Jill Whalen has graciously allowed me to re-post her very appropriate article from her “High Rankings Advisor” eNewsletter this week:
High Rankings Advisor: Many SEO Questions – Issue No. 311.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I get many questions about SEO, and Jill is the expert I seek my answers from. I am happy to give Jill this chance to share her expertise with my readers. I have subscribed to her eNewsletter for years now – – see the link at the bottom to sign yourself up too.
By Jill Whalen
I have many questions about SEO. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated!
What would be the best keywords to draw the most people to our website? I have thought of some, but I’d love to have the advice of someone who really understands how this works.
Some I’ve thought about: variety music, 2-piece band, light rock music, rock music, new country music, Jimmy Buffett Band, Jimmy Buffett music, island/calypso music, North Carolina small bands, North Carolina party duos, etc.
Where should the keywords be put on our website?
How do I know if have a tracking code or not, and how do I apply the one that was given to me?
How can I go about setting up pay-per-click ads, and are they a good thing?
Please help me if possible!
Thank you, and best regards,
That certainly is a lot of questions! It sounds like you’re an SEO novice, which is fine, but it means you should start slowly and learn SEO in a systematic fashion.
You first asked about keywords, which is a good thing because they are the cornerstone to any SEO work that you will do moving forward. You’re on the right track by brainstorming some keyword phrases that relate to what your business offers. However, your brainstormed words should be used as a starting point for performing research using Google’s keyword research tool. Rather than go into the specifics on how to do that, here are two previous articles I wrote on the topic:
And here’s where you can see all other articles that I’ve written about keyword research.
The important thing to note about keywords is that in terms of SEO, they are the phrases that someone looking for what your company offers might type into Google or any other search engine.
You didn’t provide me with your website, but in looking at your brainstormed phrases, only 2 seemed to give me a hint at what your business might offer (North Carolina small bands, North Carolina party duos). I’m going to assume that you are part of a band that plays gigs in the North Carolina area. If that’s the case, then phrases such as “light rock music” or “Jimmy Buffet Band” are probably not going to be good keyword phrases for you to target because they’re too general.
Think Carefully About Searcher’s Intent
Remember, you have to think about the intent of the person doing a search at Google. What are the chances that someone typing “light rock music” into Google’s search box just happens to be looking to hire a band in the specific area of NC where you are willing to travel to?
More likely, they’re simply looking for some playlists they can add to their iPod or perhaps specific singers who tend to sing in that style. Now, I suppose if you also sell CDs of your music, then there could be a bit of a fit. But because the phrase “light rock music” is extremely general, the intent of the searcher will not really be known. And while it would be pretty neat to have people coming to your site from such a generic phrase, it’s likely not going to provide you with any new business (or what we like to call “conversions”).
Where to Put Your Keyword Phrases
You also asked about where you would put the keywords once you’ve determined which ones you should use. Basically, the idea of SEO is to make sure your website is highly relevant for any and all of the phrases you’ve chosen. This means that what you say on your pages (in your content) about what you do and what you offer needs to naturally use those keyword phrases. You may want to consider purchasing my Nitty-gritty Guide to Writing for Search Engines.
In addition, you’ll want to use the more important keyword phrases in your title tags.
Don’t try to do too much or too little with any page of your site. Each page should have a specific focus. For instance, you may want to have a top-level page on your site that focuses on the different types of events that your band has been hired to play at. From this main category page, you might link deeper to each type of event (e.g., weddings, or birthdays) and show some videos and testimonials from past gigs. This will give you the opportunity to focus on specific keyword phrases such as “Wedding band in ____, NC” while also showcasing your abilities.
If you’re still confused about keywords and how to build them into your website, I highly recommend taking my Getting Started With SEO Online Course at Lynda.com. You can watch all of the videos in the course (and all the other courses at Lynda.com) for as little as $25! I’ve got a few of the SEO Course Videos available to watch for free.
You asked how you would know if your site had a tracking code and where you would put one if not. I’m not sure what you mean there, but I’m going to assume you meant a Google Analytics tracking code. If so, then simply ask the company who created your website whether or not they set up a Google Analytics account for you. Most likely they didn’t, or they would have told you about it, but some companies do this and don’t tell you. (You can also view your page source code and look for the tracking codes.)
If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, you can sign up for one here.
