Unpacking Google’s Guidance for the New Mobile-First Index

There’s been a significant development in today’s internet. While it looks the same, how we find and access the billions of pages on the internet has changed.

That change is “mobile-first indexing,” and Google’s been testing and slowly rolling it out for a few years. Now, finally, mobile-first indexing is being applied across all of the webpages that Google indexes. Because Google is BY FAR the most common starting point for consumers on the internet, it’s a tectonic shift in access.

Unless you already pay attention to trends in search engines, this might be the first time you hear about mobile-first indexing.

Read (or scan!) on for a jargon-minimum unpacking of this big change in the internet.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Later on, we’ll explore what Google’s mobile-first index means in more detail. Here’s what you need to know right away:

  • If your website is newly created since July 1, 2019, you’ve started out under Google’s mobile-first indexing.
  • If your website is older than July, 2019, then if you haven’t already been added to mobile-first indexing, you will be this month (September 2020).
  • If your website is not optimized for mobile access, you absolutely must update your website. You’ll be left behind in the dust of search results if you don’t (not to mention the website will simply not be easily usable).

Many sites have already been added to mobile-first indexing – including ours, which was integrated to the new system in 2018. The system’s been slowly rolling out for a few years now.

You can confirm your site’s indexing crawler on your site’s page on Google Search Console.

 

But now it’s here for everyone, regardless if you pay attention to the Google webmaster and developer guides or not.

Mobile-first indexing will be old news for some, but if you’re a business owner or otherwise run a website and you’re NOT familiar with the latest developments, scan this post! We’ll break down the need-to-know info about mobile-first indexing for the non-developers of the world.

What Is Indexing?

“Indexing” is one part of the process Google undertakes to organize and present to you the billions of pages of content on the internet. The process goes like this:

  1. Crawling: A Google program, affectionately named “Googlebot,” scours the internet by hopping from link to link to link. Googlebot finds pages on the internet.
  2. Indexing: Once found, a page will be indexed. That means Google stores information about that page: what’s on it, what’s it doing, etc.
  3. Ranking: Based on all the information gathered, Google’s algorithms rank the pages in the index whenever you enter a search term. These are your search results.

The above are the basic workings of Google’s search engine.

 

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Previously, Google looked at the desktop version of your website when it crawled and indexed all the pages on your website. (Special aside: Google does not index and rank websites; Google indexes and ranks webpages.)

Now, Google is indexing the mobile version of your webpages and using that information to rank your webpages.

That means if you haven’t paid much attention to your mobile site, then you need to now—because that’s the one Google is paying attention to!

Real quick – why make this change? Since October of 2016, most internet traffic has originated from mobile devices. Sound surprising? It did to this humble writer, but think of all the simple questions you ask Google, or how often you’re waiting for some appointment and you’re browsing Facebook or (like me) reading obscure corners of Wikipedia. Or you’re out and about (in that pre-pandemic world) and searching for a place for lunch or dinner. Much of the casual queries and social media use and shopping occurs on mobile. That all adds up.

Because the internet is mostly accessed on mobile devices, and Google has an all-important directive to provide useful search results, Google now effectively ranks mobile sites rather than desktop sites. Google wants to provide the best internet experience possible, and that won’t happen by pointing someone on a phone to a site that can’t run well on their device.

 

Why Should I Care about Mobile-First Indexing?

OK, so the nerds at Google have shifted around how their internet-sorting thingamajigger works. Who cares?

Here’s what’s most important to understand and why you should care about this process:

Google controls your internet.

Google and its related properties receive over 90% of internet traffic.

Google has decided that it’ll use the mobile version of your site to rank search results. If your mobile site is clunky, un-usable, or even just under-optimized, then you’re starting the race for search traffic about a mile behind your competitors.

Essentially, if you don’t play by Googles rules, your site will not be easily accessible in search results. If you care about search at all, you need to care about the mobile version of your site.

Is My Site Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?

Unless your site is older than a few years, it’s pretty likely you’re already under mobile-first indexing. Regardless, you need to make sure you’re adhering to the best practices for mobile-first indexing.

Simple details follow, but here’s the big picture for what you need to do:

  • Ensure your website is uniform no matter what platform it’s accessed on (whether desktop, mobile, or tablet).
  • Ensure that your website is functional and easily usable no matter which platform it’s accessed on.

These are the main principles of the best practices as given by Google themselves.

A lot of their best practices can be boiled down to have a responsive design for your website. “Responsive design” means your website’s design adjusts itself depending on the size of the screen accessing it—so it’ll look uniform and coherent whether it’s a smart phone or a desktop connecting to your site.

There are also some more in-the-weeds aspects of web development and design that should be attended to. For example, the meta data and descriptions must be consistent between the mobile and desktop versions of your site. Other more technical parts of your site like structured data must also be consistent.

There’s a lot that needs to be checked if you’re trying to ensure your website is ready for mobile-first indexing. The easiest way to give a general check-up might just be to pull up your site on your phone or tablet:

  • Does the website still load quickly and smoothly?
  • Is the content (the text) all the same as the desktop version, and is it easy to read on a small screen?
  • Can you easily interact with the different menus and buttons?
  • Do images and videos still load effectively?
  • Are any ads on the site integrated without being too in-the-way?
  • Can you still find parts of the site easily?
  • Do all the links still work?

That’s a quick and dirty check-up on the mobile health of your website—a very important check-up under the new Google indexing system.

Ensure Your Site Is Usable and Beautiful on Mobile

Want to learn more about responsive design for your website? Need a check-up to ensure your website’s good to go for the future? Contact MLT Group today!

 

Use Responsive Web Design for Conversion Rate Optimization

The conversion rate of your site is a measurement of how many users interacting with your web pages take the next step. Whether that means signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, sharing a post, or any other engagement, an optimization of your conversion rate is a goal every website owner should have.

The most practical way to optimize your conversion rate is to build a responsive web design with user friendly interfacing tools and a clear-cut aesthetic. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) starts with a strong, simple website foundation that easily integrates the tools you need.

 

While everyone can benefit from conversion rate optimization, there are specific types of user engagement that website owners can generate with effective CRO tools. Common goals of engagement that website owners want to “convert” users to take the step into doing include making a purchase, signing up for a mailing list, following on social media, sharing information on social media, contacting your business, and even just clicking to another page. There are two main types of CRO that you can utilize to meet these goals of engagement with your site: primary CRO and secondary CRO.

Primary CRO: Direct interaction with your site

When users interact directly with your website, the factors that guide their interaction depend on how you build your site and the tools you provide to them. Much of this depends on design, comfort, and information.

Visual Interest

The visual features of your site are the first and foremost aspects of your website that users will engage with. Because it’s your front line of interaction, it’s very important to have a clear design that showcases your brand’s aesthetic

Gaining the interest of your targeted audience is the initial step to increasing conversion rates. Appealing visuals is part of that, but it’s also very important to build your site with a simple, intuitive design. Information should be clear to users about your site, products, and purpose, and it should be a natural experience for them to move from one page to the next. Piquing user interest and keeping it is the first step in increasing conversion rates with responsive web design.

