Archive | SEO

How to Identify Your “Almost Ranking” Keywords for Quick SEO Wins

Search Rankings

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should not be looked at as a “one and done” project – instead it should be part of a broader, on-going marketing plan.

Unfortunately, when it comes to on-going SEO, many DIY marketers are given the generic advice to “create great content” and “be active on social media”, while many providers only offer either a basic set-up package, or an “on-going” package that is static – never really exploring new opportunities.

If you’re on-page SEO is complete (for now) and you’re wondering “what’s next” – read on, this strategy is for you.

Finding “Quick Win” Keywords (a.k.a. – the Low Hanging Fruit)

1. Set up, or access, Google Search Console (formally Google Webmaster Tools).

2. From the homepage, click Search Traffic > Search Analytics.

Google Search Console

3. Click on the “Impressions”, “CTR”, and “Position” boxes.

Google Search Console Search Analytics

4. Scroll down the page. You’ll see columns for keyword Queries (keywords for which your site showed up on the Search Engine Results Page for), Clicks, Impressions, CTR (click-through-rate) and Position (average ranking). Click on the Position heading to order the keywords in order of average ranking.

Clicks = the number of times a searcher clicked on your listing and visited your website.

Impressions = the number of times  you appeared in the search results for that phrase

CTR (Click-Through-Rate) = although CTR doesn’t really help with choosing which keyword to optimize for, if you find a high impression keyword that you rank well for, but your CTR is poor, consider changing your meta description tag.

Position = average position in organic search engine rankings. As a rule, positions 1-10 indicate the first page of search results, 11-20, the second page, and so on.

Google Search Console

Scroll down the list, note keywords of value in which a little improvement in rankings could provide more traffic to your website. Generally this would mean moving from the bottom half of page one into the upper rankings, or moving from page 2 or 3 onto page one.

For example, as I scroll down the sample list, I find that Darcy Price Real Estate ranks:

a) 7.3 for townhomes for rent in henderson nv. Although there are only 6 searches for that term, there are an additional 46 searches for henderson townhomes for rent, a term which they rank 20th (which would put them at the bottom of page 2).

b) They are in 15th position for henderson property manager (1 search), and ranked 17.5 for henderson property management (153 searches).

c) Finally, rental management henderson nv 89074 denotes a specific zip code within Henderson. They Currently rank 15th for that phrase.

Google Search Console Rankings

5. Improve the optimization on those pages identified as having value.

Possible Solutions:

a) henderson townhomes for rent: Of the two variations of this phrase, this one had the most queries so I will optimize for it. Darcy Price Real Estate doesn’t currently have a page specifically optimized for townhome rentals so I’ll address this keyword by building a page for it.

b) henderson property management: this is a priority keyword for Darcy Price Real Estate. The Homepage is currently optimized around the phrase Property Management, Henderson & Las Vegas, NV. As Henderson is a higher priority (and less competitive) search area, I will change the 0n- page elements to reflect that city.

i. Title Tag: From Property Management, Henderson & Las Vegas, NV  To: Henderson Property Management  – yes, the search engines are actually this sensitive

ii. H1 Tag: From: Property Management, Henderson & Las Vegas, NV  To: Henderson Property Management

iii. H3 Tag: From: Worry Free Property Management since 2007  To: Serving Henderson, NV and the Las Vegas Valley since 2007.

iv. Alt Text (image text): From Property Management, Henderson, NV  To: Henderson Property Management.

v. Article Text: I did not make changes to the text as I didn’t see anyplace to add it where it looked natural (rather than forced).

vi. Article Length: Google does reward long-form text with higher search ranking, but as the content for this page is already 920 words, and everything that was meant to be covered has been, I’ll leave it as is.

c) rental management henderson nv 89074: this term may eventual have it’s own page, but for now I’ve added the Henderson zip codes to the Henderson Property Management page’s text and Alt. tags.

6. Make a record of the baseline data, and the changes that you’ve made so that you can determine your success in optimizing the page, or make additional changes in the future as needed.

7. Check back every month – record changes and identify new “quick win” opportunities.

Thanks for reading! As always, your comments, shares, and questions are welcomed and appreciated.


Meta Description Tag Best Practices

While the Meta Description Tag is still part of most SEO services, plug-ins, software packages, and discussions, it no longer actually contributes to SEO or your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings. This has led to wide spread  indifference regarding the MDT – resulting in it either being ignored completely, or written with little thought or effort.

Low Hanging Fruit

This is a mistake! The MDT is actually an example of the near mythical “low hanging fruit” that marketers are always writing about. It’s a quick, inexpensive change that can positively impact your search engine click-through-rates.

What is the Meta Description Tag (MDT)?

The Meta Description Tag is a statement describing the content of the webpage. It is not visible to website visitors (unless they know where to look), but is visible to search engines, and to those that find you on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

It usually makes up the content that appears on lines 3 & 4 (below the title and URL) of your listing on the SERPs, making it your first opportunity to “sell” to your potential visitor, meaning that it can directly impact your Click-through-rate (CTR) – definitely worth putting some time into.

Meta Description

The other place your Meta Description Tag will often appear is in the content snippet on your social media postings – again allowing it to directly influence click-through-rates.

