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Build Your Website to Rank Well

le and other search engines can only know what you tell them. If you sell baby blankets like in our example above you need to tell Google and the other search engines that you sell baby blankets. Seems simple right? Unfortunately many companies don’t understand this so they build their websites focusing on keywords like “Maria’s custom sewing”. If you search for “Maria’s custom sewing” you find your website immediately. If you search for “baby blankets” you never find the site because… you guessed it, there is no mention of “baby” or “blankets” in the website anywhere. This small but unfortunate mistake has left thousands of business owners scratching their heads on why their website doesn’t show anywhere in the search engines.

Search engines read your website much like a human would. The text on the site is what determines what the website is about. Additionally, images, video and other media can be good indicators of what the website is about. There are six major areas you need to focus on when building out your website so that it can and will rank well in search engines.

1.    Each page on your site needs to focus on one major keyword or topic. Do not mix multiple services or products on one page.
2.    Title meta tags are the blue title in search engines and should have a specific link and keywords.
3.    Description meta tags are the text below the blue titles in search engines and should be clear with keywords.
4.    The url of the page should be structured in a clear way with keywords.
5.    The content should be a specific length with the right amount of keywords.
6.    Images and other media should have the proper alt and title tags to describe them.

Assigning Keyword to Pages

If you were going to start a window cleaning company like I did in Kingman and you offered window cleaning, screen cleaning, window track cleaning etc. The proper strategy would be to have a website with about 5 pages. There would be a home page which should list all of your services. Then you should have a link from the home page to each individual service listed above. You could then finish off with a contact page and any others you might need. To keep SEO in mind when building your website you need to remember that people are going to enter your website through the search engines. That means they may not go straight to your home page. Each page therefore should be build in a way that is attractive and informative with easy navigation to important pages like your contact page so clients can get a hold of you.

One huge mistake that I encounter a lot are website that have multiple keywords for one page. So many sites have a services page that list 10+ services on it. The search engines know to rank that page for general services but if someone types in “window cleaning Kingman AZ” they won’t ever show up due to lack of detailed targeting.

Before you write one line of code jot down on a piece of paper each page you think you should have on your website and one main keyword that page should target. If you end up having more than one service on one page then just create a second page and separate them.

Title Meta Tags

A meta tag is a description for crawlers when they view your website. The title meta tag is the main title of the page that crawlers pick up and index. When you do a search in google and see the blue titles and the grey text below them those are both meta tags. The blue title is the title meta tag and the grey text is the description meta tag.

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If you are using a content management system like wordpress the title tag is automatically created using the title of the page or post. Most content management systems will work the same way. You can also use plugins such as Yoast or All In One SEO to manually create title and meta tags for each page. I would recommend if you don’t have a lot of SEO experience to download one of those plugins to help with your on-page optimization.

Now that you know what the title tag is its important for you to know the proper way to use it. First the title should be between 50 and 60 characters spaces included. No more and no less. Having less will not give search engines enough info and more will not show the entire title in the results. The title tag should contain your keyword once and no more. Other than that you are free to do anything you want with them. If your business is Jerry’s window cleaning and you are targeting Kingman you could make your title tag “Kingman Window Cleaning | Jerry’s Window Cleaning”. This will tell search engines your page is about Kingman Window Cleaning and they should rank you accordingly.

Description Meta Tags

Description meta tags are very similar to title tags. They are usually automatically created from the first paragraph of the text in your post but again can be manually created and changed using a plugin. The description should contain your keyword as well but no more than twice. The length should be between 150 and 160 characters. Again no more and no less. An example meta description could be: “Kingman Window Cleaning services by Jerry’s Window Cleaning. We provide the best Kingman Window Cleaning in Northern Arizona. Call for a free quote!”.

This is the text that will show below the blue title in search engines so make sure it is describing what you do and what you want your potential clients to do.

The Page URL

There are a lot of online arguments about whether this helps for not but one thing for certain is that search engines highlight in bold any keywords that are in your url. Even if adding keywords to your url doesn’t help rankings having your url bolded is not a bad thing when standing out is so important.

