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What You Should Know Before Hiring an SEO Consultant

By Internet Marketing Service, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, seo tips

Search Engine Optimization is a rapidly growing industry. Forbes reported in their forecast that SEO related spending by businesses in the US alone would be close to $80 billion. This is likely because companies are starting to realize the importance of targeted marketing over conventional broad advertising. Although traditional advertising mediums such as radio and TV ads have their benefits, they are largely beneficial for branding efforts rather than lead-generation purposes.

SEO compared to conventional advertising mediumsAs large companies have deeper pockets and can afford to invest in branding campaigns to make their brand a household name, most local businesses are not trying to do this. They simply want to generate more phone calls. And it is much more cost-efficient and effective to have your message heard by people who are looking for your service rather than casting wider nets and hoping for the best. That is exactly why SEO investing is on the rise.

However, SEO can be as confusing as it is effective. Unlike paid traffic where you can basically get results within a matter of days (sometimes hours), organic traffic is a much more challenging beast. There are many variables at play and all of them weigh differently in Google’s core search algorithm. As such, unless you have a background in digital marketing, you likely have no idea how to gauge an SEO consultant’s competence (or lack thereof)

In this article, we will cover some of the most important things you should understand before hiring an SEO consultant or SEO services for your business. We will address terms you should be aware of, how to track and measure results of the SEO work being done on your website and much more.

SEO Terminology: What You Need to Know

Organic vs Paid Traffic

First of all, let’s draw a clear distinction between organic traffic and paid traffic.

Paid traffic is any kind of traffic for which you are directly paying the source or channel that the traffic is coming from. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads are all examples of paid traffic because you pay for every click (or impression) that your Ad gets. “PPC” is a commonly used abbreviation which stands for Pay Per Click and is generally used in the context of Google AdWords.

Organic traffic is traffic coming to your website that is the result of your site’s reputation, authority, content etc. Building this authority, having good content and making Google believe that your website adds a lot of value to the Internet (and by extension, your customers) is what search engine optimization is all about!

“Organic traffic gets 94% of clicks while paid Ads only get 6%”

Source: Neilsen

In other words, if a keyword gets 100 searches per month, studies show that 94 of those people will go straight past the Ads and click on the organic listings while only 6 will click on the Ads. Very similar to how most people stop paying attention to the TV when Ads are playing.

 

What are Keywords?

A “keyword” is not exactly just one word but a “search phrase”. For example, if you own a physiotherapy clinic in Melbourne, one of your keywords could be “physio clinic Melbourne” or “back pain physio Melbourne”.

Keywords are at the core of any SEO strategy or campaign and it is very important that you choose the right ones that are likely to yield the best ROI.

 

How to Choose the Right Keywords?

Most SEO and digital marketing companies will offer an analysis of your website before giving you a quote for their services. This analysis should consist of recommended keywords and their respective search volumes.

It is VERY important that you know your keywords’ search volumes before you commit to an SEO consultant and start a campaign. Google reports how many people (approximately) are searching (per month) for any given keywords through their AdWords dashboard. Of course, the reason they reveal this information publicly is to convince people to buy Ads.

We can use this information to get a pretty accurate approximation of the potential ROI of ranking at the top for your keywords. Also, give some thought to the buyer intent of your keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers who are typing these keywords into Google and think about how further along the buying process they are. In other words, are they ready to buy right now or are they just doing some research?

For example, someone searching “physiotherapy Melbourne” may be looking for a physio clinic and might make the call if they find a decent website. But someone searching “physiotherapy clinic for neck pain in Melbourne” is more likely to become a customer sooner as their query is more specific. On the other hand, the longer a keyword gets, the less often it is searched which means the search volumes for these types of keywords might be lower. So consult with your SEO specialist and make sure you choose a combination of keywords that are most likely to bring you traffic that you can monetize.

The reason this is important is that the nature of your keywords will have a direct impact on your conversion rates. So if you are 5 or 6 months into your SEO campaign and you feel that the number of phone calls or leads has not been satisfactory, you will need to look into your conversion rate (more on Conversion below).

 

Organic Rankings vs Local Map Rankings

A common point of confusion for people is the difference between your organic rankings and map rankings. Remember that these are 2 different entities and ideally, your SEO consultant should focus on ranking both of them. They often go hand-in-hand but sometimes, one requires more effort than the other.

