Search engine optimization (SEO) is the technique of helping your website rank higher in the organic search results. If you paid for an ad, that’s called Pay Per Click, which we referred to in our last blog post. Any search result that isn’t a paid ad is an organic search result. Considering 88% of people don’t click on paid ads, a long-term, local SEO strategy and plan is the way to go.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines are major profit centers. If they don’t perform, they lose money. Their objective is to bring a consumer relevant and helpful websites that match their search query, or the consumer will find a different search engine that does. If there are no consumers searching, they lose ad revenue. The way they find those relevant and helpful websites is by crawling websites and reading their keywords, tags, meta description and so on, and then indexing your website pages for later reference.
In a nutshell, the search engines consider two main areas to determine rank: the content of your website andwho’s linking to you. Within each of these buckets, there are complicated, proprietary algorithms for each search engine. Some factors that affect a consumer’s search results are:
Check out this video from Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam, as he gives a bird’s eye glimpse into how Google determines ranking.
Why Local Matters
Local SEO factors in the “where” component of a search. Consumers are searching on smart phones and tablets for immediate purchases, so search engines have shifted their focus to local. Consumers have always needed local products and services. What’s changed is how they find them. Search engines have become the new Yellow Pages. What levels the playing field for local businesses is their local address.
Local SEO is a budget-friendly way to gain exposure. Consumers are searching for you already, so the conversion rate and ROI is traditionally much higher than interruption marketing, such as billboards or commercials. It’s also much more targeted, so you’re spending your money on a smart, strategic plan rather than hoping people see your ad and call you.
When optimizing for local SEO strategy, you need to plan for onsite optimization and offsite optimization. Your onsite optimization should include the areas you serve in your title tags, photo tags, etc. Your content needs to be relevant and authoritative (no keyword stuffing!) and helpful for the end user. Remember, search engines want to get it right, or they lose money. Trying to trick them is not a good idea.
Offsite, you can build a campaign around directory listings, video SEO, photo SEO, etc. Whatever plan you decide must be consistent across all onsite and offsite channels in order to be effective. We believe in a total web presence, and a local SEO strategy is a big component to that presence. All of the factors that search engines consider is how we build our sites and our SEO strategies.
Hi, I’m Brie with the Pool Marketing Site. I am a newly wed (yea!) and currently doing what newly weds do best; spending money on my house!…er…I mean our house!
As I was browsing online for unique Christmas decorations the other day, I realized that as a young professional raised in the fast-paced world of computers and technology, the way I search for something is far different than my mom. My mom, bless her heart, has magazines for miles from the JC Penny catalog to the latest Sears issue. She loves when the magazines hit the mailbox. I remember when the latest softball equipment magazine or some other teen clothing magazine would come, I was equally elated. Now, it’s all simply clutter to me. Along with most of my generation, that’s not the way I like to learn about new products anymore.
Sure, I can browse store websites selling Christmas decor, but that takes too long and I want to be able to find exactly what I’m looking for in an arena that shows me things that are my style, i.e. Pinterest.
According to their “About” section on their website (and the best definition I could find),
“Pinterest is a virtual pinboard — a place where you can create collections of things you love and “follow” collections created by people with great taste.
People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things — wedding inspiration, favorite T-shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it.”
Basically, Pinterest is a way cooler and much more visual bookmarking site. Think of it as a virtual post-it for websites and images you want to be able to remember and share with others. Off the site, as I browse the web and see something I like, I can “pin it,” meaning I can save the images and website link to my personal Pinterest board, which in turn shares it with the entire Pinterest community. Are you starting to see the potential yet?
On the site, I can browse through everything that other people have “pinned” to their pin boards based on categories like “Wedding and Events,” “Food and Drink,” and most importantly for you pool guys out there, “Home Decor.” Or, I can search within the boards for exactly what I want.
According to a demographic study done by Complete Pulse, 54% of Pinterest users are women, with the majority of those in the 28-34 age bracket. Additionally, these users have quite a bit of disposable income. See an interesting article from MediaPost that ponders whether moms are choosing Pinterest over Google for their search inquiries.
