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How can dealerships leverage online exposure to increase sales revenue? Melissa Thrush and... read more
May 21, 2015
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RIGHT NOW: Trailer dealerships across the country are busy experiencing the best sales the... read more
June 25, 2015
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Micro Seminars with John Ace Underwood
Federal Financial Regulation Checklist
Rental Continues Its Rise
Come meet John Ace Underwood at the 2015 NATDA Trade Show & Convention!
View checklist to identify key areas in which your dealership may be in violation.
Industry experts agree- equipment rental is on the rise!

The 3 C’s of Search Engine Optimization

Quality content, clean code and credibility determine your rankings
As a featured presenter at the 6th Annual NATDA Trade Show & Convention, I’m excited to help the dealers and manufacturers harness the power of the web to increase revenue. I will be hosting three workshops Thursday and Friday: Top 5 Digital Marketing Trends, Growing Your Business via Search Engine Optimization and Growing Your Business via Social Media Marketing. I hope to see you there.

In the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to provide a bit of background in one area of online marketing where trailer dealers and manufacturers can make a big impact: SEO. Since optimizing my first Web site in 1996, I’ve seen tremendous growth and evolution in the industry, but the fundamentals have changed little over the years, particularly for search engine optimization (SEO). Simply put, the fundamentals of SEO can be boiled down to The 3 Cs: content, code and credibility.

In the world of search, content is King.  Simply put, your website will never rank for motorcycle-related terms if your website lacks relevant content that incorporates your target keywords. This may seem obvious to many, but the reality is that small businesses lack the resources to create original content that is timely, unique and compelling. Without a dedicated content creation and optimization effort, your website is doomed to page 5 in relevant Google searches.

When creating content for your website, try to keep the copy (always in HTML text) to no more than 250 works per page. Each page should have a purpose and theme, like an essay. Utilizing a page theme (i.e. hitches) allows the ability to incorporate target keywords contextually into the copy (i.e. trailer hitch or horse trailer hitch) that helps search engines rank the page. Don’t forget to strategically embed links to specific pages or products within the copy, to improve the user experience and context for Google and Bing’s ranking algorithm.

Historically, the code behind the website had a much larger impact on search engine rankings. As time has passed, search engine algorithms have evolved, mitigating the need to spend too much time optimizing source code for better rankings. That said, Google still prefers clean code elements like cascading style sheets (CSS), HTML 5 (instead of Flash) and content management systems (CMS) like WordPress. The cleaner the code, the easier it is for search engines to index your content and greater the probability of higher rankings in search results.

The best place to start with search-engine-friendly code is to follow World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) web design standards. In addition to designing for spiders, the benefit of a Web standards-compliant site is that it will be accessible to the broadest set of browsers and connection speeds, improving the experience for visitors.  To round out source code optimization, ensure that each and every page has keyword-optimized title, META and ALT tags.  The keywords you select should be the same ones you focused on for the body copy on that page.

Perhaps the most important C, and the most difficult to “hack” is Credibility. Back in 1998, Google revolutionized search results by incorporating PageRank, which ranked your website based on the quality and quantity of links from related websites to your site. While inbound links are still a core ranking element, other factors have emerged in the last few years. In an attempt to generate the most accurate search results, Google has focused a good deal more effort understanding the user experience and perceived value of content. To do that, Google looks at other “signals” besides keyword usage and inbound links to determine rank.

Traditional credibility signals include domain age and expiration, hosting location and website speed. Newer credibility elements in Google’s algorithm include bounce rates and citations (aka mentions or reviews) of your website or brand in social media. With recent algorithmic updates including Panda and Penguin, Google is penalizing websites that knowingly create a lackluster user experience with poor quality or duplicate content, excessive use of affiliate links or advertising or low quality links.  To stay relevant in the new age of SEO, your website must incorporate social media elements, including links to your social profiles, ability to share pages or content via social and an engagement strategy to curate positive mentions and relevant inbound links.

Bonus C: Conversion
While 3Cs is relatively simple yet comprehensive, it doesn’t cover the last mile.  Even if you follow the above steps, you may still fall short for a variety of reasons.  A common side effect of a poorly executed SEO campaign is a lack of ability to convert additional leads or sales.  The best way to ensure your SEO efforts are effective is to closely monitor and analyze your site traffic via a website traffic measurement package like Google Analytics.  It can tell you what phrases generate traffic and from what search engine.  If you have the proper setup and configuration, you can tie those to conversions (calls or orders).

Your Web site is much more likely to increase in search engine visibility (and revenue) now that you are armed with the 4 Cs of SEO: content, code, credibility and conversion. To learn more about SEO and social media marketing, attend my sessions at The Show. In the meantime, feel free to check out the articles, white papers and webinars in our Resources section: www.anvilmediainc.com.

Kent Lewis is President of Anvil Media, Inc., a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine and social media marketing. Anvil was founded in 2000 and is based in Portland, OR. Lewis can be reached at 503.595.6050 or kent@anvilmediainc.com.

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