What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the name given to the activity that attempts to improve search engine rankings by driving targeted traffic to your website. Common tasks associated with SEO include creating high-quality content, optimizing content around specific keywords and building backlinks.

Search engines want to provide the best for their users so they not only deliver search results on pages that are high quality but also relevant to what searchers are looking for. Search engines will scan websites to learn what they are about which helps deliver more relevant results to those who are searching for specific keywords or topics.

What goes into SEO?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your site through organic search engine results. SEO involves making changes to your website design and site content to make it more attractive to a search engine. 

To understand the true meaning of SEO, let’s break down the three main parts:

Quality of Traffic

The quality of traffic directed to your site is of the utmost importance. Your site can attract numerous visitors, but the only views that matter are the visitors that are genuinely interested in products or services that your business offers.

Quantity of Traffic

Once you have the right people clicking through to your site from search engine results pages, the more traffic the better.

Organic Results

Ad’s make up a significant portion of many search engine results pages. Organic search traffic is any traffic directed to your website that you don’t have to pay for.

 

Favoring quality over quantity in building your content will result in more clients!

Factors That Impact SEO

Now that you know what SEO is, let’s take a look at some of the factors that can impact your website’s ranking. The factors that impact search engine results pages include both on-page and off-page factors, that will be discussed in further detail below.

Content Marketing

Before we dive into on and off page factors, let’s discuss content. The type of content produced is effective in attracting the search engines and making connections with site visitors.

The more relevant, higher quality content pieces that you have on your site, the more likely search engines will rank your site higher on search engine results pages. Creating content that is engaging to visitors will most likely have them spending quality time on your site.

The key to creating content that is optimized for both search engines and your site visitors is to have a variety of content pieces that are most relevant to your audience. 

Here are a few different types of content that can be added to your site to help improve your search engine rankings:

  • Informative videos
  • Blog Posts
  • How-to guides
  • Social media content
  • Infographics/visual content

Something else to consider when creating SEO content for your site is keywords and phrases. These are relevant combinations of words and phrases that a user can type into a search engine to find answers to their questions or more information on products or services. Creating content around these keywords and phrases will improve your chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages.

Creating brand new, fresh content is another factor that can impact your search engine ranking. Frequently posting new content to your site, updating posts, and adding new information are all ways to keep your content fresh. 

On-Page SEO

On page seo factors all have to do with the elements of your own website, which are things you have complete control over. You can work to improve these factors over time by optimizing both the content and HTML source code of a page. 

Here are some on-page SEO factors that can help improve your search ranking:

Title Tag 

The most important of all tags on your page is the title tag. The title tag outlines what the page is about; it is what users see on the search engine results pages, and also the words that appear at the top of each tab in your browser. 

Meta Description

The meta description tells search engines and helps visitors understand what your site is all about. A well written meta description can create a higher click-through rate with a greater chance of conversions, generating a competitive advantage.

Heading Tags 

Headings can be used to represent different sections on your page and should include multiple tags. H1 is the most important tag on the page and you should never have more than one. You can include multiple subheadings; h2’s or h3’s as users scroll down the page to represent different sections. 

Image Name & ALT Tags

When using images on your website, make sure to include your keyword in the image name or ALT tag. This will help search engines better index your images and can appear when users search for images with that certain keyword.

Internal Links

Building internal links to other content on your website can help search engines learn a lot more about your site. An internal link is a link from one page to another page on the same domain. Internal linking aids in website navigation, defines the architecture and hierarchy of a website, and distributes page authority and ranking power throughout the site.

Off-page SEO

In addition to on-page SEO factors that you have control of, there are also off-page SEO factors that can impact your ranking. You cannot directly impact these off page factors, but there are ways that you can improve the chances of these working out in your favor.

Here are some off-page SEO factors that can help improve your search ranking:

Backlinks

Having high quality backlinks to your site is one of the most important factors of off-page SEO. You can get backlinks to your site by guest posting or blogging, social media activity, influencer marketing, and simply creating high-quality, shareable content on a regular basis. 

Social Activity

Social signals such as likes and shares are another important factor of off-page SEO. Receiving quality shares from influencers is a great way to boost SEO. The more creative, relevant content you post to your site will result in the likeliness of people sharing your content with others.

 

If you would like help with your SEO plan, please contact IFTS for your free one hour consultation.
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How to Respond to Online Reviews

Did you know that when it comes to choosing a local business, 91% of people will read online reviews?*  In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or colleague.**

Having online reviews is VERY important for your business.  However, there is a second step that is often forgotten. You need to respond to these reviews as well.

Responding to reviews can benefit your company in many ways:
  • It shows that you care about your clients and that you are appreciative of their time
  • Google looks favorably upon companies that take the time to respond to reviews
  • Businesses that respond to reviews actually earn up to 49% more than businesses that do not according to a recent study by Womply***

If you are not responding to your online reviews, you should definitely start!

When it comes to receiving online reviews, there are 3 distinct outcomes

  1. You receive a positive review
  2. You receive a negative review
  3. You receive a fake review

This article will go over what to do in all three cases.

Case 1 – How to respond when your business receives a positive online review.

If you receive a 4 or 5 star online review, thank the person that left it.  It’s that easy!

A few rules for these positive responses:

  • Don’t use the same “Thank you” wording every time
  • Make sure to respond within one week
  • Try to include their name or their company’s name within your response
  • BONUS POINTS: If they mention something specific about your business that they like, mention that in your response.  As an example, if they say “I really enjoyed working with ABC moving company. They packed everything up and had it in my new house in under a day!”  Your reply could be “Thank you, [person’s name]. We pride ourselves on our quick turnaround guarantee”.

