Everyone in America is familiar with franchises. They are represented on street corners coast to coast; McDonalds, 7-Eleven, Dunkin’, Great Clips, and hundreds more. From fast food to haircuts, and commercial cleaning to glass repair, franchises help meet a need for almost everyone at one time or another throughout each year. Their economic impact is fantastic, with those in the United States alone producing an output of nearly 800 billion dollars annually. In fact, franchises made up 10.5 percent of all US businesses in 2020 and employed over 8.5 million Americans.
Among businesses, franchise organizations have a unique component structure; a central licensing organization – the franchiser, often a large company with an entrenched corporate mentality, which supplies, supports, and collects fees from much smaller local businesses – the franchisees. The success of franchises across 295 industries attests to the benefits of this structure. In at least one area of the franchise world, however, there is an intractable struggle between franchiser and franchisee that often leads to marketing issues and lost opportunities.
That’s where we come in. At MLT Group, we have spent the last decade specializing in website design for franchise organizations and have become franchise SEO experts. In the process, we have assisted several national franchise companies to improve their digital marketing and have achieved outstanding ranking results for a plethora of franchisee sites. Now, for the first time, I’m about to tell you what we’ve learned, the not-so-secret problem in franchise SEO and marketing and the Big Fix that’s needed.
Number One: It’s important to recognize that franchise organizations want their franchisees to be successful. This desire is driven by economics and pride. Successful franchisees pay more fees to the franchiser and promote more interest among other potential franchisees. It is equally important to recognize that franchisers and franchisees don’t always share the same priorities. A franchisee sees business success as primarily defined by profit. The more business the better. A franchiser considers both profit and brand image to be paramount concerns. Which makes sense– the brand they have built is the foundation of their entire franchise organization.
Number Two: This misalignment in priorities frequently leads to problems for both franchisees and franchisers in the realm of digital marketing, with both groups struggling against one another rather than working in cohesive and collaborative harmony.
Concerns of the franchiser:
We need everyone to represent the brand consistently and accurately across all digital platforms. This is important to consumer confidence in the brand.
We worry that some of our franchisees lack the expertise in digital marketing to deliver our brand and messaging appropriately on their websites or on social media.
Even though digital marketing is most effective for service businesses when geo-targeted to the appropriate service area, our ability to assist hundreds of franchisees in producing digital marketing unique to their area and offerings is limited by budget and time.
Digital is more complicated and changeable than print, radio, or TV ads, making it harder to control from one central source.
Even though unique content is essential to search engine optimization, it is not feasible for corporate to write unique content for 400 or 1,500 separate sites, all explaining the same services.
Due to these concerns, franchise organizations often take the following actions which directly harm the digital marketing of their franchisees:
To control brand and messaging, they do not allow each franchise to have a unique “local” website and/or social media presence.
They do not allow each franchise to have its own unique domain name, preferring to house information about the franchise under the corporate “our locations” page or a URL like Bigfranchiseco.com/location_2463.
They may insist on franchisees using duplicate “boiler plate” marketing text for their websites, which is an SEO killer.
They do not accurately inform franchisees that the most effective way to rank on search engines is to have a unique local website with original content that is SEO’d and updated regularly.
Concerns of the franchisee:
Our local franchise needs to rank highly in search engines for the services we offer within our service area.
We need help to design, build, and populate a professional website and/or create an effective social media marketing campaign.
Our digital marketing efforts are limited by budget, available time, and lack of expertise in digital marketing.
We need a local web presence that is not owned by corporate.
Even though regularly posting unique website content is essential to search engine optimization, we do not have the time or expertise to create this content.
We want a robust social media campaign but do not have time to maintain it.
We want leads to come directly to us when potential customers find us online, not directed to us by corporate with fees or strings attached.
“Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique local websites.”
Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique, local websites. Many would also benefit from independent social media campaigns as well. Corporate can do a lot when it comes to buying online ad space for multiple locations or establishing a robust social media presence for the whole organization. Many franchise organizations maintain impressive social media campaigns, and for some, it can be enough for a franchisee to piggyback on these efforts. However, in terms of traffic and lead generation from Google and other search engines, there is no substitute for a robust local website for each franchise or major franchise market.
There are exceptions. Fast-food franchises, rapid oil change locations, car washes, and similar businesses do not need local websites. Due to the nature of their offerings, a central corporate website with locations pages is sufficient for these sorts of businesses.
“It is imperative for businesses to be easy to find and easy to do business with.”
Companies providing services in people’s homes and businesses (cleaning, repair, remodeling, lawn care, pest control, etc.) need independent, local websites optimized effectively for Google and other search engines in order to achieve the best rankings possible. Solid rankings on search engines are the gold standard for being found, and the surest way to drive relevant traffic and leads. With an increasingly savvy consumer market, it is imperative for businesses to be easy to find and easy to do business with.
There are multiple benefits of an independent local website for a franchise. These include:
A unique domain name – important to franchise SEO and local marketing
A platform for unique content specific to the franchise’s services and service area
Ownership of the website for both control and as a valuable business asset
Results – a well-built and optimized local website will get better rankings and more traffic, leading to more leads and better ROI
“Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control.”
The Big Fix: Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control. The fix is to allow individual franchise owners to have their own local websites and to offer them trusted vendors who can provide quality digital marketing services that meet corporate brand expectations. Moreover, putting some money into the solution via co-pays helps the franchisees feel they are not bearing the burden alone. Additionally, the big corporate sites often have a good reputation with the search engines, so making sure to link from the corporate site to each independent franchise site provides powerful link juice. All of which lends itself to better franchise SEO, better Google rankings, more traffic, more leads, and better ROI. It’s a win-win that corporate franchise organizations need to understand and implement in the increasingly competitive world of digital marketing.
Theo St. Mane is a partner and director of operations for MLT Group – Creative Solutions in Rochester, Minnesota. He has over 30 years of marketing experience and has spoken at national and regional conventions of franchise groups. He has also consulted on digital marketing for a variety of national franchise organizations since 2012.
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.
#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.
#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, firstname.lastname@example.org, or online today.
At first, your traffic and rankings won’t move much, but after time, they’ll rise up the rankings. Higher rankings mean more traffic and more authority for your website.
When some of your pages start to rank high, they’ll attract backlinks and gain authority on their own.
Why? Because people often Google information to use in their own content and tend to cite results that show up on page 1.
If you write evergreen, in-depth, and useful content, people will link to you naturally, which gives your entire site more authority.
When a single page ranks for one keyword, it will start to rank for other related keywords — these are called LSI keywords.
A single page can rank for dozens, hundreds, or thousands of keywords.
You can go back in and sprinkle these LSI keywords into your content, which will help it rank better overall.
Stop Doing This Immediately
Marketing experts are aplenty in 2019.
They’re all giving the same advice.
People who take that advice give the same advice so on and so forth.
This becomes a content marketing pyramid scheme.
Everyone copies each other, meaning no one is original or has anything truly useful to share.
Did you develop a strategy based on copying your competitors? It’s time to rethink that.
How? Figure out ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.
One Strategy No One Can Copy
Ayetkin Tank, founder of Jotform, writes a blog on Medium.com
What separates him from other people in the space? He tells personal stories. Look at the story he used to open a blog post about the taste of customers:
You can’t replicate someone else’s personal experience. Stories shape the world and humans love learning through stories.
Try to think of ways to inject more narrative into your content strategy.
Do you have unique testimonials and case studies from people who’ve bought your products or services? Use them.
Do you have industry insights you gained from unique experiences? Sprinkle these stories into your content.
Zig When They Zag
Is everyone in your niche writing blog posts? Do more videos.
Are all your competitors on Facebook? Try LinkedIn.
An innovator is simply someone who has tried something other people haven’t.
Always think…what’s the opposite of what your competition is doing. Do that.
It won’t always work, but it helps you think outside the box. With so many businesses creating content, creativity is at a premium.
Kill the Sacred Cows
Fun fact: a lot of conventional wisdom is completely wrong.
People just repeat mantras over and over again until they become accepted.
If you can discredit the “sacred cows” in your industry and provide better solutions, you’ll stand out.
Nat Eliason is a great example of this. In his post about the Wiki Strategy — which includes creating a ton of content with a heavy internal link structure like Wikipedia –, he called out the sacred cow.
He said backlinks and typical SEO optimization aren’t all that important.
According to Nat, as long as you write the best content possible and cite credible sources, you can rank your posts without any backlinks.
Not only does this fly in the face of typical SEO advice. It’s useful and it works.
Allow us to explain how this ties into SEO for real estate.