Meta Description on Social Media

To check the Meta Description Tags on your webpage (or on a competitors page):

From Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer:  hit Control U to see the Source Code.

Meta Description Source Code

The Meta Description code will look something like:

<Meta name=”description” content=”Your description goes here.”>

In the above section, the first part of it reads . . .

Meta Description

Meta Description Best Practices

1. Your Meta Description tag should be unique for every page, and should include your primary keyword or phrase for that page – that keyword will appear bold when it is used as part of the search term.

For example, a search for Henderson Property Management resulted in the following search listing – notice that property management is bold which could help attract clicks:

Meta Description bold keywords.png 600x

2. Your Meta Description tag can be up to 250 characters long (including spaces), but only the first 150 (or so) characters will be visible on the Search Results Page – plan accordingly. You can see in the above search listing, the phone number is truncated.

3. Apply copy-writing best practices to your Meta Descriptions.

Which listing would you be more likely to click on, the one displayed above, or

Meta Description

Okay, probably still not great, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s better than the original. The point is, don’t take your meta description tags for granted – put a little thought and creativity into them.

Not particularly creative? No worries . . . me either. Thankfully, it’s easy to find good examples of well written meta descriptions.

Coming Up with Good Meta Description Tag Copy:

a. Study Pay Per Click Ads for that search phrase: Good Pay Per Click companies continuously test and refine their copy, keeping what works best and discarding those versions that don’t convert as well.

b. Study your competitor’s Organic meta descriptions: Again, see what’s working for your competition and base your copy on those meta tags.

c. Remember to included benefits rather than features: “. . . reduce your property management headaches while maximizing your real estate ROI.”

4. Always remember that you are writing for a potential customer. Your Meta Description Tag is a sales tool and should always be crafted as such – include a call-to-action when appropriate.

5. Google will cut off any quotations used in your Meta Description Tag.  Moz recommends removing all non-alphanumeric characters if possible, but if you do use a quote, use single quotations rather than double.

If you leave your Meta Description tag empty, which is actually a fairly common occurrence, you’re leaving it up to Google to “sell” to the searcher – it will  choose content from your website to auto display on the  3rd and 4th lines of your SERP listing.

How to Change Your Meta Description Tag

If you’re using a Content Management System (CMS) (i.e. WordPress, Drupal, Hubspot), managing your Meta Descriptions is fairly straight forward – one the many advantages of using a CMS.

Your CMS will provide a spot for you to change your Meta Description (it may just call it Description). In WordPress, I use the Yoast SEO plugin, which offers a “Meta Description” editing box below the page content.

Meta Description in Yoast SEO

If, on the other hand, your site does not have a CMS, the changes will have to be made to the actual code. Although changing the text within the code is not that difficult, accessing the code can be a challenge. If this is the case, it’s probably best to write your copy and hire a professional to input the changes.

Thanks for reading. As always, your comments and questions are both welcomed and appreciated.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April of 2013, but has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.  


Local SEO: Creating Citations

image of networked computers representing citations

What is a Citation?

Citations are listings, or mentions, of your website on other web pages – they act somewhat like links for “Local” SEO. However, a citation may or may not actually link back to your website, and unlike a good backlink, acquiring them is typically in your control through a registration process.

The more places that your business is “cited”, the easier it is for the Search Engines to find your business, and the more confidence they have in listing it on the search engine results pages.

Rules for Citations

1. Make sure that your information (Business name, address, and phone number – NAP) is listed consistently across the web.

2. If possible, include your address on every web page. I’ve found that the footer can be a good place for this.

3. Use a local phone number rather than a toll free number.

4. If you have offices or stores in multiple locations, try to have a separate page for each rather than listing them all on one “Contact Us”  page.

5. I don’t usually recommend paying for citations. The only ones that I’ve paid for, and would recommend for most local businesses, are the Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, and any authoritative, industry related associations. (i.e. Financial Planning Association for Advisors)

Citation Sites to Get You Started:

There are 5 primary aggregators for local search data that send information out to the U.S. search engines and other business directories: Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, Factual, and Foursquare. I use Moz Local (not an affiliate link) to set these citations up – it is inexpensive and easy to do.

In addition, you could get started by setting up on:

Finding More Citation Opportunities

1. Search: Use industry and location based search queries to find directories or business listings that you could use for citations. Search:

  • City + Directory
  • City + Business Listings
  • Industry + Directory
  • Industry + Business Listings
  • City + Blog (for possible links)
  • Industry + Blog (for possible links)

For example, I could search Henderson + Directory, Henderson + Business Listings, or SEO + Directory.

2. Look at Your Competitor’s Citations:

Your competitors, especially those that appear higher in the rankings than you, may have found other opportunities for citations. To analyze their citations, type the business name, and either the address or phone number, in quotation marks in the Google search bar. The search engine results page will probably show many listings, including some from citation type websites.

3. Whitespark: Local Citation Finding Tool:

Whitespark (not an affiliate link) offers a web tool that will search for “Local” citation opportunities for your business. They offer a limited “free” service that is worth checking out, but if you’re serious about finding as many citations as possible, you’ll probably want to subscribe.

Thanks for reading. As always, your comments and questions are both welcomed and appreciated!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October of 2012, but has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.