What are the Differences in Pricing for SEO?

The decision to invest in SEO can be monumental for your company and its success. You’ve researched a variety of companies, and have finally narrowed it down to the company you think will be the best fit for your SEO campaign. In their proposal, though, there are a range of options for you to choose from. The question quickly becomes, “What is the difference between the various price points for SEO?”

At Firestarter SEO, we get this question all the time. As we educate our clients on their different options, most of the time we can confidently say that they will see quality results within a good range of pricing options, but the main factors they need to consider are: their budget, their level of patience, and how aggressive they want to be. From a more tangible and specific standpoint, though, what are the real differences in a low-cost versus higher-cost package?

Time for Success

One of the biggest differences in a low-cost option versus a higher-end package is the time it will take to get results. For example, the difference between a $1000/month option versus a $2000/month option could be between 3-6 months, depending on a number of factors. Companies that are limited in their budget generally will need to wait longer for impactful results.

Quality & Quantity of Content

A staple of an SEO campaign is content creation. This can come in a variety of forms, such as blogs, white papers, infographics, and more. High-end content production – such as a comprehensive guide – is reserved for higher-budget campaigns. These digital assets are extremely rich in content, and can be used as a sales tool, informational piece, or distributed on social media platforms for higher visibility. Low-budget campaigns focus on more simple content pieces, like basic blogs. Over time, these blogs will create a network of content designed to boost main pages up in the rankings. For Firestarter’s clients, smaller budgets will provide blogs, and as budgets continue to increase the quantity of content produced each month follows suit. For premium campaigns, we begin introducing the digital assets mentioned above.

Quality and Quantity of Links

The single most crucial difference in deliverables for different budgets comes down to link building. The lowest-cost options we provide strip away everything else and simply focus on links. There is a wide variety of link types, but these lower options focus on the most basic links: local listings, directories, and guest posts. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the budget to chase after high-end links. These are inevitably more expensive and time-consuming. Think of it this way: how much does it cost Forbes to pay their writers as compared to a small, local site? Links work the same way – premium, impactful sites simply cost more (in time and money) to acquire links from than small, local websites.

For Firestarter, higher budget campaigns afford us the flexibility of acquiring high quality links, and more of them.

Ongoing vs. 1-time Optimization

At the beginning of any campaign, a website usually requires a minor overhaul and optimization. This ranges from improving the page speed to fixing titles and even revamping content on each page. One difference in the pricing options is how often this optimization is done. Since low-cost options have limited resources, the site optimization is done once upon the start of the campaign. This is geared towards shoring up the foundation for the campaign and making sure each page on the site has a set target keyword and has been optimized for it.

For premium packages, optimization is constantly monitored and adjusted, and issues are resolved as soon as they come up. Regular site crawls keep us informed of any error that can pop up on a site, and we can immediately address them.

Development Hours

An important element to SEO is ensuring websites are large, up to date, and fast. This means that ongoing development can play a role in your campaign’s performance. Higher budget campaigns include ongoing development built into the budget. These hours can go towards building new pages on your website, improving the layout and design, and much more. In the long run, this can provide solid savings for your company. Since low-cost options strip away everything but the core services needed to succeed, development hours are usually not included.

SEO services can range from $250/month up to $5,000/month and beyond, so it’s important to understand the differences in what you receive for those prices. The core differences fall into the time it takes to see results, quantity and quality of links, and the quantity and quality of content produced. Other factors are the ongoing optimization and number of development hours. Regardless of the variations, each option is designed to maximize results for our clients.


Why Does SEO Take So Long?

SEO Takes Time

SEO can be one of the most important and impactful investments a company can make. Traditionally, it ranks among the top ROI producers across all platforms. 

There’s a reason why it continues to be an integral part of most marketing plans, but among the smorgasbord of arrows in a company’s marketing quiver, SEO can be unique in one key category: timing.

Unfortunately, most of the time SEO takes a while to produce direct and measurable results. In fact, our recent guide on how long SEO takes discusses the factors that cause the process to take at least 4-6 months, sometimes even up to 12 months, to generate results. Most other marketing efforts produce relatively quick returns. PPC, for example, can start yielding results almost instantly. Direct mailers or other forms of ads often find fast returns as well.

This begs the question: Why does SEO take so long?

Many Factors to Fix

When we educate companies on the variety of factors that go into SEO, they begin to understand why it can take so long. No matter the stage of your business or your website, there are bound to be a number of things that could use some TLC, especially in the eyes of Google. These include better keyword targeting on your titles and content, restructuring the format of your pages, and expanding your link profile, to name just a few. Another element many newer companies don’t consider is the age of their domain. If you have a brand new site, it simply takes a while for Google to start trusting you.

When a company comes on board with us, we develop a game plan. After auditing the site, we get a much clearer picture of how long it will take to fix the errors, and move on to the optimization of the individual pages themselves. The scope of this effort varies from website to website.