As I was looking through the “Home Decor” category today for my fun, Christmas decorations, I saw a couple pool and backyard living photos (which end up linking back to the original website). I don’t think you can get much more social than that! As a potential pool buyer, I can find a photo on your website of a pool that I really like, “pin it” to my Pinterest board and share it with everyone I’m connected with, or even perfect strangers. As I “pin” something, I can also share that to Facebook, so then all of my Facebook friends will learn about your pool and website too! Think of how many leads and website traffic you could get, not to mention a healthy boost in SEO.
How do you get this Pinterest on your site? People who are already on Pinterest can already “pin” your photos through a bookmark button created specially for the site, or you can add a custom “pin it” button on each of your photos! As we always say here, there is no front door anymore! Don’t be afraid of all of this technology. Embrace it! A simple added button on your photos can create a whole new marketing potential for you.
We at the Pool Marketing Site LOVE social tools for pools, and strongly feel they’re a necessity with every website. It’s great to have a Facebook Page or YouTube account, but you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle if you’re not integrating these into your website. In order to understand its importance, let’s look at how social tools affect search engine optimization, a term we’re sure you’re familiar with and currently doing.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the art of making your site the most relevant and easily accessed it can be for your visitors and for search engines. It is not a miracle worker that can make your website #1 in all search results on all search engines. There is never a guarantee that you can be number one in any search result, and it can take time to see results. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
With that being said, you may be thinking “Why should I bother with SEO, if there are no guarantees?” You should incorporate SEO into your website as it can make your site the absolute best it can be. It is something you should be working on diligently, yet giving any changes you make the necessary time it needs to assess its progress. The better your site is optimized, the more appealing it will be to your target audience and to search engines.
Let’s start with search engines first. As you probably know, the #1 search engine is Google. Google sets the trend for all other search engines and how they rank certain websites. The basic way this works is, Google has spiders or robots that crawl your website to find your site, read your site and index its contents. From the information the robots or spiders gather, Google determines the relevancy of your site by comparing the keyword phrases it is optimized for versus the content. Does it flow naturally or are keyword phrases forced into the content where they do not make sense? Combine several other factors such as links to your site from another and the age of your site and you basically have the Google algorithm in a nutshell. Google is constantly changing its formula or algorithm as to what is important and what is not. At Pool Marketing Site, we incorporate an organic or authentic method of SEO, so that no matter how Google changes it’s formula, our clients’ websites will still be relevant and searchable.
Since we believe in an organic and authentic SEO practice, we like to call our version of SEO, Web Presence Optimization or WPO. We use this term because we firmly believe that SEO and Social Media Marketing should go hand in hand. The object of getting better SEO results with Google by increasing your web presence entirely is our focus. What better way to accomplish this than using social media as your tool? We incorporate the important SEO aspects and partner this methodology with a strong social media presence using Facebook, YouTube, blog posts, Twitter, Flickr, Linked In, etc… as an extension of your website and your business. Use your keyword phrases that are highly searched and competitive along with engaging content, posts, blogs, videos, pictures, etc… that all showcase your business to its full potential. Your site users will have a better understanding of your brand and virtually be able to get their questions answered prior to the initial contact with you.
With this information in mind, please be wary of “build your own site” companies, and companies that don’t utilize this practice. This is how it works. This is where it’s going to continue to go.
If you want additional reading on this subject, check out this article by MediaPost. To see the benefits of each social network to help you choose what’s best for you, see a recent post from us that breaks it all down. It’s pretty fascinating stuff!
We’ve all heard the term “viral,” whether you’re talking about a famous YouTube video (Rebecca Black’s “Friday” ring a bell?) or a social media contest that takes off. We all want it, but how do you achieve it?
Is your content worthy of being shared? Do you have a large enough network to encourage social sharing (see why each social network is important and what each can do for you here)? Going “viral” doesn’t just happen. You need to put in the groundwork and fully understand your network. Check out this infographic from Digital Buzz that easily explains the definition of “viral,” and tips to get there! And remember, we have the tools to help!
