Tired of Seeing Superior Plumbing and Roto Rooter at The Top of Google?
Yeah… Me too. But first, who am I? My name is Alex Laldin and I have helped grow dozens of local businesses across the country. My team and I implement strategies to help local businesses increase their website traffic and improve their search engine rankings on Google and today I’m going to show you how to take the coveted top spots.
When I was in college I worked at The Home Depot, while there I developed close relationships with contractors of all types. It was during this time one of my favorite contractors launched my business, during our typical early morning conversations he told me this “20 years ago business was simple, do a good job, have a business card, and advertise in the yellow pages. Now you young kids with your websites are running us old guys out of town.” (2) weeks later I had built him a website, (2) months later I had quit my job, (5) years later and I’ve bootstrapped multiple businesses and have presented across the country.
Today I continue to learn, grow, and stay-up-to-date on the latest SEO and digital marketing trends that produce SUSTAINABLE results. What started as college job has developed into a passion for growing businesses and a consulting gig that has lead me all over the country.
I learned very quickly that not all business is good business. It is impossible to market a business that does not take care of their customers. I only choose to work with trustworthy companies, who put their customers and reputation first. My clients are great at what they do, whether that be installing hot water heaters, whitening teeth, installing gutters, or debt relief – we partner with them and run the online side of their businesses. I absolutely love what I do. Every day I get to help good people, build better businesses and lives while becoming pillars in their communities.
If you are confused, overwhelmed, or just plain lost when it comes to ranking your website on Google, driving targeted traffic to your website, and turning website visitors into paying customers, then today is your lucky day. I’m going to systematically break down ranking in what I hope is an easy to understand process.
Let’s get started…
First, we must understand how Google and other search engines make their money. As of 2016 90% of Google’s revenues are generated through advertising. You know those ads you see at the top of the organic listings? Each click generates income for Google and while only a small percentage of the billions of searches conducted each day result in a paid ad, it’s still quite profitable.
It’s important to remember that in the web space that if something is FREE to use the user is the product being sold. In order for Google to sell advertising space, they need a user base searching regularly. Therefore, providing relevant search results that can be trusted is their #1 priority. If the user doesn’t find what they’re looking for they use another search engine which results in less ad revenue.
Now that we understand Google’s business model, understanding how to rank is quite simple. Google must trust your site. Trust is built with some 200 different factors in the ever changing algorithm that Google doesn’t exactly make public. That’s why as digital marketers we spend tens of thousands of dollars to test, test, and then test some more.
If a user were to search for something related to “plumbing” and the results that showed weren’t mobile friendly, take too long to load, or didn’t provide the user with the information they were looking for, the user didn’t have a poor experience with those companies but rather with Google. In order to protect their monetization Google has gotten very, very good at displaying relevant results.
Welcome to the world of SEO
What is Google looking for?
- How much content do you have on your website?
- Is your content marked up correctly?
- Is your content original?
When I launch a site one of the first things I do in the auditing phase is to see how much content other sites have. I personally like to have between 10 and 15 thousand words of unique content on a site before I even start to try and rank them. Why so much? The more relevant quality content we put on the site, the more Google has to index raising the likelihood of ranking for various keywords. When was the last time you saw a single page site ranking at the top of the organic listings?
On Page SEO
- This is all encompassing Header Tags, Title Tags, Outbound Links, Site Architecture, etc. I’ll cover this in more detail in another post.
- When a visitor hits your site, what do they do? Do they spend a couple of minutes looking around and visit other pages or do they spend 20 seconds on the site and leave immediately? Bounce Rate is a good indicator of whether or not the user found what they were searching for. A high bounce rate means they probably didn’t.
- How quickly does your page load? Does it take 10 seconds on a mobile device? How many times have you visited a site just to leave because the page took too long to load?
- Is your website mobile friendly? For the first time mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, even more so for service industries. If you aren’t optimizing for mobile, you’re losing out on 50% of your potential business.
- Links were, still are, and in my professional opinion will always be the number one ranking factor. Why? They’re a tangible way for Google to understand the amount of authority your website has in your niche and community. Links are also the hardest part about ranking and if used incorrectly easily result in a penalty.
While these are just a few of the factors that the Google algorithm takes into account when determining ranking, you can rank in most markets focusing on these. The top 2 organic spots get 40% of all traffic and the top 5 results gets 70%, ranking is critical for your business success.
So, let’s dive in and see what some of the industry leaders are doing here in Atlanta to rank. I’ve gone through and performed an in-depth audit on each site and graded them on their ability to rank. Here’s the best part, YOU can apply these strategies to rank within your city also. Whether that be metro Atlanta or Houston Texas, it doesn’t matter.