Google uses a variety of factors to rank website pages and there are a few key factors they use that make it hard for smaller businesses to rank for competitive search terms as part of the realtor SEO process.
Some of those factors are:
Authority – SEO authority is measured by many factors including backlinks, citations, content, site architecture, and much more. Big brands check the boxes across the board.
Brand recognition – Google shows preferences for businesses and websites with high brand recognition
Service and product type – Certain types of services and businesses make it difficult for small businesses to rank because of the way they choose to display listings on the search engines results page (SERP)
Let’s take a look at each factor one by one.
While Google doesn’t share its ranking recipe with us, many smart SEOs have created useful metrics. Moz uses domain authority and page authority to help show which sites have more authority than others.
Domain authority – This measure calculates the authority of your domain name (your website as a whole.) They use the number of inbound links, otherwise known as backlinks, the age of your domain name, your internal linking profile, and more to create this score.
Page authority – This measure calculates the authority of a single page on your website. They use the same factors above to calculate your score, but on a page by page basis.
Let’s take a look at the DA and PA of some of the websites that rank well for competitive search terms like “Homes for sale in Minneapolis” and “Homes for sale in Minnesota.”
These are very valuable terms, as they receive a combined total of 15,000 searches per month.
Here is a screenshot from the Moz analysis tool that shows the DA and PA for a website page that ranks highly for these terms:
Domain Authority and Page Authority
The website example has a high domain authority score.
Scores of 90 and above are reserved for major brands like the companies above, CNN, Facebook, Twitter, and Google itself.
Page authority scores of 50 and above are also very difficult to achieve
The odds of a smaller real estate company achieving those scores are slim to none.
The website page example shows hundreds of different linking domains to the page. The more sites that link to an individual page, the better. Big brand website pages have no problem receiving links from various domains because they’re well known and established.
The website also has a high number of individual links pointing to each page.
In our example, we’ll use a score pulled from a realtor website in the area (that doesn’t have proper SEO yet):
This score is typical for an individual realtor website and it’s no match for the big brands who rank for these terms.
In fact, the entire first page of the search engine results page for these terms feature big brand companies with very high scores:
According to most SEO data, if you’re not in the top 3 results on a SERP, you won’t receive much traffic:
While ranking on page one for these terms would help you gain a large amount of traffic, you’d need to spend the same amount of money, time, and resources as these big brands and it would take a very, very long time to do so. These brands have been established on Google and other search engines for decades.
Real estate SEO requires you to find unique opportunities to rank in search through long-tail keywords, which we’ll discuss later on in the post.
Other search engine results page factors
By looking at these results page examples, you’ll notice the following:
Brand recognition – For competitive terms, big brands get special treatment. Why? Because they know they can trust the credibility of big brands. Oftentimes, their name recognition alone will push them to the top of search results, even if they’re not actively using the type of real estate SEO techniques we’ll show you.
Service and product type – Google also knows people searching for homes in large metro areas want to browse lots of listings. Industries that exhibit this behavior from searches, like real estate, will always show preference to aggregates like these.
Fortunately, there are techniques to help you rank highly for a number of medium and lower competition phrases.
For small businesses in competitive industries, targeting a large number of medium and low competition phrases gives you a better chance of gaining more traffic as a whole.
A real estate SEO expert realizes a little extra thinking is needed and the right techniques can help any real estate website get the traffic it needs to grow their business.
Let’s take a look at some of our best real estate SEO hacks.
Realtor SEO Step 1 – Find Long Tail Key Phrases
The question is, if you can’t rank for the phrases you think are best suited to your business, what do you try to rank for?
If you think outside the box, you can find dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of keywords with decent traffic volume.
First, you want to find key phrases related to your business based on the main topic, but not directly targeting it.
Here are some low to medium competition real estate SEO keywords we found based on the topic “Homes for sale in Minneapolis”
Twin Cities real estate (220 searches per month)
Central MN homes for sale (220 searches per month)
Minneapolis lots for sale (800 searches per month)
Northern mn lake homes for sale (170 searches per month)
Lake homes for sale MN (4400 searches per month)
Lake homes for sale southern MN (170 searches per month)
Lakefront homes for sale MN (320 searches per month)
Lake property MN (320 searches per month)
Houses for sale south Minneapolis (480 searches per month)
Lake cabins for sale in Minneapolis (1000 searches per month)
Notice how each term listed above didn’t attempt to compete for direct variations of the main term “homes for sale in Minneapolis,” like “homes for sale in Eagan, MN”
Why? Because these variations [competitive keyword] + [suburb] are all dominated in real estate SEO by the same big brands above. They have an infinite number of listings and variables to create pages that rank.
What you’re looking for are terms that feature individual small business on page one.
Type each researched phrase into Google. If you see an individual small business appear, you have a shot at ranking.
Notice the insights from our research. The low to medium competition phrases we found didn’t mention the main phrase head on, but rather niche topics surrounding the phrases like:
Regions of the state instead of the exact city names
Nicknames in the industry/state people are familiar with like Twin Cities
The big brands usually focus on competitive terms only, because they can. They dump tons of data onto their websites and, voila, they rank.
The lower to medium competition phrases contain topics as opposed to overt key phrases.
Bonus SEO Techniques
If you get even more outside the box and double down on your research, you can find tons of awesome related topics people are searching for on Google.
Think outside the box. What are some topics people might search that aren’t competitive keywords?
Look at more of our research findings:
Best neighborhoods in Minneapolis (880 searches per month)
Best schools in Minnesota (880 searches per month)
Best neighborhoods in St. Paul (140 searches per month)
Best places to live in Minnesota (1300 searches per month)
Cost of living in Minnesota (1300 searches per month)
Benefits of Using Long Tail Real Estate SEO ‘Topics’ over High Competition Keywords
When you create content around long-tail topics instead of high competition keywords, you stand a much higher chance of getting traffic from search engines.
Also, you are getting a much more targeted and qualified searcher.
Think of someone looking for “homes for sale in Minneapolis.”
They could be ready to buy a home or they could just be casually browsing. They’re also reaching results pages with tons of results, which can be too overwhelming for some.
Now, imagine you’re the person searching for phrases like “Minnesota lake homes” “best neighborhoods in Minnesota,” and “best schools in Minnesota”
Someone who performs all these searches might be seriously thinking about buying a home in the area.
If your website pages rank for these topics, you’re giving the searcher exactly what they want.
They don’t have to sift through mountains of data and content to get the answer they’re looking for.
These topics also signal a very valuable factor — search intent. Search intent is the reason behind the user’s search. Targeted searches mean a higher level of search intent, which means you’re getting a more qualified lead.
Imagine this same user not only searching for multiple topics but continuing to find your business at the top of the results pages for each topic.
Supply them with very targeted, informative, and useful content and your business will be top of mind.
Even if they don’t engage with you right away, where do you think they’ll visit when they’re really ready to buy?
The big, bland, uninformative aggregate which may or may not have a Minnesota lake home in a great neighborhood with a good school — where even if they do find this perfect home it will be a needle in a haystack — or your website that’s already proven to give them the exact answers they were looking for?
Step 3 – Create Content that’s 10x Better than the Competition
Long tail key phrases, or topics, aren’t anything new.
Hundreds of SEO’s, marketers, and agencies talk about using them.
Many people do try ranking for long tail key phrases, but they stop short of what they need to do to reach the top of the results.
Here’s what a typical marketer would do:
Find a long tail key phrase
Create a piece of content around that key phrase
Wait for the rankings to skyrocket and traffic to roll in
A real estate SEO expert would take it further. These techniques might work for non-competitive industries, but to do well in competitive industries, you need to do more.
This is where the power of content marketing comes in.
Content marketing is the process of creating content to engage, educate, and persuade readers..
The rules for success are the same in content marketing as they are for … anything else.
You have to work harder than your competition and provide more value. The idea of content marketing sounds nice, but when it comes to doing it well, most won’t put in the required effort.
This is why this real estate SEO technique works so well. Most people aren’t willing to do it. The competition for low-hanging fruit — results anyone can get — is ten times higher than the competition for results that require effort.
This is the most counterintuitive aspect of content marketing, the higher you aim, the easier it is to compete.
At MLT Group, we provide realtor SEO services and can create a real estate SEO strategy just like this. If you’re curious to learn more, send us a note.
Here are the steps you can take to create ‘10x’ content to blow your competition out of the water.
Visit your competitors’ pages and analyze them
Let’s look at the top result for “Lake Homes in Minnesota.”
