I just did a search on the web for a plumber. That Google search brought in 58,700,000 results. There must be some way to narrow this down! Fortunately there is. So I typed in ‘plumbers Bend Oregon’ and narrowed it down to 427,000 results. Certainly there cannot be that many plumbers in Central Oregon during this economy.
Obviously, the goal of each business is to be listed near the top of the list of the search results. You actually want to be found “above the fold”. This is the part the customer originally sees without having to scroll down the page. To help make this happen you should use something called search engine optimization or SEO. You probably discussed this with your web designer. But you can and should do a self-assessment. The reason you should do this periodically yourself is it gives you a sense of the competitive landscape and helps you keep abreast of trends in your market.
First, begin thinking like your customer. What keywords would they use in searching for your services? Is it plumber, water heater replacement, or both? If your customer was looking for your restaurant would they just use the keyword restaurant or would they search for seafood restaurant?
Once you have a list of terms or phrases customers use to search, conduct searches on all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing). Make note of the results, including where you currently rank and note those that rank above you. Your ranking will probably vary depending on the keyword or phrase that was used for the search. Look at each site that ranked above yours. Often times you can find the keywords being used in that site. To do this, right click on the site and select “view source”. It should then return something like the following for plumber (I changed the name to ABC Plumbing for this article….the results came from a local company)
<meta name=”keywords” content=”ABC Plumbing Company Bend Oregon Professional Products Services Pumps Sewer Systems Bathroom Fixtures Welcome Home Drainage Central Impressive Experience Unclogging Drains Pipes Leader Plumbers Courteous Dependable Friendly Satisfaction Quality Workmanship”/>
The next thing to look for is the description that comes with the search results. This is the black text directly under the link to the website on the search page results. Below is an example of the description (again the name was changed to ABC Company):
Bend, Oregon is the home of ABC Plumbing, where we provide a complete range of professional plumbing products and services, including pumps, sewer …
The description shown in the search results is the one you and your web designer place as the description. You can see this again by right-clicking and ‘view source’. (Note if you did not write a description in the code it would default to the first lines of content on that particular page.) The above description would look like the following when you select ‘view source’:
<meta name=”description” content=”Bend, Oregon is the home of Sunset Plumbing, where we provide a complete range of professional plumbing products and services, including pumps, sewer systems and bathroom fixtures.” />
The reason this is important is your description will also be viewed or indexed by the search engine and thus impact your status on the search engine results page.
Two other key points to strong search engine rankings are to have fresh and relevant content. So make sure and update this regularly. You also want to make sure the links from your page to others are relevant and actually still work.
There are a number of websites that will “grade” your webpage. One of those is Hubspot. They have a variety of resources for improving websites and inbound marketing programs. They also have some great white papers on industry trends. They can be found at www.hubspot.com
Jim Kress helps businesses with marketing and customer service issues. He can be reached through the Business Department at Central Oregon Community College at 541-383-7712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.