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SEOSuccessful franchises use microsites – Part 4 of 4

SEO! SEO! SEO!

 

Last time we discussed creating content for your microsite and making sure that content is relevant and engaging to your target audience.  Hopefully you have realized that a solid content strategy and marketing plan are very important to your site. Now let’s say you have created grade A perfect content and are launching a great looking site.  Everything is in place to succeed right?  Not quite.  Even if your content is stuff of legend it won’t matter to your target market - in this case potential franchisees - if they can’t find the site!

 

The main goal of this site is to bring in sales leads and develop relationships with potential franchisees.  For this to be successful a long-term plan needs to be implemented for lead development and sales. A huge part of the plan needs to include bringing the leads in and then having the sales team contact and close.  Optimizing the site for search will help those leads find you and the sales team will have a field day.  So where do you start with SEO?  There are so many pieces and while they are all important, there are some vital basics that you can build upon.  Below are 7 SEO steps for your new microsite (thanks to some help from Agent SEO and Jacob Stoops):

 

Step #1: Identify & Overcome Crawlability Issues.

 

This is easily the most important step of the SEO campaign. If your website can’t be crawled properly, then it can’t be indexed, which means that chances of people finding you through a search query are zip, zilch, zero! You’ll need to review your website to identify and correct all of the potential crawlability pitfalls.Some things to look for include:

 

  • Robots.txt file – Check it to ensure that you’re not restricting a web spider’s access to your website.
  • Meta Robots tag – Review your Meta Robots tag to ensure that you’re not disallowing the indexing of your website.
  • Uncrawlable navigation – Whether it be from Flash, Javascript, AJAX, or another coding issue, you’ll need to ensure that your website’s primary navigation can be crawled and followed by web spiders.
  • Poor link architecture – Review your website’s internal links structure to make sure that web spiders have access to ALL of your site’s critical pages.
  • Framed Content – Review your website for iFrame’s or other framed-in content. This content resides on a 3rd-party server and therefore won’t be attributed to your webpage. This is very common with Auto Dealers, or other websites that may feature a dynamic inventory.

Remember, if you’re site can’t be crawled it can’t be found and it doesn’t matter how good the content is—or how pretty the design.

 

Step #2: Research.

 

It is very important to do your homework before proceeding any further with your SEO campaign. This doesn’t mean hitting the books, but it does mean a little bit of studying.Things to look at:

 

  • Keyword Research – Take a look at the different keywords options and answer some questions about yourself. First, what do you want to show up for? Second, what are your products/services? What are people finding your website for? What are people ACTUALLY searching for? Finally, does all of this sync up with your original suspicions or do you need to overhaul your keyword targeting?
  • Competitor Research – It’s very important to review both your online and offline competition. You may be able to gain a bit of insight into potential SEO strategies based on what you find them doing.

SEOStep #3: Keyword Benchmarking.

 

Now that you’ve done your keyword research and hopefully decided on some keyword targeting, it’s time to do a little more benchmarking. You’ll need to utilize rank checking software to find and track your positions in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s).Some good software to track your rankings:

 

Step #4: On-Site SEO.

 

Solid On-Site Optimization is at the heart of every good SEO campaign, and is where a majority of SEO’s spend a bulk of their efforts. Basically, “On-Site” refers to any optimization or tweaks that happen ON your website. There are a ton of things involved with On-Site SEO, and each thing has its own set up best practices. However, it usually boils down to a few simple areas:

 

