Winning the Marathon: Generating More Traffic with an Effective Organic Search Strategy

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Liz: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us on this Wednesday, the two o'clock hour. Glad to have you with us. Getting ready to start our webinar, Winning the Marathon: Generating More Traffic with an Effective Organic Search Strategy, with John Paglio.

We're also broadcasting live on Facebook if you'd like to see us over there, as well as on the flyte new media page.

We're joined today with John Paglio, flyte's SEO Digital Marketing Specialist. This presentation is powered by flyte new media in Portland, Maine. John is a Google Analytics and Google Ads certified specialist. His true passion lies in SEO, local SEO, and paid search. John has presented several workshops, including the Agents of Change conference in Portland. He excels at helping companies review their online presence, providing long-term searchability tactics, and analyzing site structure to help increase the level of traffic to their websites.

John's job starts with the ability to prioritize and develop engaging content, keywords and phrases that help websites become lead generating machines. And now enter COVID-19, more users are searching online and view and fewer options for other marketing tactics to succeed. SEO is proving to be a differentiating factor between brands that are continuing to see engagement and those that are not. If you have an opportunity to invest time into your SEO efforts, it will pay big dividends down the road.

And speaking of the road, John, let's get that road paved. What do you have to say for us today?

John: Well, thanks, Liz. That was quite an introduction. You cut two minutes into my time, by the way, but thank you.

Liz: I tried my best.

John: Thank you. I appreciate that. I'm John, as Liz said. I don't know if I really need to do this title slide, but my name's John Paglio, Digital Marketing Specialist. I'm coming up on my fourth year at flyte, I think, maybe even five. That's exciting. And I've really found SEO and local SEO to be super important to me. And that's kind of where I’d like to dive in. If you know me already, I love to nerd out, so any time you want to bring some Google analytics to me or any kind of statistic driven, let's talk about it. I love talking hour, hour and a half, forever, however long. Let's just nerd out about analytics. And in Maine, we only have about three months to get good at golf. So I'm really doing my best to do that now.

So what you need to know and kind of where we're going with this webinar is the importance of SEO. It's about laying that groundwork and it's really about the long-term game that you're going to get rather than this short sprint. So it's really about that marathon. We're also going to be talking about how your website and SEO go hand in hand, where to use it, how to use it, keywords. We're going to dive really deep into keywords, where to find them and where to put them on the site.

User intent, this is a big one that I don't think a lot of people really get a full grasp of, is how users are searching and where they're coming from and how they're getting there. I do also have a few slides about local SEO as well. Right now during these COVID times, local SEO is a little bit of a tough one because Google My Business has kind of shut down for a lot of business categories, but we'll touch upon it.

So let's get into the importance of SEO. A lot of marketers are impatient, so they just turn to digital ads, they turn to Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads. And a lot of the managers, CEOs, or whoever, want to see a quick turnaround so not a lot of people like to invest the time into SEO because of the long-term effects it has. You don’t just flip a switch and rank on Google's first page, it needs to be a lot of legwork.

When you do your SEO properly, it guides the rest of your marketing program, it guides your ads, it guides how you write on site, your blog posts, your social media posts, your email marketing posts, and it all comes cohesively together. But if you don't have that strong structure of SEO, then you're not going to be able to make a considered effort full circle.

So search metrics has some stats and pages ranking one through three on search engine results pages generate a click through rate of 36%. Now that's really high given what's on the search engines right now. 36% of users are only looking at the top three results and also clicking on those top three results. And just like how a lot of people want their food, they want it fast. So what did restaurants do? They created drive-throughs. And what Google has created are what's known as knowledge panels. And you'll see it when you ask a question on Google, it will pull the first blog post, the first website, whatever. It can help you answer your question as quickly as possible. That's known as positioning zero. And out of 100% of searches that are done on Google, 50% of them is dealing a no clear result. That means that 1-3 is important, but position zero is just as important. So you want to make sure that you're not losing out on any of that search traffic. And if people aren’t clicking, you want to make sure you're still at the top. You know, even zero, one, two, or three.

Looking at search result pages these days it's a lot different than what they were five years ago. You have Google search ads, you have Google My Business, organic listings, you have Google shopping ads, you have these knowledge panels that people also ask for, featured snippets. You have videos on YouTube because Google owns YouTube now. So Google is pulling YouTube videos into their search algorithms. You have news stories and you also have images. So right there, there's seven different ways that you can potentially rank on Google without being an “organic listing”. And I know you can't see me, but I am doing air quotes here with “organic listings” because these are all organic outside of the two Google ads. But you want to make sure that you're optimizing all of your content from multiple places on Google.

Liz: John, I hate to interrupt you. I believe here's a little either some feedback on your mic or perhaps it's hitting your collar, or maybe it's loose. Maybe if you could just tighten that up a little bit. It's interrupting the information.

John: Is this better?

Liz: That is better. Thank you so much.

John: Sorry about that. If that's better than we can go on from there. So really you have so many different places that you can rank organically. And then you'll see in a few of these searches, there are actually a few organic listings.

