Many traditional search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are no longer as useful. Search engines have clamped down on what constitutes a legitimate ranking factor, and many conventional strategies are now penalized by Google. In other words, ranking for a keyword in your niche now involves an integrated approach fusing local SEO with a content marketing strategy.
Google is always introducing new ranking updates to their search algorithm. Some are significant changes to the whole system and usually occur every couple years. The rest are minor changes to specific components of site design or ranking. One of the most influential major updates is Penguin, which penalizes websites for engineering questionable link building strategies. Working with a Toronto SEO agency will help your site adapt to the changing landscape of organic search. Whether it’s creating a new website or updating an existing one, you can be sure to benefit from the latest techniques in local search optimization.
Here are some quick tips about Toronto SEO to get you started:
- Target Queries with Low Search Volume
Toronto is a vast consumer market, and search volume is high for most queries. For a local business looking to engage with informed leads, it makes the most sense to focus on lower volume search terms. These are usually long tail keywords which come from a searcher who already knows a bit about what they want. Connecting with informed searchers is a valuable because they are already one step closer to purchasing than your average searcher.
Take the example of an Italian restaurant owner. They could decide to go with a general search term like ‘Toronto restaurants’ with an average monthly search of 10k-100k. While the numbers might be alluring, a quick glance on the SERP for this keyword shows they would be competing with Toronto Life, Trip Advisor, Eater, and BlogTo — all huge and authoritative sites in the restaurant niche.
A much more realistic target search query is “Best Italian restaurant downtown Toronto,” which has 100-1k average queries a month. An even more realistic long-tail could be something like “Best pasta in downtown Toronto” or “best spaghetti downtown”, both of which are less commonly searched.
- Optimize URLs
Search crawlers take longer to process numbers and symbols in URLs, and, in general, find them harder to index. A traditional SEO strategy was to put the title of the article or page into the URL. Recent changes to Google crawlers means that you can put a keyword phrase into the URL instead of the title. The same guidelines apply to URL structure — keep it short and leave out numbers and symbols — but now every URL on your site can be keyword-optimized.
- Enhance Site Speed
A case has been made in marketing for designing immersive homepage experiences. Multi-media features like embedded video are a favorite these days, as companies look to draw customers in with visual cues rather than informational cues. While video has its place in the pantheon of digital marketing strategies, the benefits of a visually stimulating homepage are lost if it diminishes site speed. A site that runs smooth is rewarded by search engines and customers alike. Clean, professional, and impactful text will always be an efficient way to define your brand – especially now that Google has announced the importance of page speed as a key mobile ranking factor. An SEO agency will be able to tell you just how fast your site speed is, and what needs to change to make it faster.
- Implement/Purchase a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (https) Certificate
The certificate highlights that your website uses a combination of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with the Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. TLS is an authentication and security protocol recognized by Google and Google has announced that in July 2018 they will start marking sites that use only http as “not secure”.
These strategies only tip the iceberg of what is possible with an SEO agency managing your website. Local search is all about differentiating yourself from neighborhood competitors and hitting new conversion targets as a result. Local SEO, when combined with content marketing strategies, will catapult your site up the search engine results page.
All you need is time (4-6 months) and patience and you can get that new business through digital marketing efforts. If you need results quicker, a website refresh and pay per click (PPC) program may be better suited to your needs. Contact me. We can discuss strategy on the phone or get a coffee.
Rob Dunford is a Marketing Consulting in the Great Toronto Area with over 20 years experience in building and implementing marketing plans for small business.