Trustworthiness

The internet can be a dangerous place. Users want to feel safe when they interact with a website, and it’s up to the website owner to ensure that trust. Things like pop-up windows, obscured links, and ads can severely reduce conversion rates and damage your website’s relationship with users. Building in links, windows, buttons, and other design features that are transparent in their motives, easy to understand, and show they are secure is a sure way to increase conversion rates.

CRO doesn’t mean tricking users into engaging with your site. It’s a way to open the door for new and return users to build trusted relationships with your website and everything else you offer.

Accessibility

A big part of supporting your website’s trustworthiness is making it as accessible as possible to users. This means having a fast load time for all pages, a clean build without errors, high resolution, and a logical structure of information. It also means your website should have all the information your users need to know, from contact information to details on where materials are sourced and what other parties you work with.

Improving conversion rates depends on users being able to use your site as the tool you want it to be used as. Keeping a perspective on how accessible each new part you integrate into your site is key in supporting CRO.

Navigation

One way to better understand how accessible your site is to users is by considering the way they will navigate through it. Supporting CRO requires a good navigational system that lets users click through your site and find exactly what they are looking for as quickly as possible. However, it can also provide room for exploration through other parts of your site that could lead to another conversion rate different from a user’s initial search goal. Exploration with your site’s navigation system can happen before or after your user makes their first conversion.

Practically speaking, this can mean a suggestion for another product after a user puts an item in their cart, or it may be an opportunity for users to perform a broad search on your site that brings up many products meeting the search term.

Secondary CRO: General interaction with your brand

While the majority of the conversion rate analytics come from direct user interaction with your site, secondary reactions also play a big picture role in CRO for your brand. Interactions external from your site, such as social media and press, often lead to a more direct conversion in the future.

Social media

If you don’t have a social media presence on popular platforms, you are significantly limiting your conversion rate potential. Not only is social media a source of free advertising exposed to a global audience, it’s also a tool for you to build a community around your brand.

For many site owners, too, social media is a way to humanize a commercial enterprise while showing constant news updates that may otherwise be unworthy of a full press story. For example, many use social media to show the staff involved, processes used, and other “behind the scenes” information.

Implementing all of these uses of social media for CRO and saturating multiple platforms with your brand profiles creates countless opportunities for backlinks to your website. Links directly from your profiles or from followers and similar brands are a large contributor to direct website traffic and increases in conversions.

Newsletters

Another common secondary interaction with your website and brand is a regular newsletter. Establishing a mailing list sign-up option on your site will let you collect a fan base that includes users who do not use social media or who want more in-depth information and updates about your business. Links through your newsletter bring users to your site where direct interaction and conversions occur.

Targeted Ads

As a website owner, you know what types of users your audience includes. An effective way to spread your website’s presence to new users is with targeted ads. Targeted ads are especially useful for finding new users on social media. In fact, many targeted ads are only activated through social media platforms.  Users clicking on targeted ads are more likely to lead to a conversion because those users are open to interacting with an advertisement in the first place. Ads can seem untrustworthy, and users tend to stay away from them unless there is genuine interest.  Be smart with your ads!

Community

Depending on your brand, you may be able to generate a real community around what products or services you offer, nonprofit actions you perform, or whatever else your website showcases. This community is built on various tools including social media, newsletters, and ads. Bringing together people who support what you do builds a natural support system for CRO. For many website owners, testimonials and anecdotes are some of their most persuasive elements for conversion. If you see a community forming around any aspect of your site, no matter how small, don’t underestimate disregard it. Foster community with interaction and content.

Build a Responsive Website

Implementing some or all of these CRO tools is an option for many website owners. These tools provide a standard for responsive web design formulated around CRO, but there may be other techniques unique to your own website you can use. MLT Group LLC can help you generate new ideas while utilizing tried and true methods for CRO and responsive web design.

Contact us today!

Are Google Ads Worth It?

Are Google Ads worth it? Yes, but…

 

  • It’s one piece of a larger strategy
  • It doesn’t guarantee results
  • It’s NOT a magic bullet for your online marketing

 

While many small business owners know about Facebook ads and other social media promotional materials, you may not know just how much you can use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing to your advantage when you pair it with search engine optimization (SEO) and solid web design.

 

At MLT Group, we’ve seen many successful uses of PPC marketing tools integrated into a strong digital marketing strategy. When those PPC techniques are combined with SEO capabilities, that marketing strategy can go beyond a single-faceted tool and become a fully fleshed out system.

 

There are many options for PPC marketing available to you as a business, but by far the most effective tool in the entire scheme of the internet is Google Ads. It’s a big leap for businesses to transition from little-to-no assertive digital marketing to building a full Google Ads account. However, if used correctly, Google Ads can be the single most “worth it” PPC digital marketing strategy.

 

Basics of Google Ads

The basic role of Google Ads is to put your search result before any organic results.

 

 

“Organic” results are the natural search results. “Inorganic,” or paid results, are what you buy with Google Ads.

 

 

Google Ads can make your business seen, improving placement in search results and exponentially increasing that improvement as the number of clicks on your site are made.

 

The money you pay for each click goes to Google, and that means the goal of Google Ads is just that: click count. On one hand, this can mean more prevalence of your site being seen, but on the other, it is up to you to write compelling calls to action in the ad, build effective landing pages, and have the kind of website that’s actually worth visiting and engaging with.

 

The best way to cultivate the way Google Ads will handle your placement and which search terms will put your URL in a spot that will yield the most clicks is to set your Ad Goals. By setting your ad campaign goal, Google Ads can understand better exactly what you want to get out of a click.

 

 

 

Other tools you can use to generate data that will guide how Google Ads establishes your PPC ad campaign are Google Ads Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics.

 

 

Google Ad Conversions examine what clicks turn into other engagements and sales. However, most PPC experts recommend keeping an eye on the valuable information that Google Analytics provides. Based on the conversion data, Google Analytics uses an algorithm that will generate certain goals that are recommended you build a campaign around. Google uses the engagement results that clicks and further information about interaction with your website to build a goal that you may not be following now, but could benefit greatly from diving into.

 

Overall, Google Ads is a PPC marketing tool that will provide quick results, place your URL at the top of a search result page, and open the door for you to create new ad campaigns based on all the data Google gathers for you. When used correctly, Google Ads is a valuable tool worth the cost. There is no denying that it will increase traffic to your site.

 

 

It’s Not All About the Clicks

 

While, yes Google Ads will increase traffic, you have a lot more to consider if you want that traffic to mean anything. It doesn’t benefit you to have a user click on your Google ad if your website isn’t actually worth engaging with. Your Google Ad might hook a lead, but to reel it in you need a well-designed landing page and website. To get the full positive effects of Google Ads PPC, you have to consider several things that SEO can control:

 

  • Is your site visually appealing and user friendly?
  • Does your site load in under two seconds?
  • Did you build SEO correctly so that the search term used correlates to the goods and services you provide?