So how are you able to dominate a search engine where you may have some Google ads, you may have some YouTube videos, you may have some images, and you may even have a local business if you want it to rank locally. So how can you rank all of your pieces of content to make sure that you have that you're dominating the first page?

So talking about your website rankings, it doesn't happen overnight, like I already said. With the new website, it's about building that runway, it's about doing the right keyword research, i's about setting up your website for success. Whether it's with the navigation or sending up all your services or your product categories, and really laying that foundation. So when Google starts to rank your site, it can start understanding the authoritativeness that you want to have.

If you've done your homework and implemented your SEO, have a strong page on page copy, you have strong links coming back to your website, over time you're going to be in really good shape. You just can't expedite the process. I wish I had a button or a switch or snapping of my fingers to tell Google to make this site number one, because then I’d be the best SEO in the world. But unfortunately I'm not, and no one has that power. So it's about just creating that good content and making sure Google knows what every page is about.

If you already have an existing website, you already actually have a leg up on a lot of competitors who don't have the website, because the older your website is the better chance it has to rank because Google's has had a chance to search your site, read your site, and really get an understanding of knowing what your site is all about. So with your current site right now, get into Google Analytics, get into Google Search Console, and really try to set a baseline for yourself with what your organic rankings are now, what your organic traffic is right now.

If it's 10%, 15% of your overall traffic, maybe Quarter 2 or Quarter 3, you want to bump that up by 3% and what does that look like and how do you do it. Do you have to create more content? Do you have to create more pages? Are there certain keywords that you talk about on your sales calls or out in the field but it isn't portrayed on your website? And that's a big way for you to bring your website kind of into this new look and feel.

And then also you want to do some keyword tracking. And that usually consists of buying some sort of SEO tool, whether it's SEM Rush, Moz, Ahrefs, and really tracking those rankings. You can do it within Google search console, but I want to always take a grain of salt with those rankings because they're kind of all over the board and it's just what I've seen throughout a lot of many different industries within Google search console. So I would kind of play around with maybe one of those tools I already mentioned to look at how you can track specific keywords.

So let's get into why your website and your SEO work hand in hand. You know, it goes from the user experience to the navigation, to the pages on your website, to the blog posts on your website. So I want to start with site structure and navigation.

Is there enough information on your current website for a user to find what they're looking for? So let's use this example of housecleaning. I know it's super topical right now because we're on a pandemic and we're obviously not letting anybody in our houses right now, but it's the first thing that came to mind because my house is a little dirty.

As a homeowner visiting this website, I would want to know what kind of services they offer. Do they offer full house cleanings? Am I renting on my Airbnb and I need that cleaned every other day or every other week? However that works. The navigation on this website is just missing the mark due to the fact that they don't have their services as individual pages, or at least their top four or five services listed as individual pages.

If you do scroll down to the bottom of this page, all of their services are listed in a bulleted form. But from Google's point of view, they don't really know what this page is all about. All they see is home cleaning services under one big umbrella. But what if you want to rank for “house cleaning and sanitizing” or “onetime cleans”, “office cleanings,” “move in/move out cleaning”, “commercial cleaning”. So you can see this website right here has broken out their services in five different ways. So now I'm able to start ranking for clusters of keywords that are surrounding one certain service that The Cleaning Authority can do.

So for instance, “move in/move out cleaning”. So I did a little research and some of the keywords that I could be ranking for this particular page could be “moving”, “cleaning”, “move out cleaning services”, “move out cleaning costs”, “move out cleaning service”,” house selling moving” or” house selling cleaning”, those types of keywords.

And then you could also build off of that with blogs as well. Like, “If I need to clean my house, how do I do that?” Or, you know, some sort of content like that. So now you not only have one page, but you now also have one blog post that can help drive home the fact that you do move in and move out cleaning.

So site structure, you want to always highlight your services. You want to highlight what you do in the top service areas that you provide. And it also goes the same with products as well. So you don't want to necessarily put every single product in your navigation, but you want to put product categories.

So if I'm in that cleaning service or if I'm a home cleaner but I sell products, the product categories that I might be choosing are “rug cleaners”, “sink cleaners”, “shower and tub products”. Those types of cleaner people are more often to look for rather than a specific brand from a specific store. And by having that page of rug cleaners, Google users will better understand your page and you’re catering better to that search result rather than having a cleaning supplies page. And you have all of your products on one page. You can have all your rug cleaning products on one page, but you just want to make sure that you're distinguishing which products are on which page and they go for certain product categories.

And then lastly, the more pages you have on your website the more chances you have to rent. Now I'm not saying to go and like fill out 15 to 16 navigation items under each column on your website, but make sure that the user experience is there. So I have the user coming in on the rug cleaning page and I'm selling those products, where do I want them to go next? Do I want them to click one of my products or do I want them to be like, “Hey, here's a blog post about the top five rug cleaning supplies that you're going to need”, or “How do I rug clean on my own?”, or, “DIY rug cleaning blog posts”. The more pages you have, the more helpful it is to not only the users, but Google as well.