Competition

A major factor in why SEO can take so long revolves around what your competition is doing. In most cases, your company’s competitors are actively working on SEO as well. While the extent of their efforts will differ for each company, this means that achieving first page rankings is going to be a moving target. Think back to those classic high school math problems: A blue car is 5 miles ahead of your car and is traveling at a rate of 60 MPH. How far down the road will you catch the blue car if you are traveling 70 MPH?

We need to determine two things: First, how fast is your competition “driving?” Second, how long will it take us to catch up based on the budget you’re allocating to SEO? Unfortunately for us, SEO isn’t as “straight-lined” as this math problem. Algorithm changes could take place, your competitors may “accelerate” their SEO efforts, or maybe you produce a tremendous piece of content that helps you accelerate yours. The point is, no matter which way you look at it, the fact that your competitors are likely doing SEO means it will take some time to catch up.

Process of Accumulation

One of the classic analogies explaining how SEO works is that of getting in shape. If I’m 50 lbs overweight and need to make some changes, how much of an impact will going to the gym for one incredibly challenging workout have? Little to none. On the other hand, if I can set a goal to go to the gym 4-5 times per week, make some simple diet changes, and take it one step at a time, we’ll start seeing results. I won’t lose 50 pounds in 1, 2, or even 10 weeks. However, over the course of a few months, a complete transformation will take place, and it has nothing to do with 1 or 2 huge workouts. It has everything to do with regular, sustainable efforts over the course of a long period of time.

We are often asked by companies across the nation to do a one-time optimization project for them. While we are happy to do so, our conversations always come with educating and advising the client that a one-time optimization will give them a nice little boost, but it usually isn’t enough to get them to where they want to be.

The reason is exactly what we stated above. SEO is truly a process of accumulation. Search engines want to see regular content updates, link acquisition, and on-site optimization. That is how you build their trust and get rewarded with better visibility. This is why monthly SEO services are so crucial to your success.  Having an intentional and targeted approach to ensure you are not only doing these things but doing them well will put your company in good faith with Google.  Once you have a good foundation built up, it is far easier to see results from a new page addition than it would be in the infancy of a website.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

At the end of the day, success in SEO is a slow climb. It takes consistent effort, gradually building up and accumulating momentum over a series of months.  However, when you’ve finally built it up and made it to the top the results are more than worthwhile. Your online visibility will have a lasting impact on your business, generating quality leads and growth for months and possibly years to come.


How Long Does SEO Take to Work

One of the most common questions we receive as we interact with prospects and clients is simply this: How long will it take for SEO to work?

Most people we speak with believe SEO can work, but they have an understandable skepticism of whether it actually will. We’ve spoken with many people who have been burned by other SEO companies. They walk away after a year not knowing what was actually done for them and feeling like it was all a scam. If this describes you, we certainly understand your skepticism when yet another SEO company tells you that SEO is a long-term play and you’ll have to be patient before you see results.

However, a little education goes a long way, and once we create a clear strategy and explain the factors that determine how long it will take to get results, we find that business owners get on board. There are many factors to consider before giving someone an estimate on how long it will take for the campaign to get traction. While there is no specific number that applies to all companies, Google themselves say to give an SEO company 4-12 months to produce results.  At Firestarter SEO, we usually see campaigns get their first real success between 4-6 months.

Most clients’ data closely follow what you see in this graph. Movement is usually fairly slow for the first 3 months or so. Inevitably there are small wins here and there, but things don’t really start happening until between months 4-6. Once the momentum starts building, it continues to accelerate each month after. This absolutely varies based on a number of factors, which we’ll dive into now.

Keyword Strategy

One of the biggest factors in any SEO campaign is the keyword strategy implemented. Many companies have unrealistic ranking expectations due to a lack of experience with keyword targeting. For example, a small landscaping company may think they want to target and rank for “Landscaping.” Once we explain that the competition on such a broad keyword is enormous and that a better, more targeted keyword may be “Landscaping Company in Denver” they reset their expectations. There are a few key things that go into choosing target keywords, so check out our guide here. What we want is to choose keywords that will increase our clients’ bottom lines and do so in a reasonable time period.

Starting Rankings

Once the keywords have been identified, a major factor that helps us understand how long a campaign will take to start getting results is where the client’s starting point is. If our client is sitting on the second page for a variety of our target keywords, the timeline is bumped up. Conversely, if they have zero rankings at all, it’s going to be a longer push. It is significantly easier to move someone from the second page to the first than if we’re starting from scratch.

Competition

The hard reality is that in most cases, your competition is also doing SEO. Depending on the industry, though, we find that only a select few companies are putting enough focus on their SEO strategy to make it truly effective.  These instances produce an opportunity to leapfrog competitors who aren’t doing anything for their online visibility. On the other hand, some spaces are full of companies actively working on SEO. In these cases, it’s crucial to have a clear strategy and work smarter than your competitors and their SEO firms. Ultimately, a good SEO company should be able to quickly identify what the competition looks like and how active they are with their own SEO.