 

If you can use SEO to build a sleek, clean site and establish the right keywords in your content, you can combine Google Ads and SEO tools to maximize your investment in an ad campaign. Google Ads is an incredibly useful tool, but SEO still beats out Google Ads in internet traffic sources.

 

 

If you aren’t pairing Google Ads with good SEO and web design, then the money your business dumps into Google’s pockets won’t do you any good!

 

Stitching PPC and SEO Together

Organic traffic is the long game to PPC’s short game. Building organic traffic takes time, but it will generate a continually growing return as Google’s search engine and the Google Ads algorithms get to know what your website offers and what you are trying to accomplish with it.

When you invest in organic SEO, you build equity in your site. You invest in your site – not short-term gains from paid search results.

Overall, Google Ads is a tool you can use to increase traffic to your site, but PPC marketing only goes so far. You have to use good SEO practices to move your site to the top of a result organically.

If you use Google Ads as a crutch, you will soon see that users engaging with your site are not satisfied. SEO reveals whether your site is offering exactly what people are looking for even if it’s a PPC URL, and good SEO practices will allow you to expand and gain an even larger audience/customer base.

To help get the most out of your next Google Ads campaign, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

Is SEO Worth It? 10 Stats to Watch for in 2020

If you own a website, you’ve probably heard the term “SEO” kicked around or already use SEO already in some capacity. SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s a tool that you can use to make your website more likely to show up when someone Googles a relevant search term.

For example, if you own a ski supply shop and your website is where your customers can buy skis and ski accessories, you can use SEO tools to make it more likely that your shop will appear in Google search results when someone enters “downhill skis for kids” in the search bar. Using SEO successfully can be difficult, especially for website owners without experience in curating an online presence.

If you’ve just begun to use SEO tools or haven’t dipped your toe into it yet, you may find yourself asking, “is SEO worth it?” The short answer to that question is, absolutely. In fact, many website owners find their online traffic increases significantly with consistent SEO work.

We can talk all day about how Google and other search engines operate and why SEO is a critical tool to use if you want increase traffic from searches, but you don’t have to understand all the nuances and intricacies of search engine algorithms to see the answer to “is SEO worth it?” as a resounding yes. The numbers alone speak to this. In fact there are hundreds of statistics that show just how impactful SEO practices are on an internet-wide scale. Let’s cover just ten of the thousands of stats that show just how much SEO is worth it.

#1 – The first page of search results makes up 67.60% of all clicks.

Google pulls up a list of 10 organic webpage results (not including advertisements, images, videos, shopping results, or snippets). Those 10 results are almost 70% of every page ever clicked on. If your site is not showing up on the first page, there is a very low chance of a user clicking on it. In fact, the majority of users will try different search terms to find what they are looking for rather than clicking through the pages of a Google result. Because of this, it’s essential to have high-quality content with specific SEO keywords that lead people to your page in the first 10 results.

Line graph showing a steep decline in click-through rates from the first search result through lower results.
Source: Advanced Web Ranking

#2 – 90.63% of internet-wide content gets zero traffic from Google.

This means that only 9.37% of web content will ever show up in the search results. Let’s break this down. Google is the primary search engine used in the US, so it is typically used as the golden standard for SEO stats. This might mean part of that 90.63% is showing up through other search engines, but most likely it means it’s only being linked directly (a URL is typed directly into the search bar), it’s linked through other sites through what’s called a “backlink,” or it’s almost never seen. To be in that 9.37% of search results, you have to use SEO tools to your advantage.

 

 

#3 – Generating new content, such as blog posts, regularly can increase organic traffic to your site by as much as 106%.

Google and most other search engines favor sites that update content as often as possible. For many website owners, this can be achieved with a blog that is posted to as often as possible. One trick to getting new content posted on your website is to link social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to your blog. Every time you update any one of these, Google will see it as new content if it’s linked to your website blog.

 

#4 – Studies show that buyers do 70% of their research online before even opening up a sales conversation.

Using the same ski shop example, this means a potential buyer is searching for reviews, comparing options, and overall searching for 70% of all information they will receive before buying a pair of skis. Because of this, you want your website to be in the search results they find. Ideally, you want to establish backlinks from review websites, hashtags, shoutouts with your company tagged on social media, and other SEO tools that open the door more for your customer to find all the information they need online.

 

 

#5 – 2019 reports show that Google accounts for 75% of searches out of all other search engines.

In comparison, Bing is used 9.97%, Yahoo is used 2.77%, and Baidu is used 9.34% worldwide. That significant difference means you should be committing the majority of your SEO use to Google specifications. So, instead of muddling around several different search engine algorithms, you just have to focus on Google’s.

 

#6 – Google uses over 200 factors to create its search algorithm.

This means there is an extremely broad range of keywords and search terms taken into account when a user enters something into the search bar, as well as other factors like metadata, site speed, and “fresh” (or new) content. Since Google is the primary search engine used, you need to conform to how that algorithm can affect search results for your website. Fortunately, because Google is so heavily used, you really only need to understand their algorithm and absorb the valuable information that is publicly available on Google Support.

 

#7 – 70% of marketing experts have found SEO to be a more effective tool than PPC.

PPC (pay-per-click) is a marketing tool that Google and other search engines offer. While this tool does tend to place ad content at the top of a search, the competition is still high amongst marketers. Additionally, users are less likely to click on ad marked content (70%-80% of users ignore paid results). Users want organic results because they tend to be more specific to the search terms, thanks to SEO, and because they appear more genuine than a paid result.

 

In addition, here’s the other big advantage to organic SEO over PPC:

 

Organic SEO builds equity in your site. That is, you hold onto the value you invest in your high-quality site content; it continues to generate returns and becomes a foundation to build on.

 

With PPC campaigns, when your campaign budget is spent, that’s all money in Google’s pocket — not invested in your site.

 

#8 – Using voice recognition to search resulted in 40.7% of featured snippets.

Users are increasingly using voice recognition technology like Siri to perform Google searches. Nearly half of these results were pulled from a website snippet. Snippets are very useful, easy to generate SEO tools. Google Support offers instructions on how to build snippets into your site.

 

Screenshot of a Google Featured Snippet
The featured snippet for “difference between starter and levain.” If you ask a Google smart speaker this question, this is likely the answer you’ll get.

 

#9 – 50% of searches are queries of four or more terms.

Users want specifics, and they’ll type in exactly what they want in hopes of finding it on the first page of results. This means using SEO to connect queries to your site with the right keyword strings can improve your chances of showing up on the first page. For your hypothetical ski shop, one query example might be “light blue downhill skis.” If you can establish that and many similar search terms on your site, you can continually increase Google’s attention to your store.

 

#10 – Bounce back results are 50% more likely if your site takes more than two seconds to load.