So after you've figured out your site navigation, we want to start talking about pages and blogs. And I bet there's a lot of people out there who write their blogs and their pages the same way. And what I mean by that is there's a total different strategy for writing a page versus writing a blog. So when you're thinking about a page, think of it as the foundation of your website. And that's really Michael Scott, he's the foundation of The Office. If anyone hasn't seen The Office, and I highly recommend you do, but you know, he's the manager. He's the one who is forefront of everything. He does a lot of the sales, hypothetically, and he's the ultimate sales salesman in the office. So if you're thinking about it for your page, think about all of your sales pages as being the ultimate page for something.

So if I'm a car dealer, then I want to make sure that I have a dedicated car buying page, a car leasing page, a car financing page. Those are all of the strong foundational pages that I need on my website to show everyone that that is one of the services that I offer. And also that that page goes after broad keywords as well. So car buying, car sales, car financing, car leasing. Those types of keywords are where you want to focus your efforts for pages.

Now, when we're talking about blogs, it's about your supporting staff. They're the ones that are answering questions, feeling positive and negative reviews, helps sell the products and or services, and the staff supports the manager. So if you think about it in the same way with a blog, the blogs need to support the pages.

So are those blog posts going to answer questions, address problems, spark some new ideas that you see on the forefront as a car dealership, if you want to write a blog post, maybe it's the top five ways that. You can finance your car in 2020. Um, and so it's a topical and it's relevant. But then you are able to link back to your car sales page to kind of tell the user what to do next. And it also goes after those longer tail keywords. So it's not just like car buying is, what about the car buying process? Can I help users with and help them convey my expertise? It's a way for you to make yourself authoritative with not [00:18:00] only being super salesy, your blog posts should just be about educating the consumer about your products, your services, or even just the industry in general.

So now that with blogs in pages out of the way, we need to fill those pages and blogs with keywords and copy. I haven’t told you how to find them yet, so I really want to get into where we can look for them and how we can find them. I'm going to show you four ways that you can traditionally do your research with traditional tools. And then I'm going to show you three ways that you can kind of unconventionally do your research that may not have a lot of metrics to back it up, but it can help you start to think about how users are thinking.

So the first way is Google Keyword Planner, and this is the standard across the board. Most everyone uses this in some capacity. Google Keyword Planner is a Google ads tool. There's a lot of Google ads statistics that are not in this screenshot, but a lot of SEO or SEO people, marketers, use this tool as kind of their baseline for their keyword research. So for the next seven examples, I'm going to use commercial construction to kind of keep it all similar.

So you can see I am putting commercial construction in average monthly searches. It's just the average monthly searches within a certain area. So you can choose your state or you can choose a country. I did choose the United States. If you state, I found that the numbers get really small and super granular, and I'm not sure that it always conveys the best results.

So the competition column is more for Google ads, but what I like to use it for is how busy is the search results page. If it's low competition that tells me that there may be one or two ads on the page. And if it's a high competition that tells me that there's four or five or more fighting for that really prominent ad space on the top of the first page and as we saw before, the first page of Google, it's getting super crowded. So what keywords can we choose that we can definitely make an impact on?

And then there's that line chart. And between the monthly searches competition, what that's showing you is a trend line, a month over month if you are doing a 12 month search. And if you have a seasonal business, like if you have some sort of wakeboarding business in Maine. You know, wakeboarding is only like what, June to September, maybe if we're lucky. So if I see a big spike in the summer, I want to make sure that I have content that I've created maybe in the winter months that I can slowly start to roll out in April and May when people are starting to talk about wakeboarding.

And then the last thing in Google keyword planner is that you do have to have Google ads running if you want an exact number like you see here, like 4,400 or 2,900. If you don't have any Google ads running, it would just say 1k to 5k or give you a range of that area. So what I recommend doing is just starting a Google ads campaign for $5 a day for a week and just kind of do all of your research in a week, and then you can shut your campaigns down. I mean, unless they're doing well and then you keep them going. But Google ads is a whole other ball game that we can get into at a later date.

So the next place of research that I like to turn to is Moz. Moz is quite possibly one of the standards in the SEO realm. Many people watch their Whiteboard Friday's video series. A lot of people read blog posts. And the tools that they have, the link analysis tool, that local SEO citation tool, the keyword tracking on page SEO grader. I mean, they've got a lot of tools that you definitely need to use to gain a slight edge over competitors who aren't using them.

So what I love about this tool in itself is the organic click through rate is super. I like to focus it on that because once again, that tells me how many are clicking on an organic listing versus a paid listing. So if I'm looking at this keyword, I know that 80% of users are clicking on an organic listing rather than a paid listing. So that kind of goes hand in hand with the competition column and Google keyword planner.

The other tool I like within this research is the surfer analysis. And what this does is if you click surfer analysis, it's going to give you the first 10 to 20 positions of what URLs are ranking for that given keyword. And it will tell you their domain authority, their page authority. It will tell you what links they have coming into them, and you can even dig even deeper and figure out what keywords they're ranking for and what you're not ranking for.