Link Profile

Part of assessing the timeline for SEO is looking at your link profile, along with your competition’s. A quick scan of your links allows us to see exactly how established you are and what you’re up against.. Here’s an example of what we run:

 

Metric CLIENT COMP 1 COMP 2 COMP 3
Domain Authority 25 35 34 27
Total External Links 1.3k 6.8k 7.8k 4.1k
Total Links 13.5k 161k 219k 3.9k
Total Linking Root Domains 221 681 554 158

 

Let’s break it down into more understandable terms. The first thing we look at is the Domain Authority. DA is a Moz-specific metric and not an exact reflection of Google’s algorithm. However, it gives us a general idea of how authoritative your site is on a scale of 1-100, and where you are compared to the competition. In the case above, our client is established (Domain Authority of 25), but we can see that they are behind the curve compared to their top three opponents, who all post higher DA scores.

Next, we look at the link breakdown. While Total Links and Total External Links are important, we often pay more attention to the Total Linking Root Domains—in other words, how many unique websites are pointing to your site. This metric gives us a much better gauge of how difficult it would be to overtake your competitors. With the numbers above, it’s clear that link acquisition will play a major role in this client’s SEO strategy since they are well behind their top two competitors. It will probably take a longer, consistent effort to catch up since we likely won’t be able to acquire 400 links in just a couple of months.

Content

The next area we want to consider in a timeframe estimation is the content on the site. We often inherit content that is extremely basic and thin. Our job when a client comes on board is to optimize this content. This means adding relevant, valuable content for your customers. In the process of enriching the site content, we also have opportunities to optimize it for that page’s target keyword. Contrary to what many people believe, this does not mean keyword stuffing at every opportunity we get. Usually, the keyword or a variation of it is only used 2-3 times in the text of any given page. Most importantly, we want the structure optimized with proper titles, headings, bullet points, pictures, etc.

Crawl Errors 

A very influential component of how fast SEO can work falls down to the crawl errors we find. Using tools like Moz or Agency Analytics, we are able to identify items on a client’s website that could cause search engines to diminish their trust in the site. These span a very wide range, from 404 errors all the way to missing alt text on images. When auditing a site, we want to know how many errors are found, and what type. There are critical errors (like 404’s), and some that have minimal impact (like a missing meta description). The answers from that audit will give us a good idea of what the scope of the project looks like.

Site Speed

Website speed has grown more and more important over time. With Google’s emphasis on mobile-first search, its importance has increased even more. We need to ensure that your site is mobile friendly and fast on a mobile device. Using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, we can quickly see a site’s performance and what needs to be done. Page speed can be tricky to fix, though. Sometimes it can be a simple plugin, and other times it may require much more extensive work like re-coding areas of the site, upgrading hosting, etc.

Site Size

At Firestarter SEO, we often have companies primed and ready to roll, but in our initial audit we find a glaring problem – their site is extremely small. What we mean by this is that they have a home page, a services page, maybe an “About Us” page, and a contact page. The issue arises when we learn they have 20 key offerings for their business, and all of them are found on the services page. Ideally, each page should have its own target keyword. At most, you should target 2 keywords per page. This means if the site size were to stay the same (4 pages), you’d be limited to targeting 4-8 keywords, and the rest of your services would be underserved. To combat this, we often need to build out the website. By creating unique service pages for each core service, we bolster our ability to target the right keywords on a given page and to target many more words overall.

Site Age

One last factor we take into consideration in determining how long SEO takes to work is the age or longevity of the site. Google likes established sites who have survived the test of time. Think of it this way – let’s say you were looking to build your dream home. This is what you’ve worked towards your whole life. If all things were equal, and you had to choose between a custom home builder who has been around for 30 years, versus a custom home builder who just started a couple of months ago, who would you trust to build your dream home? Chances are you’ll go with the company who has been established. Google treats your site the same way. Most brand new sites take a while to establish trust with the search engines.

Putting it All Together

While there are certainly other factors at play in projecting the length of an SEO campaign’s success, at the end of the day there is no exact science. Google could release a major algorithm change a few months in, which would push back the entire project. The key to success is consistency and fine-tuning all of the elements we mentioned above.

SEO is truly a process of accumulation that relies on consistent effort. It requires patience and the ability to put in the work, and if you give up after a month or two, you’ll never see results. We always position SEO as a long-term play. When done right, it can produce truly remarkable results and a phenomenal ROI for nearly any business or industry.

 

 


How Is Search Engine Optimization Done?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a tool you can and should be using to gain visibility for your website. When used correctly, SEO will increase site rankings on search engines. Because search engines are the primary way people find information they’re looking for on the internet, these increased rankings will increase traffic to your site and boost your visibility. It is fair to say, therefore, that good SEO is vital to a successful online presence and cannot be ignored.

But if you are new to SEO, the task may seem extremely daunting. How can you best position your site to be ranked highly by a computer algorithm? It is a complicated process, to be sure, but there are a few things you can do that will make a difference.