You should be using SEO to make your website clutter-free, fast loading, and accessible. If your website takes too long to load (two seconds is a long time on the internet clock), users will most likely bounce back to other search results or start another search. You need to implement technical SEO techniques to optimize your site for loading speed.

 

Is SEO Worth It?

There are many other numbers, reports, and Google-led reviews that all show how SEO can truly affect your site’s prevalence in search results. To learn more about how we can answer the question “is SEO worth it?” contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

DIY SEO in Three Basic Steps (with Free Tools!)

So you’re interested in DIY SEO. No wonder. Outside SEO work is expensive. The best SEO results come from time or capital-intensive investments: content writing and backlink outreach.

But it’s still possible—sometimes even preferable—to be an SEO solo. Maybe you want to learn more about The Business before paying a professional SEO firm a lot of money. Maybe you have a small site and already enjoy writing. Maybe you just don’t have the capital yet to invest in SEO.

Toolboxes like ahrefs and Moz can be invaluable. We use them every day. But if you’re just stepping into SEO, investing in them right away is like buying a 4k 60” TV to watch old M.A.S.H. reruns.

If you want to try DIY SEO for your website, try out these three basic steps–with links to free tools–to get the ball rolling.

 

#1 – Build and Submit a Sitemap

Every second of every day the Googlebot scans the web. Googlebot is the software that Google uses to crawl through the internet and build a searchable index of websites.

A sitemap is file that describes the contents and organization of your website.

 

A sitemap describes your site’s organization to crawling software — not to your users.

 

Adding a sitemap to your website and submitting it to Google will make it easier for Googlebot to scan and understand your website.

Without being indexed by Googlebot, your site will not appear anywhere in Google search results. It is ESSENTIAL that your site is indexed and—if your site frequently changes—indexed regularly.

So how do you create a sitemap? You could do it manually. But you really don’t have to.

Thankfully, there are some free tools that will scan your website and automatically create a sitemap file for you. Here are two recommendations for free tools to create a sitemap:

 

Have a WordPress site? Use a plugin.

If your site is built in WordPress, just use a plugin to create your sitemap and upload it to your site. The Google XML Sitemaps plugin is used on millions of sites and is frequently updated. Let it do the work for you.

 

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog offers a free version of their SEO Spider Tool. If your website has 500 or fewer pages, you can download SEO Spider and use it to create a sitemap for free.

Screaming Frog does more, too, which is nice – it finds broken links and analyzes your metadata, among many other useful things. It’s excellent to help you maintain your technical SEO.

 

xml-sitemaps.com

Use xml-sitemaps.com to create a free sitemap, no downloads or accounts needed. If your website has 500 or fewer pages, you can create a sitemap file just from entering your website URL on their homepage.

 

Uploading and Submitting Your Sitemap

Once your sitemap file is created, you need to do two more things:

 

Upload the sitemap to the domain root folder of your website.

In other words, add the sitemap file to your website. Log into your cPanel for your website and open the file manager. The root folder will always be the folder titled public_html. Add the sitemap file to this folder.

 

Submit the sitemap file to Google and other search engines.

You can submit your sitemap a few different ways. You can do so directly through Google Search Console. This part’s pretty easy.

 

#2 – Keyword Research

Keyword research means figuring out the best language to use on your website to attract search traffic. Keyword research is a delicate balance between relevance, search volume, and competition.

Relevance

What do people search for when they want something that you offer? You need to figure out the most relevant keywords for your business and your goals.

Remember: think from your audience’s perspective. How would they understand and search?

This can be tough for business owners who know their own products and industries up and down, backwards and forward.

Step out of your expertise and imagine the common understandings of your offerings.

Search Volume

Search volume is simply how many searches are performed for any given phrase.

Many paid SEO tools like ahrefs give you valuable search volume data.

If you want to get a snapshot at search volume with just free SEO tools, try out Keyword Surfer.

 

 

This Chrome extension gives you search volume data for keyphrases while you’re using Google.

It’ll also give you ideas and data for keyphrases related to your search query. This can make it a great tool for discovering new, worthwhile keyphrases to target.

 

Competition

The competition are the other search results that are ranking high for the keywords you want to rank for. Trying to rank high for a competitive keyword could take far more time and money than you want to invest.

Competition can be difficult to gauge without paid tools, which can roughly calculate the difficulty of ranking keywords in the top 10 results.

A good rule of thumb, though, is to target “long-tail” keyphrases. That is, longer and more specific keyphrases.

A long-tail keyphrase has lower search volume, and that usually correlates with lower difficulty.

Long-tail keyphrases also make great targets because searchers who use specific searches are more interested and likely to convert.

For example, consider the difference between “wallets” and “mens slim wallets.”

Someone who’s searching specifically for “mens slim wallets” is probably a lot closer to buying a wallet than someone searching for “wallets.”

Even though there are fewer searches done for it, that traffic is more valuable.

And it’s even easier to rank highly for!

If you don’t have access to tools that give more insight into competition, keep long-tail keyphrases in mind.

 

 

#3 – Optimize Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Once you have an idea of which keywords to target on your site, the easiest thing you can do is use them in your meta descriptions and title tags.

These lines of text are valuable real estate for your SEO. They’re the most straightforward, plain description of what’s on your site. They matter.

Use your most important keywords in the title tag and meta description.

If you’re a local business, placing your city and state in the title tag and meta description also helps quite a bit.

In addition, these meta descriptions and title tags are where you start to really put your writing skills to the test.

These are the first impression you have on new visitors. It’s like your storefront on the internet.

Write these to be informative and compelling.

 

In these two examples, we’ve got strong calls to action: “Shop Men’s Leather Wallets” and “Upgrade your style.” They’re both informative, too.

The first description packs a ton of information in: brand name, product, and shipping/return info.

The second description makes an image argument, placing style and durability at the forefront.

Both of these are compelling meta descriptions, and they make good examples.

The point:

You should carefully write title tags and meta descriptions for each of your pages that you expect searchers to find. Use each page’s unique keyword in these title tags.

Do not repeat keyphrases between these pages.

If you’re targeting the same keyphrase with multiple pages, then you’re just competing with yourself. Don’t do that.

 

Headings

In addition, use your main keywords throughout the headings of your webpages.

Like the meta descriptions, headings are valuable real estate for SEO. Use the same keyphrase that you use for that page’s title tag and meta description.

The words used in the title tag, meta description, and headings are very important.

I once saw a page rank #1 for fireworks in their city even though the business had nothing to do with fireworks. For some truly unknown reason, they had “fireworks” in their title tag. That’s the kind of influence a title tag can have. (And that also indicates how easy the competition was for “fireworks” in that area.)

 

What’s Next? Backlinks and Content

So far this guide has focused on very simple, cheap, starter steps for DIY SEO.

Using these tactics will set a little groundwork for SEO. These alone will not bring your website to page 1 of search results unless you’re in a real backwater of the internet (i.e. no competition).