Here’s a list of sample replies that are short, sweet and work great. Feel free to use them for your own responses:

  • Thank you, [name].  We always try to be available to our clients!
  • [Name], we really appreciate you taking the time to review [business name].  Thank you for the review.
  • We really enjoyed working with you, [name].  Thank you for the review!
  • We appreciate the review, thank you!  [Company name] enjoys working with you on your [business type] needs, [name].
  • Thank you for taking the time to leave us a review, we really appreciate it.  We strive to provide excellent [service] to all of our customers!
  • [Name], thank you for the review.
  • We really appreciate feedback from all of our clients.  Thank you, [name], for taking the time to review our [agency/company/business].
  • Hi [Name], thank you for taking the time to leave a review!  We like making working with us as easy as possible.

Case 2 – How to respond when your business receives a negative online review.

When you receive a negative review, a normal response is to get angry or defensive.  However, don’t let those feelings be reflected in your response. You do not want to seem overly emotional.  In fact, sometimes it is a good idea to have someone else help you craft a response or to sleep on it for a day.  You do want to be sure to respond within one week so it does not appear like you are ignoring the bad review.

When writing back, don’t be emotional and stick to the facts.  Apologize for the situation, but don’t take the blame. You can say “I’m sorry for the experience that you had” or “I apologize that you feel that way”.  Then, offer to discuss that matter offline – either in person or via phone. Sometimes, this conversation can turn that one star into five.

Make sure to keep the response succinct and to the point.  Remember, you are responding not only for the person that left the review, but you are showing prospects that you care about the client experience.

Don’t freak out about one or two bad reviews.  Most consumers don’t expect to see a perfect score.

If you do receive a bad review, respond accordingly.  Then, to offset it, contact 3 clients personally that you know will give you a good review.  Once they leave their reviews, your average will be back up again because:

1 star + 5 stars + 5 stars + 5 stars = 16 stars / 4 reviews = 4.0 average rating

Case 3 – How to respond when your business receives a false online review.

If your company receives a false online review, whether it is accidental or malicious, there are a few things that you can do.

If you have definitive proof that the review is false, you can report the review to the site that it was left on.  Here are the links for how to report a false review:

Google – https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en

Yelp – https://www.yelp-support.com/article/Will-Yelp-remove-a-false-or-defamatory-review?l=en_US

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/help/439579999521224/

However, this reporting process is not always timely or smooth.  The review sites tend to side with the reviewer, so your proof must be indisputable.

To combat the review immediately, you will (again) want to contact multiple clients that you know will provide good, truthful reviews of your company.  These will effectively “bury” that bad review.

 

Want to put your review system on autopilot?  Check out IFTS + ReviewLead! We take over all of the difficulty of getting reviews and act as your negative review triage specialists.  Sign up for one month free and see how we can help you! https://reviewleads.iftsdesign.com/

 

Sources

*https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/

**https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/

*** https://www.womply.com/impact-of-online-reviews-on-small-business-revenue/#impactofreviews-section2–

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How to Rank Highly on Google Local

How Do I Get on Google maps?

To rank highly on Google Maps, you have to get your business on there in the first place. 

To get on Google Maps:
  1. Search for your business in Maps
  2. If it appears, claim the listing
  3. If it doesn’t appear, add it as a place to Maps and claim the listing
To claim your listing:

To claim your listing, you’ll need a Google My Business account where you will have control over what shows up in search results regarding your business. For details on how to get your GMB account set up, head to our blog Introducing Google My Business.

How Can I Rank Higher on Google Local?

Complete your Google My business listing.

Your business’s ranking in Google Maps correlates directly to the completeness and accuracy of your Google My Business listing. Google wants to display as much information about a business to consumers as possible.

To rank higher on Google Maps, each of these areas below need to be complete and optimized specifically to your business.

Enter complete data

Businesses with complete and accurate information are more likely to be matched with corresponding searches. Make sure that all of your business information is entered correctly into Google my business so customers easily know what you do, where to find you, and at what time. Be sure to provide the important information such as your physical address, phone number, category and attributes. Keep this information updated as your business changes.

Verify Your Locations

Verify your business’ location to give it the best opportunity to appear when being searched.

Keep business hours up to date

Be sure to enter and update your business open hours as well as special hours for holidays. This lets customers know when they can visit your business and aids in confidence that your location will be open.

Manage and respond to customer reviews

Responding to reviews is a great way to interact with customers that have used your business and shows that you value their feedback. Positive reviews from your customers will increase the likelihood of potential customers visiting your location or even choosing your business over your competition.

Add photos of your business

Adding photos of your business will show potential customers what you have to offer and could even answer any questions they may have. 

How Google Determines your Business’s Local Ranking

Local results are based off of relevance, distance and prominence as these factors are combined to help find the best match for your search.

Relevance

Relevance simply refers to how well a business listing matches what is being searched. This is what makes adding detailed information on your business extremely important so that your listing can be matched to relevant searches by Google.

Distance

Distance simply means how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search.

Prominence

Prominence refers to how well known a business is and is based on the information that Google collects about a business from across the web such as links or articles. Google review count is factored into local search ranking. Having more reviews and positive ratings posted by your customers will improve your business’s local ranking.

 

Is your business struggling with ranking in the map pack? Contact IFTS and we will help you get started with a free Google my business audit.

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