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The Franchise SEO Guide

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Kenny Wu

How to Get Started with SEO

As a small business, the topic of search engine optimization (SEO) can feel intimidating. Major search engines, like Google and Bing, use hundreds of ranking factors to decide which websites show up first when Internet users search for something on search engines. Many of these factors are not publicly known and updates can frequently change what’s most important for websites.

So how can you get your website visibility on search engines that have hundreds of thousands of other competing websites?

While there used to be ways to game the system and get a bad website ranking higher, search engines are much smarter nowadays and are always trying to give their searchers the best answers and highest quality content. Fortunately, if you’re a business owner who has your customer’s best interests at heart, you’ll already have a leg up on a lot of your competition.

Let’s take a look at simple steps you can take to get ranking higher.

Research and optimize keywords

When potential customers are searching for products or services online, they generally start with broad keywords like “plumber near me”. While these terms get a lot of searches and visibility, it also means a lot of websites are competing to get all that customer attention.

Doing research on more specific or niche keywords, also known as long-tail keywords, can help your business website rank higher for terms with less visibility, but also less competition. Being specific with keywords also means you’re drawing in more relevant customers and higher-quality leads.

For example, ranking for “Portland drain line repair” may bring in higher-paying jobs while sifting out searchers who might be looking for DIY help with “toilet repair”.

Create high-quality content

Once you’ve figured out which keywords to rank for, create high-quality content for your audience and have it hosted on your website. While this can include videos, ebooks, or podcasts, writing blogs is one of the easiest ways to generate valuable content that ranks on search engines.

Using keywords you’ve researched, you’ll want to write specifically for those topics and answer questions potential customers might search for. Include the keyword in the title of your blog post, in the first few sentences, the meta description, URL, and alt-text for images, but don’t overdo it or place so many keywords it feels unnatural.

And be careful not to be too pushy with highlighting your products or services—the goal here isn’t to make a quick sale but to establish your company as a trusted source of information. This not only helps with your SEO but keeps your business top of mind with potential customers so when they do need to purchase or call someone, you’re the first name they think of.

You’ll know you’ve created great content when you look at your website analytics and see a high average time on page, low bounce rate, and high click-through rate. This means readers are engaging with your content and not just skimming over it.

Localize your content and business information

One key to establishing a niche with your content and keywords is to make them relevant to your local market. After all, your potential customers are probably searching for solutions in their neighborhoods. You’ll want to include your city, neighborhood, zip codes, and any other related names in your keywords.

Aside from content and getting your website to rank in the traditional first ten results on a search results engine page (SERP), there are other SERP areas your business can take advantage of, such as the local SEO 3-pack. The local SEO 3-pack is a listing of 3 businesses that shows up when people search for a business near them or near a specific location.

Make sure you claim your Google My Business profile. Having your business name, address, and phone number consistent on not just your website, but review sites, directories, and listings, will help your company be visible on these local SEO features.

Review technical SEO elements

Having a great website that’s good for SEO is not a one-time effort. It requires maintenance and ongoing effort. While doing this at the highest level may require hiring a team of SEO experts, tracking your website page speed and redirects is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your website ranking. If you have a slow website and a lot of pages that redirect to other URLs, it provides a bad experience for readers and won’t get ranked as highly on search engines.

With a huge majority of consumers now spending most of their online time on their smartphones, it’s also now vital that your website is mobile responsive and easy to use on a smartphone. Putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and seeing how they might interact with your business online is a great way to see where you can improve both your SEO and customer experience.

Track and measure your results

Once you get going with SEO, remember to track your efforts, but know that organic SEO takes time, sometimes months, to build up.

To track how well you’re doing, you should look at keyword rankings, organic traffic, your click-through rate, how visitors are engaging with your pages, what pages are the most visited, and what channels are bringing you the most traffic. This will help you fine-tune your efforts and understand what customers are most interested in.

Want more guidance and help with your website’s SEO? Contact the marketing team at Scorpion.