If you’ve looked into internet marketing services for your local business, you’ve probably read about a lot of concepts that sound a little foreign: analytics, ROI, SEO, SERPs, directory listings, or organic ranking. It can seem like an overwhelming challenge to try to understand all these things, especially if you don’t come from a background of marketing.
Well, the good news is that it is complicated—it’s not just you—the marketing landscape changes all the time and there are entire teams of folks dedicating to tracking these changes to harness their power for their company’s marketing strategy.
The bad news is, well, that it’s complicated. Even though you’re not the only one out there who might be struggling to absorb all this information, that also means you’re not getting anywhere with your efforts. You might feel like you’re wasting your time. You may have trouble finding someone to help you with your workload. Or you might feel like you have it figured out only to see that you’ve been missing yet another component of modern internet marketing techniques.
However, if there’s one big term that you should understand as a local business owner, it’s “organic ranking.” Now, this might sound a bit like you’re standing in the produce section of a grocery store, sorting the various organic vegetables by quality, but it’s something completely different when you are learning the ropes of internet marketing. So, let’s talk about what organic ranking is—and how you can make it work for your company.
Organic Ranking: The Good Stuff
Let’s get a textbook definition out of the way first: organic ranking is simply a way of organizing search results. It specifically refers to the way your site appears in search results when someone types in a term. So, let’s say you own a bookstore downtown. Maybe when someone types in “used bookstore in Kansas City, MO” your site pops up on the first page of search results. That means you are organically ranking for that phrase.
So, that seems simple enough, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t. While the term itself isn’t difficult to understand, it can be extremely difficult to get your site ranking on that first page without a lot of time and dedicated effort, especially if you live in a larger area, such as Kansas City, which likely has multiple bookstores downtown. There’s a whole science behind ranking on page one!
Challenges of Organic Ranking
The trickiest part of ranking organically is that you’ll need to know how people are searching for your business. Semantics and syntax are important, as people do not search the way they would speak. A simple example should help illustrate this: would you search for “golf clubs for sale in Fort Lauderdale” or “I’m looking for golf clubs for sale for less than 100 dollars in the Fort Lauderdale area”? Likely the former. You can easily see that the first example is not a full sentence, and it phrases the two most important concepts close to one another: “golf clubs for sale” and “Fort Lauderdale.” The second phrase is clumsily constructed and contains too many words. The search engines aren’t sure which areas to focus on—although they will guess at the most important words—and your results won’t be as relevant to what you’re trying to find.
So How Can I Improve my Organic Ranking?
First, you need to set a goal. It’s difficult to work towards something when you have no idea where you want to end up. After all, you wouldn’t plan a vacation to an unknown destination, right? You must treat your marketing strategy the same way. So, define a goal and understand why you’re working to reach it. Whether you want to spend as little money as possible by working on organic ranking all on your own or you want to find someone to help you reach your goals, this step is absolutely necessary to your success.
Next, you’ll want to figure out a list of keywords. Take the examples we provided above. You know that people will search for these words to find your site. Now, think of a few more. How would you search for a business such as yours? If you want to find your competition, what do you search for? You can try the following tools to help you as well:
Keyword Tool (can be customized to multiple search engines as well as sites such as eBay or Amazon)
Understand What People Want When They Find Your Site.
This goes beyond keyword planning. You need to recognize what people want to see once they reach your site. If someone searched for the used bookstore, but once they got to your site, they couldn’t find the section for used books, they’re going to get frustrated and leave, choosing to try your competitor’s site instead. Or, if they’re looking for easy contact information such as an address, you need to have a map easily available.
Now, some people have questions about paid vs organic search at this point. They wonder things like, If I pay for an ad that appears before the organic results, will more people click on that?” The answer is no. The clickthrough rate of paid results is 1/20th that of the organic results. While this means that paid efforts do net a few clicks, most of the time, people click on organic results. Therefore, you should be focusing far more attention on ranking organically than spending money on ads.
Write Original, Relevant Content.
If you’re able to do this yourself, great. But not everyone knows the ins and outs of writing for SEO. There are tons of professionals who can do this for you we well. (We offer this service! Shameless plug!) But it’s important that you guide the writer in the writing. You want to provide relevant information and talk with them about your expectations. Otherwise, they’ll have very little to work with and your content might sound more generic than you want it to.
Providing visitors with interesting, relevant content is important to get them to stay on your page. It’s also important for search engines, as they like newer content as opposed to older stuff—that makes sense, right? Over time, your organic ranking should improve with targeted, content-based SEO efforts, and it will make your visitors happier, too, making it more likely they’ll turn into satisfied customers.
So, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned so far.
Should be a goal of all businesses—ranking on page one is important.
Can be challenging but studying pays off in the end.
Needs to be planned. You can’t get to your destination of page one without a plan.
Relies on accurate keywords reflecting how your visitors search.
Requires that your website deliver the information visitors are looking for.
Goes hand-in-hand with great content.
The most important element to remember is that organic ranking is not a fast process. It takes time and focused effort.
But at Zoek, we’re happy to help you with organic ranking. As a top digital marketing agency, we have helped thousands of customers rank organically on page one of the most popular search engines. If you’re struggling to write your own content or build your own website, we can help with that too. Want to learn more? Request a demo or learn more about our packages. We look forward to helping you rank higher online!