To rank high against some actual competition, you need two things:

  1. Content.
  2. Backlinks.

If you’re serious about doing DIY SEO, it IS possible to do this by yourself.

The problem?

Both take lots of time to do well.

There’s no way to get around it. You need to invest time (or money paying someone) to get worthwhile results.

However, backlinks and content are absolutely essential if you want to rank for competitive keywords.

Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the top ranking factors for Google search results.

A backlink is when another page links to your page. Google treats this like a vote of confidence in the quality of your page. Because Google’s in the business of serving quality results, they’ll put quality stuff up front.

The best way to get backlinks is to write and post quality content.

That means useful content for your audience or adjacent audiences. That could be blog articles, videos, how-to guides, infographics, podcasts, you name it.

If your content’s really good, easily shared, and promoted, you can get backlinks naturally. If you’re just starting out, this is less likely.

You can also convince people to link back to your content.

Say you’ve got a baking blog and you write this super in-depth and awesome guide about the different types of wheat flour and their uses for bread baking. White whole wheat flour. Semolina flour. Strong flour. AP flour (all-purpose, for you uninitiated). All that good stuff.

Find other sites who would be interested in this content and reach out to them to see if they’d be willing to link to your page.

Quick pointers for outreach: lots of people will say no or not get back to you. Make a convincing but nice argument for why your content’s worthwhile to their site’s visitors. And have good content.

 

Content

As you can see, backlinks and content go hand in hand. Good content can get you backlinks.

Consistently updating your site with relevant content also helps in itself.

Consistently updating your site helps signal to search engines that your site is credible and worthwhile.

That’s why we still recommend blogging for folks who are serious about SEO.

An active blog allows you to constantly add relevant content to your site.

A blog will allow you to target more longtail keywords and drive traffic to the rest of your site.

If you (a) already enjoy writing, (b) are an expert in your industry, and (c) have the time, then you can create content yourself that can provide potent SEO juice. It’s definitely doable. However, that’s quite the trifecta, and it’s pretty rare.

Content and backlinks are what you pay the big money for in SEO. Producing good content takes a lot of time and expertise. Performing outreach for backlinks takes a lot of time and a good, methodical plan. There’s no software in the world that’s going to make good writing easy.

After DIY SEO

You can get a lot done by yourself if you’re trying DIY SEO. If you have the time, you can do darn near most of the SEO work it takes to rank well (depending on the size of your site and your goals, of course).

If you want to take your SEO to the next level, though, give us a call. We do national and local SEO every day. It’s our bread and butter. We use all the above tactics and so much more. Ok, pitch over.

 




Reputation Management 101: How to Get Customer Reviews and Why You Should Care

One of the most important factors in running a successful sales or service company comes down to proving to your customers or clients that you provide the best options possible for them. One of the best ways to do this is by gathering and sharing a large collection of positive customer reviews and testimonials. This augments your business reputation management efforts in ways that are much more effective than anything you can do on your own.

 

Consumers are much more likely to purchase a product or interact with a business if someone they trust recommends it. This creates social proof for your brand. This makes directories and social media and the entire friends and followers dynamic so important for digital marketing success. However, in order to reap the benefits, you first need to attract testimonials and reviews.

How to Get More Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Two main methods exist to get more positive reviews sent to you, posted on social media, and added on popular review sites like Google MyBusiness and Yelp. First, you can impress people so much with your exceptional products, essential services, and wonderful customer service that they are eager to spend their time writing up a five-star review everywhere possible. In order to succeed with any business, this is the type of thing you should strive for continuously.

 

The other way to encourage testimonials takes a more direct route. You can simply ask for them. Remember that it is absolutely not a good idea to incentivized reviews in any way. Do not hire someone to create fake ones or bribe people with discounts or freebies in order to leave you glowing reviews. If you want to succeed for the long-term without risk of penalization from search engines or the general public, keep things completely aboveboard and positive. A simple “Please leave a review if you were happy with your service” or similar phrase may increase your collection.

 

Some techniques that encourage people to post more positive reviews and testimonials include:

 

  • Asking for them directly but not excessively
  • Providing multiple platforms and options
  • Engage more personally with customers to build relationships
  • Show appreciation for customers who do leave reviews
  • Always ask for permission to use testimonials
  • Offer incentives wisely – never for positive reviews only

 

Business Reputation Management Tasks Off-site

In order to facilitate customer testimonials, step off your own website and social media pages and get involved with the biggest review sites online. Claim your pages and make sure that your customers know they have options. Many of these are dependent on what type of business you run and your target audience. Others, like Facebook, Yelp, and LinkedIn, offer more general possibilities and a higher potential as most people are on these sites as well.

 

While asking for reviews and directing people to these sites can help, you cannot control everything about the testimonials you get. This is where active business reputation management comes into play. In order to stay on top of your brand mentions online, track them and respond professionally and with excellent customer service skills if you get a negative review. Of course, it helps to encourage more positivity if you engage with satisfied customers as well.

 

Use Reviews and Testimonials On-site Effectively

Always ask for permission to post reviews or testimonials on your website. If you have ever purchased the product or service online, you have seen positive attributed reviews next to the particular item, on the front page below the fold, in a sidebar, or filling up an entire testimonial page of their own. You have perhaps come across re-posted reviews on a company’s social media feeds, as well.

 

From a company’s point of view, the ability to use these things in a controlled manner definitely boosts the entire customer experience. Not only do you get more content, which is highly effective at attracting interest from future potential customers and clients, you also get an automatic boost to trust and value. As mentioned above, people are much more likely to make a purchase somewhere recommended to them. Even a picture, name, and testimonial from someone they do not know can help push them over the edge from consideration to pulling out their wallet.

Source: thinkwithgoogle.com.

 

The Power of Brand Advocates and Fans for Digital Marketing

People who take the time to leave reviews become brand advocates and fans. In the entire world of digital marketing, and even before the Internet existed, one of the most powerful lead generation and conversion methods comes from word of mouth advertising. This comes directly from consumers instead of the brand itself, which automatically gives it more credence. It is one of the things that make social media the hottest platform for marketing today.

 

Getting and using customer reviews and testimonials represents one of the most powerful aspects of digital marketing that can help propel a brand from obscurity to household name status. Business reputation management represents a relatively complex problem for companies who do not follow all the best practices that consumers expect from them. Even those who strive to offer the best products and services and use exceptional customer service methods can end up with a bad review sometimes. While interacting positively with the dissatisfied individual and attempting to transform the negativity into something more useful matters, the best way to improve your audience’s overall impression is to encourage and share more positive reviews and testimonials. After all, the success of any company depends primarily on how the public views it.

 




MLT Group Donates Designs for Rochester Theater Show

MLT Group recently donated design work to help market a theater production from the Rochester Repertory Theater. As active members of the Rochester arts and business communities, we love pitching in to support local art!