“Map rankings” refer to ranking in the “map pack” (also called the “3-pack) which appears at the top for most local keywords. If your keyword has a location in the phrase, such as the name of a city or suburb, then there’s a very good chance that the results will display a “map pack”.

Ranking in the map pack can be very valuable for local businesses, especially for businesses that have a physical location. The majority of searches performed on Google are on mobile devices. The map pack gets a lot of real estate on the small screen of mobile devices and has a direct Call button. This convenience and ease of use for the customers make the map pack attractive to businesses.

However, as there are only 3 spots the competition is higher than ever. If your map ranking is lower than #3, then you do not appear anywhere and have virtually no visibility, unlike organic rankings which yield progressive results.

Organic rankings are shown below the map pack and link straight to your website. Here’s a snippet of what they look like (on desktop), as you have probably seen when you searched something on Google.

Ideally, you want placement in both the map pack and the organic results. The distribution of traffic between these 2 also depends on the industry. People that are looking for someone to fix their problem as soon as possible are more likely to click on the Call button and may not care as much about what your website looks like. For example, if a pipe broke in your house, you probably need a plumber as soon as possible and you’re not going to spend 30 minutes doing research.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lawyer or a surgeon, it’s a much more serious and potentially delicate matter, so you might take the time to do your due diligence and look at several websites and read reviews before making a decision.

 

How to Measure Your SEO Results?

Rankings are King

The best method of monitoring results of your Search Marketing campaigns is tracking your rankings AKA your website’s position in the search results for your main keywords.

All SEO Agencies have their own methods of reporting and presenting the data to prove that the SEO work being done is getting results. All that is great but at the end of the day, remember that the primary indicator of whether it is indeed working, is to see how well your rankings are progressing.

Sometimes, an SEO company will try to deceive you by showing all sorts of charts and graphs and snapshots from your Google Analytics to try and prove that the website is getting traffic. But any kind of traffic does not lead to getting phone calls from your ideal customers. It is targeted traffic we want and that is why you are investing in SEO rather than other traffic acquisition methods.

Remember that getting a good ROI from local search engine optimization is not about the volume of traffic but the fact that said traffic is highly targeted and your ideal customer demographic.

So above all else, your priority should be tracking your rankings and if they stay stagnant for too long, it is an indication that your SEO consultant has hit a wall and is not able to figure out what is holding the rankings back. This often happens with high competition keywords where your website could get stuck on the lower first page or the second page.

 

Tracking Traffic

Before your SEO agency starts working on your site, it is important that you note your baseline traffic levels so you can monitor the effectiveness of their work in the coming months. If you are tech-savvy at all, you should be able to install Google Analytics on your website. If not, ask the SEO agency to do so and make sure that you have access to the dashboard.

google analytics helps you track the traffic on your websiteGoogle Analytics can be complicated and overwhelming to look at on first sight. But remember that at this stage, we’re only looking at the number of Sessions and Users on your site. We don’t really want to analyse traffic flow or user behaviour at this stage. That comes much later. Right now, we just want to know how many people are visiting the website over a 30 day period.

Once you have this snapshot, comparing it to the same numbers 4-5 months into your SEO campaign should tell you how well your SEO is working. Now of course, ideally you should know that SEO is working because you’re getting more phone calls but it is not always as simple as that.

 

Conversion Tracking & Optimization

Once you start getting more traffic to the website, you should start getting more phone calls and leads. At this stage, you should consider studying your website’s conversion rates more carefully.

Of course, you need to make sure that you are building your SEO campaign on the right foundation from the get-go by having a decent looking website. But when it comes to the smaller changes and tweaks that can improve your conversion, it is best to learn from studying your current traffic flow.

For example, if you find that a particular page is one of the biggest “Exit points” for your visitors and it doesn’t quite make sense for it to be so, that page needs more attention as it is clearly losing traffic.

Conversion optimization is a step that many people miss from their strategy. More traffic is great but it is not always the best solution (or the most cost-effective solution) to get more leads. Making the best of the traffic your website is getting will make sure that you’re getting the highest possible ROI on your marketing dollars.