Feel free to watch the video or read the article below. The choice is yours!
Everything in the web is now integrated to create a better consumer experience. You can access anything in the world through your home computer, laptop, mobile device and tablets. Today, your messaging needs to be rich and multi-platform in order to reach your customers.
Ultimately, any web traffic that brings people to your website will boost your search ranking results. If you think you can park your website on the internet, but not do any social sharing to bring people to it organically, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Remember this: There is no front door anymore.
You may have heard the term, “SEO,” or search engine optimization, is the guaranteed way to drive traffic to your website. Companies may even promise to make your company number one on Google. Guess what? Google and Yahoo and all search engines have figured those companies out. The goal of a search engine is to bring up relevant search results for the consumer. When businesses began to plug in search terms just to get on page one, Google figured them out. When businesses starting building links just to make their website look important, or relevant, to get on page one, Google figured them out. At the end of the day, you can’t beat the system because the system will figure you out and change. The solution: actually produce relevant content on several networks to bring traffic to your website. It’s that simple!
In order to help explain the necessity of social media to achieve a total web presence optimization, let’s first tackle some frequent concerns among some of you. Please feel free to share with anyone questioning your innovation. Maybe they can take a few notes.
As a pool builder, you are not selling a hole in the ground. You are selling a lifestyle. Twitter is a tool to help you sell that lifestyle and push potential pool buyers to your website. It’s a soft-sell approach. Your tweets need not be all about you and your business, aka old school marketing that some still try to bully you into doing. People are sick of being talked AT. They have a voice now through social media, and you need to be in on the conversation.
Posting backyard entertaining ideas or DIY tips sells the complete backyard experience. It also gives your business a personable perception and credibility.
If you’re worried people won’t care about following you on Twitter, let’s put it this way. You’re not just a pool builder. You build experiences and create lifetime memories. That’s interesting, and perspective buyers will want to know what you have to say. Your potential buyers are essentially doing a $50k and up research project, and will need every level of comfort and knowledge you can provide. If you’re not putting yourself out there, you may give the impression that you don’t know what to say or what you’re talking about. Be the expert that you are.
Heard people talk about Twitter, but don’t know much about it? Watch and learn.
Your website is just the beginning. Consumers will then research everything about your company to make sure you are what you claim.
How does LinkedIn help? True, LinkedIn began as a business-to-business social network, but it has since evolved. You might even claim LinkedIn is the new Yellow Pages. If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re not credible. As a consumer, I want to be able to read customer or sub-contractor recommendations. I want to see if you walk the walk and share interesting, relevant information. You can say all day long that you care about service after the sale, but I want to see it in your actions.
I don’t know if we even need to explain why Facebook is important, but we’ll humor those who feel it’s not.
Did you know Bing and Facebook are in a pretty serious relationship? Search on Bing, and all of your friends who have a relationship with a company will appear next to the search results. What link are you more likely to click on? The one a company paid a boat load of money for at the top, or the one your good friend suggested?
Facebook is your outlet to create your own network of local community members. You provide a service that creates an entire new chapter in their lives. By offering backyard tips, specials and promotions, contests and other engagement activity on your business page, you are fostering an environment of sharing and word of mouth marketing.
Turn your haters into fans by listening to them (usually the number 1 thing someone who bad mouths your brand actually wants) and responding to take care of their concerns. Turn your super fans into brand evangelists by incentivizing their support.
All Facebook activity ultimately boosts traffic to your website and buzz about your brand. We could go on and on with the importance of Facebook. In fact we do go on and on about weekly in our blog.
Just in case you don’t like reading a big, long article, watch our fun video instead.
Did you know Google owns YouTube? Talk about picking favorites! It’s also the world’s second largest search engine. Video that’s properly key-worded is one of THE BEST tools in your social regimen. Not only does video beautifully communicate your work, but it also exponentially boosts your website traffic and search engine presence. And if you’re worried about the pesky, relevant videos that pop up after your video is done, don’t worry. It’s a simple setting that you can turn off.
