Originally Published in Registered Gas Engineer Magazine – Issue 100, July 2017
It takes a little time and effort, but getting to the top spot for the organic search results for a number of search terms (keywords) can really move your company to the next level.
Google should be your main focus as currently it has the lion’s share of all searches with around 77%, whereas both Yahoo and Bing follow a long way behind with just 5% and 7% respectively. And as a side benefit, what you do for Google will also help improve your results with the others.
Paid vs Organic
There are two different methods to get to the top listings on Google – the first is using Google AdWords (these are the results which say sponsored next to them) and pay every time a customer clicks on your ad.
This has the advantage of being instant, but can be very expensive, very quickly.
The second option (and the focus of this article) is via the organic listings. These are listed after the paid listings and are trusted more by customers and has the bonus of no fees.
When designing your site just keep in mind that Google rewards well made, fast loading sites which has good, relevant content for your customers.
As Google keeps its ranking system a very closely guarded secret there is no guarantee that any one method will work or how long it takes for the ranking to update.
In saying that there are a number of things you can do to make it as easy as possible for Google to rank your site for the correct search terms.
Step 1 – Decide what you want to be found for
Manually create a list of searches (keywords) you would like your website to be to be found by, for example these could be the following…
Central Heating Engineers Southampton
Gas and Heating engineers Southampton
Boiler Service Southampton
Next sign up for a Google AdWords account and use the Google Keyword tool to find what people are searching for.
Tools > Keyword Planner
Click on option ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’
And enter your keywords.
This will return a very rough guide to search volumes, cost-per-click (if you were to pay for advertisements on Google) and other suggested keywords.
You are looking for highly relevant keywords for your business – it’s tempting to go for ‘boiler service’ with 10k to 100k searches per month, but as it is very general term and quite competitive (meaning, a considerable amount of work to rank) you will be on page 5 and above, so chances are that this wouldn’t improve your results as much as you might expect.
It’s a lot better to go with ‘boiler service Southampton’ and the 10 to 100 searches per month.
This is quite an important step as it forms the foundation of everything else, so take a little time with it. We recommend that initially you just go for one search term and once you rank well for it, add a second and so on.
(A good way to test and compare different keywords is to use Google AdWords’ paid ads for a couple of weeks before you decide on which keyword to use. )
Step 2 – Let Google know
Once you have decided on what search terms you’d like to use, be sure to put it as many places as you can…
1) Website’ home page, ideally as one of the main headings or sub headings.
2) Google Local
3) Google Maps
4) Yell or similar sites
5) And anywhere else you possibly can!
Just make sure any text is human readable and not just a block of different keywords, as you need to keep in mind that you’re catering to both humans and the search bots. And you’ll get points off from Google if it is spammy.
For example if your keywords were ‘boiler service Southampton’, the wording could be ‘we specialise in boiler service Southampton’, the grammar is not 100% but it is still very readable.
Step 3 – Get into bed with Google
Sign up for Google Maps, Google Local, Google webmaster tools and add Google Analytics to your website.
In fact, it’s a good idea to sign up for anything Google related where you can list your company – it’s all free and will give your site more chances to be shown at different times on different devices.
You can use the webmaster tools to show Google you care about your site (it allows Google to let you know of any issues) and Google’s Analytics makes it easier for Google to track visitors.
When creating listings for your business on Google Maps and Local, just be sure to keep in mind Step 2.
Step 4 – Add helpful, relevant articles for your customers
Google’s goal is to return helpful, fast, relevant and up to date websites to its users.
If you can do this, then Google will reward you with more traffic.
If you can add an article every month, this will mean each time Google comes back to your site it will find new content.
The articles will need to be related to your line of work and helpful for your customers but they have the added benefit that you can write them around certain keywords.
For example an article such as ‘how to fix cold radiators’ could have the words ‘power flush Southampton’ three to four times within it (again don’t go overboard with keywords).
Also don’t just copy and paste articles from other sites, as Google will notice and lower your rank.
This is an ongoing task but if you can add information that would be helpful for your customers designed around keywords every couple of weeks or month, it will help your rankings.
Step 5 – Build your online reputation
This is where real bulk of serious rank building is done by getting inbound links from well-known sites with good reputations.
For example if you had a link from bbc.co.uk, then this would mean that some of the BBC’s reputation would flow to your site and you would rank higher.
Depending on how competitive your keyword is, this may not be necessary but if you were able to write some guest blogs for other (good) sites with a link back to yours while also using your keywords as the text with hyperlink, this would really help your site to get to the top of the listings.
I would only suggest doing this once you have done everything else, it is takes a long time contacting different blog owners, suggesting ideas and writing the articles.
An extreme version of this process is naming your company or product with your chosen keywords like we did with Gas Engineer Software.
The advantage of doing it this way is that the keywords will appear in prominent locations (headings, domain names, start of listings and hyperlink anchor text, as a few examples) in a very natural way.
This makes it very hard for any other companies to rank for ‘gas engineer software’ or similar keywords without paying for it.
The process is a long term project and any changes will take time before the rankings are updated.
Also be aware your site will go through a period of higher and lower rankings – it will not be linear, but if you keep at it, it will get there.
The amount of effort required in order for you to make it to the top spot all depends on how competitive the keyword is. If you show Google a little love, you will be rewarded.
And remember, it is a bit like the old scuba diving adage; you don’t need to swim faster than the sharks, just faster than your buddy!