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The Web Manual – The Search part 1

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The Web Manual
As part of our on going series, The Web Manual, we will dive into the world of search engines. Now I know you have an awesome website, and are now working on some quality content for your site.Today lets talk about the search engine. This post isn’t designed to be a full search engine optimization (SEO) guide, but an intro so you can be better informed, do some basic SEO work, and get found!

The Search – Part 1

Are you one of the people who think the search results don’t matter? or maybe think they only matter a little? According to a recent study by Enquiro, 51% of users start by using a search engine.  Shoes > search, plumbing > search, Doctor > search, church > search, and so on. 51% start by the search!
More data:
77% of users prefer google as their search engine
80% click through the organic ads (non-paid, but earned spots)
So this simple survey should tell you one thing. Being ranked well matters.

But how can I help my site?

Lets dive into some easy, low hanging fruit on the SEO work.
1. Analyze.
You have to know where you are at now, to know whats working right? Google Analytics is amazing, but statcounter.com and others work well too.
Look at traffic counts, traffic sources, keywords coming in, etc.
2. Pick some key terms
What do you want to be known for? Be specific. generic terms are too hard to fight for, and dont lead to quality leads. A Tempe cigar shop doenst need to be found for “cigars”, they need to be found for “tempe cigar shop”. Why you ask? The first term is broad, and people searching for cigars are looking for resources, news, online retailers, forums, etc. Now the second term will lead to customers walking in the door, buying local, and hopefully staying hooked on that shop. Now a generic term wont hurt the latter, but 100x hard to be well ranked, and most of your traffic won’t / can’t walk in the door.
Other examples: Are you a church, try a term like [you city] + church. (Atlanta Church). Hardware store? Try the same thing. Most users these days are pretty location aware, and know that google is too. When I need my local Pizza joint’s phone number, I don’t turn to the yellow pages, I google “maricopa Barros”. Its always the first result, and if I’m searching from my phone, I can just hit the call button. Easy!
Action: Pick 3 or so key phrases you need to be found for. Write them down.
3. Test.
Where do you rank now for that term? Write this down. We want to test often. Ranked number 32? don’t worry, we want to change that. Now also note who is in the top 10. Write those top few down as well. Or better yet, screen capture, print to PDF, something to expedite the process.
Now onto the dirty work. Content.
Last week we discussed that content is king. Google care more about your content than almost any other factor. Sure there is some giant algorithm in a closet somewhere at google headquarters, but if you have great content, and get the word out about your great content, good rankings will follow.
So you have been working on your content from last week, now lets make sure you have those search terms in your content. Are you page titles specific? do they contain a search phrase? Do you have heading tags on your page that also have the search phrase in it? Be specific about using these search phrases! use them often, but keep things natural. If you need to hire a copywriter to help you with your content, tell them your key search phrases!
Next week, we’ll explore some other search techniques and tools to help your SEO efforts. Including google webmaster, location search services, and backlinks.