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September 16, 2016 4:06 PM, EDT
Search-Engine Optimization: How Savvy Trucking Firms Are Boosting Web Traffic

This story appears in the September 12 print edition of iTECH, a supplement to Transport Topics.

With trucking firms devoting more time to content marketing — the publishing of articles, videos, images and more to reinforce brand image — it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure that content is search-engine optimized.

Search-engine optimization, or SEO, “is incredibly important in building incremental reach and visibility,” said Melissa Sullivan, director of marketing communications at moving firm UniGroup.

Karen Hazan, director of marketing at Canada Cartage, agreed: “Over 60% of all traffic on the web comes from organic search,” she said, “so making sure that your website is search engine-friendly is important to driving qualified traffic to your website.”

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Joe Dysart

“These days, SEO is much more than optimizing for keywords and backlinks — SEO should be part of your overall content strategy for being found on search engines when customers and prospects are looking to solve a problem at every stage of the buying cycle,” Hazan added.

Granted, scores of articles have surfaced emphasizing that unearthing substantial, quality content on the web has become the No. 1 goal of the Google search engine — perhaps to the detriment of traditional SEO.

But if you spend just bit of time making sure you’re using the right keywords, the best web design and the proper image tags, your content is bound to appear higher in search-engine returns.

“Design and content are important to delivering a positive and relevant user experience — but SEO helps your target audiences find you,” said John Solomon, marketing communications manager at NFI Industries.

Tom Benusa, chief information officer at Transport America, said: “Search-engine optimization is a continuous process and results don’t come overnight, especially if you are just beginning to dig into analyzing how your site looks to a search-engine robot, but over time — with carefully planned updates — positive results will come. At Transport America, through optimization, we have seen targeted keywords increase their organic traffic by as much as 400%.”

Joseph Goering, vice president of recruiting at Anderson Trucking Service, also said his company receives a large number of visitors through search engines.

“Optimizing our site has played a large role in that,” he said. “Making sure that the website was coded correctly, using the latest web standards — along with well-written copy — has helped maintain a high ranking across the search-engine board.”

Plus, with SEO-optimized content, you’ll be giving your company a decided advantage.

“In most industries, you’ll find that your competitors are not that smart” when it comes to SEO, consultant and author Jason McDonald said. “Most industries are not as competitive in SEO as you would think.”

So much has been written about SEO that it can seem daunting for the beginner, and even for some who have tried their hand at it here and there.

One of the easiest ways to shrink the job down to size is to start by focusing on SEO optimizing just one page — your home page. By focusing on one page, you’ll find there are several things you can do to give that page a much better chance of being discovered by the search engines.

Once you’ve completely optimized that first page, you can take everything you’ve learned about SEO from that experience and apply it to other pages — and ultimately your entire site.

Here are some tools you can use to ensure that effort is a slam dunk:

• “SEO Fitness Workbook 2016,” by Jason McDonald: This book gives you a complete grounding in SEO fundamentals and will help you put together a full gameplan for optimizing your content.

• Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide: Given that Google is the biggest name in search engines, it only makes sense to read and follow the recommendations of this 32-page guide, available online. Other guides include Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO and SEO for Wordpress.

• Google Search Console: This is another free, must-use tool for truckers serious about SEO. It enables you to directly submit content on your website that you want Google to monitor — and eliminate other content you don’t want showing up on the search engine. It also will track which keywords and phrases are working for you, show you which websites are linking to you, and monitor your website’s performance on mobile devices.

Hazan, of Cartage Canada, added: “Search Console is my favorite tool. It helps you review your search analytics and monitor technical SEO factors like crawling and indexation while observing the overall health of your website in search.”

• Keyword brainstormers: If you would like a little inspiration and guidance coming up with the optimum keywords for your content, Google’s Keyword Planner will serve as your trusty guide. Similar keyword helpers include Keyword Spy, which will help you uncover keywords and phrases that are working for your competitors, and Related Keywords, a tool that will help you identify words related to your primary keywords.

“I use Keyword Planner and analytics to get a handle on what people on the site are drawn to and to get stats on what people are searching for,” said Brian Helton, director of marketing and media relations at Mercer Transportation. “Then we make adjustments. I also use a third party to help me keep up and write content that links back to our site.”

• Page-tag optimizers: While ‘page tags’ sound a bit technical, they’re simply the tools that web designers use to label various elements of a page. There’s a tag used to title your page, a tag to title each image you use and a tag to boldface words. You can use tools such as SEOCentro Meta Tag Analyzer, Side-by-Side SEO Comparison Tool and Keyword Density Checker to ensure you’re optimizing your use of tags.

• Link builders: Good links to your website from other authoritative sites always have been critical for high search-engine returns, so investing time securing links from such websites will pay off big time long term. OpenLinkprofiler helps you do this more effectively, as do Buzzsumo and Moz Open Site Explorer.

• Local SEO tools: If the location of your business plays a role in your profits, you’ll want to spend time ensuring your website is optimized for local search. Google’s Local Adwords Preview Tool will help you do this and can be used for free. Similar tools include Moz Local and Local Stampede.

• Headline analyzers: If you find coming up with headlines for stories and posts challenging, then CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer can help. Simply type in your headline, and CoSchedule will instantly grade your headline based on how common your words are, how emotional the wording is and how powerful the headline is overall.

• Press release distribution: Regularly posting press releases to the web that link back to your website should ultimately help boost your search engine rankings.

“Press releases have natural SEO benefits, including natural links from multiple and high-quality outside sources and opportunities for keyword linking,” said Aidan Griffin, a senior account executive at public relations firm Ketner Group.

• On-site libraries: Joe White, owner of CostDown Consulting, a trucking consultancy, recommended another SEO strategy.

“To maximize SEO, I added a library page to CostDown Consulting’s website that is full of service-relevant articles, training presentations and videos I developed,” White said. “Each inclusion contains keyword phrases in both the title and content to expand the reach of my website. In addition, much of the library content is published on other sites with links back to my website.”

• SEO plug-in for Wordpress: This is a free, incredibly valuable tool for any company managing a Wordpress website. The Yoast plug-in embeds an SEO dashboard in every unpublished page you create, instantly analyzing each and every word for you and offering clear recommendations.

• Ongoing study: A unendingly metamorphosing animal, SEO must be continuously studied to yield the best results. Some of the best sources on new info in SEO include Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Journal.

Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. Voice: (646) 233-4089. Email: joe@joedysart.com. Web: www.joedysart.com.