So Moz and the next few tools I'm going to show you are all freemium tools. You can use them so much before you have to start paying for them, but I would kind of test them all out and see which ones you like the best, and then go with that ultra-tool. Because they all do basically the same thing, but just in different ways, different shapes and formats.

So SEM Rush. I view SEM Rush as a more paid search tool rather than a keyword tool or an SEO tool, organic tools. But I still do like to do some research with their keyword magic tool. With their keyword magic tool, the best thing that I like to look at is the left hand column. You'll see there where they've grouped the keywords.

So if I'm writing a page about commercial construction costs or a blog post about that, I can click that cost. And what it's going to do is it's going to populate a bunch of different keywords that have costs somewhere within that keyword, and it'll give me the volume, it'll give me the trend and all that. So it's a really great tool as well for those keyword clusters like we've been talking about. You want to make sure that those key words are alike in that they are driving home the same point on the page.

And then lastly, this one's my favorite, Ahrefs. I'm still new to this tool. We've had it now for about four or five months, but I am in this tool I think four to five times a day, if not more. This tool, in my opinion, let's you go down as far as you want into the rabbit hole and get yourself lost in the data and really gets you a clear picture of everything going on. It does show you the keyword difficulty like we were talking about before with all the other tools. Where I want to concentrate though, is in the search volume in that middle box there. What these are telling me is that the RR is return rate. So it tells me how often the same person searches for that given keyword in a 30 day period. So what this tells me, looking at 1.26, is that the user is searching for this keyword, and then they're going to go search again but they're refining their search and they're making their search better.

So how can I create a search that is going to hit the commercial construction on the head, but also make sure that they are clicking on another piece of my content that has refined that search? And by doing the research, looking at all keyword ideas, phrase match, all that, it will give you a better idea.

The other statistic there is CPS, which is clicks per search. So this shows you how many different search results get clicked on average when people search for this part for commercial construction. So if I'm searching and I click the number two position, and then I can come back to Google and I click again, that's considered two clicks where they're able to track that. So what this is telling me that users are usually only clicking once, but it's under one. So what that also is telling me is that people are finding maybe Google My Business or they could possibly be finding an ad as well.

The other great thing about Ahrefs is that they have a content explorer, which is phenomenal. What you can do is you can actually put in whatever kind of keyword that you want, or search phrase or a long tail keyword, and what this is going to do is it's going to show you all the relevant content that's been posted about it. It will show you the author of the piece of content, how many social shares it got, the keywords that are going into that piece of content. And it's a really powerful tool, especially if you're on the copywriting side or the content creation side.

So those are four traditional ways of doing it, but a lot of the research that I do is kind of hidden in plain sight. And so for the first one, it's a really popular one so it's not really like hidden in plain sight. A lot of people do know it, its answer the public. So you just need to type in a keyword of your choosing and it will spit out a bunch of different questions, so it's great for blog content.

But what a lot of people do is just kind of take this for what it is, and they'll just say, “What is commercial construction?” Great, there's my blog post. What really you want to do is you want to define an audience when you're writing those blog posts. So answer the public is a great way to start your thinking, but it's not the end all be all for your thinking.

So if I take, “What is commercial construction?”, and I spin that into, “What can a commercial construction company do for your franchise?” That is now taking the original question, but it's now targeting franchisee owners who need, and you know where corporate is telling them that their buildings need to be uplifted or remodeled or move or whatever the case. Now I'm targeting a certain audience of mine.

So the second one is right in front of your notes, its Google search suggestions. So Google is coming right out and saying, here is what people are searching before. There is no metrics with this so you kind of have to take it as you will. But Google is straight up saying, here are what people are searching for when they're searching for a commercial construction, and then they're typing in S. So commercial construction services, salary schedule, supply software, all of these different aspects can be rolled into maybe blog content rather than your service pages because your service pages are like new construction and remodel and all that. But you can start to get really good blog content just from Google search suggestions alone.

And then lastly, it's highly underutilized, but it's Reddit. And I know a lot of people think Reddit is just for a bunch of college kids who want to create memes, but really it's one of the biggest rabbit holes you can jump down because there's so much information about so many different things.

So if you type in your target keyword and start looking through the results, are there questions that people are asking that you can answer? Are there blog posts that you can then point people to, because you've already answered that specific question. Now is there a potential lead in there?  You know right there, the third one down, commercial construction, project health, what are they looking for? Are they just looking for help? Are they looking for content answers? 

There's just so much different, unique ways to use the content that you see in Reddit. You know, you can just kind of be a contributor on a lot of these threads, and just kind of get your name out there, get your brand out there, and people can start to understand that you are a big player in this game just by putting your website in there or just trying to connect with people on LinkedIn. You can connect your Reddit, LinkedIn, if these are professionals in the commercial construction industry, so you just need to keep using those.

Using all these different research ways to enhance your website, whether it's pages or blogs, you have the data driven research with Ahrefs, with SEM Rush, with Moz, with Google Keyword Planner, and then you have some of these outside sources with answer the public Google search suggestions. Reddit, and I would even argue that Twitter, might be a good for some industries as well. You just need to get your finger on the pulse of what your industry is talking about and where they're talking. And LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups are also good as well.

