #1 for, and I’ll bet good money I can do it within a week. But, anything that sounds too good to be true usually is, right? The only terms you can get phenomenal results that quickly for are usually not competitive. If something isn’t competitive, guess what? That’s because there’s no money to be made there!
Indulge me for a second. Notice in the screenshot below that there are absolutely no advertisers (above or to the right of the normal results) for the search term “picture of dog.”
Notice that there are 510 Million results for the “picture of dog” search. Why would anybody searching on Google for a picture of a dog want to pay for something that they can get for free?
Therefore, no advertisers are going to pay money for Google to send them clicks to their website…so that they can NOT sell something.
This is called “commercial intent.” To go back to my original idea, getting ranked #1 means absolutely nothing unless it is for a keyword that has commercial intent. (Maybe not for an instant purchase right then, but at least some kind of business transaction at some point in the relationship.)
People must be actively searching for a solution to something that is causing them pain. In other words, the searcher has an itch that your product or service will scratch.
So the next time that somebody leads by saying “we’ll get you ranked number one,” ask them specifically what keywords they’ll get you ranked for, and what the commercial intent of those keywords are. That should be a quick conversation…
BONUS: Links ain’t just a type of golf course
SEO-savvy people that have read this far are just dying to leave a comment about how they can’t believe I forgot to mention the most important factor of all.
Building links is incredibly, critically important to your search engine rankings (together with your content, especially after the Farmer/Panda update, but that is the subject for another 3,000 word post.)
However, building links is beyond the scope of my simple, actionable list that can be accomplished by mere mortals. Sure, anybody can build links if they take the time to learn how to do it right, and then spends the time to actually do the mind-numbing work of actually building the links.
But just to give you an idea of what you are getting involved in…I have two extremely-expensive “bibles” of link building written by different people that used to charge upwards of $750 per hour when they still needed money and took on consulting clients. Both of those books are 300+ pages long.
I’m hoping for tons of feedback, opinions, tips, stories about what has worked for you, and even disagreements. Please talk back below and let’s make this a better resource with your help!