Check out one of the posters we designed for the show Wandaleria:

 

 

Wandaleria is about the homebody Wanda who one day answers the door to find her prison pen pal, Rocky. The director describes it as a comic-drama, a “working-class, female-focused riff on the Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” See it this fall in Rochester, MN!

 

Essential Guide to Performing a Technical SEO Audit

Search engine optimization (SEO) remains a top focus of digital marketers across industries and niches. Understanding the basics of keyphrase research and usage, proper tagging, link building, and other on-site and inbound marketing techniques matters for ongoing success. However, leaving your efforts to chance can leave them incomplete or ineffective. If you want to ensure improved traffic, acquisition, and conversion numbers, a technical SEO audit makes sense.




 

What Is Technical SEO?

 

When Internet business owners and online marketers think about optimizing their site and its content for the search engines, they usually consider the types of things listed above: keywords, links, etc. However, these only represent part of the picture when it comes to ensuring higher placements on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

 

Technical SEO has to do with website ranking factors that make it possible for Google and other search engines’ bots to find, crawl, and index all of the pages effectively. It is about creating accurate code, ensuring fast load times, improving site security, and optimizing everything from design to database access.

 

For people without high degrees of technical knowledge, these types of things seem much more difficult and misunderstood than non-technical SEO practices like creating keyword-appropriate blog posts or creating a social media link strategy. However, options exist to make the process simpler. First, you can hire a professional team to take care of these things for you. Also, you can follow the steps below to get started on your own.

 

Why Perform a Technical SEO Audit and When Should You Do It?

 

The simple answer to the first part of this question focuses on the fact that badly operating or performing websites do not rank high in search engines. Things like slow load time, security issues, and errors indicate that the website is poor quality and Google should not recommend it to the people searching for information, products, or anything else. From a business owner’s standpoint, a technical SEO audit increases the chance of improving traffic flow, impressing site visitors, and ultimately snagging new customers or clients.

 

With all of these benefits, you may think technical investigations of your website’s optimization should be done as frequently as possible. Of course, no one has time to do this every day. Also, the search engine algorithms do not significantly change that frequently. Although some set up a monthly optimization check, most audit their sites every six months. If you make massive changes to the website or are aware of a Google algorithm update, do one sooner rather than waiting for a particular date.

 

Five Steps to an Effective Technical SEO Audit

 

Now that you understand why and when perform an audit that focuses on the technical side of things, follow these steps to set your site up for SEO success.

 

1 – Find All the Technical Errors

 

More than anything else, actual errors on your website will cause more problems with technical SEO than most other things listed below. These errors stop the search engine bots from accessing and crawling all the pages on your website. While crawl errors can cause considerable problems, understanding exactly what they are matters more if you want to fix them. Check for these common errors on your site:

  • broken links
  • 404 “page not found” errors
  • messy page URLs

 

There are free link-checking services that can scan your site and identify broken links. Use them!

When writing the URLs for pages, you want to ensure they’re concise and include the keyword for the page. Doing this helps both readers and search engines understand what the page is about.

 

Here are some examples:

 

 

Screenshot of a URL that's too long and contains function words.
Here’s a “messy” URL. This is the full title of the linked page, and full titles normally don’t make for good URLs. The keyphrase is at the end, and there are many filler words like “the” and “what” that can easily be removed.

 

 

 

Screenshot of a concise URL that emphasizes the target keyphrase.
Here’s that same page but with a concise URL. It starts with the target keyphrase and also includes a unique aspect of the page being linked.

 

 

2 – Check All Security Features

 

People and search engines prefer security when browsing, communicating, or shopping online. Although many factors go into overall safety when it comes to constructing a website, one of the most important for SEO purposes is the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) with security built in. If you do not have an HTTPS in front of your website URL, you may put people in jeopardy and end up penalized by Google and other search engines. As more consumers gain knowledge about security issues, they are much more likely to abandon a site if they do not see that S.

 

Without an SSL certificate, modern browsers will warn users about unsecured connections. You don’t want this on the mind of anyone visiting your site!

 

3 – Test Website Load Time

 

Google’s PageSpeed Insights test allows you to understand not only how quickly your website loads for search bots and users, but also gives specific information about what is causing the hang ups. In this world of ubiquitous high-speed Internet access and short attention spans, things need to load in three seconds or less to capture attention. A technical SEO audit must include an examination of how fast your content, navigation, and interactive elements appear on each page.

 

When it comes to maximizing search engine placements, speed matters. It influences things like bounce rate and stickiness. For a competitive edge over similar websites and content pages, you want all of these numbers to be as good as possible.

 

4 – Analyze Content and Keywords

 

Although both on and off-site content marketing and keyword research usually focus on non-technical SEO, they also represent a large part of every website from a technical standpoint. Make sure you focus on individual keyword phrases for different pages of your site to prevent keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword—it’s like competing against yourself.

 

You want to compete with other businesses, not yourself. Avoid duplicate content that can confuse the search engines and make them view all your pages as less focused and thus less important. Likewise, perform investigations to ensure that all of your metadata and descriptions are unique and powerful.

 

5 – Check for Mobile Friendliness

 

Google and other search engines reward mobile-friendly websites. The internet is becoming increasingly driven by mobile devices, so you need to ensure that your site looks great and is functional on the smaller screens. Tools like Google’s Mobile Test allow you to see how the layout, graphics, and content work on different devices.

 

 

A technical SEO audit done every six months or so ensures that your website is operating effectively for the two main audiences you need to target: your human readers and the bots that index your site.

 

Unlike traditional optimization methods, technical SEO creates the architecture and atmosphere that all of the content, keywords, and links exist within. Both aspects of your optimization strategy are essential for ongoing Internet business success.

 

Free Website Audit

Staying on top of your technical SEO is essential to maintaining your search result rankings. MLT Group provides regular SEO maintenance to many clients. Checking and redirecting links, monitoring loading speed, even updating old content—we do what it takes to keep your site running on a solid foundation for great SEO results.

Contact us today for a free site audit from our SEO professionals!




What The Romans Can Teach Us About Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing becomes more competitive every day, with almost countless individuals, businesses, and other organizations taking their messages to digital platforms. It’s noisy. It’s messy. It’s relentless. And while data science and analytics paint better and better pictures of our work, social media marketing can still feel like a crapshoot.

 

Times like these, we can find help in the fundamentals. I’m not talking organic vs. inorganic engagement or reputation management 101.

 

I’m talking basic principles of persuasion. I’m talking about the Romans, ancient Romans. Togas and legions. Those ones.

 

They, too, had their communication problems, and like any good writer or speaker, they stole ideas from others (the Greeks) and added a few pieces of their own. Rome’s most celebrated speaker and writer, Cicero, came up with what he called “the five canons of rhetoric,” that is, the five key ingredients to the process of persuasive communication:

 

  • Invention
  • Arrangement
  • Style
  • Delivery
  • Memory

 

These ancient canons of rhetoric can help us create, frame, and manage social media marketing strategies that are consistent yet flexible, persuasive but not pushy. No kidding. Here’s how, canon by canon.