So now that we have a keyword list, we've gone through all these steps of looking for keywords. Well, where do we want to put our keywords? Whether they're on pages or whether they're on blogs, we need to know where to use them. And the first biggest place that you need to use them are in your title tags and your meta descriptions. And those are the first two places that Google is going to look for keywords.

You want to make sure that with your title tags, they're specific and unique and you're setting expectations. So you want to make sure that if I'm searching for kitchen utensils, I want to make sure that I'm seeing search results for kitchen utensils. I'm not just seeing kitchen bed bath and beyond or bed bath and beyond kitchen section. That's super vague and it's not setting the expectations of your audience.

And speaking of audience, you want to make sure that these title tags are speaking to the right audience. So when you think about cooking, there's two different audiences here. There's home cooks, and then there’s chefs. So if I'm talking about chefs, then maybe my title tag would be ‘cooking utensils for chefs to use in their kitchen” or “restaurant cooking utensils”.

If I'm a home chef, then maybe it would be “top five kitchen utensils to use in your home”, or something along those lines. And that way not only when the user is searching, but when Google is figuring out what pages they want to display on a certain, on page one, two or three, they'll understand that depending on what the search query is, they'll be able to serve the right answer just based on the descriptions.

So with your title tags there is a 50 to 60 character limit, and you are able to go above that limit, and it's okay to go above that limit but it’s going to place an ellipsis after the end of your title tag to let users know there's more to this title tag. So what I always urge my clients to do is put their target keywords or focus keywords at the beginning of their title tag. Because what that does is you're telling Google that it's super important because these keywords are first.

And if you are using WordPress, there is an awesome plugin called Yoast SEO that helps you with those title tags and meta descriptions. And I actually have a little bit of information in a few slides about that.

So when we’re talking about meta descriptions, it's kind of the same thought process here. We want to be specific and unique. So going back to the whole chef versus home cooks, we want to make sure that we're preparing the user that when they're clicking, they're going to a right page that will help suit their needs.

You want to avoid duplicates. Just like with title tags, you want to make sure that there is no page that has a duplicate title or duplicate meta description. Google will let you know that you do have these duplicates, but it won't ding you, it won't give you any penalties, it won't blacklist you, it won't do any of that. But you want to make sure that every page is unique with their meta descriptions.

There's also recommended 160 characters. Just like the title tags, there's going to be an ellipsis at the end. So you'll see that third result at the bottom after stoneware, that says dot, dot, dot. You want to make sure that you're staying within those guidelines, but there's also times if you're in position one or two, that Google is allowing more than 160 characters and will actually show those more than 160 characters. So it's just based on the given search.

So if you're using Yoast, so this is the backend of flyte's website and we're using Yoast for our website, and this is kind of what you're looking at when you're adding a title and meta description to each of your pages and your blogs. So you'll see that there's a focus key phrase that you want to plug in. So what this is going to do, it's going to help dictate the rest of how you write your title, your meta description, and all the content that's on page. So you're going to want to input your SEO title and you'll see that it's green. So green means good. Orange means it's too short, and then red means it's too long. And Yoast will still allow you to input it if it's too long or too short. But it's just letting you know that, hey, you might want to beef this up, or you might want to shorten it.

So once you input all that information, it's going to give you an analysis results. And this would be technically on the WordPress backend, it would be below it. But for presentation purposes, it's to the right of it. So you'll see that it gives you an analysis of the current page with the current key phrase and all the places it needs to be. So it definitely helps a lot of people who are just learning SEO or need or a refresher on SEO, or just needs to make sure that they're staying focused on a given page.

So if we're looking at the main web design on our homepage, it's telling us that our key phrase density is too low. So it's telling us that it's only been found once in the copy and it’s recommending at least two times in that copy. The text length is too short. You know, there's only 196 words. They're recommending at least 300 words. Some pages this sense, some pages it doesn't. 

I want to make sure that everyone understands that this isn't the end all be all for SEO. Just because all of these lights turn green does not mean that you will be ranked number one on Google over time. This just helps you focus on what each page is about, and over time you may not use this as much, where are understanding what the best practices are for SEO when creating a new page or when I'm rehabbing an old page or an old blog post.

So the other place that your keywords will be able to go are in headers, and then also within copy on the website. So you want to make sure that the keyword is beautifully flowing through your entire website or through that current page or that current blog post. So you'll see that kitchen utensils was the keyword. So this blog post is talking about kitchen tools, kitchen items. And you may think to yourself, well, they're not using the kitchen utensils keyword. That’s because Google is getting smarter and smarter. As much as we hate to admit this, Google's understanding that kitchen tools, kitchen items, and kitchen utensils are all the one thing they're all talking about. The same thing. So you just want to make sure that when you're doing your keyword research to find those like keywords that can help drive home the fact that it is a kitchen utensils blog post. You know that within the copy they're talking about certain items that they could use in the kitchen and it's just different ways to use the keyword. But the focus keyword is still “kitchen utensils”.