It has strong authority scores, but these can be overcome:
Here’s a screenshot of the top ranking web page:
Let’s analyze what it does well:
Focus – you can tell the entire site is focused on one subject
Search filter – while they list thousands of results, they provide an easy to use search feature
Authority factors – as stated above, the site is pretty authoritative
To outdo this result, do everything it does well and then add to it. Fill in the gaps and do what your competition isn’t doing.
Some ideas for this are:
Homepage results – This result is a homepage. As it stands, many home pages still rank well, but topic-focused pages with great content marketing are trending up
One way to outrank your competitors is to simply double or triple the amount of content they have on their page.
You don’t just want to create content that rambles on. You want to make it both useful and relevant to the search engines. The next step will show you how to do just that.
Find Related Phrases
Take the main topic you’re creating the page on and type it into Google. Scroll to the bottom of the results page to the ‘people also searched for’ section:
These related searches are known as LSI keywords. If you add these keywords to your content, it helps Google better understand what the page is about.
Bonus tip: take each of these LSI keywords and put them into a keyword suggestion tool like Ubersuggest to find even more related keywords to your related keywords. Then, you can map out the LSI keywords as topic headings and use their related keywords for the content within those headings.
Create a Page With Solid SEO Structure
The main topic of your page is “Lake homes in Minnesota.” You’ll want to mention this phrase a few times in your content.
Then, you can use the LSI keywords to create an outline for your 10x content page. Here’s an example of how we might do it.
Page Title – Lake Homes in Minnesota
In the opening section, you can create an introduction for the entire page. Make sure to use the main target keyword in the first sentence of the page because it is a ranking factor for Google.
Add heading – Lake Homes by Region
In this section, you can mention that you service regions across the state of Minnesota. Then, you can add subheadings for each major region.
Lake Homes in North Central MN
Lake Homes in the Twin Cities
Lake Homes in Southern MN
Each of these regional sections could include featured listings from the are and a brief introduction for each region discussing what’s awesome about living there.
Then, for each regional listing, you can display all the individual cities within the region. You can add links to each city that takes users to a page displaying listings narrowed down to each city.
Lake homes in Wayzata
Lake homes in Minnetonka
Lake homes in Wabasha
Bonus tip: when users click on each individual city, what should they find? Another page with awesome content, featured listings and sub-topics. In the future, when your site is more authoritative, each page could rank for a long tail keyword.
Add heading – Lake Homes by Type
In this section, you can write a paragraph about the different types of lake homes you provide. You can show a featured listings section with one home of each type to explore
Also, you can create sub-topics based on your research, list them, and link them to pages with full listings for each type of lake home. Again, these pages will feature their own detailed, informative, and useful content.
You can repeat this process for every variable of region or type based on “lake homes in Minnesota.” Also, you can create headings around other useful and relevant topics like “best Minnesota neighborhoods” “best Minnesota schools” and “cost of living in Minnesota.” Each of these sections will have content tailored to areas near Lake homes.
Doing this will create a ‘resource hub.’
See this video from Moz for an explanation:
Google likes pages that layout information neatly and tell users exactly where they need to go for more detailed information.
Also, Google’s robots ‘crawl’, or scan, the pages of their website. If your content and link structure is too confusing, Google will stop crawling your pages, meaning your results won’t get indexed and rank on Google.
You can create these ‘resource hub’ pages for medium competition topics like “Lake Homes in Minnesota.”
Over time, you can add unique individual pages for each LSI keyword and subtopic, giving you many opportunities to rank.
Again, even for these little niche pages, you want to 10x the content on those pages compared to your competition.
Underneath each of these niche topics, you can repeat the process and add more useful content, e.g., writing unique blog posts and linking to them from your niche page.
Here are some examples of real estate blog topics you could write about:
Best neighborhoods in the area
Top school districts
Tips on moving to a new city
This entire process will help your website cover a broad range of topics.
The cool part? The more you do this, the more opportunity each page of your website has to rank for dozens or even hundreds of keywords.
For real estate SEO, creating topic-based pages and subpages works much better than trying to rank for competitive terms. And, it creates a multiplier effect. Once Google crawls your page enough times, it’ll realize you’re a go-to resource, and it will start giving you preference over other websites.
Instead of wishing you could capture a share of the 15,000 searches for “homes in Minnesota,” you can get double the traffic by avoiding the strategy altogether.
Optimize Your Content on Each Page
After you’ve created your ‘resource hub’ page, make sure you still follow the basic on-site optimization steps:
Use your target keyword in the content
Use your target keyword in the meta description
Use your target keyword in headings
Save all images you add to the page under names that have keywords in them (Google can’t read images)
Link to other credible resources from your page, e.g., local newspapers, trusted local bloggers, Wikipedia, .gov and .edu websites.
You can use media, tools, and content structure to make your pages more useful and entertaining. This serves a major benefit.
These strategies keep users on your site longer and Google tracks time spent on your site as a factor.
It also helps you avoid a ‘bounce’ – when a user visits your site and leaves quickly – which is a negative ranking factor.
Use the following strategies:
Write short sentences
Use headings and bullet points to make your content easier to follow
If your page is very long, create a hyperlinked menu so users can pick and choose which sections to read without having to read
Add Google maps to your page
Add videos from your Youtube channel to your page (Google owns Youtube and prefers sites who display Youtube Videos)
Add visuals like images and infographics
Step 4 – Promote Your Content
This is the last leg of the race.
If you want to guarantee your pages will rank high, you want to promote your content and build relevant links from high-quality sources back to your pages.
Although backlinking isn’t the only SEO strategy you need in 2018, it’s still important
If you want high-quality links, you have to reach out to other websites and ask for them.
There are a few ways to find quality links.
Get Links from Your Competitors
You can enter your competitors’ website URLs into backlink research tools from companies like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEM rush. Find the websites who link to your competitors’ websites and present them your new, improved, 10x better version of content on the same subject.
A few of the sites you reach out to will link back to you.
You can repeat the process for each of the pages that rank on the first page.
Source Local Bloggers
You can reach out to local bloggers in the area and reach out to them.
Some good examples of types of local blogs you could reach out to:
You can reach out to each blog and attempt to get links in the following ways:
Find a related blog post and suggest one of your pages to link to as a bonus resource
Offer to write a guest post that relates to their blog topic and link it back to your website
Offer to pay for a sponsored post by the blogger themselves for a link back to your website
Use Google Alerts to Find Easy Linking Opportunities
Google Alerts is a tool you can use to get notifications whenever a site mentions a certain phrase.
You want to set Google alerts for your business time to get a link whenever someone mentions your business.
Also, you can enter some of your topics and related phrases. Whenever someone mentions the topics as part of their content, you can reach out with your useful resource to link to.
Promote Your Work On Social Media and Forums
You’ll want to share each piece of content you create on all your social media platforms. You can also use tools like Buffer to schedule multiple posts at once and share them repeatedly.
Find relevant forums surrounding your topic and post your content there as well.
Use Retargeting Facebook Ads to Follow Up With Visitors
If you install a tracking code on each of your ‘resource hub’ pages, individual topic pages, and blog posts, you can send them retargeting ads to bring them back to the site.
Step 5 – Wash, Rinse, Repeat
If you perform this process repeatedly you can start to rank for many topics and keywords in a matter of a few months.
If you continue to do it, your site will start to become more authoritative as a whole, making it possible for you to start ranking for competitive key phrases.
This strategy takes a lot of work. As a real estate business owner, you might not have the time to do it yourself.
That’s where our digital marketing agency comes in. We can implement the entire strategy we just showed you to help you dominate real estate SEO and SEM in your market and location.
Call us at 507-281-3490 or fill out this form and we’ll get back to you right away.
The process can be complex, but there are a few simple steps you must follow.
In today’s post, we’ll walk through each step and provide tips and insights you can use for your business right away.
Organic SEO Step 1: Keyword Research – What are people searching for?
If you’re like most people you get excited about a project and jump into it before doing all of the prep-work necessary to make it a success. The same rule applies to organic SEO. You need to do the right prep work before optimizing your website.
You need to first determine if:
people are actually searching for the phrase
how much competition you have for that chosen phrase.
Thankfully there are many tools to help you find great keyword information.
Say you are a website design company in Minneapolis, you probably want to people to find your website by searching “Minneapolis website design.”
Putting this phrase into Google AdWords returns some interesting data. The competition for that phrase is stated as “High” with around 5,000 searches a month. Competing for this phrase directly will take a considerable amount of time (and money).