 

Invention

 

“Invention” here means the creation of ideas, topics, and messages. Ancient communicators devoted much of their time to figuring out methods of invention.

 

What are you going to say? Who are you going to say it to? What does your audience believe in and feel? What about your company, brand, and product is unique and worth building stories about?

 

Explore these questions and much more to strategize your social media messaging. Don’t keep these core messages fixed forever, but have clear ideas and purposes when you do implement the messaging. Think before you speak.

 

Arrangement

 

“Arrangement” for Cicero and his fellow Romans meant the structure of the speech: the introduction, body, conclusion, and so on.

 

Strictly speaking, we can apply this canon of rhetoric to the individual messages we create. Is there a piece of the post that attracts the eye, a piece that first engages the reader, a piece that calls the reader to action? These are some basic building blocks of many social media posts.

 

But we can also apply the Arrangement canon more broadly:

 

How do you organize your messaging so that posts build upon each other? When does it make sense to cross-post between Facebook and LinkedIn, and when does it not?

 

Create posts that work with each other to build a coherent, compelling story about you. Build an overarching narrative to draw your audiences in and keep them around. (See why a clear Invention process is so important now? As we’ll see, these canons of rhetoric work with each other.)

 

Style

 

Style is more straightforward. It’s the tone. The feel. When Cicero spoke before a jury—he was a hugely successful lawyer—he had to make a stylistic call: sarcastic invective or stern Roman Citizen? Appeal to the gods, or appeal to the Senate and People of Rome?

 

Tone on social media is difficult, to say the very least. Strike the wrong tone and your brand could be dead in the water. Strike the right one and your brand could catch fire (the good kind). As soon as your business has a Twitter account, you’ve got the tiger by the tail. Speak well and keep it happy.

 

Your best education here is the real-world successes and spectacular failures of other brands on social media. See what audiences genuinely respond to.

 

Some companies like Wendy’s have made a success of being snarky on Twitter. Arby’s has decided to use food art, memes, anime, and video games references to sell roast beef.

 

A login screen for a video game is recreated using paper and featuring Arby's food.
This post (also cross-posted to Instagram) makes a video game reference. It still features Arby’s product, but its emphasis is on engaging  and entertaining their target audiences on these platforms (younger folks, to say the least).

 

 

On the other hand, during the viral #Laurel vs. #Yanny debate, the U.S. Air Force decided to introduce the unique sound that its A-10 Warthog makes while firing 4000 rounds/minute in Afghanistan.

 

Screenshot of a now deleted US Air Force tweet featuring an A-10 Warthog.

 

Yeah, that didn’t really jive with the vibe of the whole thing, and the post was soon removed.

 

Delivery

 

Delivery regards the performance itself. Another great Roman rhetorician, Quintilian, went to great lengths describing how the speaker’s toga should be handled during their speech. (Keep it neat at first; then, near your exciting conclusion, let the toga become disheveled to eloquently reflect your exertion.)

 

Now, no kidding, delivery is more complex—but just as important.

 

In social media marketing, delivery means deciding which messages should be pushed at what times and on which platforms. LinkedIn for B2B, Instagram and Facebook for B2C, and so on. Your chosen medium and target audience have a very close relation. “Medium is the message” and all that.

 

Delivery also means incorporating multiple media into your messaging. Mix up the medium you use to communicate. Company photos and other images, gifs, memes, infographics, good old-fashioned text, videos—a healthy social media strategy should rely on multiple channels to deliver messaging.

 

Finally, timing is a critical to delivery. The ancient Greeks had a great word for this: Kairos. It’s a word for time that expresses “the appropriate time” rather than, say, clock time.

 

Be sure to post regularly to maintain audiences and engagement. Consider having a regular series of posts that you deliver at consistent times every week or month, like the classic whiteboard Friday from Moz. Post an announcement when your company completes an exciting project. (Remember: “exciting” is defined by your audience and industry.)

 

In addition to scheduled deliveries, remain flexible enough to respond to any relevant current events and trends. Doing so can be enormously helpful, making your social media strategy more organic, and organic engagement is almost always better. Just wade carefully. Watch that tone!

 

Memory

 

And finally, we arrive at Memory. For Cicero, this was simply remembering what he had to say. He and many other speakers over the centuries have had many mnemonic devices to remember their speeches accurately.

 

For social media marketing, Memory is the part that drives us a little crazy, makes us a little paranoid at night.

 

Memory is the structure we build to ensure that all our good ideas and plans actually get implemented. It’s the “management” part of social media management.

 

You have to keep a handle on your Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram—each of which has the potential for great reach and engagement, each of which has the potential for a digital faceplant. You might as well be juggling career-ending katanas.

 

Thankfully, we have tools to manage our social media presence across different platforms. Hootsuite. Buffer. Sprout. Myriad others. Each has its advantages. Research them. Determine which is best for your business and audiences. Use one, lest your campaign sputter out and join the littering remains of countless social media initiatives on the internet.

 

 

Social Media Marketing with the Five Canons

The art of rhetoric, i.e. the art of persuasion, is very old. Above anything else, rhetoric experts have always emphasized the adaptability and dynamism of effective persuasion. These Five Canons blend with each other and are most definitely not a Step 1, Step 2 process.

 

If you never come back to Invention, your strategy will fail. If you never adapt your tone for the situation, your strategy will fail. Think on your feet. Never stop reading the room. Have a plan, but be willing to throw it out. Social media marketing is a crapshoot. Knowing some rhetoric will help. Smart speakers and writers have been discussing how to best persuade audiences for millennia. Don’t leave all that learning on the table when you sign into Facebook.

 




 

 

Manufacturing Marketing Essentials: How to Develop an SEO Strategy

Effective search engine optimization (SEO) for your manufacturing marketing needs a craftsman’s approach: methodical, deft, patient.

The target audiences of SEO are always people, not algorithms, as some people think at first blush. You provide real value to your audiences, and the search engine will recognize that and reward your website with a higher relative ranking.

The problem:

People make slippery targets. There’s no way to precision manufacture persuasive messaging like you can gaskets. There’s a reason Aristotle called persuasion a craft rather than a science.

Here are the three basic steps to craft a worthwhile SEO strategy for your manufacturing marketing strategy:

  • Keyword Research
  • Content Creation
  • Backlinking and Citations

Below you’ll find how these abstractions can be applied in manufacturing marketing.

Although you simply must know the technical foundations of SEO, always remember to think about people before you think about algorithms and analytics.

The sales cycle in manufacturing is long. Decision-making is deliberate and rational. Smart SEO will attract visitors and, along with your other marketing, help nurture leads into conversions.




 

Keyword Research for Manufacturing Marketing

Keyword research is the process of analyzing your audiences, your own company, and your search-result competitors. At the end, you should produce a document that lays out the keywords most worth investing your time and resources into.

Do it right, your website will rank highly for keywords relevant to your business’s services. That means higher quality leads.