Keywords

Keywords might more accurately be referred to as key phrases, since effective ones usually consist of a string of words. What those words ought to be is a complicated puzzle. You must consider the product you’re trying to market and the people to whom you wish to sell. What phrases might they enter into a search engine if they were looking for your product or service?

An important facet of choosing keywords is that you want a phrase for which you’re able to rank highly. If you own a small independent bookstore, simply using the word “bookstore” is unlikely to work—your ranking will never compete with that of the big chains. A phrase like “used bookstore in [Your City]” is much more likely to get traction and get you noticed.

Once you’ve got your keywords selected, you want to give them a presence on your site. Embed them in both the front end content and in the back end, in the title and meta description of your page. Be careful not to simply stuff in keywords at the expense of coherent writing, though. Not only does this make your page look sloppy to viewers, but search engines can also tell when a creator has done something like this and will penalize you for it.

Link Building

Because the structure of the internet is a web, connectivity between your site and other related sites is highly important to your SEO. We call the process of establishing this connectivity link building. Google has stated that link building is one of the most important factors when establishing site rank.

You can get started establishing links for your page by including a lot of links on your site to external relevant sources. As you do this, it’s important to select sites with high authority to link to. You can use tools like Ahrefs to measure the authority rank of any site on the internet and weed out the lower ranking ones. You also want to make sure the sites you link to are highly relevant to your own site’s interests. If you are a bookstore, it doesn’t help you very much to link to a website offering plumbing services.

The second step to link building is establishing backlinks—links from other sites to yours. The best way to do this is by creating great content and marketing it well. If you get it in front of the right people, they are likely to include links to it on their own site.

Call in the Experts

When it comes to a successful SEO campaign, keywords and link building are just the beginning. You’ll also want to conduct a review of your site to make sure it’s structured to be crawled by search engines, and if it isn’t in good shape, you’ll want to overhaul it. You’ll also need to ensure that a mobile optimized version of your site is available, since that’s something Google favors. And there are numerous small tweaks that can be made to any site to increase its search ranking.

To take full advantage of your SEO opportunity, consult with a team of experts. We can’t wait to put our experience to work for you!

 

 


SEO Project Management 101: Intent & Approach

 

The relationship between SEO and project management is riddled with small, repeating tasks, which simply need to be monitored, and top-level strategy revisions on the fly.  When conducting SEO project management it is important to understand the intent behind these tasks and approach prioritization with a systemized process.

 

seo project management

Processes

SEO is a “process of accumulation” where SEO companies are expected to do 4 things:

  • Build Links
  • Improve Current Content
  • Add New Content
  • Fix Technical Errors

While some of these things do have a definite end, many of them fall into monthly, iterative tasks that need to be monitored for accuracy and optimization.  With this iterative approach in mind, it is only natural to look to the processes web developers utilize. It has become common practice for web development teams to utilize Agile & Scrum Methodologies.  These practices call for short “sprints” in 2-4 week periods depending on internal processes and execution.  This translates to SEO project management if you view months as sprints. We have even tested out using half month sprints internally, with the first half of the month as the planning and reach out phase and the second half of the month being devoted to buttoning up the outstanding tasks such as link building and content optimization.  We here at Firestarter SEO have found breaking these projects/tasks/sprints down into small pieces allows us to be much more intentional and focused rather than scrambling to tie up loose ends as the end of the month comes around.

Communication

Client Communication

Many times we hear clients who have previous SEO experience say they “felt like there was not much communication” or that there was “no real substance to the strategy”. With so much of the SEO world being some sort of mysterious cloud sitting over a business owner, this is an important gap to bridge.  Monthly SEO packages can have a massive impact on the traffic and leads a business is able to acquire.  Communicating what we are doing as an SEO firm is one of the most important and most difficult tasks we try to accomplish.

 

The other day I had someone on the phone discussing current happenings and strategy items.  We were specifically talking about improving his site speed. One of his first questions when I brought up minification of CSS was “What is CSS?”  Where do I even start? There are entire university courses related to CSS with everything from functionality to best practices. As a previous developer myself, my mind went to the moon with possibilities in the discussion.  I attempted to break it down to something understandable and the client immediately said “Thanks for clarifying, this makes much more sense.” That is where it really clicked to me. The most important thing we can do in regards to client communication is break down complex tasks and explain them efficiently and with ease of understanding.  It is important for anyone to understand where their money is going. This is especially important in the business world. We are collectively looking constantly at items like cost-per-acquisition, bottom line, and so on. Much of the style of communication falls down to the same way we have found success in our internal communication.

Internal Communication

Clear and deliberate communication is the staple of internal SEO project management.  Instead of someone saying “Can you please go in and clean up the technical errors on this site”, we make it a point to set up successful execution by saying something more along the lines of “This client has 74 technical errors currently.  10 of them are crawl errors which need to be remedied immediately. There are 7 redirect errors which are redirecting to dead pages. The ten crawl errors can be fixed by doing ________________ and the 7 redirect errors need to be changed to go to live pages.  Let me know if you have any questions or need clarification. Please have this task completed by the end of the week and let me know if you see any reason that will not happen.”

