This post was first published in 2011 when the optimizing test was performed on the two websites noted below. Current search results–10-years later–no longer reflect those earlier efforts, which illustrates how important it is to continue building on your optimization efforts over time. One post is not enough. Even so, the methods described in this post and the takeaways from the results remain valid today.
Testing the effectiveness of various SEO tactics is part of what we do at AIMBIZ, and it’s something anyone can do using free tools such as the Google Ad tool, Twitter, HootSuite and a WordPress website. In this case, we wanted a test to optimize several posts for two of our local markets, Kent, Washington, where a number of our clients are located and Issaquah, where we were located when AIM was founded. Clearly there’s value for us to appear in the search results for relevant web design-related terms in these locations where we have connections. With our website and domain at AIMBIZ.com, we have the perfect opportunity to track the real-time progress of our search results starting from a clean slate. If you want to skip straight to the results, pop down to the bottom of the page. Between here and there we describe how we ran the test and how you can do the same thing for your business website.
Searching for Web Design Issaquah and Web Design Kent, WA
We began by researching the top keyword terms that people use regarding web development. The term “Web design” ranked best. The obvious test for this was to see what keywords got the most local traffic for Seattle, and “Seattle web design” won. So it makes sense that people searching for web design services in Kent, WA and Issaquah would use the same local search strategy. It also makes sense for us to test local strategies because most of our clients sell to a local market. But even if your business serves a non-geographic base, the same lessons apply to other specialized terms, such as brands and model names or specific industry terms. This long-tail or niche keyword strategy makes up more than 90% of all Internet search, and people who are searching with long-tail keywords already have narrowed their focus to what you offer, so they are ideal potential customers.
Adding our keywords to the post content
I recently posted an article about using keywords in post content, so you might want to check that out for more detail. The gist of our test was to create a post that featured a client website from each of our two target markets. We chose an accounting firm in Issaquah and a bakery in Kent, WA. Within the post, we used our seed keyword “web design” and niche keyword for each location in specific places; in the title and title metatag, in the content, in a link, and in the alt text for the post’s related image. Each post is fairly short—about 200 to 300 words—and each shares some of the useful or fun features of the respective websites. The same tactic could be used in describing company events, products or services, customer testimonials and other topics that are specific to your business. When it comes to creating a blogging strategy, you need to think about frequency—how often you will have an opportunity to post a story about a topic. In our case, showcasing our client’s websites is a natural opportunity to talk about what we do and the special value we bring. You should look for the same types of opportunities when devising your own blogging strategy.
Leveraging Twitter to kick-start traffic
Most of our clients are pretty skeptical about using Twitter as part of their online marketing program. It’s little wonder, since most of the press Twitter gets is about how celebrities Tweet about what they’re having for lunch or how the service is co-opted for political movements. But the real power of Twitter isn’t in learning where to get a great BLT, but in sharing something of interest or value to your Twitter following. It’s about sharing, not selling. So we automatically send out a Tweet with every blog post we make on AIMBIZ.com. The reason for this is to drive traffic to the post. A percentage of our Twitter followers will see the Tweet, link through to the blog post, read it, sometimes share it, sometimes visit other pages on our website, and all of that is valuable. So I’d like to thank our Twitter community with a big, virtual hug.
The search results
For the search term “web design Kent, WA”, the initial result was almost immediate. After one Tweet and a dozen views, the site appeared on page four of Google results. A day later and with 26 views, it had moved to the middle of page two. At the time of this post on day three, the site is at the top position for page two of Google with 47 views.
For the search term “web design Issaquah”, the initial result didn’t happen for almost one day. (Depending on the indexing by Google, results can often take a while to show up, but the more frequently you post, the more frequently Google’s bots will crawl your page. Another good reason to blog frequently.) After one day and one Tweet, the post showed up on page seven with 25 views, and after two days and two more Tweets, the post rose to page five and 41 views.
Each post took about half an hour to write, and the initial Tweets were automatic. Setting up a schedule of follow up Tweets using HootSuite took about 15 minutes. So after spending less than two hours of invested time, we were very close to achieving page one results for one of our major markets and moving up in the second test market. That’s time well spent.