Review: Inc. Magazine’s How To on Optimizing Your Site for Search

I have been an avid reader of Inc. magazine my entire adult life. Even through the newspaper and magazine downturn over the last 5 years Inc. continues to pump out great content. They don’t really have much competition when it comes to small business magazines; Fast Company is probably their closest competitor. But the differentiator is the Inc. 500, a list of the top 500 fastest growing private companies, which I devour and refer back to all year until the next Inc. 500 arrives at my doorstep.

One more reason Inc. rocks is their How-To section, and this month is no exception. This month’s How-To piece is titled “Optimize Your Site for Search”, and it is a must read for every contractor who isn’t happy with their current results from their website.

The article concentrates on 3 specific aspects to improve your organic search results:

1. Choosing Keywords
2. Placing Keywords
3. Building a Better Site

Let’s break down the article into bite-size pieces to make it easier to carry out.

Choosing Keywords-The trick here is not using keywords You would use to find you, but step into your customer’s shoes and determine how THEY find you. And if your primary keywords are in ultra-competitive markets or industries, try using keywords that are used less often but also don’t have as much competition.

For example, trying to rank for “plumber” would be nearly impossible in today, but ranking highly for “remove tennis ball from toilet” would be pretty easy.

You should also start to add location-based keywords to your arsenal. Like I mentioned, keywords such as plumber are crazy competitive, but “plumbers in insert your town here” will be much less competitive, more focused on your local market, and people performing this kind of searches are more likely ready to buy.

Placing KeywordsHere the article gets a bit technical, just know that your results will improve if you use the specific keyword that you are trying to rank for in the title, sub-titles, in the top paragraph, sprinkled throughout the rest of the page, and in the last sentence of the page.

Something they don’t mention is the use of keywords for any images that appear on the page.
You want to use your keyword in the image title and alt-text as well. This will make sure you are not only found for contextual-based searches, but also for any image-based searches your prospects may do.

A word of caution, keep your keyword usage between 3-5% on the page to avoid being penalized for over-optimizing.

Building a Better Site-Here they get really technical with terms such as silo and code validation . Both important functions to proper web design, but too advanced for many small to medium-sized contractors not willing to spend the time learning what these terms mean, and more importantly, how they impact your search results.

The article also goes on to mention linking out to other sites as well as building brand awareness with social media (something I talk about a lot here) and also compares white hat SEO to black hat SEO; more terms that shouldn’t get in your way when it comes to site design for contractors. All in all, the article really is a great first-step approach to building a better page, site and presence online. If you don’t get Inc. magazine, you should make it a point to grab this month’s copy just for this article alone.