Chris Raines: All right. Welcome to Episode 11 of The Dodgeball Marketing Podcast and Video Podcast.
Michael Utley: Good morning.
Chris Raines: Good morning. My name's Chris. I'm here with Michael. It's a early morning here in Nashville, Tennessee. And before we get started, if you are watching this on YouTube, go ahead and hit the subscribe button below. We've got a ton of content planned coming up over the next year or so and we're going to be talking about all digital marketing and digital marketing for the layperson, right, Michael?
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. A lot of what we talk about is pretty entry-level. If you were an SEO professional, you might not find a lot of what we're saying helpful, but guess what? This podcast is not for you. This is for practitioners, people who are actually trying to either gain new sales leads, gain new sales, gain new customers or audience through their websites and their online presence. And this is really a podcast for practitioners of the art or people who are executives or leaders who are trying to understand this entire world of SEO. And so, if you're an SEO pro and you find this a little introductory level, guess what? You're in the wrong podcast.
Chris Raines: Go watch Moz.
Michael Utley: There are much smarter people than me talking about SEO, but for everybody else, we're bringing a combined, what, 30 years of experience in SEO to the table.
Chris Raines: That's right.
Michael Utley: And we're really glad you're here and want you to subscribe.
Chris Raines: Awesome, so hit the subscribe button. And if you're on a podcast feed, subscribe on the podcast. Let's get right into the content, Michael.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: We're going to talk about what makes up SEO.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: But this is kind of the most high level you can get on SEO, isn't it?
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: And it's three broad categories. And Mike, I'm just going to interview you on all three of these.
Michael Utley: Yep.
Chris Raines: These are good things to think about. If you're a business owner or a business leader and you want to know what SEO is all about in the most high-level way possible without getting, like you said, in the weeds, this is a good way to approach it. And the three categories are content, site architecture, and offsite factors. Everything in SEO can pretty much be boiled down to those three things. So Michael, let's right off, talk about content. This is obviously what exists on your site, so let's talk about content, pages, things people see on your site and how that matters for SEO.
Michael Utley: Yeah, totally. So content is anything that you're publishing on your domain that is meant to be helpful or informative. It could be video content, images, texts. It could be pages, or it could be sections of pages. You could even think about feeds, things that kind of feed into your website if you're hosting posts on Twitter but you're pulling in a Twitter feed on your site, so thinking about how that's arranged. So yeah, we really like ... Here's idea number one. Number one, take a big step back. If you look at your homepage, think about that content, take a big step back and remember whoever's hitting the page, they may or may not be oriented to who you are and what you do as well as you are. So you may want to use a headline that's something that's pretty deep in the weeds like, "We're the plumber that always uses hot joins in our welding."
Michael Utley: I'm making that up, some cryptic thing. People who are coming to it, what they need to know first is you're a plumber and what your geographic market is. A lot of our clients are healthcare industry and what we found is that the plumbers actually do a better job with this. They're actually able to better articulate, "We do plumbing. We service this area," and they kind of know they're a little more rough and tumbling tend not to live in their own heads as much. So it tends to be easier for our construction category, compared to our healthcare category of people understanding this point. But yeah, point number one, take a big step back.
Michael Utley: Number two, I really like lots and lots of pages.
Chris Raines: What? Why do you like lots of pages?
Michael Utley: Okay, so here's how I think about it. We tend to think of our website as a pyramid where everybody's going to the homepage and then having to go through a top nav or something on the homepage and then drill down to get into the detail. And that's not really how the internet works. In fact, what is typically the case, if something's a really secondary piece of information or something that you want people to be able to find an answer for, maybe it's a blog post you've written, that page is being indexed and people can come in directly to it or another type of page we like to do are localization pages. So if we have a company that has maybe five services and they're serving, I'll just say New England, we'll often build a standalone page for every one of those major services for the major state identifiers in their market and the big metro areas.