What to Look For
Most businesses should look at the keyword ideas section and find keyword phrases that are either “Medium” or “Low” in the competition column. You can also take phrases from the keyword ideas section and add a geographic location to them, such as “corporate website design Minneapolis”. You can see that the competition drops considerably, however so does the number of searches. This is something in which you’ll have to weigh the return on investment.
These long-tail niche phrases can drive a considerable amount of traffic compared to the high-level key phrases and can be much easier to rank well with.
Before committing to a list of keywords for your website you should do some first-hand research and run the searches through Google to see who you are competing with online. Review their websites to see what they are doing in terms of keyword targeting, website structure, and on-site optimization to achieve the rankings.
After determining a list of phrases that fit your business you need to figure out how you want to work these keywords into your website content.
Each page of your website should cover a specific topic or keyword / key-phrase. Use natural language and sprinkle in the keyword. There’s no need to overdo it because Google wants you to write content for people, not search engines.
To recap, before optimizing your website you need to do some prep-work. Research your target keywords to see what the competition is and if people are actually searching for that phrase. Remember to be patient with your search engine results as they can take time to increase.
Organic SEO Step 2: Improve Your Website Structure
If you are starting with a brand new website, making sure you build your website with a friendly organic SEO structure. Make sure your code is clean and concise.
Google, just like people, will read and follow your thehttps://www.mltgroup.com/local-seo-services.php information on your website more often if the content is laid out in a straightforward manner.
An SEO friendly site structure follows a logical path and organization. From the main pages to sub-topics, and more, the site should be easy to navigate:
Your website should validate at W3C (http://validator.w3.org/) although this is not completely necessary for good rankings, it does help with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and ensuring your code is well formatted.
Give Your Webmaster These Guidelines
Finally, we come to the meat of the website, the body tag <body>…</body>. Between these two tags is what your visitors will see on screen. This is also where the majority of your on-site SEO will take place. In keeping with an organic SEO friendly architecture, your site should make proper use of the HTML tags.
Don’t build your website with tables. Instead, use div tags modified with CSS (CSS based layouts). Although tables can produce a similar result on screen as a CSS based layout, the code to create the same functionality with a table can be 3-4 times as large. Remember: the more code a page has the longer it will take to load, affecting its results in the search engines.
Organic SEO Step 3: Your On-Site Optimization
On-site optimization is still crucial to help search engines and people find your products and services. Think of it this way: if you don’t put the right information on your website how will the search engines know what you do?
Your on-site website optimization goes hand-in-hand with a search engine friendly website architecture. If your site has a poor architecture, your on-page efforts won’t work as well. There are a few HTML tags to optimize properly that is a must for every page on your website, they include the “title” tag, “meta description” tag and “h1” tag.I’ll go into detail about each one below.
Search engines use your title tag to understand what that specific page is about. The title tag shows up at the very top of your browser window. Having a well-written title tag should be common sense if you are wanting your page to come up for that keyword, however many people overlook this and leave the default “Untitled Page” text in it.
This is great if you want to rank for “untitled page” however I doubt that is what you want.
Here are a few title tag rules to follow:
First: Be Concise. You only have 70 characters that the search engines will respond to, so make them count.
Second: Include Your Keyword. I can’t stress this enough: if you want to come up for “blue rolling widgets”, by all means, put “blue rolling widgets” in your title tag.
Third: Include Synonyms. If people search for “blue rolling widgets” you can also try variations on those words such as “rolling widgets” “blue widgets” etc. Each of those is words that your potential customers may search for.
Fourth: Be Local. Local business should include their location. Most people that are searching for a local service or product will put in the region they want to find it in. Adding a local identifier to your title tag greatly increases your chances of getting found locally.
Fifth: Don’t Duplicate. If at all possible never duplicate a title tag on your website. This confuses the search engines when serving up searches to your website.
Meta Description Tag
You can find this tag in the head of the website. This tag doesn’t directly affect your page ranking, but you want to have a compelling title tag to get people to click through to your website.
Here are some good guidelines for writing meta descriptions:
First: Be Concise. Again you have a limited amount of characters to use, about 150 for the description tag.
Second: Be Informational. Be sure to describe what someone would see on the page. For our blue widget example above our meta description tag could look something like this: “Buy blue widgets from ABC company, a provider of blue widgets to Anytown USA since 1988”.
Third: Don’t Duplicate. If at all possible write a unique description tag for every page on your website. This helps to tell Google what each page is about and gives them the ability to offer your customers the correct information.
Organic SEO Headings
Think of the H1 tag like a chapter heading in a book. It tells you what the entire section is about. H2 – H6 tags are for sub-headings and breaking up content logically on the page. The H1 tag has similar power as the title tag in the ranking algorithms of Google and other search engines.
Check out our rules for writing great headings:
First: Only One Time. Each page on your site must contain only one H1 tag. Use sub-headings to give directions for sub-topics
Second: Be Concise. The H1 doesn’t have a limit, but people should easily be able to tell what the page is about by reading it
Third: Include Your Keyword
Fourth: Don’t Duplicate. This actually is important for two reasons, you don’t want to have the same H1 tag across multiple pages and you don’t want to just copy your web page title tag. The H1 tag should compliment your title tag.
So to recap, your on-site website optimization is a critical step in making sure you are well optimized. Having well-written title, description and H1 tags give Google a good understanding of what your website is about, making it easier for them to give your users the correct page on your website.
Organic SEO Step 4: Off-site Optimization
On-site optimization is done at the front-end of an SEO campaign. Off-site optimization moves you up the ranks.
While the off-site optimization can be the most difficult and tricky part of the search engine optimization campaign, I will help you through some of the most common issues.
Let’s discuss some techniques and tips on the best (and worst) off-site organic SEO tactics.
Most people think that a link exchange (where I put a link on my website to yours and you put a link on your website to mine) works well for improving SEO authority. They can be helpful if you’re getting a link from a well-respected site (ex: technorati.com).
However if both sites have a low page rank this can actually hurt as your links will “bleed page-rank”, basically meaning that you are passing page-rank from your site to someone else and canceling out the effect.
You want one-way incoming links to your website. These are much more effective because they tell Google “I am a good quality resource on this topic. Others have linked to me because of it.” The more one-way incoming links you can get to your site the better.
Poor Quality Links to Avoid
If you have been researching how to generate links back to your website you may have seen links or ads directory submission services. While you can get a ton of back-links to your site quickly, they are generally of lower quality and Google won’t pay as much attention to them.
If your link profile (the break down of links on your site) skews heavily towards the low-quality sites it will take considerably more links to compete with someone who has a better link profile.
Good Quality Back-links
A good quality back-link can be priceless to a search engine campaign. These high-quality back-links require work on your end to foster a relationship with the website owner. These types of links can come from industry-specific journals or blogs, distributors or educational resources. You generally cannot simply ask the website owner to link to you (unless you are a well-known company), you will need to become an active member on their website. Show that you are an expert in a field and you may receive a link.
Write GREAT Content
This goes without saying for anything you do online. Writing good quality content helps you gain links to your website. If you have a blog, people may put a link to it naturally on their site as your information explains a subject they reference. You can become a guest contributor on authority websites to build your influence and link back to your website. These websites are usually looking for great content and having an experts view on the topics they cover can give you a lot of exposure.
Social media and social networking is here to stay. Be sure that you fully utilize your online profiles. Be sure that what you are posting to these places is interesting and informative, not a sales pitch. Your social followers are much more fickle than the general website searcher as they are inviting you into their profile. Be respectful and don’t bombard them with posts. Unless your company has a lot of news, posting once a week or so would be ideal. You want to keep your users aware of your business but not get annoyed with you.
Press Releases and Articles
Both press releases and articles have their place in a well-rounded organic search engine optimization campaign. You can describe your company, services, and offerings all you want in them, just make sure it is newsworthy. Most press release services will charge a fee for submitting your release but for this fee, your press release is getting submitted to actual news organizations such as the AP, large market newspapers and high profile bloggers.
So to recap, your off-site optimization should be done on a consistent basis. Gathering a ton of back-links at once and then never looking at it again will give you a short boost but you won’t maintain your rankings. Always write good content. Be a good online neighbor and social friend. Link to people who you feel do a good job and you will tend to receive the same. As for social media don’t over post. You don’t want to be de-friended.
Organic SEO Step 5: Analytics (Measuring your results)
After you have made your website live the first thing you should to do is install Google Analytics www.google.com/analytics (or a similar program). I like Google Analytics for a few reasons. First, it’s completely free and second, you can gather a ton a data on the traffic to your website.