 

A.P. Web Solutions is a Melbourne-based SEO consultancy working with local businesses Australia-wide to generate more leads through organic and paid search. Call 1300 780 112 to speak to one of our SEO consultants!

 

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO

By Internet Marketing Service, search engine optimization, seo tips

Most business owners have a very vague understanding of what SEO is. They think of it as “the Google thing” but are generally pretty indifferent to the idea of learning more about it or even implementing it themselves (thanks to a gazillion daily spammy emails)

But you’d be shooting yourself in the foot with this approach of only ever thinking about SEO if you feel the need to hire SEO specialists or only when your marketing budget allows it. There are plenty of things you can do for FREE that will put your business in a better position to be found online.

Understanding the basics of SEO helps you understand how the entire WEB works. It helps you get more out of everything you do online for your business, to maximize the impact of every piece of content you publish, from articles to videos and podcasts. No matter what you put on the Internet, helping search engines like Google understand what it is will yield a better ROI on the time and energy spent in creating and publishing that content.

“Social media may be trendy and more fun to talk about but Search actually puts money in the bank.”

So in this post, we will cover how to understand SEO, what makes Google tick and how you can get her to take you seriously.

Looks Will Only Get You So Far (Amen)

Think of your website as a car… your favorite sports car, like a Ferrari. And think of Google as the person you want to impress with that car. The result of how much Google gets impressed is your Ranking (your position in the search results for your keyword)

Google will rank you based on the ENGINE of that car rather than its design or look (thankfully)

The biggest mistake related to digital marketing that new business owners make, is that they invest a fair bit of time and energy and money into the design of their website, only to be disappointed later with the lack of phone calls the site generates. That’s because you made your car look pretty, but never bothered with the engine.

The SEO Engine of Your Website

So what are the parts of that engine and how do you build one that Google just cannot ignore?
In order of importance, they are:

  • Your URL
  • Your SEO Title
  • Your SEO (Meta) Description
  • Your Content

Note: Links are omitted from this list to keep it beginner friendly and limit to variables you can DIRECTLY control at no cost.

Help Google understand these 4 elements of every page on your website and you will be well ahead of most of your competitors. This gets you in the race!

Your biggest question right now probably is “How do I change my SEO Title and Description?”

This depends on the platform your website is built on. If it is WordPress, it is as simple as using a plugin like Yoast SEO, going to the Page you want to edit, scrolling to the bottom and editing the Google snippet. If you’re not using WordPress and not sure how to edit your SEO Titles, you can always… well, Google it.

This is what the Yoast snippet looks like when you’re editing your Page in WordPress:

Tip for the Advanced SEO Geeks: Go to Search Console (Webmaster Tools) -> Index > Fetch and Render and click on the “/” or the respective URL of any Page to see your Page EXACTLY as the Googlebot sees it. You will be surprised to find how much content is being blocked by fancy web design elements and that means Google is only seeing a portion of the website.

Make sure to include your main keywords in your Titles and Description. Just think about what phrases your clients or customers would type into Google. Do NOT just string a bunch of keywords together! It should still be legible and something people would want to click on.

If you’re a visual learner and like examples, check out this video in which I explain everything you need to know about tuning your website’s engine.

SEO 101 Video: The Blueprint for Local SEO

If you need help with finding your keywords, consider using a free plugin called Keywords Everywhere. It integrates with your Browser and shows the number of people searching for your keywords when you Google it.

Sorry, Your Story’s Just Not Good Enough

Ok, so now your car has a decent engine… well done!
But if you want to take Google on a ride, that engine’s going to need some fuel.

You see, changing your SEO Titles, Descriptions and content, as important as it is, is still just YOUR story about YOUR business.
Just as you would trust a referral or a recommendation from a friend or a family member, Google will trust you a lot more if other people are saying nice things about your business. In the world of the Internet, links are recommendations. As an SEO agency, our job is to find the best quality and most relevant sites to link to our clients’ websites, which increase their trust and rankings.

Building Foundation Links

Links are the fuel for your engine and they’re going to make your car actually go places.

I promised to keep things beginner-friendly… so what is a super-simple and easy way to get some great links to get Google to take you more seriously?

Well, think about it… what are some of the most powerful websites in the world?