So images also play a big part on the search engines as well. You can type in any keyword at any given time, and you can actually get images in those searches. So how can you make sure that your images are being portrayed on Google, not just on your website? So you want to focus on your file name. So while this doesn't have direct ranking correlation, you just want to make sure that the file name still has that focus keyword in it, whatever it may be, on a service page or on a blog post, the size of the photo.

Also, not a big SEO correlation, but if there's a technical SEO component there, because you want to make sure that file isn't so large that it takes the page 5, 10 15 seconds to load, just because you're trying to load a 10,000 by 10,000 pixel photo. You just want to make sure that you can compress that photo, that is still a nice quality, but it takes a quick time to load.

So when we're talking about alt text, what it was originally intended for – and it still is for impaired users that use a screen reader – Google and marketers have deemed it a ranking factor for images. So when you're filling out the alt text, you want to make sure that you are clear and succinct to the point about what that image is. So if I were to just take that image off of your entire website and just send that to you in an email, would you be able to understand what that image is about or what it's trying to portray. So you have 125 characters max to do that, which can be a little tough. And then also just make sure that your target keywords are on specific pages. You can use that photo more than once throughout your website, throughout blog posts, but just make sure that alt text is changed throughout. You don't want the text on the same photo that's on force of the same pages saying the same thing, because obviously that photo is trying to portray something different.

And if you are using WordPress, there is a place within the media where you are able to add in your alt text like we did here. And that's just within the media, when you upload the media there is alternative texts there, which is alt text.

So let's talk about user intent in search or intent. This is a big one that is fairly new. So if you don't mind me getting super geeky for a minute, the most recent Google update was Bert, which builds off the rank brain update. This matches keywords with the information that users are really after. So just thinking back to that kitchen utensils example, notice how kitchen tools, kitchen items, all of that was woven in together because Google's understanding via their natural language processing, they're understanding what the user is looking for in more ways than one. They almost know more about what you want then you do, which is kind of scary.

So when you're writing your service pages and when you're writing your blog posts in any other page on your website, you want to remember that you're ranking for these people. You're ranking for your customers or your clients, or your soon to be clients. You're not writing for Google's robots and spiders. Yes, it would be great if that was the only reason, but you know, there are metrics of the user who are just kind of coming to your site and leave because they're not finding what they want. And Google can see that. So the longer that these people stay on your website, read your content, interact with your website, the better your website has to write, a better chance it has to rank.

So there's four types of search intent when it comes to the keywords that we're looking at. The first type of search intent is navigational. So this is one of the users looking for something directly; Bank of America login, Home Depot instructional video, Facebook login, Facebook group login. This is also just kind of known as a branded search. So it's not something that I would highly go after unless you're trying to rank for your brand terms, but chances are you're already ranking pretty high for your brand terms.

If you're another bank competing against Bank of America, Bank of America ATM locations may not be a keyword you want to go after. But how about “community bank ATM locations”. There's something a little bit more distinct that isn't exactly what the user is looking for because they've already made up their mind and they just need to get there.

The second type of search intent is transactional. You know, they're looking to buy and they're kind of on the fence of what they want to purchase. So do they want to buy dog food? There's a bunch of different dog food brands. I mean, I can't even count. So do I want to buy Purina? Do I want to buy Rachel Ray’s? Do I want to buy Iams? There's a piece of transactional content there within the keyword, and it's your job to produce content for them to get them off the fence, get them to stop kicking the tires and make that purchase.

The third type is informational. So the answer could be super simple, or it could be a 2,000-3,000 word blog post. And not all informational keywords are questions. So you'll see that how clams are shucked is a question. But if I have a Facebook group and I'm looking for best practices, I'm coming right to Google and I'm typing that in. It's not necessarily, I don't want to find anything. I don't want to get dance classes. I don't want to, speak to an expert. I just want to know what's out there. Similar with best workout equipment, maybe I'm in the market to buy something, but I'm really just looking for informational content to help drive my buying decision.

And if you notice down on the right hand corner, there's ‘people also ask’. It's the same thing as search suggestions. Google is basically giving what people are searching for, so if people are searching for how clams are shucked, more often than not, they're also searching for how to shuck little neck clams. That's super specific, and if you're a seafood company or you sell seafood online, you want to make sure that you're writing a blog post all about shucking little neck clams because you want to be known as the expert when it comes to clams being shucked. So when I do want to go buy clams online or need more information about shucking clams, I'm coming back to your website rather than going back to Google. So you're building that trust up with users.

The last type of search intent is commercial. They're looking for a specific product or service, but they're not ultimately ready to buy. They're just slightly past that transactional phase and they're really looking for more of the products, the reviews or the service reviews, and they're ready to make a decision once they've kind of seen all of their options.

And I will be sending the slide deck to everyone so they can kind of get a really good glimpse at this table. But in one of Ahrefs blog posts, they did a really great job of really showing what all of these different intents are and what kind of is the trigger keyword that will help show all of these different types of intents. And the way that you can understand how people are finding your website is just do some Google searches about your services or your products, and then type in some of these keyword phrases in front or in the back of your service of products. Because what it's going to tell you, it's going to show you the intent on the site and how you can create content to help in all four of these stages.