When you log into Google Analytics you’ll see a graph showing the traffic for each day. This is great to get a brief overview of how much traffic your website is receiving, but doesn’t give you a ton of data as to where people are coming from or what they are viewing.
Click on the Visitor’s Tab
This tab provides moredetail about your viewers on the site including the number of unique visitors, bounce rate, time on site and new visits. Each of these sections can be clicked on to get additional data.
Next, look at the Traffic Sources tab.
This tab gives me a quick overview of where people are coming to my site from, whether it be search engines, direct traffic or referring sites. As with the visitor’s tab you can click on each of the sections to gather more detail about each site or search engine. If you drill down into a specific website you can see how many visits came to your site for a particular day.
Last, let’s review the Content tab.
This section shows you the amount of traffic that each specific page on the site is driving. If you are using a landing page for an advertising campaign you can see from this section if your ads are working.
You can also see if people are not following to a certain point on your site, such as a check-out page. If your customers are not flowing to where you want them you may need to revise your on-site content to help drive them to the correct locations.
As you can see Google Analytics can supply a ton of information about your website. Even just scratching the surface you can gather powerful information about your company’s website and find places to make improvements. Google Analytics has a great help section as well if you have additional questions on what you are looking at.
You’ve learned the basic steps of creating a successful organic SEO campaign.
Now you have two choices.
One, try it out for yourself.
Two, work with an expert to get “done for you” results. If you want to try the latter, fill out the form below to get a free marketing proposal.
We’ll describe the techniques in a bit more depth soon, but SEO is the process of making changes to your website that make it more appealing to search engines. Also, it involves techniques used outside of your website to achieve the same goal.
Search engine marketing (SEM) includes SEO, but it encompasses other forms of marketing, most of which involve paying directly for website traffic.
There are many guides on SEM Vs SEO on the internet. Why did we decide to write one? We checked the results for the topic and noticed one key element missing.
Most companies don’t talk about the psychology of using these channels.
We understand business owners are human beings who want to see results. Not only should you know the difference between SEO and SEM, but you should also understand the type of mindset you’re going to need to have when using each channel. One favors patience. The other favors instant (but also more costly) rewards. Both work, but each has a different level of value depending on the industry and business owner.
Let’s dive into each type. By the end, you’ll know which route is best for you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO helps your site rank well on organic search results, like these:
How can you create a website Google loves?
You use the following techniques.
On Site SEO
On site SEO involves doing things on your website to help the search engine understand what it is about.
The first step involves researching the type of words people type into Google when looking for your product or service. This process can get complicated, but in short, it’s a combination of brainstorming and using tools that tell you how many people search for certain phrases each month,
Once you understand how people search for your type of business online, you can use that information to optimize your website.
You can optimize your website in the following ways:
Content – When you use the words people type into Google for your product or service — keywords — it lets the search engine know your page is about that topic.
Tags – There are sections in your website’s code where you can add these keywords to help the search engines get an even better understanding of your page
Links – Linking to a relevant source on another page of your website or another website is valuable because search engines use links as a vote of confidence to what you reference
These are just the basics, but they’re good to know for understanding the on-site process.
Technical SEO helps your site perform better.
See, the search engines don’t just want to see that your site has great information. They want to know you provide a good user experience.
Why? Because search engines care most about providing great results for real human beings.
If your site loads slowly, has sloppy code, broken links, isn’t secure, and is missing important data, search engines are much less likely to rank your website.
Technical SEO can get very in-depth, but here are the cliff notes:
Error pages – Error pages can pop up when you delete pages without redirecting them — telling the code that people who visit the deleted page should be forwarded to a new one. This happens often and can harm your SEO
Broken links – Broken links – links on your site that point to broken pages – can occur for the same reasons
Redirect chains – We won’t get in-depth on this topic, but you want to make sure to properly forward links of broken pages to other relevant ones
Load speed – You don’t want a slow website, period. It harms your chances of ranking well. If your site loads slowly, work with a webmaster to fix those issues
Again, there are many more technical SEO issues we can cover, but these are the core ones to know. Once your site is optimized and performing well, you can use off-site techniques to improve your chances of ranking even more.
Off Site SEO
You need to use off site SEO techniques to increase your site’s authority.
What does authority mean?
Search engines use links to your business’s website as a ‘vote’ for it’s quality. This makes sense. If many other websites link to yours you must have useful information on it.
They also use mentions of your business that aren’t linked. These are called citations.
Combined, getting both will help your website become more authoritative. The more authoritative your website and its individual pages, the higher — on average — you will rank on search engines.
You could write an entire book on link-building. There are an endless amount of tactics you can use to get links to your website. For your purposes, here’s what it’s important to know.
You want to get the right links. What are the right links? The right links are links from other authoritative websites that are related to your business.
Example, getting a link from a less authoritative but related website can and often will count more than getting a link from a more authoritative yet less related one.
We help our clients get back links by reaching out to related websites and telling them why our client’s website content makes sense to link to. That’s a simple way to explain a sometimes complex process we use.
A citation is anytime someone mentions your business online.
Someone posts a Facebook status about your company? It’s a citation.
You fill our your Yelp profile. It’s a citation
You become a member of your local chamber of commerce. You get it.
We help our clients build citations by finding relevant directories in their niche and submitting their sites for consideration.
The last two words are important.
When it comes to link building and citations, we reach out to other websites to consider linking to or citing your site. Getting the links or citations isn’t guaranteed. This is important because it’s the only way search engines can serve up good and honest results. If everyone was guaranteed these links and citations they would have no value.
This is the very small gist of the SEO process. For deeper insights you can check out these articles:
Either by yourself or working with a smart digital marketing agency, you can monitor the campaign and pretty much discover the direct ROI of your results:
You spend a certain amount on clicks
A certain number of those clicks become real leads
You close a certain number of those leads
If the profit you make from those leads is more than you spend, you’re happy
On top of Adwords, there are some other search engine marketing platforms you can use to spread your reach.
Google Display Network
The big difference between normal pay per click ads and display network ads is that display network ads appear not on search engine results pages, but other websites.
You might know them as “banner ads.”
Websites can participate in displaying these ads on their site through Google Adsense.
Other site owners participate in increasing the ads themselves through the display network.
Display network ads tend to have pretty low click-throughs (do you click on them?) but they can be useful if you’re creative with them and use them to share valuable information as opposed to trying to sell with them.
Some business owners see content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) as two separate techniques that may or may not be used together. It’s no surprise as to why; business experts have long pitted the two marketing techniques against each other, trying to determine which is superior. We’re here to tell you that not only are SEO and content marketing both essential to your overall marketing strategy, but these two techniques actually work hand in hand.
Today, we’re going to dispel the myth of SEO vs. content marketing and show you how the two techniques work together to help you gain visibility, improve your rankings, and market to your target audience.
Here are three reasons you should integrate your SEO and content marketing strategies.
1. They Overlap:
SEO is typically defined as specific, keyphrase-based marketing, whereas content marketing addresses broader concepts and ideas.
Although these are different techniques, they overlap in many ways. Think of it as SEO and content marketing having a “conversation” with one another. SEO requires certain things like using keyphrases and content. Content marketing meets these requirements. For example, you’re trying to rank for the keyphrase “custom flower bouquets.” To fulfill this part of your SEO strategy, you need original content that uses the keyphrase. Like a team, SEO states what is needed while content marketing delivers, both techniques complimenting each other.
2. Gain Backlinks:
Part of your SEO strategy should be getting quality backlinks. How do you get backlinks? Have great content other sites want to link to! Whether it be another industry leader linking to your blog or a visitor linking to your service page, backlinks can give your site a great SEO boost. But without engaging, useful content, you won’t get the backlinks you need.
3. Maintain Consistency:
To be effective, both SEO and content marketing require consistency. Just like you can’t set up your business and let it run itself, your SEO and content marketing strategies require consistent maintenance and engagement. Search engines like Google want to see your site is active with frequent updates, new content, and growth. Just another way that these two marketing techniques work hand in hand.
If you haven’t integrated your SEO and content marketing strategies, there’s no doubt your business will suffer. When working together, these marketing strategies can achieve maximum impact.
Ready to take your SEO and content marketing strategies to the next level? The professionals at MLT Group are here to help. With extensive experience in SEO, content marketing, SEM, and a dedicated team, we can create and implement an integrated strategy that helps your business achieve its goals. Give us a call at 507.281.3490 or email our team at email@example.com today!
Above all else, SEO is a tool to grow your business.
When you put your business in front of people who are interested in your product or services, you’ll get more engagement, leads, and sales. It makes sense, right? Think of your behavior on Google. You use it constantly and it often leads to purchasing decisions.