Social media sites! And a lot of them allow you to create BUSINESS profiles and include links to your website.

You might have heard of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn… but did you know there are HUNDREDS of these sites?

So how about creating profiles on 30 of these websites and linking them to your site? They’re free and there is not a better and safer way to build the foundation of your website than building links from these ultra-powerful websites. Go to knowem.com to get some ideas for which sites you should build your profiles on. You don’t have to use their (over-priced) service. You can also order one of our SEO setup packages which have a one-time payment fee they all include creating social profiles (and much more!)

All of this you can do at no cost. So there is really no excuse to not making some effort to help Google understand your business and your content.

Wait… that’s not true. Excuses are actually plenty, but spots on the first page… there are only 10.

A.P. Web Solutions is a digital marketing agency, specializing in SEO services Melbourne. Check the Home page at www.apwebsolutions.com.au for more information.

What is Local SEO and How Can It Help Your Business?

By Internet Marketing Service, search engine optimization, seo tips

A local business can easily grow their business and attract more customers by employing Local SEO strategies. This article will explain what Local SEO is and why the use of local search engine optimization can help your business with online visibility.

Local SEO is a tool you can use to market on the internet. Local SEO consultants will help a business by promoting the product and service they are offering to the customer at the exact time they are online looking for a product or a service. Local SEO consists of the use of a number of strategies. These include improving the rankings on the search engines like Google, business directories like Yelp, Foursquare, Superpages, Google My Business listing, Yellowbook, Bing Places for Business page, online reviews, localized content on your page, among other strategies.

Millions of people go online and use local search every day to look for businesses in their respective areas. SEO services can increase the chances of your business getting found by these potential customers.

Search Engine Optimization is a targeted method of marketing. You will be marketing yourself to people who need the products and services you are offering, unlike traditional forms of marketing where business marketed to people who were not even interested in what was being offered. This means your prospective customers will be seeing your business on their own terms.

10 Reasons Why Businesses Need Local SEO

1. The number of people going online to look for local business is increasing

The number of people turning to the internet to find business has continued to rise. These statistics paint the picture;
96% of people with PC conduct local searches
46% of searches on Google are local
64% of local customers turn to their internet (search engine and directories) to find local businesses
Half of ALL mobile searchers are looking for information like phone number and address of businesses
78% of all local mobile searches will end in offline purchase
(Sources: Business2community.com and searchengineland.com)

2. Local SEO is targeted and timely

get a free SEO report for your websiteThe main reason behind local search is finding a specific business. the second being to find a product or service. People searching are trying to find a specific business they can go to, but many of them don’t know any specific one in mind when they start the process of searching. By using local search tactics, an SEO company can position your business and promote the products or services you are offering when they are looking for your type of business. Connecting with your customer when they need you is the perfect chance. Not sure about how good or bad your website’s SEO is? Get a FREE SEO REPORT here to get an idea!

3. High Conversion Levels

Online directories such as Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch, etc. will show the name of the business, phone number, address, and in some instances additional information like business description and menu. It is common to find local directories dominating the first page of the results. Local directory marketing will provide a higher conversion rate when compared to traditional forms of advertising. There are some directories that can provide up to 50%. What this means is that you will have one actual customer out of two leads by listing your business in as many directories as possible.

4. Mobile Internet is Growing

The number of smartphone users is on a rise, meaning people can easily search for local business while they are on the go. In Australia, the number of people using their phones to access the internet is higher than desktop, with smartphones at 51% and desktop 42%. Local SEO works on both mobile internet and PC. This means you cannot miss out on any potential customer.

5. Great Return on Investment

One great thing about SEO is the fact that there is very little wasted exposure, unlike traditional forms of advertising like leaflets, newspaper, and direct mail where you could reach out to people not interested in what you are offering. You will be reaching them when they need you. This is why working with an SEO consultant can be very cost-effective and efficient.

6. Only 44% of Business Have Claimed Their Google My Business Listings

Google My Business is a FREE listing that Google gives to a business that claims it. Getting listed will increase the chance of showing at the top of the search engine result page. The results you see at the top of the page in a “3-pack”, also known as the “map pack” are Google My Business listings:

Many businesses out there have not been able to realize the power of marketing online. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to get a head start over your competition before they find out and do the same. By the time they will be getting on board, you would have already moved higher in the search engines. And this is just one tool that you have at your disposal. There are several more that can give you important information that you can use to improve your position in the search engines. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Essential SEO Tools.

