Measuring Your Own Effectiveness in Search

Posted by on Oct 6, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Probably our most frequently asked question at KRD is “How can I get my site to number 1 in a Google search?”.

Getting high-ranking search results can be a difficult and time-consuming task because there are almost never instant results to know if your site is optimized properly. What makes search engine optimization even more difficult, is the fact that Google owns the code that dictates how your site is ranked. That, paired with ever-changing algorithms, means the job of keeping your site ranking up is never done.

So how do you even begin to compete in rank with the billions of websites (millions coming online daily)? First, start by thinking about how you want your customers to find you. If someone has heard about you and wants to find out more about you online, it is good to be found in a search of your company name. However if your name is common, this can be difficult, but in the end, coming up high on a search of your name is not any indication that your site is effectively optimized.

To ascertain this, you need to think like a person looking for your services. We have all Googled things enough to know that if you stick to very broad, generic searches, you’re not going to get the speciality service or item you’re looking for. If you search “photography”, it’s likely a Wikipedia entry on photography would be in one of the top spots. But if you search “wedding photographer in Connecticut” … you’ll probably start finding websites of just the people you need.

What are the specific needs of your customers that your business provides? Are you a snack food company? A landscape designer? A not-for-profit? Then sit down and make a list of all of the services or products you offer and come up with the words that best describe these. Are your products organic, or perfect for lunch boxes, or great for party favors? Do you specialize in rock gardens in Connecticut? Or special volunteer programs for high school kids in New York?

While these very narrow searches may not describe all that you do, using these terms in your site will start to get you ranked in significant searches that may get you seen by potential customers and clients. Searching within a more defined and narrow result is often called searching the long tail, and it could be just the ticket to get you ranked in a sea of competitive websites.

So now that you’ve identified some long tail searches that are applicable to your business, gauge how readily your customers will find you in that search.

Create a spreadsheet and in the first column of the first row label it “Search Terms”. In the rows below, enter each search term in its own row. In the next column, label it the current date of your search. Now search for each term in your list and enter the rank of your term. For example, if you search “Wedding photographer CT”, and your site comes in 9th place on the first page, simply enter 9 in the row for that term. If it’s on page 2 in the 5th spot, enter p2, 5.

Do this over a few weeks and document any changes. If your rankings are not as high as you want, then you need to review your website and see what may be causing your site to rank poorly. If these are indeed viable search terms for your business then you need to add these keywords to your site’s content. This does not mean to spam your own site, but if your site doesn’t really discuss the terms you are searching, then the likelihood of you being found as such is going to be low.

Also, you don’t need to have all of these terms in a single paragraph. It’s wise to create specific pages about one of your particular phrases. For example, a wedding photographer might want to go into more detail about his style or techniques. You can then potentially search for “outdoor wedding photographer”.

If you think your site is optimized pretty well but you are still underperforming, then consider the following questions:

  • Are people talking about you on the web?
    (Check your analytics to see if you have some referrals.)
  • Are you doing any kind of promotion on or off the web?
    (A little advertising can help a lot.)
  • Are you still searching too broadly?
    (Again, think about your specific market.)
  • Does your website actually tell Google about you?
    (Is there actual text (as opposed to graphics) that can be pulled from your site that says who you are and what you do?)
  • Are you listed on social/business networks?
    (Oftentimes these listings come up high in searches as they are content heavy including lots of traffic and links.)
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