Search Engine Optimization, SEO, getting Google to like you… it doesn’t matter what we call it, SEO is a vital component of your business because Google is king and ranking on Google can make or break a business. In May I explained changes to Adwords (http://www.digitaldealer.com/latest-ad-words-change-means/). Because of the number of Google searches on mobile devices, and today’s digital mindset, Google has moved everything into a single column, making the prime real estate for your site’s entry even more difficult to get. Let’s look at how this change is making SEO the name of the game and the most important play in your playbook.
The Importance of Content
Just because you get your website content from the national level doesn’t mean you should stop there. Your website is regularly crawled by Google’s bots to decide where it should rank and, let’s face it, you’re not the only game in town. Keeping your site updated, especially through your blog, in a SEO-friendly way can quickly push you above the fold and get you in the forefront of people’s minds as they are thinking about purchasing a new vehicle.
What Gets You Above the Fold?
The short answer is “good search engine optimization.” Understanding what search engine optimization is, how Google ranks your site’s SEO, components of good SEO, and how to implement best SEO practices are vital to getting those better spots. Because so many dealerships only use the content provided to them by their brand’s headquarters they are missing out on ways to compete that are as easy as making a few simple additions to their website.
“Updating your content, keeping it fresh, and writing it in a way that is engaging and readable will enhance your site’s SEO.”
The Basics of Good SEO
Search engine optimization or SEO is an umbrella under which you can make the most of the elements of your website Google is crawling — including text, images, code, and keywords — in a way that makes the page search engine friendly. It’s not just the words used, or just the image, and it’s not simply setting keywords. It’s the big picture. When Google crawls your site it looks at the different components and assigns a rank based on how you are using them. What does Google look at?
- Keyword density
- Word count (content, titles, meta)
- Use of headings
- Images and alt tags
- Webpage slug (yourseosavvysite.com/slug)
- And more…
Even just that small list is daunting — how can you know what Google wants and check whether you have all of that without devoting a full day to one post? Easy: use Yoast.
Your New Best Friend: The Yoast SEO Plugin
Yoast has a plugin that analyzes content and other web page components in real time making it simple to track your SEO. On my staff, the SEO experts are regularly heard using the term, “Make it green.” This is because Yoast uses a simple color-coded system, similar to a traffic light, to help you track where you are with your SEO. A circle at the top of a page while logged in gives the user a quick sense of what is going on with the page’s SEO:
- Cannot analyze, no keyword set
- Bad SEO
- Okay SEO
- Good SEO
The amber dot in the example above means the SEO is okay, but if you want to rank as high as possible, okay is not enough. Luckily, underneath the content box, Yoast lists what it is looking for with similarly colored dots so that you can tell exactly where the issues are. This is broken down into content and keywords.
5 Tips for “Making it Green”
As someone who works with SEO every day and understands the importance of it, I can share some things to get you to green faster. Keeping these things in mind while developing and posting content will reduce the amount of time spent looking at the list and making tweaks.
- Always Set a Keyword. While Google could decide for you, having a keyword in mind helps you focus your writing while producing a page that is likely to rank higher. Multi-word keywords are the best bet. Use them throughout: Page title, SEO title, meta, alt… pop it in in a variety of places to avoid stuffing your content — Google doesn’t like keyword overuse.
- Remember 100:1. While you can go a little higher, a good rule of thumb is that for every 100 words use your keyword once; guaranteeing you a 1% keyword density. Just check your word count and then do a “find” on the actual keyword. The title is separate, and headings count.
- Use Headings. I recommend using an H1 for the article’s subtitle and H2 throughout. At least one of these should have your keyword as part of the 100:1 ratio.
- Images Count. Google won’t know what it is but it’s going to look for an image with an alt tag — the text that shows up when you hover or when the picture doesn’t load. Be sure to edit the image details to contain an alt tag that describes the picture in fewer than 12 words using the keyword.
- Update Your Blog. Updating your content, keeping it fresh, and writing it in a way that is engaging and readable will enhance your site’s SEO. 300 words is the bare minimum but content should be 1000-2000 for the best SEO.
Implementing these things will give your SEO a boost automatically. You should also consider having an SEO audit done by a digital marketing firm to see where you could improve or hire someone to help with the more technical side of SEO.
Author: John Cashman
John Cashman, is founder and president of Digital Firefly Marketing a digital marketing agency built to help companies get found on the Internet. John works with all Digital Firefly clients to help them gain more web traffic including SEO, PPC, Social Media, and Content Marketing. Mr. Cashman is a seasoned start-up veteran with over a decade of experience. He has worked in three venture-backed start-ups in all phases of digital marketing, from website design, to SEO, to pay-per-click, to social media and web analytics.