Coming back to wordpress, if you create a page called “Kingman Window Cleaning” and your domain is http://jerryswindowcleaning.com, the url of your page would be http://jerryswindowcleaning.com/kingman-window-cleaning/. When someone searched for “Kingman Window Cleaning” a properly optimized page would show up with the title tag first, then the url with the “kinsman-window-cleaning” portion bolded and then the description.

I have seen a lot of pages rank well in search engines without the keyword in the url but having that little extra bold can only help with branding.

The Page Content

Now that you have the meta tags and url covered it’s time to move on to content. For quite a while the standard has been to have a minimum of five hundred words per page. This was true for quite some time but as more pages have been created the average has been bumped up to seven hundred or more. To play it safe go for at least one thousand words on each page. You may be thinking this is impossible but it actually isn’t that hard once you get going. Instead of writing a portion on how to write good evergreen content with a minimum of 1,000 words I’ll let you do your own research online for it. There are plenty of blogs that talk about how to dig deep. For a good read look up Mike Rowe from dirty jobs selling a pencil. If he can talk for that long selling a pencil I’m sure you can figure out a way to write 5, 200 word paragraphs per page.

Out of the one thousand words you will want your content to have your keyword about 5 – 7 times. More than that will be considered keyword stuffing, and less will not be enough to tell google and other search engines what you are about. Using a plugin like Yoast will auto find your keyword usage and tell you if there are enough or not.

Having the keywords in the page is essential to the success of a page ranking since search engines index the entire content of the page and so if you only have a great url and meta tags you probably won’t see great rankings.

Images and Other Media

Each page should have at least two images. If not it will be a very boring page for one thing but also search engines love images. When inserting an image into a post the code will look something like this: <img src=“src of the image” title=“Kingman Window Cleaning Picture” alt=“Kingman Window Cleaning Picture” />. The image src will be a link to where the image is stored. You can link to an image in your site or somebody else’s site (always be careful when using images that aren’t yours due to copyright laws). All of these image elements are important. The image url should have your keyword in it so try to name it something like kingman-window-cleaning.jpg. The alt and title tags are there to explain to search engines what the image is about and the text it will display if the image can not be found.

Some Things not Covered

There are a few other factors like readability, external links, internal links etc that I haven’t covered in this portion. You can do some searching online to find every on-page optimization factor that is currently taken into account by search engines. These main 6 are the ones that have stayed relevant for quite a long time.

Search engines only read what they can. They don’t care if your site is pink or black, pretty or ugly. They only care that it loads when they crawl it and that the content is easy to crawl and categorize. If you have a lot of confusing text that isn’t precise you probably won’t rank. I have talked with a lot of businesses that didn’t want to include any keywords at all in their page. That was totally fine! Your website isn’t going to get removed for improper targeting. You probably won’t get a lot of traffic for keywords you want but sometimes that isn’t the target.

However if that is your main target, take some time to properly optimize your pages to rank for keywords you want.

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Know Who Your Target is Before Starting SEO

tyle=”text-align: left;”>You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar

Would you rather try to sell a t-shirt to someone shopping for a t-shirt or someone looking for a radiator? The answer although obvious is often never answer because most business owners never ask the question: “What are my clients looking for?” or “Who are my clients?”. If you are a little love-struck with your business idea try asking some friends who will give you honest opinions. Simple questions like: “What do you think I do or sell?”, “Who is looking for what I am selling?” etc. Can give you real insight into not only how others perceive your business but also how much interest they have in it. The simpler you can make you business the easier it will be for others to buy from you.

Before moving on please answer the following questions:

What does your business sell? (If you don’t have a product you are still selling something. For instance I sell my time performing web development for clients. To me this is still a product.)
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Who is buying what you have to sell? (Think in terms of if you wanted to buy what you have to offer. Be brutally honest with yourself. If you sell baby blankets your market will be Expectant Moms, New Moms and Expectant Grandmothers. Mom’s who already have babies will probably not buy from you since they already have what they need. You want excited expectant Mothers who want to spoil their new babies. This will narrow it down a little.)