Michael Utley: So we'll end up with maybe a list of 20 or 30 pages where we're building essentially a landing page for Boston Industrial Cleaning. That would be like a typical X-Y axis of topics and location. And these pages, if somebody is looking for Boston Industrial Cleaner, that page may be the number one page. And so, you're not necessarily expecting someone to drill down through a homepage, but think of it as the pyramids turned upside down and all those pages, and these can be blog posts if they're somehow topical, but you want them associated with your domain.
Michael Utley: Maybe they support your expertise around your services pages and they'll link to your services pages and ascribe value to service pages. Maybe they're your services pages. Maybe they're localizations of your pages, so copies with new content that restate your services for a particular location. They may also be another good one is sub services pages, or we can call that pain points. If you're selling healthcare or hospital software in the healthcare space and you want people to be able to manage an emergency room more efficiently, you might have a standalone page on the pain point of patient doctor interaction, documentation, or medication tracking. You might have standalone pages for these.
Michael Utley: And so then, someone's doing a search for best EHR, fewest prescription mistakes. Okay, that's a question. That's a real thing somebody could search for. And guess what? You're not going to get everything packed into your homepage. I really like lots of pages, so that's number two. So we talked about take a big step back, get the big picture right, lots of pages.
Michael Utley: Number three, content, I would say break it up into bite-sized pieces and don't try too hard for any one page to carry all the load. Think in terms of pages being interlinked really, really elegantly. Something we like to do is if we have a page and we've got a list of features and benefits or list of sub services that are included. Like with the hospital software, if it's on-site training or virtual training or live email and chat support for your software, those can be items in a bulleted list. And so, it's easy to really scan quickly, but you can have all of those items that are bulleted linked to additional pages. And these can be some of those sub services pages that I talked about.
Michael Utley: Really elegant interlinking will help you chunk things in a way that's really user-friendly, but still have lots of pages and lots and lots of content. So those are some big ideas on content. And I think this is really helpful for when you have a lot of cooks in the kitchen, and maybe you have an executive team that's trying to get their heads around how to think about the website. And, "Oh, we got to include a picture of little Bobby in there."
Michael Utley: Maybe you don't need a picture of little Bobby. Maybe the history of the company is not as important as you think it is. Maybe it's more about other stuff. So this is kind of a big picture for having some of those hard conversations about what really matters.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Let's go to category number two, site architecture. What should we think about site architecture?
Michael Utley: Yeah, so site architecture, this category I would say is equal in weight in our minds as content. And then offsite factors might be a little bit of a smaller factor, but still absolutely huge. Everything matters. Okay, site architecture. Yeah, big picture of some real headlines for site architecture. You want to focus on two things, usability by customers. People who are coming, can they find your phone number? Can they find a form? Can they glance? Can they scan and scroll? Can they get information quickly? So the user experience. Number two, page speed.
Chris Raines: Big one.
Michael Utley: Major, major factor for how well your sites can rank, especially since October of 2018 when Google shifted us in a pretty hard direction toward mobile users experience with a website. We already had the solution in place of responsive CSS serving out one batch of code for any screen size. That was a really good innovation, but a couple of years ago, Google really made a shift toward, and it's because they wanted to maintain dominance in the search space and everybody was going mobile and still is. We're still seeing more and more traffic through mobile growing while desktop is staying, not growing in the same way even though the pie is growing.
Michael Utley: So page speed, we really like using the Google PageSpeed tool for this. Just do a Google search for Google PageSpeed. However, one caveat I would offer is it's not necessary to get all of your scores to 100. It would require a website essentially to have no images, no interactivity, if there are any images, really grainy. You can work the tricks and do everything you can do with good hosting, with slimming down images to the point that you don't degrade quality, with making sure that you've got any extra scripts or any things that are not needed cut off, clearing out any unused WordPress plugins. I would both deactivate and delete if I was using WordPress and had plugins that I didn't need, and then getting a first paint really fast, which means the first fill of information.
