One of the most confusing parts of SEO, is how many parts of SEO there actually are. There’s your Google My Business listing, your keywords, your meta data, social signals, page speed, schema markup.. there’s so much to take into account. If you’re working on Grand Rapids SEO on your own or with a company that is doing SEO for you, how do you know the right things are being done?
An extremely important point to keep in mind is the competition. If your keywords don’t have a lot of competition, it may be prudent to pick the lowest hanging fruit and that may be all that you need! Although if you’re in a competitive niche, you’ve got to do everything right. You may not be able to get away with doing 7/10 things right, you might have to nail 10/10 (or 30/30..)
Borrowing a graphic from Uptimiser.com.hk we can see it well laid out:
As you can see, the split is fairly even.
- 10%-13% Off-Site (local)
- Google My Business, Listings and Reviews
- 2%-5% Off-Site (social)
- Social Metrics such as shares, tweets, pins, likes etc.
- 18%-21% Off-Site (links)
- Backlinks, anchor text and keyword placement
- 12%-15% Infrastructure
- Site quality: page speed, mobile friendliness, security checks
- 7%-10% On-Site (technical)
- Keyword usage and technical code being properly implemented
- 18%-21% (content)
- Keyword usage and unique, original, interesting content
- 20%-23% Engagement
- How long people stay on your site + how many pages they view per visit
This makes a lot of sense once you break it down. Google wants to know you have your keywords in place, that people are finding the content they intended to find via those keywords by measuring engagement (actually staying on the site they found via the keywords, and reading more and more about you) and that your site is technically sound in terms of code and usability.
Website Technical Aspects & Infrastructure
The technical aspects of the website itself are typically the easy part. Having a properly developed website will have all of these factors implemented from the get go. Your site has to look pretty of course but there is more going on under the hood there than most business owners will ever realize. We specialize in Michigan Web Design and these practices are standard, out of the box you could say.
Google My Business & Local SEO
Getting your Google My Business handled along with your listings and reviews isn’t too complex of a process either. Your Google My Business is going to be an absolute necessity to do SEO, it can’t be done without it. Once this is setup you can then start collecting Google Reviews. The more you have, and the better they are and the speed at which they come in will all help you rank locally in your area when someone searches for services related to what you do. Once this is setup it’s not completely a set it and forget it kind of thing but it’s not difficult to maintain and update every so often.
This is where the real bulk of the SEO work comes in. This is where the challenge is and what separates the pro’s from the amateurs. This is not something that any old business owner or even tech savvy individual can do.
This is a process of scouring the web and finding places to put a link to your website perhaps in a comment section and having it actually be a relevant comment on the article your posting it on. Or posting a link to your website in a listings page, or having a guest article on a website that relates to your business that would make sense to have there.
Back in the day it was fairly easy to just spam the internet with completely unrelated comments on random blogs and it would do the trick. Nowadays Google has gotten smarter and these links have to be natural. The comment has to actually add value to the conversation and not be flagged as a spam comment – which can actually put you on Google’s naughty list if you do that too much.
This is something that if you’re serious about ranking with search engine optimization as part of your content marketing strategy, you’ll want to leave to the professionals.
This makes up a giant portion of the signals that Google uses to rank a website in the search engines and explains why SEO has a cost to it. It’s hard work.
Content is king. You’ll hear this again and again and again until it becomes almost a self parody. Thankfully this is something that the business owner can do himself, or hire out if able of course.
Having unique, original, interesting content is going to be paramount in signaling to Google that your website is an authoritative source that it will want to send user to. You want to write content for your target audience that will be interesting to them.
The more content you write, the longer it is, the more expertise it displays and the longer you can get these visitors to engage with it the better. This will help you absolutely crush with Google.
This ties in nicely with the engagement as we just mentioned and is another reason why content is SO.. SO important.
If you’re getting visitors for keywords related to your business they’re going to want to read more about it to discover if you really know your stuff, or to gain valuable information you may be sharing with them to help with your business clout.
If you have 100 articles that are low effort and a jumbled boring mess that is not going to cut it. Yes, you may have a lot of content but if Google see’s that people are on that page for 10 seconds and then leave your site completely the jig is up. Google knows your content is not great.
If however people spend 2-5 minutes on that article, reading the entire thing and then actually clicking on another article on your website and consuming that, and maybe even reading a 3rd article, Google knows that people coming to you from those keywords REALLY enjoy what they’re finding. Google wants to feed its users content that that really enjoy, so you get the reward of higher rankings in the search engines. The #1 thing Google does not want is to correlate its usage with frustration. Google wants to be, and is, king.
Where to Start?
Obviously you’re going to want to start with having a website that has all the technical elements in place along with a captivating design. This will be your foundation.
From there some of the low hanging fruit will be getting your Google My Business in place. This is almost like registering your website and business with Google to legitimize it in their eyes. You can then start collecting reviews on top of that to build trust and show up in local searches, such as when people search “Best dentist near me”. If you’ve got 100 5 star reviews, you better believe you’re going to be served up real quick by Google.
From there you can start writing all kinds of great authoritative content on your subject, doing deep dives into all kinds of topics that your clients or customers might be interested in. Google will see that your online entity is alive and well and if the content is good, they’ll see that people are engaging with it for long periods of time signaling that they like what they see.
If you’re so inclined you can then start building a social media empire with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to name a few. We didn’t go over this in detail but it is fairly self explanatory. Having regular posts that generate engagement in the form of likes, favorites, retweets, shares and comments are strong signals that people obviously like your content.
The real game changer and the most difficult part is going to be doing the keyword targeting. This is where you select keywords that would make sense for people to use when searching for your business. This involves putting the right meta data on the pages that your targeting, placing the keywords in the appropriate locations on the website and in the title, domain, and image names & alt text, as well as starting your back linking campaign.
This carries some of the biggest weight in the eyes of Google and is one of the hardest ones for an individual to pull of on their own. It really takes a team. Websites that accrue this kind of attention naturally are ones that people are absolutely in love with and are sharing all over the internet. How often do people link to Netflix online? How many articles talk about Netflix and link to it when talking about it? How many top tier sites like Forbes, GQ, and these massive publications talk about this website on a regular basis and subsequently link to it on their websites? Google see’s this and knows this must be quite the popular website and they get credit for every one of those.
So while you can get started with building your online presence to work towards ranking in Google search engines on your own in some aspects it’s just flat out going to be another full time job and years learning the trade to do it on your own. If you have the time to do so it will be an investment that can pay off for the rest of your life. If you are already running your business full time (and most likely way over full time if you’re like me) hiring an agency to take that off your plate and become your marketing partner may be more prudent.
Whatever path you choose, search engine optimization is one of the highest returns on investment of any online marketing strategy and is the number one strategy we recommend over things like paid ads and social media marketing. They have their place and can complement and SEO strategy but in terms of raw numbers, SEO is hard to beat.
Hopefully this has been enlightening and can help you know where to begin when tackling the SEO beast, it can be a confusing topic and there’s a lot to learn! Good luck out there!