SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to strategies that help improve your search engine (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo) rankings. If a search engine considers the content on your page to be authoritative and relevant to the term that someone has searched for, it will display a link to your page in those search results. The more authoritative and relevant your content is, the higher your page will rank in the results
There are hundreds of factors that Google uses to rate the relevance and authority of a site, and they often change, so keeping on top of SEO should be an important part of every building materials company's digital strategy. If done well, great SEO can help a challenger brand gain traction and market share more effectively than a huge ad buy.
In the past, companies may have added a bunch of keywords to their site's code in the hopes that Google would rank them higher based on those keywords. Nowadays, it's not that easy.
Google now disregards keywords in your code, and they may even penalize you for what they call "keyword stuffing." If you've used these practices in the past, you could actually be hurting your search ranking instead of helping it. That's why keeping up with SEO best practices is so important.
Helpful hint about keywords: When I first started learning about SEO, the term "keyword" caused me some confusion. If you're like me and you've ever wondered if a keyword is only one word, the answer is no. A keyword can be just one word, or it can be a phrase (you'll sometimes see it referred to as a "long-tail" keyword). One-word keywords are often very difficult to rank for, so try thinking about two- or three-word phrases that also apply to what your target audience is searching for. For example, instead of "tile" you could concentrate on ranking for "ceramic tile," "light blue tile" or even "easy to clean kitchen tile" - whatever best describes what you are selling.
How can SEO help building materials companies succeed?
If you are new to SEO, here are five things you can do right now that can help improve your website's rankings:
Stop Using Shady SEO Strategies.
In the past, many companies thought that all they needed was a bunch of links to their site to gain rankings. But links are only helpful if they are from reputable sites.
Sketchy SEO strategies (often referred to as "black hat SEO") like keyword stuffing and comment spam may seem to give you more visitors at first, but they'll end up hurting you in the end.
If you've used black hat SEO practices in the past, stop now! Go back and fix what you can, and stick to using best practices in the future to avoid being penalized by search engines.
Target keywords the right way.
We've already discussed how keyword stuffing is a bad idea, but what are the right ways to target the search terms you're after? The simple answer is: quality content.
Make sure that you are giving visitors the information they are looking for in an easy to understand format, and include your keywords in a way that feels natural.
Try to incorporate your keyword in the first 100 words of the text on your page then add it in after that whenever it feels natural to do so.
Keep in mind that ultimately you are writing for your target audience, not just for search results. Throwing a bunch of keywords on a page might get you some more visitors, but if the content doesn't connect with your audience, those extra visits won't lead to sales.
Also, try to incorporate the targeted keyword in your page's title and meta description. A meta description is the text that shows up under your page title and web address in search results. It should give a brief description of the contents of the page.
Speaking of meta descriptions..
Add a unique meta description to each page on your site.
Google does not include meta descriptions in their ranking algorithm, but having a good meta description is still an important part of SEO.
Your meta description shows up in search results right below the webpage link. It tells people that they can find what they're looking for on your site.
If you don't specify what the meta description should be for your page, a search engine usually just takes the first few lines of whatever text it finds on that page and displays it in the results.
As you can see from the above example, letting Google grab whatever text is on your page isn't the best idea. Instead of telling the viewer what this page is about, there's just a bunch of random text that doesn't make sense. Meta descriptions are like ad copy for your page - it's your chance to tell them why they should click to learn more.
Many times, a company will use a single generic meta description on every page of their site to save time. But when someone is looking for a specific thing, a generic description isn't very helpful. Let's say that you are a company that manufactures widgets and a customer is looking for a replacement part for one of your widgets.
A meta description that is specific to the contents of that page will get more clicks. For instance, if someone was looking for a replacement part for a specific model, they know that your page will give them what they are looking for. Adding a value-driven call to action gives them another reason to click on your page instead of someone else's.
(You can find out more about writing great meta descriptions here.)
Make it easy for Google to find your information.
Providing an XML sitemap of your site makes it easier for Google to discover all of your pages. You can also use a sitemap to tell Google what pages are of more importance and which ones are updated most often. You'll need a free Google Webmaster Tools account to do this, which you should get if you don't have one already.
Check your load time.
This is SUPER important. You can have the best content in the world, but if your page takes a long time to load, visitors won't stick around to see it.
Google factors in speed when ranking pages, so if your page is slower that your competitors, you could be missing out in a big way. Take a moment to check the speed of your site with Google's PageSpeed tool.
In this article I've given you five things to help you improve your rankings, but there is much more to learn. In the future I will be highlighting other ways that you can use SEO strategies to gain leads and make more sales.
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And if you've used some of the strategies I've listed in this article, leave a comment or drop us a line to share your story with us - we'd love to hear from you!