And then just a few other tips on user experience and intent is the lower the bounce rate, the better the rankings, in theory. So if people are staying on your site longer and not exiting and going back to the Google search results page, Google's understanding that they're finding what they're looking for, they're staying on page longer, they're reaching out to you. So Google takes that into consideration. While that's not a top ranking factor, it's definitely one of the ranking factors. You want to eliminate your popups, you want to make sure that you're not just editing people with three popups the first 10, 15 seconds they're on your page, because then that's going to lead to a bounce rate that's going to lead to me leaving your site automatically.

What I can suggest is an exit on intent popups that might grab some people. But what I found super successful is a button pop up, so they click the button and then they opened the popup. What this does is they’re now ready for that popup to happen rather than just like, “Oh my God, where did that come from, I was just trying to read this blog post?”

Large enough font is huge right now for mobile usability. You want to make sure that no one is pinching their phone four times to try to read what's on your website and on the desktop site as well. I've seen a lot of websites where the blogs are, you know, maybe they're written in cursive or really light font size font style. Just make it big enough so everyone can read it regardless of the age or reading level of your target audience. Also making sure that you have subheadings in your services, in your blogs, because those subheadings are going to help attract users to the section that they want to read the most about. And if it's just one big long piece of text, chances are they're not going to read a lot about it.

And then lastly, you want to make sure that you have multiple pieces of content within one piece of content if possible. So if you have a blog post, make sure there's a podcast episode in there or YouTube video or infographic, or multiple images throughout the video, throughout the blog to break up the content. There's these types of content that can help aid this one other piece of content to make it super valuable.

50% of search queries contained four or more words. This is via Word Stream. This to me just tells me that you don't want to focus all of your attention on those super broad keywords that is ‘commercial construction’ or that is ‘car buying’ or ‘car sales’. You want to really focus in on what your users are looking for. Make sure you're right there to greet them with a piece of content if it's not your website.

So let's move into local SEO very quickly. I know I'm running low on time, but there is a big local SEO component to a lot of people who own brick and mortar stores who are really going after local traffic. And I get a lot of questions about what is the difference between going after a national audience, national SEO versus local SEO. And what it comes down to is where is your audience, where are they, where are they searching from? If they're searching from a specific area, talk about that specific area, the cities, the towns, the zip codes. Certain monuments or buildings around you. Make sure that people know exactly where you are.

And with your contact page, that's also big. Make sure your address is there, your phone number, a Google map so people know that you're local. And what it comes down to is back to that search or intent. Are people looking for Portland, Maine car sales, or are they just looking for car sales? Because if you type in ‘car sales’, you're going to get Carfax or you're going to get a bunch of these big name car dealerships. But if you type in ‘Portland, Maine car dealerships’, maybe you'll get Bill Dodge, maybe you'll get Quirk, maybe you'll get Lee Auto. So that modifier can definitely be big, but you also don't want to base your entire keyword research around city/state as a modifier, then your keyword. You still want to make sure that you're going after the right keywords for your services, for your products.

So that being said, I'm going to just quickly touch upon Google My Business reviews and citations, really quickly. So Google My Business right now is almost down, it’s down almost completely given that COVID is going on. And Google My Business is almost shifting all of their focus on healthcare facilities or anybody in the healthcare industry as well as restaurants, and everybody else has kind of taken a back seat. Listings aren't being published. Some reviews aren't being published. You're not able to make any edits to your listings. You're not able to make any Google posts. So there's really just a lot of waiting and seeing right now with Google My Business until they get back up to full capacity.

So with that being said, Google My Business is kind of taking over for Google+. Google+ was this social platform that Google wanted to make, but it really just died and no one really used it to its full capacity, so Google just ended up shutting it down. Well, Google is doing with Google My Business is trying to create a social atmosphere within local businesses. They're giving you the quick, localized information. You'll see that they give you reviews, address hours of operation, phone number, and if you click into any of these businesses, it'll give you, it'll show you the actual written reviews in any Google posts. So Google posts are pretty important in my opinion. It's just one extra place to add when you're distributing out content on social media or within your email list.

So as you can see here, two different storefronts, they're using it. One is letting you know that that's curbside pickup with a carousel of images that you can pick up. Also another storefront, this was back last summer, but it's also showing you that there's free and sort of pick up free sidewalk pickup with a button directly to their website.

So what Google My Business is doing is it's allowing you to use Google post as another place to convey your content. And with Google posts, you're allowed to tell people your events you have coming up, company announcements, showcase your services or your products, any blog posts that you write, even job postings you can put up to Google editors.

But the one key here is that it only lasts seven days. So you just want to make sure that you're posting multiple times a week or once a week. But you just want to make sure that you're staying consistent.

And then lastly, there are just so many different options for different industries. If you have products, you can add your products in your product categories. If you have services, you can add services within a paragraph of text explaining service. If you have hotels or restaurants, you can actually have a booking feature directly on Google My Business for people to book their hotel rooms or book their reservations at your restaurant. So you just want to really dive into the info section of your Google My Business and see what it has to offer and just make sure you're filling that out as complete as possible.