You look something up, find the result that seems to match what you want (usually in the top three results), then you visit the page to see if the information is a right fit.
Sometimes it is. And sometimes it isn’t.
Maybe the site you visit loads too slowly and you don’t want to wait.
Perhaps the site looks unappealing and unprofessional so you don’t trust the business.
Maybe you land on the website and can’t find the information you’re looking for.
Now, think about a search result that does meet your standards. The site probably loads quickly, has a professional design with interesting media, and gets you the exact information you need.
A Minneapolis SEO expert looks at SEO services from every angle — not just the technical stuff — and focuses on the end result first.
It’s easy to throw around jargon like rankings, traffic, and conversions. It’s harder (but more beneficial) to understand the goals and target audience of your Minneapolis business then craft an SEO strategy around their needs.
At MLT Group, this is exactly how we perform SEO.
How Can You Tell You’re Working With a Minneapolis SEO Expert?
Here’s your first clue…
You found us by Googling “Minneapolis SEO expert” or something similar. As the famous saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.”
Seriously though, we understand your concerns when it comes to SEO services.
You might know a little bit about SEO services, but you’re not an expert. You need to be able to understand the services you’re getting and how they benefit you. There are a lot of Minneapolis SEOs out there, meaning that some will be better than others. How will you know which one to choose?
A good digital marketing agency can easily describe it services and help you understand the process from start to finish.
Continue reading, decide if we’ve done that or not, and you’ll know the answer.
The Exact Breakdown of the SEO Services We Provide
There are many factors that determine where your website appears on Google. Some experts say there are up to 200!
Let’s break down the main factors that affect your site’s ranking on Google and discuss how our services can help.
Research is the first step to a successful SEO campaign.
You need to know what people are searching for online. You need to know which key phrases — terms people type into Google — drive the most traffic.
After compiling data, you have to decide which key phrases work best for your business based on a number of factors:
Relevance– A key phrase with high monthly traffic but low relevance — meaning it doesn’t describe your business well — won’t work for your business
Competition – Based on the authority of your site, you must determine which phrases make sense to target at different stages of your campaign
Intent – Different key phrases have different intent and represent different stages of awareness, e.g., “shoes for sale” and “price for red Nike Air Jordans size 12”
At MLT Group, we use the following techniques and tools to find the right key phrases for your business.
We Talk to You
It’s a mistake to jump in and start working on your SEO campaign without understanding your business first. Before we begin any research, we’ll sit down with you to discuss the aspects of your business that will dictate the type of campaign we create.
We’ll ask you questions like:
What are the goals for your business in the next 6-12 months?
Who are your customers? What are their demographics? How do you acquire them? What makes them tick? Where do they hangout online?
Who are your main competitors?
What’s the geographic service area for your business? (This is key for Local SEO)
What are your services and how do you prioritize them?
What does a successful campaign look like to you?
And much more.
Knowing these key details helps us achieve the stated goal above – using SEO services as a tool to grow your business. These details are much more important than metrics.
This process begins before you decide to work with us, too.
We provide a free site audit that tells you everything you need to know about your websites SEO performance, we’ll talk to you about your business, then we’ll see if our services are a good fit for both of us.
We’re in business to make revenue, of course, but it matters much more to us to first find out if and how we can help you. We don’t use pressure tactics because we’re genuinely curious about you and your company first and foremost.
Sound good? If so, go ahead and fill out this form right now and we’ll start the free audit process right away:
Did you know there are tools that tell you exactly what key phrases your competition ranks for, how much traffic they receive, and the links pointing to their website?
With the help of tools like Ahrefs and Moz, we can discover all the above. Once we compile the data, we can create a strategy to emulate what they’re doing well and find the opportunities they missed.
This will help you rank above your competition. b gyg
Competitor research is one facet of the key word research we perform.
What is key word research? It’s the brainstorming process of finding which words people use to search for your product or service online.
We use tools and techniques to decide what content to create, in what order we should create it, and the exact steps required to make website pages that Google loves.
When you work with us, you’ll get an easy to understand report that gives you the ‘why’ behind our strategy and allows you to make informed decisions when you weight in on the campaign.
After we create your SEO strategy, we’ll use the following techniques to help rank your business on Google.
On Site Search Engine Optimization
Google uses an algorithm — a fancy math equation — that programs ‘crawlers’ (think robots) to index information across the web and decide which pages to rank above others based on a number of factors.
The higher you rank, the more people view and visit your website.
While smart, the bots can’t quite decipher content at a human’s level (although they continue to get closer), so they use certain identifiers to understand the sites they visit.
Let’s walk through each section of a perfectly optimized web page.
It’s been said many times before — content is king. First and foremost, you want your site content to be useful and deliver the type of information the user expects.
Back in the day, you could get away with adding lots of keywords to your content, regardless of how well they fit or how useful the page was. Not anymore. Thanks to the Penguin update, sites that rank on Google must have content that meets the users needs.
We take our research and use it to create content both readers and search engines love.
When creating content for your site, we use these key techniques:
Add your key phrase early in the content (first page or paragraph)
Use your key phrase a few times in the content (but don’t overdo it)
Add related key words to give more context to the crawlers
If your business targets a geographic location, we make sure to mention it in your content and tags (good for Local SEO)
We provide as much depth as needed, add useful content like media when it applies, and focus on providing a great user experience.
This is important. Too often, SEOs will create content just for search engines. This makes for robotic writing that doesn’t provide value for the reader. Out of any strategy we use, writing for your readers first is the number one strategy.
Google keeps a tight lock and key on their algorithm and smart marketers have to make educated guesses about what works. When Google does state something officially, though, you must take it into account.
Look at Google’s main recommendation — straight from the horse’s mouth — here:
Next, consider the way we’re talking to you right now.
Does it sound like a sales pitch?
Is it using a bunch of unnecessary jargon and metrics that confuse you?
No to both. As best we can, we’re explaining our services in-depth, helping you make a smart decision, and talking to you like a regular human being.
That’s all you need to do to create great SEO content and that’s what we’ll help you do if you work with us.
At MLT Group, we have a staff of dozens of writers with experience in many niches. We’ll work with you to create SEO content that reflects your business and makes visitors want to engage and ultimately buy.
Each page on your website has a space in the code to enter a tag that tells the crawlers what your page is about. You’re only allowed a certain number of characters per tag, so it’s important to put the right key phrases in the tag.
Here’s an example of a Title Tag as it appears on a search engine results page (SERP) that appears after you search something on Google:
Your meta description also shows up on the SERP and it’s a key factor in optimizing your page, but not for the reason you’d think.
There’s a persistent SEO myth that Google takes the keywords you use in your meta description into account as a ranking factor. It doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean your description isn’t important.
This is where SEO with business strategy in mind comes into play.
Your meta description should be treated like an irresistible advertisement for your business that gets people to click through to your website.
Add special offers (if you have any) to your description
Study the descriptions of paid ads (these appear at the top of SERPS and will have an [ad] tag next to them). Why do this? People who spend money on ads are going to take the time to make sure they’re compelling.
Create a strong call to action (CTA) to entice them to click through, e.g., “get your free no-obligation website audit today “
Metas are important for two reasons.
First, of course, you want people who find your site on Google to click through to it.
Second, Google uses click through as a ranking factor to decide the order in which pages appear.
They do this because Google is interested in providing the best results for users.
Here’s a good example to illustrate:
Let’s say the number two result has a more compelling description — meaning more people are clicking through — than the top result.
Why continue to display the top result at the top if user behavior shows people like the number two result more? It makes sense to switch them.
Thanks to one of Google’s recent updates, Rank Brain, this is exactly what’s happening.
An aside on Google’s continued updates: while industry standard techniques still work great for SEO, Google is trending towards serving up the best content.
This means your business can compete with more — technically — authoritative websites if you create the most compelling content possible.
A smart agency goes above the standard techniques alone and focuses on every aspect of promoting a business.
That provides an added benefit, too. Being persuasive, compelling, and informative isn’t just good for SEO, it’s good for business period.
Alt tags are pieces of code that describe images.
The site crawlers can’t look at an image, per se, so they need a little help. Your alt tag provides a spot to tell the crawler what the photo is about, which gives you additional SEO credit.
Using the right keywords in your headings helps the crawlers know more about your page. The more the crawler knows about the page, the more likely it is to rank it.
Headings also help organize information and keeps pages from looking boring and tedious from having large blocks of text.
Good headings provide an SEO benefit in another way, too. Google tracks how long people stay on your website. They figure if people stay on your site for a while, you must have great information.