 

As you can see, the difference in the two is astronomical and sets the project up for success from inception.  The main focus is to align expectations related to the task at hand. Instead of giving general direction and allowing free reign for fixes, we clearly delineate what we are looking for, how to fix it, and when it should be done.  Setting clear expectations from the start and refusing to assume a task will be completed to our liking has pushed our services to another level.

 

Imagine the alternative for a second: Your assignee has a different idea in mind for solving a problem, so he enacts his thought process and solution, which is where the branch from the project manager’s expectations take place.  Before any work has commenced, we are already on the wrong foot and will end up with results different from expectations. The project manager would then have to go and basically explain exactly as exemplified above to remedy the situation, taking more time from their day and wasting the employee’s time.  Clear and deliberate communication in SEO project management is where expectations can be set and the possibility of assumptions can be mitigated greatly.

 

This is certainly not the ideal position to be in and much of the situation could have been avoided with clear and concise communication.

 

SEO Project Management: The Juice is Worth The Squeeze

Collectively, we know there is no catch-all to success for SEO.  Much of what we do as an SEO company is behind the scenes, technical, mundane, tedious, so on and so forth.  It is up to your project manager or client relations specialist to understand complex topics and have the ability to break these tasks down into something bite size and understandable for a client.  It is equally important to for a project manager to have the ability to clearly articulate desires and expectations of a successful outcome. With a good combination of highly efficient processes and clear and deliberate communication, internally as well as with the client, you are laying the foundation for a successful and productive SEO campaign.

 

Check out one of our monthly SEO packages to see how we can help you!

 


How Can I Target Multiple Cities With the Same Website?

Local SEO

Part of building the best, most useful website is making sure it reaches your entire customer base. SEO is a wonderful tool to help you do that, particularly local SEO keywords that target your customer base. If yours is a small business operating within a region that spans multiple cities, it may have occurred to you that potential customers are conducting web searches for services in their city specifically. Thus, including a city name in an SEO keyword is often a good idea.

But this raises an issue. You don’t want to alienate members of one city by focusing on another. You want all your site’s content to reach everyone. How can you optimize your site for the multiple cities within your region?

Create Individual Location Pages

When you claim a location with Google My Business, it’s essential to create a landing page for that location to link back to. You should also make sure the location landing page links to the Google My Business location page. Ensure that your landing pages are exceptional by including tags in various places throughout – this will increase their visibility to search engines.

These pages should not be carbon copies of each other, with nothing but the name of the city changed. Google catches on to that, and it might even end up harming your SEO. Instead, try to come up with ways to differentiate the pages that specifically focus on the city in question. There are a number of ways to do that:

  • Cultural touchstones. Reference something everyone in town knows about, like a local sports team or a popular museum. It doesn’t need to be relevant to the product you’re selling. It’s just a good way of letting the city’s residents know that you really did create this page with them in mind; that it’s not just a copy/paste job.
  • City history. Go back to the founding of the town. Even a casual reference to this can let page readers know you really are writing for them.
  • Common problems. What issues do residents of the city face? Is it cold there? Is it hard to grow plants? Is there something your company can do to help?
  • Find the way you relate. No matter what else there is to say about the town, there’s a reason your business serves them so successfully. Even if that reason isn’t unique to them, you can build on it and use it to explore things that are. For example, Firestarter SEO helps companies build a successful online presence. We might choose to use a city landing page to congratulate residents on the number of successful small businesses in their town before moving on to what we can offer.

Linking to Your Landing Pages

Your landing pages should not stand alone. Integrating them with the rest of your website is absolutely crucial. You can do this by mutually linking your page with other local and relevant sites, which will generate more traffic for both your site and theirs, and by ensuring that your site contains internal links that take visitors to the landing pages.

Your landing pages should also be developed with informative and concise anchor text. Anchor texts lets both search engines and users with an overview of what to expect from the page. Therefore, it’s important to include the target keyword you want to rank and the location you’re trying to target in the anchor text.

Additional Tips for Local SEO Targeting

If your business does not have a brick and mortar location, it’s worth considering registering an address in a city or town you wish to rank for so that Google and other search engines will spot your business name in association with that location. This might be a good strategy if you live adjacent to a large city. However, use caution. If you register multiple addresses, Google could decide you’re misrepresenting your business and penalize your SEO.

Another handy little trick is geotargeting every piece of content you post. When you upload a photo to your homepage, tag it with the name of the city as well as a description of what it shows. When you geotag each piece of content, your city name is suddenly layered much more densely throughout your website.

Targeting multiple cities on your website is an important and delicate part of your SEO strategy. If you’re giving local SEO a try and want the benefit of years of experience at your back, contact Firestarter SEO today.