The other place that you might want to look into deeper is the business categories. So if you look next to the five star review, it will say ‘carpenter’. And within that, that's you're telling Google what your business category is. And there are so many different business categories from bankruptcy attorney to children's theater. It's a home automation company to the Philharmonic Hall, so they're kind of random what they're showing all the time. But if you have more than one business category, I strongly suggest you create a primary category and then three or four sub categories that you can also be found for. And I would also suggest that you check those business categories at least once a quarter because Google's always adding in more categories as they see fit.

So reviews is probably the top ranking factor for local businesses. It's so important. And if you don't have a review strategy, I highly recommend that you start creating one. And what a review strategy might look like is start reaching out to some of your top customers, your top clients, and just to be like, “Hey, we love that you are coming into our store so much and we love that you're buying from us online. I just really want to see if you'd leave us a review on Google, Facebook, so that other people can experience how great we are with you. We want to make sure other people feel the same way.” And when you're asking for those reviews, ask, don't promise. Don't be like, “I'll give you a free pizza”, or “I'll give you 10% off your next order if you leave a review”. Because what you'll get are people saying, I'm only doing this for a review, or people only leaving you a five star review with no explanation. You want to make sure that you're getting a review that is from the heart, whether they're feeling happy or they're feeling mad. You want to make sure that you're seeing it. You don't want them talking behind their back to everyone they know. You would rather them come online and let you know that their displeasure from there, you can respond.

And what I tell my clients is that respond to ones, whether it's good or bad, thanking you for the review. If it's good, then you can kind of gush all over it. If it's bad, just say we've talked to the responsible parties involved. We're working on fixing it. If you'd like to take this offline and talk about it more, please give us a call or, you know, send us an email and put all your information in there.

Because if you start to go back and forth with people on Facebook, on Google, wherever, you know, trolls are going to start to get at you and they're just want to argue. People just want to argue online. So if you entice it, then it's just going to snowball into something that could potentially hurt your business a lot.

And also you want to spread the love. You want to make sure that you're sending reviews to the sites that people are looking at for your industry. So Google is always going to be a major player, so is Facebook. But you Yelp, TripAdvisor, if you have a tourist attraction, if you're in the tourism industry, if you're in a car dealership industry, if you're the remodeling industry, so on and so forth. And if you can just kind of type in this stuff into Google it will give you a full list of your specific industry.

So that leads me into the local citations. So local citations are important. And what local citations are, is your name, address, phone number. Is that consistent throughout the board? This used to be one of the top local ranking factors, but now it's not that high. It's still high, but not as high as it once was. So you want to make sure that your name, address, phone number, is consistent for these four main citations. Google My Business, Bing, Facebook, Apple Maps. Those are the four that you want to make sure that you're on at least.

You can use a service like Moz or BrightLocal to put your citations in aggregators. And what aggregators are is you can give them all your business information and then what it does is it spits it out to all these little micro citation sites that you would have never thought of, never heard of. But what it does, it just helps build up the fact that you are where you say you are in a certain location.

And then going back to the industry specific. Yeah, you're getting reviews on TripAdvisor, Houzz, Open Table, wherever, but you also want to make sure your information is right. You want to make sure that your name and your address are right, that you have info on there about who you are, who you serve. It's not just a place for reviews, but it's also a place to show people that you are where you state you are.

And the last thing I'll say about review citations is that you want to make sure that you're consistent. If you are currently operating business on a street in your address is “St.”, then it needs to be “St.” everywhere. If use an ampersand in your business name, then it needs to be ampersand everywhere. It can't be spelled out A N D. You want to make sure everything is as consistent as possible.

And then lastly, if you feel really courageous and you want to jump down that SEO rabbit hole and you want to kind of dive into more, I strongly suggest you look into Technical SEO, which is kind of that whole user experience, site speed, mobile usability, all of that fun stuff on the backend of the website.

Link building is another big one that’s the top ranking factor, and it has been for the last five years plus. And it's still something that is very relevant and it's something that needs to be part of your SEO strategy. And I'm more than happy to talk to people after this about link building.

And then also kind of just look at the 200 other ranking factors. There's so many ranking factors and you kind of want to look at what you can achieve now, what you can achieve later, and what are your long term goals within those ranking factors.

And then I'll leave you with this, 75% of searchers never go past the first page of search results. So if you're not on the first page, then I don't think you're going to get a lot of organic traffic. Getting from page 7 to 4 is great, that's going to be really easy. But really getting onto that first page from page four is really where that determination is going to come from.

And like Rich always says, Rich Brooks, my boss always says, you can hide a dead body on page two and no one will ever find it. So I just want to open this up to questions, but I just want to let everyone know that I am offering free 30-minute consults after this. Just shoot me an email, first come, first serve, and we can just kind of talk about where your SEO is and where you want your SEO to go. Yeah, we can just take it from there and have a conversation offline and really drill into your business and your industry and what people are searching for within your industry. Thank you.