Long-Tail Keywords

Develop a keyword strategy that targets what SEO experts call “long-tail” keywords. Long-tail keywords are longer keywords that are more specific queries, e.g. “motorcycle helmet” vs. “bluetooth motorcycle helmet.” “Bluetooth motorcycle helmet” receives considerably less search traffic, but someone searching for it has a better idea of what they want and so is likely further along the sales lifecycle.

 

 

Long-tail keywords receive less traffic, but they convert customers more effectively because the person using a specific keyword has a specific purpose in mind. These keywords are also easier to rank higher in search engine results because there’s typically less competition.

Let’s take an example relevant to manufacturing:

“CNC machining” vs “CNC machining services” vs “5 axis cnc machining”

Using a keyword analysis tool like those from ahrefs, we can see the search volume for each of these keyphrases:

 

Search volume is monthly, e.g. 6600 searches nationwide/month for “cnc machining.” “KD” is keyword difficulty, a metric created by ahrefs to estimate how difficult it is to rank highly for the keyphrase. “Clicks” refers to how many of the clicks on results users performed for the given keyphrase.

 

Think about the people behind these searches:

Anyone from a first-year engineering student to a fan of How It’s Made, could be searching for “CNC machining.”

Someone who’s searching more specifically for “cnc machining services” or “5 axis cnc machining” is more likely to actually be searching for the service. That makes these phrases efficient targets for search optimization.

If your company can provide 5 axis CNC machining services, then ensure that keyphrase is a part of your keyword strategy.

Research long-tail keywords that are relevant for your services, and use them on your site’s metadata, in your website content, and in any other content (like blogs) you publish.

 

Competitor Analysis

While you figure out which keywords will best represent and drive traffic to your services, you also need to analyze your competitors for which keywords they rank highly with.

Ranking is always competitive. There’s not an abstract quality you must reach to rank high in search results; you just have to do better than the people ahead of you.

You want to see what they’re doing to rank well. If the top-ranking pages are mostly pages with 1000+ word content with images, links, or other elements, then you know you’ll need in-depth content to have a shot at ranking up with them.

Looking at your competitors’ high-ranking pages will inform how your team approaches content creation to beat them. Which brings us to…

Content Creation

Once you have a solid keyword strategy, you need content to execute it. If you’re serious about SEO for your company, you need to make quality, keyword-optimized content the backbone.

Competitor research also helps determine the kind of content you create. You need to put out better stuff than the high-ranking competitors.

Say your company does precision machining parts here in Minnesota. Check out the top 10 results for “precision machining.”

 

Screenshot showing the top 4 results for the Google search "precision machining"
Results are based on our Rochester location, so you’ll see different results depending on your location.

 

Read through each of the competing pages to see what kind of content they have to help rank this high. What’s the word count? How do they organize their information? What keywords are being used in titles, headings, content?

 

Content That Helps You Rank

Remember to keep your audiences at the forefront of manufacturing marketing strategy at all times. The smart use of keywords will attract searchers, but the job of good SEO doesn’t stop there.

The content on your site must keep your visitors engaged and satisfy whatever purpose they had for visiting in the first place. Google’s eternal quest is to track user satisfaction with their search results, so if you optimize a page for “5 axis cnc machining,” it better have the substance to back it up!

When your visitor comes to your website through a search result and sticks around for a while, we call that “the long click.” Google loves the long click because that (more likely) means the user is satisfied with their search and result. That means Google wants to keep your site around, and higher, in their results for that search.

Consistent content creation also matters for optimization purposes. The more you add useful content to your site, the more you signal your website’s credibility and authority. It can also provide more entryways to your website.

For example, if your website has a well-written post about “thermoforming vs injection molding,” you can rank highly for that phrase and pull in that traffic to your site – generating more leads for customers who are earlier in the sales lifecycle and trying to decide which service to choose.

There’s much more to know about content creation for manufacturers, but we’ll cover that in a future post and stick strictly to the aspects of content that relate to optimization here. (This post will be updated when the new post on content drops.)

High-quality content creation is essential for manufacturers—it takes a lot of time and resources to switch suppliers, so you need to make persuasive arguments.

To sum it up for SEO’d content: satisfy user intent!

 

Backlinks and Citations

A Brief Explanation and Example

Backlinks and citations refer to other websites referring to your website and your company. It could be a link to a page of your website (a “backlink”) or name-dropping your company (a “citation”).

See our earlier post for an in-depth explanation of citations.

Other sites linking to your site lends your site more authority. Essentially, a backlink is another site stating its confidence in your site.

Backlinks are essential to building your site’s authority in Google’s eyes.

Here’s an example from one of our clients:

Northland Fastening was featured in a commercial by North American Banking Company. North American Banking Company also included a write-up on their website about their long relationship.

 

 

This link here lends the banking site’s authority to Northland Fastening System’s site.

 

How to Get Backlinks

When you pursue backlinks from other sites—and yes, you should invest time doing outreach if you’re serious about SEO—it’s best to get links from high-authority, credible sites who aren’t competing for the same keywords.

Some backlinks come from directory sites. For example, if you’re an industrial supplier, you’re going to want a listing and a link from www.thomasnet.com, a longtime name in the industrial marketplace and a website with good authority.

You also leverage high-quality content to get backlinks and references to your site. This veers into content marketing, which can’t be reasonably covered in this post.

Essentially, you want to create high-quality content about your business, your services, your industries, your people. Create informative content to become an authoritative, trusted. Publish content about your people and your teams to humanize your company.

After posting on your website, your best content must also be shared in appropriate platforms for different audiences. It’s easiest to share on social media—and you should do so—but it’s not guaranteed to drive traffic to your site.

You can do some outreach to relevant organizations and people in the industry. For example, if your company has expertise in plastics manufacturing, you could reach out to https://www.plasticstoday.com/, a “community for plastics professionals.”

Their website has a domain authority of 60, which would make them a great domain to get a link from.

You also want to do competitor research again. Use a link analysis tool (like from www.moz.com) to see where your keyword competitors get their best, most authoritative backlinks. Try outreach to get backlinks from the same and similar sources. If you have the right purposes and right content, classic sources of high-quality backlinks are news and education websites.

 

SEO for Manufacturers

Effective search engine optimization will boost your manufacturing marketing and increase quality leads. This post has focused on keyword research for content creation and distribution. However, there are other critical factors to SEO, like your site’s metadata and other more technical aspects.

It takes time and effort to build and maintain a working SEO campaign, and the information above is just the basic starting point.

To do it well, your team needs skills in research, analysis, writing, and (some) coding. SEO needs a craftsman’s approach. It’s unique for each business, and it takes a set of specialty skills; don’t count on a quick-and-dirty approach to get sustainable results.

If you’re looking for a team who’s got the skills, tools, and time to develop and maintain an SEO strategy, learn more about MLT Group or get in touch with us today. Contact us and we’ll get a site audit to you in 48 hours or less.