How to Get Your Website in the Google Answers Box

Google is constantly changing the way their search engine results display in an effort to provide a better user experience for their users. More and more queries are providing Solutions directly within the search results page rather than taking you to another website. Known in the industry as “ranking zero” or “position zero”, when your website comes up in the featured Snippets or the answers box for a query, you are liable to see a dramatic increase in your traffic. So, even though there are lots of websites competing for that spot, if you know what you’re doing, you can land your website there.

Three different types of content are presented in the Google Answers Box:

Paragraph

Table

List

This list result is further down the page because four ads are presented at the top before the actual results start.

When your website lands in the answer box, people are going directly to your content and that content serves as a teaser to what else they can find on your website. Users become invested in your content and brand before they even have the chance to know who you are. Google has a patent on the answer box so it’s likely won’t see it anywhere else for an extended period of time. Because what land you there is algorithmic, it is possible, though somewhat difficult depending on the keyword phrase, to get your website in that spot.

Here are a few different strategies to help you, but before we get started, let’s take a closer look at why the Answer Box has become such as competitive space.

Why is the Google Featured Snippet So Competitive?

When you’re the first result on a page without an answer box, you’ll get a click-through rate of anywhere between 25% to 30%, on average. But, when you’re number one on a page with an answer box – and you’re not the answer in the box – that won’t bump you down the page too much – but it will dramatically affect your click-through rate – dropping it to anywhere between 15% to 20%.

Let’s transfer that to dollars with a hypothetical. Let’s say you have a 1% conversion rate at $100 per sale, based on that low end 25% click-through rate. If that query gets 2,000 searches a month – that means you’re getting 500 clicks. And of that 500 clicks, 5 people will make a $100 purchase, giving you $500 a month.

But when the answer box comes in, and you’re not in it, you’re now only getting 300 clicks per month, which is costing you $200 a month – if your conversion rate stays the same. That’s almost half the revenue difference – and that’s on a relatively small scale. Imagine what it could do to someone with millions of clicks and hundreds of thousands of conversions?

Start with a Strong SEO Foundation

Most of the time, the site where you see the answer in the answer box is the number one result, but not always. One thing we know though, it’s always ranked within the top five for whatever the query may be. As such, your site needs to be there, too, and if you want to knock the others down, you’ll at least 1,000, if not more high quality referring domains. This means creating content that’s worthy of others linking to it. But, beyond that, you’ll also need to have a high level of engagement on the specific page you’re trying to get ranked in the Answer Box.

You’ll also need high value content that’s fewer than 2,000 words in length. The more relevant your information, the more value it offers, and the more updated your website is, the better. But, if it fails at basic optimization tasks such as being optimized for mobile devices, none of the rest of your SEO work will matter. More than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices – so if you haven’t already, make sure you’re using the Mobile-Friendly tool to see if your website is mobile friendly. Even if it is, Google can still provide some suggestions to help you improve the user experience. When your website helps Google provide a quality user experience for the searchers, Google will thank you with an improved ranking.

Go After Low-Hanging Fruit: Find Questions Without Answer Boxes

The search engine results page will only have one answer box, so if you already see one for a query you’d like to get your results in, you’ll have a much harder fight – especially if you’re not already ranking in the top five for that phrase – getting into that answer box than if you were trying to rank for a question that doesn’t have an answer box at all yet. Though it’s a bit harder to find pages without answer boxes, you can still use a variety of keyword research tools to help you find them.

If you’re up for the challenge of trying to knock a current result out of place – you’ll have to start with a bit of competitive audit, to make sure you know exactly what you’re up against. You’ll need to see how many backlinks the current answer has in place, how many referring domains, and most importantly, how well the content answers the question. Then, you’ll have to make sure your content is better, you have more backlinks and more referring domains. You’ll see the process won’t happen overnight, and you’ll have to closely monitor ranking changes because you don’t know how many other websites are also making an effort to knock an answer out of place to try to get their own site there.

Edit Your Old Content with the Answer Box in Mind

Whether you’re going back to refresh some old content, or writing new content, always keep the answer box in mind. Nothing that’s valuable, well written, or informative will ever detract from content you write specifically for the Answer Box. Most people who are going to your website are doing so to find the answer to a question, whether they’re given the answer directly in the search results page or not. If they’re not directly searching for an answer to a question, they’re at least searching for a solution to one of their pain points.

Start with that answer or solution and work backward. Creating content that way ensures the overall content doesn’t suffer and increases your chances of landing in the Google Answer Box from the beginning.

Find Entities to Structure Your Content

Entities can be considered a type of keyword. While Google has a rather complex definition of what an entity is, it’s basically people and places. Like in the screenshot above, actor and comedian Jim Carrey is considered an entity. When you create content around an entity, but you use related keywords with it, you’re creating the ideal situation for Google.

Google is able to learn more about how the keywords you’re using relate to what you’re saying, thanks to topic modeling. This helps them figure out what’s most relevant to the user based on their search query, allowing the best results to rank higher, while pushing the low-quality results further away from users.