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Where does my target audience hang out both on and offline? (This is the most important of the three questions. If you have a customer base that spends 10% of their time on search engines and 90% on social media then you probably want to skip SEO for now.)

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If after answering the questions above you feel that your customers are using search engines to find your product or service then great! Let’s prove it.

If you don’t already have a google adwords account you will want to stop reading and sign up for one now. I know what you are thinking and don’t worry you won’t be spending any money on this yet. We are just using adwords to test our theory.

Go to google.com/adwords. If you have a gmail account you can use it to create an adwords account. If you don’t have a gmail account you will need to sign up for one before creating your adwords account. You can do this through the same link.

Once signed in navigate to the home screen of adwords. This main screen should show All campaigns you have if any.

Click on the “Tools” link in the menu and a sub-menu will drop down. From there click on “Keyword Planner”.

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The keyword planner allows you to search for keywords related to your business. The keyword planner will tell you how many searches there are per month for your keyword and will provide related keywords, search volume, and location specific data that can be really helpful for local businesses. This is how the screen should look at this point:

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If you need to click on the “How to use Keyword Planner” link in the right menu bar before beginning. If you have a good idea of what you are doing then dive right in and click on the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” link. You should have options drop down like so:

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Like the form suggests enter in your keywords or topics under the product or service area. You can also select a landing page on your site, a product or category and location specific demographics. I’ll assume we are selling baby blankets to the united states which means your form should look something like this:

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Once you have the data how you want it click on the “Get ideas” link. In the results area you will see the keywords that were found along with the average monthly searches, competition in adwords for the keyword, suggested bid per click if you advertise it in adwords and a few other options that aren’t important at this point.

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60k plus searches per month is definitely nothing to sneeze at but you will notice there is only one other keyword “baby wrap blanket” that shows up in the category. Since we want to target something that has multiple keywords it is probably a good idea to remove the category which should give us more keyword ideas.

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As expected we now have pages of keyword ideas related to “baby blankets”. Some have lower search than others but others such as “blanket” have over 100k searches per month.

Now its time to go back to our three questions from above. Question two “who is buying what I have to sell” should now be revisited. An expectant mother might search for blanket but a hiker, mother of 10, single guy in college might also look for that keyword too. On the flip side a keyword like “baby boy bedding” has over 8k searches per month and will probably be much closer to our demographic than just blanket.

Create a spreadsheet or just click on the download button in adwords to download all the keywords you feel are appropriate for your product or service. If you have a good amount of keywords with a good amount of search volume then you are probably good to move on with SEO. If your search produces nothing the investment in SEO is probably not a good idea. Same holds true with adwords.

To give you an example I did a search for window cleaners in Kingman Arizona. That is where I grew up and started my first business which was… you guessed it, a window cleaning company. My results are pretty dismal.

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I expected this because Kingman has a high population of retirees. These retirees hired me mostly because their friends who used me said I was a good kid who worked hard. Instead of spending hours and hours a month trying to get in front of 10 people on google I had much better success knocking on 10 doors a day asking if I could clean their windows. It wasn’t a glamorous way to build a business but I grew rapidly by getting in front of my audience the best way I knew how at the time which was door to door sales.

Please un-apologetically honest and brutal with yourself. You hear that most businesses fail in the first year and that is actually true. What nobody ever says is that most businesses fail because the entrepreneur starting the business never checked to see if anyone was buying. They put their life savings into a business idea that nobody wants right now.

If you find after doing this exercise that nobody is searching for what you have take it as a good thing. You just saved yourself a lot of time and money. Find the next idea. Having one idea shot down doesn’t mean you can’t come up with another.

If after this exercise you found there are millions of potential customers looking for your product then great! Let’s move on to the next step and see what you need to do to get in front of them.