It also tracks ‘bounces’ which means people visit your site and click back out of it immediately.
Which type of page is likely to keep you reading longer — one with organized headings that help you find the information you need or a giant wall of text that looks like it will take a ton of effort to understand?
On each page of your site, you want to link to other relevant and related pages on your website. This sentence is an example of an internal link.
Linking to other pages on your site is important. When a crawler visits your site, it uses links to find more relevant pages.
Done incorrectly, and the crawlers might miss important information on your site, fail to index it, which means those pages won’t rank on Google.
Your page url is the link that shows up in your web browser:
The url for this blog post is – https://www.mltgroup.com/blog/minneapolis-seo-expert
This link has good structure for SEO because:
It uses the target keyword we are trying to rank the page for
It tells the user what the page is about (this is important because it appears on the SERP as well)
It’s concise – long URLs that don’t describe the topic are bad for SEO
When creating URLs for our client’s site, we keep these items in mind, e.g., creating a link like http://multisourcemfg.com/services/cnc-machining/ (this is a term people in the target audience understand.
Additional On-Site Optimization Techniques
These items are also key for creating an optimized page:
Optimize for loading speed — Google doesn’t like to rank slow loading pages
Save image files under names with key phrases, e.g., Minneapolis SEO Expert.jpg — This aids the alt tag
It means you want other people to visit that page or reference it. If you want other people to visit the page, the page must have important and useful information.
To this day, the number and quality of links pointing to a page on your website is one of the top factors that determine where your site appears on Google.
Each time a website links to yours, it’s like a ‘vote’ telling the search engines your site is worth visiting.
This is where link building comes in.
We help you get more links to your website to give your site more authority.
We achieve this in a few ways.
Create Content Assets
If you create great content, people will naturally want to link to it and use it as a resource. As we’ll explain below, there’s leg-work that goes into finding sites that want to link to you.
Before that, though, you must make sure the pages on your site are worth linking to.
We use the techniques we described above to make pages worth visiting, thus worth linking to.
Buying links from spammy site directories no longer works.
You can, however, get good links from finding quality directories.
What makes a directory quality:
Manual review – A good directory has people who will actually look at your page to determine if it’s worth linking to. Spammy ‘pay to play’ directories don’t have these quality controls.
Relevance – A spammy directory will often feature your business next to something completely unrelated like a gambling website. Good directories are either industry based, e.g. a trucking company association, or location-based, e.g. a local chamber of commerce
We find directories that feature businesses from your industry. We submit your site for consideration, they review the quality of your site and post the link if it meets their standards.
Often, there are related sites who would link to you if they knew who you were and you had content worth sharing.
We offer outreach services to gain links to the content we create for you.
How does this work? We will reach out to other related businesses on your behalf and send them a pitch on why your content is worthing linking to and how linking to it will benefit their site.
For example, we may share an informative article on fire damage restoration with an insurance company. This gives them a useful and relevant resource their clients might need.
The benefit for them is that they don’t have to spend time creating content themselves.
Our outreach process might include other strategies like reaching out to journalists looking for an expert’s opinion about your industry or offering to create a guest blog post for a related business in exchange for a link.
Linked gained through outreach are the highest quality because they take real effort and relationship building to get.
If you decide to work with us, you’ll receive a report showing you exactly how many backlinks your site is getting with details on how they’ve affected your site’s performance.
If your business has been around for a while, information about it will start to populate the web.
Some directories will create pages for your company without asking you.
Actually, this happens often.
Here’s where this can turn into a problem.
Information about your business will change over time. You might move locations, change your phone number, change your hours, change your website’s URL, create & delete social media profiles, etc.
If these changes aren’t monitored, you can have inconsistent information displaying online, which has a negative impact on your SEO.
This is especially important for Local SEO because the search engines track the consistency and uniformity of your business information online. Mainly, the name, address, and phone number of your business (NAP).
Again take Google’s thought process into account. If your NAP information is inconsistent, why would Google want to rank your website?
This would confuse searchers, which is the opposite of what the search engines want.
Also, consider the impacts an inconsistent profile has on your business.
How does your brand look if someone searches for your business online, calls the provided phone number, and gets a disconnected message?
They’re probably not going to keep digging to find the right information. They will look for another company.
In addition to hurting your brand reputation, an inconsistent profile will literally cause you to miss out on potential sales. No good.
Here’s how our online identity services work and why they’ll benefit your business.
We will add your correct NAP into major businesses directory aggregators like Localeze and FourSquare.
These larger directories populate information on smaller directories, helping you create a consistent profile across the web.
We also monitor the overall health score of your online identity profile and make sure to find unclaimed listings, duplicate profiles, and listings with the wrong information.
Remember when we told you links back to your website count as a “vote” for the quality of your business and its content?
There’s another type of “vote” we help you build called a citation.
You earn a citation anytime your business is mentioned online, regardless of whether or not it’s in the form of a link (although certain citations provide links).
Citations can come in the form of social media mentions, reviews, and listings on directories (although the large aggregators find directories and build citations, there are always more to find and claim).
We help you build citations for your business by reaching out to relevant areas online and promoting your business to earn these important relevance signals.
Citation building is also the cornerstone of a solid local SEO strategy.
These citations help you show up in the ‘map pack’ which are those prominent map-based listings you often see on the SERP (example below):
Citation building and link building creates a potent combination to help rank your business online.
We won’t dive into a ton of details here because technical SEO can be very complicated.
Here’s the short version.
Your site performance affects your SEO. A site with performance issues will hamper an SEO campaign even if you do everything else right.
If you work with us, we’ll monitor your site for factors including but not limited to:
Broken links – Broken links — links that point to an expired page — hurt your user experience, which hurts your SEO. We have tools to check and fix those links.
Redirects – Anytime you remove a page from your site or change the URL, you must redirect the old URL to a new one because if you don’t, your page will show an error message called a 404
Loading speed – The way you add images and media to your pages, structure the code, and develop a site architecture can all impact how fast your site loads. We work to keep your websites loading as quickly as possible.
Simple Reporting to Help You Understand Your SEO Campaign Performance
SEO can get confusing … fast.
This is why we try to share the performance of your campaign in the simplest way possible.
We do this because we know you don’t have time to become an SEO expert. You need to work on your business.
We also know that, although many factors and metrics contribute to SEO, you want to understand a few key things about your campaign and you want to know that it’s working.
Our reports include easy to understand information like:
How many people are visiting your site through Google and whether that number is increasing or decreasing over time and by how much?
How many leads you receive directly from Google searches, e.g., phone calls and contact form submissions
Where your website is ranking for important key terms related to your business
Simple reporting helps you understand if our campaign is helping you reach your business goals, which is the only real metric that matters.
You’ll receive automated messages each month and a more in-depth report for each quarter.
After you receive your quarterly report, we’ll schedule a phone or in person, meeting to review it, help you understand it, and answer your questions.
While in-depth, this guide shares exactly what we do, how we do it, and why our services will benefit your business.
Why pull back the curtain and show you our techniques? Because we believe transparency is vital.
You need to be able to understand our services.
You need to work with a company you can trust, not because we say we’re trustworthy, but because we plainly and simply show you how trustworthy we are.
We love helping business owners because we’re passionate businesses owners ourselves.
SEO is one of the best marketing techniques you can use for your business and educating our clients while helping them not only builds stronger businesses, but stronger business owners too.
Your business is successful because you’re in expert in your field. That’s why you went looking for another expert to help you with your online marketing.
Meet with us and you won’t have to wonder if we’re Minneapolis SEO experts, we’ll demonstrate it for you in a way that’s undeniable.
That’s a bold claim, but we’re a bold company who stands behind our work. Connect with us and you’ll see.
You’re at the end of a 4,000 + word guide because you’re interested and curious.
Here’s what you do next. Fill out this form below, receive a free audit in the next 48 hours, and see the expertise for yourself.
See you on the other side. We can’t wait to connect with you.
E-commerce marketing can do wonders for your business. With the right strategies, you can engage people who are interested in your products, build a base of loyal customers, and grow your influence to reach every corner of your market.
In today’s post, we’re going to teach you different e-commerce marketing strategies ranging from SEO tips, content marketing, social media marketing and more.
If you use just one of these strategies, you’ll see results that can help you grow your brand and your bottom line. Before we dive into the tips, let’s talk about the unique power of e-commerce businesses.
Why E-Commerce Businesses Are The Future
The internet has changed the way people buy and the benefits of e-commerce businesses are impossible to deny.