The location from which the search is performed is a large factor in the local pack, for example someone searching from Vinings is more likely to see a company in North Atlanta over a company in South Atlanta. That’s not to say the company in South Atlanta could never rank, but in theory would be more difficult.
The most important piece to the SEO puzzle, without a website that properly communicates who you are, what you do, and why I should hire you, it won’t matter how great your business is your customers won’t be able to find you.
When Auditing A Site Here’s What I’m Looking For
Who are you? I want to see real pictures of the people within the business, we’re beyond the days of stock photos. Every iPhone and Android phone can shoot in HD, use real photos.
What Do You Do?:
It’s imperative that you give potential visitors enough information about you and your team so that they believe you’re qualified for the job. What are you passionate about? What differentiates you and your business from others?
Your website may be the first, last, and only interaction a customer has with your business. What are you telling them? Show off your reviews and testimonials. Have you won any awards do you have an A rating with the BBB? If you fail to establish trust it doesn’t matter how much traffic your site gets no one is going to hire you.
What is your website’s purpose? For everyone in the service industry it’s simple, convert visitors into phone calls, phone calls into customers, customers into repeat customers. How do we do that?
Irritate the pain point, why spend all weekend at Home Depot when you can just hire us?
Build trust, check out what our customers say about us.
Clear Call to Action, here’s how you can get ahold of us. Phone Number, Contact Form, Live Chat.
On Page SEO:
Perhaps the most technical piece, but here’s what I’m looking for. Header Tags, H1, H2, H3, H4, Title Tags, GeoTagged Photos, Structured Data, Site Architecture, Interlinking, outbound links, content.
How quickly does the site load?
How does the site render on mobile devices?
Links & Citations
How many links and citations are pointing to the site? What is the quality like?
Google Business Page
Is the Google My Business page, claimed, accurate, and does it contain photos of the business?
What do their customers say about them? Are they responding to reviews, both good and bad?
Now that you’ve got a sense of what I’m looking for, let’s jump in and start grading sites.
Why do we have two sites competing against each other for the same keywords? Doesn’t make much sense to me, I’d recommend redirecting one to the other.
Site Identity: C-
All the photos are stock and that’s a real shame because they have a nice video that shows off their business and past customers. Honestly, without the video I’d give them an F but the video brings them up to a C-.
What Do You Do?:
Again, no photos of their team what pictures are posted are all stock. The About Us Page provides the company history and mission statement, along with the video.
Bam! Right on the first page above the fold you see their Google Reviews, let your past customers promote your business for you. You can even leave a review right from the website.
Phone number prominently displayed in the upper left corner, with click to call enabled for mobile devices. Another Call to Action above the fold on the home page. Personally, I’d like to see more CTA’s on the inner pages that they’re trying to rank for.
On Page SEO:
Header Tags: C+
H1: Atlanta’s Choice for Plumbing Service and Repair for the past 32 years!
H2: Need Quality Plumbing Repair Or Installation in Atlanta?, Water Line Replacement, Sewer Line Replacement, Drain Cleaning Service, Quality Plumbing Repair
H3: New Construction Plumbing in Atlanta, GA, Why should you work with Ridgeway Plumbing in Atlanta, Ga.?, Expertise, Commitment, Integrity
H4: Most Trusted Atlanta Plumbers Since 1985, Water Heaters Repair, Service, Installation & Replacement, 24/7 Emergency Plumber in Atlanta Metro
Title Tags: C+
Atlanta Plumbing | Water Heater Repair | Plumbing Repair | Plumber Atlanta | Ridgeway Mechanical
Geo Tagged Photos: F
There aren’t any.
Structured Data: A+
Site Architecture: D
Site has no planned architecture. Services tab leads to https://ridgewayplumbingatlanta.com/ga-best-plumber-services/ which stuffs a few keywords, but more importantly it isn’t set up as a parent page to https://ridgewayplumbingatlanta.com/drain-cleaning-plumber/ which again stuffs keywords. You can see an example of correct structure in the diagram, I’ll go more in-depth in another post.
Site Speed: D
Mobile Friendly: A
Google Business Page and Reviews: A+
Verified G+ Page with 100’s of reviews on Google Plus, Home Advisor, Kudzu, and Facebook.
Someone is responding to each and every review both positive and negative.
The company manager has uploaded a number of photos, but not since January of 2016.
Links & Citations: C-
Overall, the domain has some good metrics. But… It looks like to me like the company they’re using for their SEO is incorporating some interesting tactics. While I believe they’ll continue to rank for keywords, the site and the link profile is susceptible to a penalty. We see Ridgeway ranking in the local pack for a handful of searches, which is triggered by proximity. With some work and with a proper optimization strategy, they could be quite successful. Until then, Ridgeway will sit on the bubble of the first page and will always be at risk for penalization.