Search Engine Optimization for Home Watch Companies
You are a busy business owner. You’ve got Home Watch visits covered, and an accountant to jump in with the books, but what about your online presence? It’s often where a busy small business owner struggles. Marketing is squeezed in among more pressing tasks without much thought to accomplishing a goal. Business owners end up “hope marketing” – they create marketing material and hope it ends up in front of the right people.
By now, you’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – an online strategy that focuses on getting your website, your online sales pitch, in front of the right people.
Our marketing team works with small Home Watch business owners to increase their online presence and exposure, targeting clients they want to work with. Here are some of the most common questions we are asked:
Q: What exactly is Search Engine Optimization?
A: It’s all of the technical and creative work done on and off your website to rank well in search engines and as a result get more people to your website.
SEO is a complicated and ever-evolving science. First, it’s making sure your website is structured in a way that search engines understand, from the usage of keywords on your website to the way other sites link to yours. In addition, it’s structuring your site for the people who are visiting and making it such a good sales tool that your phone rings off the hook. There is no point in having a website rank number one if it doesn’t get the person to call you. Hence, it’s a fine balance between giving search engines what they want and making your website an effective sales tool.
With a successful SEO strategy you will:
- Improve your search engine ranking. You want your business to be found on page one of the natural (organic) listing, and at the top of the Google Maps listings.
- Get more people to your website. When your website is found on page one you’ll get more visitors and more calls for your services.
- Increase awareness of your business online. The more online traffic you get, the more search engines will reward you with a higher rank in search results.
Q: But what does that mean for my Home Watch company?
A: When you google your services and the location that you serve i.e. “Home Watch Muskoka”, where do you find your website?
Are you on page one? Great! That’s where you want to be. If you’re not on page one then you’ll probably need to put some SEO work into your website and online presence to get there. There are two main types of SEO: On Page SEO and Off-Site SEO and they both play an important role.
Q: On-Page Search Engine Optimization? What’s that?
A: On-page Optimization refers to any work done on your actual website to make it more search engine friendly.
This includes work done both in the code used to build the site and what we see on our screens on the front end in the copywriting and heading structure. Here are the most important things to consider when optimizing your site.
Keyword research is the process that you use to find the terms and phrases that people are using to search for your services online.
Create a list of all the words people are likely using when searching for your services. This will typically be a combination of your location and what you do “Home Watch Muskoka”. From there you use a tool like Google Adwords to find out how much people are using those search terms and how much competition there is to rank for them.
Your Home Watch clients are geographically based near your location so you will primarily be concerned with Local SEO. Local Search Engine Optimization helps businesses promote their services to local customers at the time they are looking for them.
Look For Hidden Gems
Keyword research will also help you uncover not so obvious phrases people are using to find your services online. For example, ‘Home Watch Muskoka’ is the obvious keyword combination for a Home Watch business in Muskoka, but in your research, you might find that people are also searching for ‘Boat Access Cottage Watch Muskoka’ or ‘Cottage Watch Muskoka’. Therefore, be sure to include these keywords in your strategy as well.
At this point, you should have a long list of keywords. Choose 1 to 3 for each page of your website. Use the keywords in the metadata and to write the headings and copy on each page. Finally, keep leftover keywords for topics you will blog about in the future.
Meta Descriptions & Title Tags
Once you pinpoint the keywords you want to rank for, write the meta descriptions and title tags using the keywords. You add the meta description and title tag to the code of each page of the website. A developer can add them to the code or you can use an SEO plugin like Yoast in WordPress.
Title tags are the headlines displayed in search engine result. These titles are meant to be an accurate description of a page’s content up to 60 characters in length.
Meta descriptions are snippets of up to 160 characters that summarize a web page’s content. The meta description helps convince readers to choose your site. The bold words that are shown in the meta description help note which words (keywords) match those in the search. Optimizing the meta description and title tags are important parts of on-page SEO.
This one is not Just for Search Engines!
Visitors use this information to decide whether or not to click on your website in the search results. If you don’t specify the descriptions, Google will simply choose snippets from the page. This isn’t necessarily the best information and won’t tell people what they need to know about that page on your website. Writing your own metadata lets you control the message.
Headings & Copywriting
Search engines understand the content on a web page largely based on the headings and subheadings used. Headings help search engines grasp the main topic of the page. You should structure the headings and body copy for search engines, but most importantly, for your visitors. Using a nice heading structure helps your visitors understand your value equally as much as a search engine.