Here is a short list of benefits e-commerce businesses provide their users:
Convenience – You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to purchase from an e-commerce store
Speed – Most e-commerce businesses offer fast shipping. Just look at Amazon, who’s gone so far as to test ’30 minute drone deliveries’
Options – When shopping online, you can hand pick the products you want without ever having to visit a store and you can compare prices between different businesses without having to visit them
There are numbers to shed light on the shift in markets too:
In 2017, e-commerce was responsible for around $2.3 trillion in sales and is expected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021
As you can see in this graph from the Census Bureau, e-commerce market share is steadily rising:
It’s unlikely that retail will disappear, but it’s obvious the internet is here to stay.
If you’re an e-commerce business owner, providing a great user experience and solid marketing strategies allows you to reach a larger audience than you ever could with a physical location.
As an e-commerce business owner, you’re already sold on the power of the internet. For those who have the potential to move into e-commerce, but haven’t yet, consider how you can market and sell your products online to keep pace with the changing trends for the future.
SEO works well for e-commerce businesses who do it right. Just take a look at this search engine results page for the phrase “green tea for sale.”
Each page that appears in this picture represents an organic search result. Organic means the businesses achieved these results without using paid advertisements. That’s the beauty of SEO — you can achieve results through effort and sound strategies alone.
These e-commerce SEO strategies will help you rank your business on Google and put it in front of buyers looking for your product.
Here are the e-commerce SEO strategies you must use to succeed.
Optimize All Site Pages
The most important pages on an e-commerce website are it’s category pages, product pages, and blog poss.
You want to optimize your pages using the following techniques:
Use key phrases in your page titles
Use key phrases in your meta description
Place key phrases in your content
Optimize images by placing key phrases in their ‘alt tags’
Make sure your content length meets SEO standards
Add media to your pages like pictures, infographics, and videos
Here’s a great example of an optimized e-commerce website.
Cup & Leafs E-Commerce Product Page SEO Analyzed
The Cup & Leaf blog sells tea products. When you visit one of their product pages you’ll see organized information that also serves an SEO purpose.
Most product pages use the product name in the title. In this example, you’ll see an optimized key phrase as the product title:
When you scroll down, you’ll see a product description that’s optimized but also very informative and persuasive to customers (key phrase highlighted in red):
The content is in-depth, but not overwhelming. It uses key phrases but doesn’t stuff them in the content. It’s informative, describes benefits, and cites reputable sources.
It takes time, but providing on page SEO to each of your products will help them rank on search engines.
Cup & Leafs SEO Content Analyzed
The Cup & leaf blog uses content marketing and SEO through their blog. When you look at their blog page, you’ll see posts with titles that match topics tea lovers might type into Google:
Each blog post has optimized content, but also provides useful and relevant information for readers. This is key because content marketing and SEO are more about making users happy than search engines. Typical optimization doesn’t work anymore. The search engines are ranking content that’s useful for readers. It’s now their number one priority:
Notice the techniques used here:
Optimized page title
Key phrase in the first sentence of the content
Internal & outbound links
Imagine you’re a tea lover who searches for tips on making great tea. You land on this page and read articles giving you the exact information you’re looking for. Then, when you read the post, it ends with a call to action to check out the company’s products.
This is exactly what Cup & Leaf does.
At the end of one of their posts, you see a call to action to buy their products at a discount:
The owner of the company — content marketing expert Nat Elision — shares the entire SEO & content strategy he used to start the company in this guide.
Highlights from the post:
Research topics – using tools like ahrefs, the Google keyword planner, and more, you can perform keyword research to find topics with traffic volume.
Design the blog to drive sales – each post has a call to action to enjoy a discount or try related products
Gain product reviews – this increases social proof and is a positive ranking factor for SEO
Write long-form content – long-form content is a positive ranking factor.
With a sound SEO strategy employed, you can use more e-commerce marketing techniques to build awareness for your company and ultimately drive leads and sales.
Use the Following E-Commerce Content Marketing Strategies
Content marketing works especially well for e-commerce businesses. To have an effective content marketing campaign, you need to understand the full breadth of the phrase.
Check out this definition of content marketing from the content marketing institute:
Content comes in many forms, including but not limited to:
Written content – pages and blog posts
Photos & infographics
Let’s walk through examples of different types of content marketing and discuss what they do well.
We discussed SEO and content marketing for e-commerce businesses already, but it’s important to know the details of running a successful content marketing campaign. Here are some need to know items.
When you do the right research, you can create a strategy that targets the right customers and creates the types of content they want to read.
You can use keyword research — a staple of SEO — to discover topics people are actively searching for.
Check out our guide to keyword research for more detail.
You can also research what your competitors are doing well to create better content and use strategies like link-building to leapfrog them in search.
Here’s an example. Using the Ahrefs tool, you can discover a lot of useful information about a competitor. Sticking with our tea example, I found a tea company and looked for search data:
In the organic keywords section of the tool, you can see the keywords that get the most traffic and links to the pages receiving the traffic:
Then going into the individual pages, you can see where they’re gaining links from, as well as important metrics to know like site authority, the number of backlinks, and the phrases the single page ranks for:
Using the ahrefs keyword analyzer tool, I can estimate the number of links I need to build to the page:
Next, I’d create a piece of content about chai tea lattes and make it more detailed entertaining and informative than the competitor’s post.
Then, I’d build links to the page by sharing the content with people who are likely to link back to the page. This is known as the skyscraper technique.
You can also leverage reviews to discover what your customers like and dislike about your type of product. Check out this review on Amazon for a green tea product:
Using these insights, I make create content discussing both the quality and cost-effectiveness of my product.
Question and answer sites like Quora provide useful information as well. I typed in “chai tea” on Quora and got the result:
Knowing people want to know the difference between masala and chai tea, I could create content on this topic. My result may even show up in a cool Google snippet like this one:
Once you have solid e-commerce marketing research you can implement your campaign.
It’s important to know your target audience, goals, and key performance metrics before you begin creating content.
You also want to create a content calendar with topics you want to write about and block out time to create content.
If you’re an e-commerce business owner, you might not have time to create the content yourself. This is where a digital marketing agency can come in handy.
At MLT Group we have the staff, resources, and creativity to create a content marketing campaign for your business.
If you’re interested in a done for you e-commerce marketing strategy, fill out the form below for a free audit:
Video content marketing has grown in popularity in recent years.
When it comes to maintaining your business’ website, you probably think of updating information, pictures, and managing your SEO and advertising efforts. But there’s another important element you’re forgetting— a blog.
Blogs are an often underutilized business tool. There are a number of hidden benefits to blogs beyond promoting your business, and if you’re not taking advantage of them, your business can fall behind the competition. Let’s take a look at what a blog can do for your small business.
Help build a relationship between your business and consumers
Blogs give you a great opportunity to connect with potential customers. They are a voice for your business when your sales staff can’t be there, telling customers what you stand for, what services you offer, and developing your business’ persona.
Help your site rank on search engines
When you type in a search on Google, their bots crawl around the web looking for sites that are relevant to the inquiry. One way bots evaluate sites is through keyphrases and geotargets. If someone searches for “floral arrangements in Minneapolis,” and you have a few blogs that highlight floral arrangements in that location, the bots will view your site as relevant, placing it higher in the search rankings. Bots also look for websites that are frequently updated with new, quality content. Blogs allow you to do this with ease. Even posting once a month lets bots know that your website is active.
Blogs work, even when you can’t
You can’t be promoting your business, interacting with customers, and boosting SEO 24/7. Blogs can. There are no expiration dates on blogs, so even blogs published months ago are still working for your business. Also, each new blog builds on those previously published, so the longer you consistently post for your business, the greater the benefits.
Build authority for your business
If a stranger walked up to you and claimed that they were a hairstylist, would you let them cut your hair? You’d probably want some proof of skill first. This is what blogs can do for your business. With plenty of competition claiming that they are experts in your industry, blogs give you an edge by allowing you to show off your expertise to potential clients.
Provide Content for Social Media
Creating fresh content for your business’ social media profiles can be time consuming. However, your blog is a great source to draw from. You can easily have blogs auto-publish to Facebook or Twitter, or manually share them. This exposes your content to a larger audience and allows you to get more mileage out of one piece of content.
In business, you need every advantage to rise above the competition. Utilizing blogs for your website is a great way to gain an edge. If you’re looking to improve your site’s rankings, engagement, and authority, MLT Group is here to help, offering a number of SEO services, including blog writing. For a FREE consultation, contact the professionals at MLT Group at 507-281-3490 or firstname.lastname@example.org.