Improve Your Answer Score

Though we’ll never know exactly how the Google algorithm works, we know it looks for what it calls “Answer Elements.” It scores yours, and all other content, based on those. If the best answer to the question is in a paragraph, that’s the paragraph that will make it to the answer box. If you can provide more detail than the paragraph, you’re providing Google with more answer elements, thus improving your answer score.

Depending on the nature of the question and it’s natural answer, you’ll see answers that feature step-by-step directions, images, and tables of data. Google considers all elements of an answer, so the more you have, the better. If you include data, statistics, or graphs at the end of your answer, you’re making improvements to your Google Answer Score. When you take the time to answer questions that supplement larger questions, you’re making even more improvements.

Though it seems like it could be overwhelming to choose one of these tactics to focus on, the best way to get your site in the featured snippet is to work on all of them. Yes, you can do them one at a time, but it will slow down the speed of your overall progress. Create a plan of attack that starts small, focusing on the most popular unanswered questions your content can answer, and then work up from there.


Always Greener: A Case Study of Success in a Competitive Market

Background

Firestarter SEO serves a growing landscaping company in the Denver area.  This client provides landscaping design and sprinkler installation and repair to both residential and commercial properties.  One of the foremost challenges lay in their competitive landscape. There is no shortage of sprinkler or landscaping companies in Denver.  This kind of market saturation typically indicates a longer period of time before results are really seen, depending on the starting point of the campaign.

Fortunately, while the competition certainly had a head start, it was clear that their strategies had not heavily involved SEO.  Keyword targeting on their site was decent, but not stellar. Their link landscapes were also very mediocre, as evidenced by the table below.  Bottom line: there was a significant opportunity.


Beyond those first page rankings, there were a quality number of keywords ranked on the 2nd – 5th pages.  These did have search volume, and represented our opportunity keywords for this campaign.  When the client initially reached out to us, there were several first page rankings.  However, further research showed that very few of these top-ranked keywords actually had any search volume.  At Firestarter SEO, these are often what we call “junk keywords,” as it feels great seeing yourself at the top of that search, but the absence of any search volume means it won’t really benefit your business by targeting it.

  • Page 1: 27 (3 of which had any search volume)
  • Page 2: 10 (5 with search volume)
  • Pages 3-5: 6 (3 with search volume)

Their search traffic wasn’t ideal – with 103 organic visitors in the first month of the campaign and 0 conversions.  Ultimately, the goal was to increase traffic and conversions in order to help scale their business.

The Strategy

The start of the strategy was very clear from the beginning: we needed to implement a better keyword strategy.  As evidenced by the lack of search volume for keywords they had targeted, we needed to identify search terms that were relevant, had quality intent, and search volume.  This would lay the entire foundation for the strategy moving forward.

From a technical standpoint, the site was fairly sound, with a small number of errors needing correction.  Their link landscape, however, was non-existent. There were no external links, and very few internal links throughout the site.  Link acquisition, therefore, would be an immediate priority for our campaign.

Finally, in order to expedite results and increase the effectiveness of the campaign, we began a PPC campaign after a couple months of service.  Doing so allowed us to maximize visibility for our target keywords, and also generate quick results for the client.

SEO process of accumulation

The client saw an initial bump in results after implementing basic SEO elements with the new keyword strategy.  In the 3rd month of the campaign, they received 74 Organic calls and 29 calls from PPC.  A key benefit of running both SEO and PPC was the maximized exposure.  From a sheer numbers perspective, if a client is running PPC for a keyword and shows up at the top of the SERP, and also ranks on the first page for the same keyword, their exposure and credibility skyrockets.  As Boostability explains, this is a powerful combination.

Links remained a significant element in our strategy.  As a local SEO campaign, directories played a big role.  We also utilized guest posts for relevant sites as well. The ongoing application of links, on-site optimization, and content continued driving rankings, increasing traffic, and boosting quality leads on a monthly basis.

Final results/successes

Our client’s campaign has been one of ongoing, consistent growth.  SEO & PPC have become a cornerstone of their marketing strategy due to the tremendous success of the campaign.  At the time of writing, there were 17 keywords with 1st-page rankings, and 23 with 2nd-page rankings. Organic Traffic for the previous month sat at 1,096 – a 964% increase from the first month of service.  All of this leads to the crowning statistic of the campaign: 206 conversions in one month, with 190 phone calls.

Thanks to SEO & PPC, they have been able to grow significantly, and scale their business in a way they never thought possible.


A Customer-First Approach to SEO Keywords

keywordWe’ve been talking a lot about search engine optimization packages. Hopefully, you’re beginning to understand the major benefits of a sound strategy and implementation.

Today, I want to talk about SEO keywords.

Keyword research comes very early on in any SEO services package. At this point, we’re looking for a list of keywords that your customers type into the search engine. We’ll use research criteria based on your niche, target market, competition and keyword search volume.