Just Say No to Keyword Stuffing
Not long ago it was common to stuff as many keywords as possible into web pages to rank higher in search engines. Google realized this and changed the algorithms to penalize “keyword stuffing”. This is good! Google now rewards websites that write copy for real people. Algorithms are now so intelligent they understand the actual context of the page, not only the keywords. As a result, when your website provides real value to your readers you’ll be rewarded with a higher page rank.
For your Home Watch website, use the keywords you want to rank for in a natural way. Use the keywords in the main headings where possible, and naturally throughout the copy. Providing good quality information to visitors and marketing the unique value of your company is likely to get more business anyways. Take a look at a previous article where you can Learn more about making your website work for you.
Search engines use robots called spiders that crawl your website and understand it. Once a search engine indexes (or crawls) your website, it uses algorithms to match your site to a person’s search.
Spiders don’t see a website like we do, rather, they read the HTML file containing all of the information (code) on the website. As a result, the easier it is for a spider to read the HTML file, the more likely your website will rank higher.
What makes it easy for a spider to understand the HTML? Clean code!
There can be errors in the code don’t impact what we see on our screens but will stop spiders from crawling your site. Fixing these errors will let the spiders crawl your entire site easily, ranking you higher in search results.
There are tools you can use to crawl your website the way a spider does. Screaming Frog’s free tool gives you a lot of information to get started. Once their spiders finish crawling your site you’ll get a report listing any errors. At the very least you should probably fix any major offenders.
Structured Data Markup (Schema)
Structured data, called Schema, is code that you add directly to a page’s HTML files. Search engines use this structured data to generate “rich snippets”. These rich snippets are small pieces of information that appear in search results. As a result of adding schema markup, some websites have reported a huge increase in click-through rates!
With Home Watch, you want to add the local business data. This should include your business address, phone number, hours of operation, and even your star rating. Your programmer can add Structured Data Markup to your website code, or you can use an online tool like Google Tag Manager.
Q: What about SEO not on my website – Off-Site SEO?
A: Off-Site SEO involves actions taken outside of your own website to impact your search engine rank.
Most search engines assign your website a ‘domain strength indicator’ which is a big factor in determining your ranking. Your site’s domain strength is based on factors like the age of your domain and the number of times a user clicks on your website. Links are places on the internet that link back to your site. The more high-quality links that point to your website, the higher your domain strength, and as a result the higher your site will rank in search engine results.
Local Directories. Local directories have replaced phone books. Some recognizable directories are Whitebooks, Yellowpages, and Yelp. With a Home Watch company, you want to create a profile for your business in as many local directories as possible. The benefit is two-fold. First, You will increase your domain strength which will help you to rank higher. Second, it will create lots of other places where potential clients can find your business on the internet.
Social Media. Social media is an important tool to connect with clients and potential clients and is another factor in your website’s ranking. First of all, these are excellent links back to your website. It appears that the more regular the posts, the more impact on search engine ranking. For your Home Watch business, we recommend creating profiles and regularly posting to the big four. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter. The key here is to regularly post to all four.
In addition, getting online reviews is especially relevant for ranking higher, especially Google+ and Facebook reviews. As a result, the businesses with the most customer reviews are usually ranked highest in map listings.
Related Associations. Belonging to associations who create listings for you on their websites will have a positive effect on ranking. They create credibility for your business in the eyes of potential clients and you’ll get a directory listing on their website. As a result, these high-quality links will help your domain strength and page rank.
Guest posting on blogs. Writing blog posts for other websites is a really good way to get high-quality links back to your website.
Word of Caution! The NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) in each online listings must have the exact same format as your website. If your directory listings are different they won’t count in the eyes of Google and won’t help your ranking. If you write your business address as ‘555 Home Watch St.’ on your website, you must write it exactly like that on all directory listings. As a result, having ‘555 Homewatch Street’ elsewhere online counts as a different business and therefore won’t help you rank higher.
We stripped back a big and complicated topic to cover just what you need to know to get started doing SEO for you Home Watch business. If this stuff seems confusing, you are not alone, and we’re here to help. We specialize in Search Engine Optimization for Home Watch companies. You can learn more about our SEO services here. You can get in touch with us if you’d like us to audit your website and work with you to optimize it and get that coveted number one spot on Google.
We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments what your success and struggles have been with SEO.