Once you sign up, they will provide you with the code that needs to be installed on every page of your site, along with information on where it should be placed. If you have a website developer, they should know how to do this for you.
I highly recommend using Google Analytics because it’s how you’ll know whether any of your SEO efforts are working. Be sure to log in and check things out on a weekly basis when you’re first starting out. Eventually, if things start working well for you, you should review your analytics once a month or so, and make any website tweaks according to what you’ve found.
You are smart to ask about paid search advertising. That’s often one of the fastest ways to get targeted people to visit your site. You can look into setting up a Google AdWords paid search advertising account here.
While it’s not too difficult to set up an account, there’s a lot going on with AdWords, and you may therefore wish to hire a Certified AdWords Consultant to get your account set up correctly and perform regular maintenance on it. The idea is for you to spend less money for your ads and maintenance than you make in ultimate sales of your services. This can take a bit of time to get working correctly, and doesn’t work for every business, but for most businesses it’s certainly worth trying out. Just be sure you’ve hired someone who really knows the ins and outs of AdWords so that you don’t waste a lot of money.
In addition to all of the above, for your particular type of business (assuming I guessed correctly) you may want to look into signing up with an online service such as GigMasters, which lists all sorts of bands and other forms of entertainment for hire by geography. They may be able to provide you with some good online leads for future gigs.
Good luck, and I hope this helps!
Long ago people sat around their radio to listen to their favorite radio show. They knew when it came on, and who sponsored it. Then they bought that sponsor’s products because they appreciated the radio show that sponsor produced. Then came the television. Ads made up less than ten minutes of each one-hour show. Again, people appreciated their sponsors and bought their products. This went on for close to 50 years.
As the internet grew from its roots in the ’90s, email sprouted as the new means of business communication; quicker than the U.S. Mail, and less intrusive on our time than making a phone call. Little did anyone know that email would change the way the world markets its products, when in 1994, the first email spam (a loose reference to Hormel’s canned meat) was sent, spawning the age of the “uninvited guest” into our personal space. As the deluge began, people became protective of “my” inbox. At the same time, the internet sprouted “pop-up” and “banner” ads that seemed to come from nowhere. They were intrusive and entirely unwelcome.
Respected sponsors were quickly becoming a thing of the past. Ads on radio, TV, and now email and the internet, became numerous and began to compete for your attention, and they were shunned as terribly bothersome as they spun out of control. What changed everything was the development of pop-up blockers, spam filters, and digital video recorders such as TiVo. Marketers gradually realized they had to devise new ways to get their products out there, and develop your trust in them once again.
Trust is the main issue on which social media was built. Social media became the word-of-mouth contact that was the one thing remaining that people felt they could trust. People can initiate and control a conversation, and ask their pointed questions. When they feel that they have been answered sufficiently, they gain trust in the representative of that information. The value of that trust was a pivotal part in the emergence of social media as the new advertising media of choice.
Before long it became apparent that much of social media was becoming “canned” content and gradually untrustworthy. People discovered it was just the marketers spewing out their ads to them, representing themselves as trustable consumers. This is when the owners and CEOs of companies stepped up to the plate, and miraculously exposed themselves as human beings instead of the untouchable executives at the top. They put themselves out there in blogs, on Twitter, Facebook, etc. People got a kick out of that, and respected them for it. People wanted to talk to them, to have their chance to air their beefs or praises to them. It was discovered that boldfaced transparency was the way to develop that lost trust again. When someone feels they’ve had a one-to-one, personal conversation with the CEO, they feel connected and loyal to that company, and therefore more inclined to buy their products.
The next step was the enterprising people who came out of nowhere and established themselves as respected CEOs of their own companies through social media, actually building their companies around their social presence on the web. They used email blasts (opt-in, of course), webinars, YouTube videos, seminars, blogs, etc. The next thing you knew you saw them guesting on the Today Show or the Tonight Show, talking about the wild success they’ve become!
This is where we stand today. You can go onto Twitter or Facebook and speak directly to the CEO of just about any company, find them on LinkedIn, or search for their company blogs on Google or Bing and comment on their posts. People feel connected again. They naively feel like they’ve bypassed the middlemen (marketers), who still leave that bad taste in their mouths.
So where will it go next? What should we expect now in the years to come? Tell us what you think.