What We Mean by “SEO Building Blocks”…
…as that term is used in the table displayed on our SEO Building Blocks page.
Website Built with SEO in Mind
Your website is the starting point for everything else. Without a website, you cannot appear in search engine results pages (“SERPs”) and you cannot tell the world what you do and why they should choose your company to do it. Without a website, there is nothing for which to perform search engine optimization (“SEO”).
GMB, GSC, GA setup and monitoring
- Google My Business
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
Google provides these tools for increasing the likelihood that your website will rank more highly in the SERPs and for measuring the number of visitors who come to your website each day. They are only effective when they are properly set up and when your website is properly connected to them.
When hidden code called schema markup is built into your website, Google can read it and use the information stored in it for the purpose of more clearly understanding your website, your business and your services. It uses that increased understanding for the sake of correctly storing that information in its index and more appropriately ranking your website in SERPs.
- In order for your website to be effective, it must be “hosted” on servers so that it is available for visitors to read the content there.
- The hosting servers must be very fast at serving up the pages on your site, because modern users won’t tolerate slow websites.
- Website hosting speed and security are Google SERP ranking factors.
- Embracing new technologies: From time to time new technologies become available that are either required or desirable for the sake of maintaining the website’s competitive standing and performance. Examples of this include “mobile friendliness” and “SSL encryption”.
- Software updates: The various pieces of software that are employed to host the site and provide the appearance and formatting of its content are continuously being updated by the companies that provide those technologies. It is necessary to not only make sure that those maintenance and security updates are installed promptly, and it’s also necessary to first assess the updates to ensure that the updates themselves are stable and won’t cause problems.
- Audience targeting: the typical home care or other elder care services consumer is an adult daughter of the prospective clients, age 45 t0 65. In the United States, that audience is most readily found on social media, especially Facebook. Therefore Facebook, and to a lesser degree, LinkedIn and Pinterest, have become an important venues for messaging, advertising and online reviews management. The most important one, though, is Facebook.
- Social Proof: Recent studies have found that people are more likely to believe assertions made by others on social media than assertions made by businesses. The phrase, “social proof” has been coined to describe this phenomenon. It is particularly evident when you consider the degree of significance and trust that people place in the online reviews left by others about businesses such as home care companies and other elder care services providers.
Online Reviews Management
Social proof is a very powerful thing, and online reviews are extremely powerful examples of social proof. They influence online users in several ways:
- They make listings “stand out” and appear more attractive. When a searcher is confronted with a SERP that has ten listings and three of them have visible online review “stars”, those three draw the eye of the searcher and the searcher is much more likely to click on one or more of those three with review stars.
- They lead searchers to do their own subconscious “ranking” by comparing the number of review stars and the overall number of reviews and tending to select the one or two with the most gold review stars and the highest number of reviews.
Online Reviews Management is work done to encourage satisfied customers / clients to post favorable reviews in high numbers and on review websites where they have the greatest impact on SERP rankings. Reviews posted on Google itself have the highest overall impact on Google SERPs.
Industry Directory Listings
Online “directories” are websites dedicated to listing groups of things for public display, and the most common type of online directory is a website that lists companies in one or more industries. They tend to offer the option of searching by geographic area served as well as by categories such as medical care, non-medical care, and others. They normally contain name, address and phone number (“NAP”) data as well as a website address for each company listed in the directory.
There are literally thousands of online directories. Only a few are important from any business standpoint, and of those only an even smaller number are especially relevant for the home care or elder care services industries.
Almost all of the small group of important ones are “pay for play” and some of them also have begun adopting somewhat ulterior tactics to divert leads away from companies who choose not to pay, while still listing those non-participating companies in their directories but with tactics in place to steer visitors away to other companies that do pay.
The primary reason to consider paying to be included in any of these directories is the hope of receiving leads from them, leads that will convert into real business. A second reason for considering paying for inclusion in them is that they may offer online reviews and those reviews may be listed in SERPs.
In addition to industry-specific directory sites like those mentioned above, there are also thousands of “local” business directory sites that list the companies that provide service in each geographic area and information about the services that they provide. Google considers a relatively small number of these local directory sites to be important, perhaps 50-100 of them.
Google compares the NAP data displayed on a company’s website with the NAP data shown in these important local business directory sites as well as the NAP data shown in the company’s Google My Business listing. If the NAP data is significantly different among those sites, Google considers that to be a negative ranking signal and will tend to rank the site lower as a result.
The industry directory listings described above are a specialized type of citation source.
Content – Publish Fresh Material
Google will rank a website more highly if the site recurrently publishes new content that is high-quality, relevant, authoritative and trustworthy. The frequency of publishing matters, but it is less important than the quality and authority of the material.
In the past, many websites published such new material as “posts” on a “blog”. A more modern approach is to just add more and more valuable content as additional subject matter pages in the main body of the site.
An effective online marketing strategy for content production can include the concept of multiple uses for each piece of new content. Examples of such multiple uses include, but are not limited to, these:
- New pages for the website, as described above
- New content for the company’s pages on Facebook and other social media sites, as “content sharing” posts there.
- Content for inclusion in monthly company email newsletters.
One of the ways that Google ranks websites is by examining which other websites link back to them. In other words, when ranking site A, Google will consider how many other websites (site B, site C, etc.) contain links from their pages back to site A.
It is very important to note, though, that the quality and ranking of those other websites is just as important, or maybe even more important, than the number of those back links. In fact, if you have hundreds or thousands of back links to your website from other sites that are low-quality, non-trustworthy sites, it is likely that those links will actually hurt your ranking. You have to “earn” your back links from high authority, high trust websites over time and that is the work done by skilled link building experts.
Periodically – we recommend once a month in most cases – it can be helpful to send an email “newsletter” to your referral contacts and others. The purpose of the newsletter is to create “brand impressions” or “brand reminders” so that your firm is more likely to be the first one that the referral source thinks of when they have someone to refer to a firm like yours. The content for the newsletter can be the new content that you added to your website since the last time that you published the newsletter.
Paid Ads – PPC, Google home service ads and others
Sometimes ads can be effective, particularly the pay-per-click (“PPC”) ads that you see now on every Google SERP. If you get a genuinely motivated consumer at just the right “at time of need” moment, you may get their attention with a ppc ad.
The problem is, in the elder care services industry, ppc ads are extremely expensive (up to $30 per click and more) as well as subject to “click fraud”. Click fraud is when your competitors, your friends, your employees, and others just click on your ad “for the fun of it” without knowing or caring about the fact that it’s costing you $30 or more every time they do so.
Every time they click on your ad, it’s “over”, at least in the sense that the money is spent and you’ll never get it back. You don’t “own” anything after the click takes place. When you compare that to the long lasting asset value of a well-built website and an effective SEO ranking campaign, there’s really no comparison in terms of value and enterprise net worth.
It’s worth noting that Google is doing more and more to “monetize” the SERPs though. In many cases the entire “above the fold” section of desktop or laptop SERPs are made up of ads, and on mobile devices it’s even more so.
One of the most recent and aggressive Google actions has been their “home service ads” program, in which they place PPC ads either ahead of, or in some cases, instead of, the “local pack” local search results.
The day may come when you have to consider at least some PPC advertising just to “keep your hand in the game”.