7. It is Still Free (most of it)

You don’t have to pay for anything to claim you Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and many other business directories. This is free promotion for your business. Another free source of traffic that many business owners ignore, is Apple Maps, which enables Siri and Voice Search on iOs devices (iPhones) to find your business!

8. Only 20% of Adults Get Their News from Print Newspapers

Advertising on traditional forms is not a good investment because it is on the decline. The number of people reading newspapers has continued to fall, with some figures showing that there has been an 80% decrease in readers in the past 20 years. Why is this happening? Because people have turned to the online world for their news and local business information.
(Source: Poynter.org)

9. 88% of Local Consumers tend to Trust Online Business Reviews

Many businesses know the power of mouth, and how it can make or break a reputation. Work on your business’s online reputation by asking your customers to leave a positive review about your business, and this will, in turn, attract many customers.
(Source: Local Consumer Review Survey)

10. People Rely on the Internet to Find Your Business

Many people rely on the internet to find more information about products and services. You will miss out on these prospective customers if you don’t make an effort of appearing at the search engine result page. Putting in place Local search engine optimization strategies for the business to show up whenever a person searches for a product or service you are offering.

Grow Your Business With Local SEO

Search engines have been trying the best to provide their users with accurate local search engine results, and this is your chance to get free advertising. You need to take full advantage of local SEO to boost your business before your competition joins in too. All types of business ranging from cafes, plumbers, florist, accountant, etc can get the benefits of working with an SEO expert to get more organic traffic. With that said, there are some industries and professions which get a higher ROI from an SEO marketing strategy and these are businesses which typically have a high dollar value per sale, such as lawyers and plastic surgeons.

Search Engine Optimization can be greatly beneficial for businesses that want to increase their bottom line and are willing to invest in their future. It does take more time than some other online marketing strategies, but it pays the dividends long-term.

A.P. Web Solutions (apwebsolutions.com.au) is a Search Engine Optimization agency, working with Australian businesses to help them scale their revenue and generate leads through Google traffic.

Google Updates: Security Warnings HTTPS & Google My Business Posts

By Internet Marketing Service, search engine optimization, SEO News & Updates

There have been 2 main updates from Google this month:

Google’s Security Warning

You MAY have received an E-mail from Google recently about the importance of securing your website with an SSL certificate.

converting your website to HTTPS, installing SSL certificate SEO update

If you have NOT received this email, it is probably because you do not have Google Search Console installed on your website, which is the only channel Google uses to communicate with website owners.

The email warns website owners that starting October 2017, Google Chrome (the most popular internet browser) will start displaying “Not Secure” warnings to visitors to your website, unless you have the SSL certificate installed (which converts your website from HTTP:// to HTTPS://).

This is another step from Google towards their long-term goal of making ALL websites secure with SSL certificates and marking all others as “not secure”. This 2014 blog post from Google’s official blog explains their long-term goal of making all websites secure with the https encryption and also hints that it is a ranking signal.

In the past, this applied mainly to websites that carried out transactions and where users had to enter payment details within the site itself. So it was mainly a consideration for E-commerce stores and such. However, this new update changes the landscape even for local SEO and businesses that do not transact from their website.

So jump on the safe side and install an SSL certificate on your website!

We are providing this service for a $150 one-time fee per website. If you would like us to do this for you, click here to pay by Paypal. And please note that you must provide Hosting information for us to be able to install the SSL certificate on your website. You can also ORDER THROUGH THIS PAGE.

Once you pay, we will get in touch by email requesting the information we need.

 

Google My Business Posts

Yet another great update from Google to enable businesses to make Posts that appear directly on the results page!

In other words, when people search for your business name, in addition to your Maps listing showing on the right, a “post” can also now appear just below it. These posts are much like Facebook and Twitter updates, except that they appear directly on Google and people do not need to follow you or even know about your business, to read them.