Many professionals get hung up at this part in the process. After all, it’s pretty easy to lose yourself in all the heaps of data. But at the end of the day, we always keep one thing in mind:

The customer comes first.

You can’t overlook the customer when it comes to SEO. They’re the whole reason you’re investing in this service. It’s very important to look for a service provider that takes this customer-first approach to keywords. It’s the only way for true success.

Here are a few questions we’re always asking while doing keyword research.

Who are your customers?

You’ve got to know the target customer before you can truly serve them. Things like keyword research only succeed when it’s founded on a deep understanding for the customer’s challenges, pains and desires.

If you don’t have things like buyer personas, invest in them. They’ll help guide you on the search for the perfect keywords.

What are they looking for?

Now that you know the prospect, put yourself in their shoes. You know their pains and challenges. Take it a step further by brainstorming what kind of questions they’ll ask when looking for the product or service you offer.

Finding keywords that offer solutions will bring more qualified leads. Traffic is great, but qualified traffic is profitable.

Where are they coming from?

Keywords aren’t confined to the initial on-site SEO optimization. You’ll use them throughout your monthly SEO strategy in a variety of ways, including:

Knowing where they come from will help you prepare to monitor these keywords in a variety of ways.

Why are they searching?

Searcher intent is a very powerful thing in SEO. It’s one thing to rank for a vague keyword like red shoes. But if you could rank for red shoe store in Colorado, you’ve got searcher intent. There’s a reason behind their searching. And that’s a powerful thing to know.

It shows you how to tailor the message and content on your site. If you can speak to their initial intent, you have a greater probability of conversion.

Do you understand your customer on this kind of level? Could you benefit from a deeper SEO strategy? If so, contact us today! We’d love to discuss how we can turn your website into a revenue machine.


4 Benefits of SEO Content

In this day and age, SEO content is crucial, and it’s no longer enough to just exist and hope customers will see you. In fact, a storefront can only get you so far, especially if you’re not a well-established franchise or big brand. And, if you don’t have a storefront and you purely exist online, it’s also not enough to just have a website and hope customers will visit. There are 644 million active websites, so unless you do something about your online presence, you may not be found as quickly as you thought.

Having your finger on the pulse of how the online world works is vital. You need to hire an experienced web designer and developer who’s proficient in SEO optimization, and you need to ensure you have SEO content that’s continually updated and recognized by search engines such as Google. By becoming knowledgeable about SEO content, and SEO optimization, you may just notice a significant increase in website traffic that translates to sales and repeat business. Here are some of the many benefits of SEO content below.

1. It helps your web page to rank higher

When you are continually adding fresh SEO content to your web page, Google falls in love. The more updated a website is, with daily or weekly content, the more likely it is you are going to get repeat traffic, and a higher Google ranking. Google analytics suggest that old websites that haven’t seen a touch of editing in many months will slowly work their way down the list.

The goal of SEO content is to continually move you forward until you feature on the first page. After all, who actually clicks to page two of Google? If you’re not on page one, you’re almost invisible to your customer base. In fact, page 1 results on Google receive 92 percent of all traffic from an average search, and traffic drops off by a dramatic 95 percent for page 2.

2. It provides a platform to educate your customers

The part of your website that houses SEO content is normally called a blog or a journal. It’s the place where you actively try to use keywords that will bring more traffic, but the material also has to be relevant to your website, business, products, and services. Therefore, such a place gives you a platform on which to educate your customers on what you do, who you are, the benefits of your products and services, and more. It goes above and beyond what is available in your website tabs that generally consists of the products, services, about, and contact.

3. It encourages your customers to stay longer

The more SEO content your website has, the longer potential customers can be encouraged to stay on your site. For example, let’s say you own a motorcycle store, and you’ve heavily promoted the keywords “Suzuki GSXR600 in Denver” throughout.

Once your customer arrives at your website, intending to check out the Suzuki GSXR600s you have in stock in Denver, they will also notice that you can provide them with the pros and cons of that product, the maintenance they require, and general information surrounding that bike.

They may read that content, learn more about you as a business, and ultimately decide that bike is for them. This can translate to a sale, all because you chose to write a bit more about your products and services.

4. It’s affordable

SEO content is an affordable form of advertising and marketing for your business. Not only is it affordable in that you can see a significant improvement in your site traffic for minimal money, but that you can track results. In traditional forms of advertising such as magazine and newspaper adverts, it’s impossible to find out who has seen your ad, and whether it translated into a sale. The publication’s sales representative can give you approximate readership statistics and subscription rates, but they can’t tell you who has seen your ad, and who acted on it. It can become costly.

With SEO content and SEO optimization in general, you can find out what’s working and what isn’t and can alter your advertising and marketing budget and plan to suit. Most SEO optimization providers will provide you with up-to-date reports that show your keyword traffic, rankings, link building analysis, on-page analysis, and crawl diagnostics all built into the price of the service.

SEO content and SEO optimization are changing the way we do business, and the results can be substantial. Consider utilizing the services of an SEO expert and significantly improve your online presence.