  • Page Titles – Webpage titles are probably the quickest and easiest way to make an immediate impact in search rankings and traffic. Focus on getting your site’s titles right and good results will usually fall in line.
  • Quality HTML Content – Search engines love content! That’s all there is to it. Having scanable HTML content should serve to give search engines something to hang their hat on when determining your website’s authority. In addition, if your content is any good, users will appreciate it.
  • Meta Description & Keywords Tags – Meta Descriptions are fairly valuable real estate as they typically show up under the title in the SERP’s. This makes them a good place for SEO purposes. Meta Keywords aren’t really used as a ranking factor by the major search engines anymore, although many SEO’s will tell you they’re the key to solid rankings. Watch out for those guys.
  • Utilization of Heading Tags – Heading tags (H1-H6) should be utilized within the content to denote areas of importance on any given webpage. Every webpage should make solid use of Heading tags.
  • Image Optimization – Optimization your website’s images by ensuring that they’re utilizing Alt attribute tags and good file-naming conventions will help search engines understand a little more about your website, and will help visually impaired users who need to utilize screen readers.
  • Utilization of Link Title Tags – Link title tags are another small piece to the puzzle that serve to help describe the contents of any internal or external pages being linked to. They simply serve as another way to reinforce keyword density and page theme.
  • Website Architecture – Ensuring that the website is fundamentally sound in terms of it’s coding, link structure, and overall architecture can really be beneficial from a usability standpoint. Ensuring the the flow of links and information makes sense will help you users, and what’s good for users is usually good for search engines.

 

Step #5: New Content Identification & Targeting.

 

When working through the On-Site Optimization phase, chances are you’ll be able to identify opportunities for additional content that could be added to your website. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

 

  • Content Expansion – Did you find any areas of your website where the content could be expanded on a little bit? Remember, search engines love content, so if your website doesn’t have enough you may need a bit more.
  • Content Separation – Ever hear of the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” A webpage’s content can sometimes fall into this problem, where the content is a bit too general and not specific enough. Did you find any pages on your website that could be split into multiple pages? Splitting them up can help ensure that each product/service has it’s own individual page—and usually results in a page that is more focused and targeted for a highly-specific keyword/phrase.
  • Offline Opportunities – Does your company have any PDF’s, Whitepapers, etc. that aren’t currently online? Might be a good way to add a little more content to your site.

 

 

SEOStep #6: Off-Site SEO.

 

Effective Off-Site Optimization can serve as the backbone of an optimization campaign, and is where a majority of SEO’s fall flat on their face. Basically, “Off-Site” refers to any optimization or tweaks that happen OFF of your website that can affect how you rank.Off-Site Optimization is usually the hardest thing about running an SEO campaign, but can end of being one of the most rewarding things that you’ll do. There are several things involved with a good Off-Site campaign:

 

  • Link Building – This is the practice of acquiring inbound links to your website. Every SEO’s goal should be to NOT just to acquire a high volume of links, but links of high quality. This is easily one of the most difficult things to do for any SEO.
  • Social Media Presence
  • Directory Presence – Ensuring that your website or company has a presence within the key directories is super important. There are several local, social, and niche directories that can help drive more exposure and backlinks. If you’re a local business, a good place to start would be Google Maps or Yahoo! Local.
  • Video Sharing – Videos are a great way to drive traffic and may help your website or brand go viral, if they’re good enough! Try submitting your website’s branded videos to YouTube, Vimeo, Metacafe and other video-sharing sites.
  • – This is the biggest black box for many webmasters, but the most rewarding area of your Off-Site work. Social media outlets such as Twitter andFacebook can serve to drive more exposure, customer interact, traffic, and more website authority down the line.

 

 

Step #7: Review, Report, Tweak, Repeat.

 

This one is simple.

 

  • Review – Continually review your site’s SEO to ensure that the tactics that you implemented today still work tomorrow.
  • Report – Ensure that you’re continually reporting on your results, so that you can make future decisions based on real data and not hunches.
  • Tweak – As you review your results, make tweaks to your SEO campaign as necessary.
  • Repeat – Since SEO can theoretically go on forever, you’ll find yourself repeating almost every one of the steps along the way.

Hopefully our Successful Franchises Use Microsites series has given you a better understanding of the benefits of microsites to your business.  Please Contact Us if you have any questions or would like more information on how LoudClick and ClickWrite can help your business.  

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