They can be used to promote events, discounts, promotions etc. Here’s an example screenshot, with the Google Post, highlighted in red:

A.P. Web Solutions provides digital marketing & SEO services to businesses Australia-wide. We have recently started working with a startup company operating from Tasmania and aims to revolutionize the options available for Australians to buy fresh edible products online. 

3 Essential SEO Tools Every Business Owner Should Use

By Internet Marketing Service, search engine optimization, SEO tools

If you have ever felt too confused or overwhelmed by Search Engine Optimization, it may be because you do not yet understand how you could implement some of it yourself or what are the benefits of doing so.

Best SEO Tools in 2018

These are some tools that every business owner should know about and use so they can start making efforts in the right direction to getting more traffic to their websites. More importantly, they’re all FREE!

Keywords Everywhere

Instant Access to Keyword Search Volume

The first thing that you need to understand about SEO is that it’s all about TRAFFIC. Keywords are search phrases that people search in Google such as “plumber Melbourne” or “cheap plumber Sydney”. If you provide a service, the service+location is generally your main keyword.

But before you start working on those keywords, you also need to find out how many people are searching them. The Google AdWords Keyword Planner shows you this data but you need to set up an account and start an Ad campaign to get full access.

Keywords Everywhere is a plugin for Chrome and Firefox browsers that will show you the keyword search volume as soon as you search it in Google.


So enter your main keyword and look at the number of people searching. Note that the number displayed is the monthly search volume. If you’re not happy with it, try a different version of it or scroll down to Google’s suggested keywords at the bottom and look at those. Bottom line is, this is going to help you with your research so you can set the right target and go after it. The first step in SEO consulting is to determine the main keywords (and some secondary keywords) for the campaign and everything that is done beyond this point is built around those keywords.

Tip: Keep in mind that the data that Google shows you is only partially correct. Don’t be disheartened if you see low figures for your keywords. In most cases, if there are suggestions at the bottom of the results page, there are plenty of people searching regardless of what Google reports.

Page Speed Insights

Check your loading speed to improve user-experience

Have you ever felt impatient when you click on a link and the website takes forever to load? Frustrating, right? Well, your visitors feel the same way. On the Internet, “forever” can be equated to the difference between a site that loads in 2 seconds vs 4 seconds.

If you’re going to be working hard to get more traffic to your site, you better have a plan to convert that traffic into sales and revenue and your website not loading fast enough is definitely not conducive to that outcome.

Page Speed Insights is a tool from Google themselves. No better way to get information than from the horse’s mouth. Enter your URL and it will show a percentage-based score of how that page is performing. It will also give suggestions on what you could do to improve that score. If your score is in the Red zone, you need to make it a priority to get it up to Yellow at least.

Also, note that this score is on a URL by URL basis. In other words, just because your Home page gets a good score does not mean your entire website will. If you are trying to rank an inner page, you need to check its score separately. These are the sort of issues that a local SEO company would try and fix for your website to ensure that they are not holding you back in your rankings.

IFTTT

Automate Posting to Social Media

IFTTT stands for If This Then That and it is a great tool that can help you with several things, including your social media & SEO.

The way you use IFTTT for SEO is for your Blog. Most businesses these days have a Blog on their website which they use to post content. IFTTT can help you maximize the impact of producing that content. First, you set up several social profiles for your websites such as Blogspot, Tumblr & Weebly in addition to the usual ones you probably already have like Facebook and Twitter.

Then, you sign up for IFTTT and set up Recipes so that every time you post an article on your Blog, IFTTT will automatically post that article on ALL your social media platforms! This saves you the time of having to post that article manually on all your social media accounts.

Set up the Recipes so that the RSS feed of your Blog is the Trigger and posting on your social media accounts, is the Outcome.

How does this help with SEO? Well, when an article is posted on your Blogspot or Tumblr, it also LINKS to your website. So just by posting one article, you can get 10-15 good quality links to your website, which powers up your website. These are great foundational links for any business to have and increase your trust in Google’s eyes.

Click Here To Get a Free Video Analysis of your Website’s SEO!

A.P. Web Solutions (www.apwebsolutions.com.au) is a local SEO agency that helps businesses get found by their target customers through Google. As a local SEO Melbourne boutique agency, we focus on helping small businesses grow and scale their business with targeted organic traffic.

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