Michael Utley: And you can get information on that from the Google PageSpeed test tool. But yeah, page speed is really big. Mobile readiness, we talked about that, but just thinking in terms of what it is you're trying to drive action around. And if it's a mobile type of activity, if it's a business where someone's looking for a local service, I really like a sticky header that stays in view for mobile users that has a clickable phone number. That's one of my favorite things to see us identify with a new client and add to what they're doing. So yeah, site architecture is really important.
Michael Utley: There's tons of literature out there on how to make websites work, but you just want stuff to work. You want some things to have kind of a header, a top nav. You want a navigation to keep you on the website. You don't really want anything on the top nav taking you to another domain. Yeah, check some of our other episodes on website architecture. And if you need help with this, check in with us. We've got a list of ...
Michael Utley: Our 2020 list is a 102 bullet point checklist. It's kind of like the 20 point oil change. We've got 102-point checklist for SEO and happy to talk to anybody who has questions, but yeah, website architecture makes sure everything works really well, fast pages, separate pages, nothing goofy. Back in the day, we were talking about getting rid of Flash. These days, it's more making sure that ... Well, okay. So here's the last thing I'll say on website architecture. Put things where people are used to seeing them on a website. And if you're looking at other websites you think are cool, like some new ...
Chris Raines: My favorite's if the toolbar is on the left hand side.
Michael Utley: Yeah, it's huge. We really dealt with that, yeah.
Chris Raines: It might look cool but it's disorienting because it defies a convention that people come to expect with it.
Michael Utley: And that raises a phrase I should have mentioned. Single column, we've really gone to single column because of the focus on mobile and having kind of one layout, one experience for everybody. But yeah, site architecture is super important.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Last one we're going to cover is offsite factors. So this is links, citations, reviews, things like that.
Michael Utley: Yep. Yeah. This is one of the toughest nuts to crack for every business, but SEO is as much what's happening off of your website as on your website. And so, when you're optimizing your website show up higher in search engines, you need to take responsibility for these offsite factors. We often say that we're not selling SEO, we're selling online competence, so having a competent online presence.
Michael Utley: This means making sure your social media channels are built out, branded, and look good, and exist, making sure that you are creating and managing proactively your profiles in directories, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and then there are about a hundred other maps and apps that you need to manage. If you need help on stuff like that, check with us. Links and citations are one of the signals for search engines. So in addition to those directories, if you're developing a good content strategy, you also want to make sure that other people in your area, your service area, or your industry know about what you're doing and are linking to you. So if you do a CEO guest blog interview for another website, ask them to share a link back to you when they post that content to their website. And there are lots of things you can do to have content offsite.
Chris Raines: We can do a whole episode on how to get links.
Michael Utley: Oh, yeah. If we haven't done one already, I'm sure we will in this series. But yeah, inbound links and offsite factors. And then the biggest one is your star ratings, especially Google My Business, anything that's industry specific. If you're in the construction space and it's something with HomeAdvisor and a lot of people say, "That's not really how people find us. We're more B2B." This all applies to B2B. Bs are people too. So yeah, everything we're describing applies to both B2C and B2B.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Those are all good. I like to think of content, so content is how many rooms are in the house and what's in each room? Architecture is, is the house ...
Michael Utley: Are the walls good? Is the roof good?
Chris Raines: Are the walls good? Is the foundation good? And then offsite is like ...
Michael Utley: What kind of neighborhood are you in?
Chris Raines: What kind of neighborhood are you in? Yeah, and can you find you on a map? What do other people say about you? What are the roads that get to you?
Michael Utley: Is your mailbox set up and working? Yeah.
Chris Raines: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, so hopefully that was helpful, those three broad categories, a good way to start thinking about SEO for your business. Again, if you like this content, go ahead and click the subscribe button. We have tons more content planned. It's really marketing for the business leader, the professional and not so much for the practitioners.
Michael Utley: Yeah, not for SEO people.
Chris Raines: So we hope you enjoy it and we'll see you on the next one.
Michael Utley: Thanks.
Chris Raines: Yep.