One of the amazing things about YouTube is that you can embed the videos you have posted right on your website without having to slow down your site’s speed. Your website essentially acts as a picture frame for the video content, and doesn’t have to house it anywhere on its back-end. How do you think we put the video above into this post?
We once had a builder who sold a pool from the “About Us” video on their YouTube channel. A couple was trying to narrow down their choices when their young adult son decided to do an internet search. The first thing that popped up in the search results was their YouTube video. After viewing this builder’s inspiring work, they did a little more research that took them to the builder’s website. The couple called the builder that same day.
Again, there is no front door anymore and people will find your business in a search that suits their personal preference, in this case YouTube. Are you there producing relevant and key-worded content, or did you miss out because you were afraid that having a YouTube channel would take people away from your site? If anything, having a YouTube channel will drive traffic to your site, and it enables you to embed your videos in a fast, shareable way.
Did you know Yahoo owns Flickr? Again with the favorites! Flickr is like the YouTube for photos. You can easily share a Flickr photo to your Facebook or email to a friend. You can keyword and tag, even geotag (your storefront – not your customer’s address) every photo on Flickr, which ends up on Google Places. It’s great to have your photos on Facebook, but also adding them to Flickr allows you to properly tag and get valuable SEO credit.
Flickr is cool because your customers who are “Flickr people” will post their backyard swimming photos to their personal Flickr. They can label who built their pool and share it with family and friends (or neighbors also looking for a pool). You can do Flickr photo contests to help your SEO tagging, to create awareness and to help build your customer community, so when those “Flickr people” are asked who they would recommend, your name comes up first.
Want to know something even cooler about Flickr? You can feed your Flickr photos into your website. Again, like YouTube, your website acts as a picture frame, so it won’t slow down the speed of your site. And, again if you’re worried about driving traffic away from your site, just make sure you find a web company capable of building out this integration for you.
It’s easier to shy away something you don’t understand than to think of ways to make it work for you. Watch and learn more about Flickr here.
Although blogs may not immediately come to mind when you think of social media, it should come to mind when you think of online social interaction. Pairing your blog with social media is probably the most important step in improving your search and social presence.
According to Social Media Today, 84 percent of consumers research products online as part of their purchase process. Another article from All Business, Your Small Business Advantage states, “You have to go where people are. If your customers or colleagues are on social networking sites, why would you not be there? It doesn’t make sense not to.”
Going back to the idea of you being a builder, not just a pool guy, let’s look at Lennar, the 2nd largest home builder in the US with $8 billion in assets. They are builders of lifestyles and memories too, just like you. These are the groups you need to look at, not the pool company down the street.
• Lennar has 31 local Facebook Pages with a total of 95,000 followers
• Lennar has over 30 local Twitter pages
• Lennar has over 300 YouTube Videos
• Lennar runs contests to drive excitement and sell homes
• Lennar has an online shop component for your home
Why would the 2nd largest home builder in America have all of this if it wasn’t important?
Don’t just take our word for it. We will never claim to be the be-all-end-all experts. We are savvy web marketers who make it our lives to stay on top of everything going on with the web. For us, it’s fun! Check out some of these articles and the ones below to see for yourself. We just started doing this every month by the way on our blog. Feel free to subscribe so you too can stay up-to-date on what’s really going on.
We at the Pool Marketing Site are big on education. As a pool professional, you should feel empowered after working with a marketing or website firm, not confused and jaded. Please always feel free to visit our blog and YouTube channel for regular educational posts geared specifically for the pool industry. Pool mom marketing is what we do and what we love. Get empowered today.
Stats and Proof
Are sitemaps really important for your website? Since Google is the #1 search engine, let’s see the experts at Google have to say about Sitemaps.
Beware of SEO services who promise you the #1 position on Google! No one can promise you that, even Google. Your best bet for getting higher SEO rankings is to do it organically. Simply make sure your content is relevant to your site, you use good keyword phrases in your Title tags, Meta descriptions and content and have pertinent inbound and outbound links. Remember, Mother always said, cheaters never prosper.