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While the challenge of ensuring that your trucking website is search engine optimized can feel daunting, getting your hands around SEO basics may be easier than you think. The reason: There are a number of software packages on the market that greatly automate the SEO process.
Getting SEO right — with or without such tools — is vitally important for transportation companies, given that so much business is found and conducted on the web.
“Today, nearly 80% of the decision on selecting the trucking partner or third-party logistics partner has already been made based upon what they find online,” said Brian Everett, CEO of the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association.
“Today’s freight buyer does exhaustive research online before finally sending out request-for-proposals or exploring opportunities with providers of freight services,” he said. “Therefore, it’s critical that companies in trucking ensure that they can be found online — with relevant information that buyers are looking for.”
Robert Moffitt, executive vice president at Legend Transportation, added: “Ninety-five percent of the traffic to our website is the result of SEO. Our web designer continually monitors our SEO, making sure we’re getting the best results from our keywords and key phrases.”
Donnie Caldwell, chief operating officer at Ozark Motor Lines, said he also has seen measurable success with a heads-up SEO strategy.
“We made a change in our advertising agency, and after SEO optimizing, our web traffic increased,” he said. “In a three-month period, we saw dramatic increases in our Google traffic and organic traffic. Impressions increased from 1,070 to 5,380.”
While bringing an updated SEO management tool in-house will help you stay current with the latest tactics, you’ll also find that most of the basic principles of SEO have remained constant. It’s still important that your website offers technical files that enable search engines to quickly process what you’ve got, for example. And it’s still important that you use keywords to attract visitors to your site. Ditto for ensuring that your website downloads quickly.
That said, here’s an update on what’s working best right now with SEO — including the basics and latest trends:
• Consider using SEO software. There are a number of SEO solutions that will automate a great deal of the optimization process. These same packages also offer numerous tools that give you deep insights into what’s working on your site — and what you need to change.
• Strive for quality content. Google and other search engines are increasingly putting a premium on truly useful content — and are continually refining their algorithms to ferret out such content for their users. Generally, articles the search engines are looking for run at least 1,000 words and offer deep perspective on a topic.
• Ensure every post reflects expertise, authority and trust. Amid much fanfare, Google released a white paper in February 2019 detailing its preferences for posts and articles that conform to three overarching concepts: expertise, authority and trust.
The upshot: If you have an expert at your company who is posting deep dives into their specialty on your website — using articles, white papers, case studies, videos and the like — you’re on the right track. This is what Google considers expertise.
If your expert is supplementing these posts with, for instance, a weekly curated guide to breaking news in his or her specialty, that’s even better. That establishes what Google considers authority.
Finally, if your expert is continually refreshing your website with deep dive content accompanied by curated news for a long period of time, that establishes what Google sees as trust.
• Nail your on-page SEO: On-page SEO is really nothing more than basic SEO — making sure you’ve titled your pages correctly, making sure your keywords are right, making sure your writing is easy to read and the like.
• Nail your technical SEO: This is a more granular version of on-page SEO and involves ensuring your site is indexed right, your links work, you’ve got the right schema mark-up and the like.
• With every post, add links to related articles on your site. This practice also is known as “internal linking.” It essentially promotes the idea that visitors will stay engaged with a truly informative website if every post includes a link or links that enables readers to dig deeper into a specific topic.
• Consider using longer, more specific key phrases. You can compete with the media goliaths by using keyphrases that feature more words that pinpoint specific ideas. Generally, fewer websites use long keyphrases, also known as “longtail” keyphrases (phrases of three words or more).
• Bulletproof site security: Google now gives higher search engine returns to every website that features an SSL certificate — indicating that the site is more secure those sites without such protection. Google also warns its users to stay away from sites without such certificates. So this one is a no-brainer: Your website absolutely needs an SSL certificate if you want to play nice with Google.
• Ensure fast download of your website. Fast downloads of each page of your website make perfect business sense. You also get an additional bonus from Google for the practice.
• Make sure you’re mobile-friendly. Was there a time when smartphones were not seemingly fused to the palms of millions of people’s hands? It’s tough to remember at this point. Smartphones are so important these days, Google announced its move to “mobile-first” indexing in July. That means Google now places heavier emphasis on how well your website performs on mobile devices as compared with traditional computing devices.
“Part of our new process is to build sites with smartphone and tablet capabilities as part of our overall game plan,” said Fred Thayer, associate vice president for corporate brand and communications at Werner Enterprises.
• Use Google Analytics. This is an extremely useful, free tool you can use to snag daily metrics on how your website is performing and how well your SEO is performing. Specifically, you can use the tool to analyze your site each day by number of visitors, where those visitors are coming from, how long they stay on your website, how many pages (in aggregate) they’re viewing and more.
• Sign up for Google Search Console. This is another free Google dashboard on the web you can use to measure your site’s search engine traffic and performance.
• Stay current. While the basics of SEO mostly have stayed intact, you need to stay abreast of how Google and other search engines tweak the ways they rank websites. Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal are great resources for such tracking.
As for SEO software, here’s a rundown of the top packages currently available, according to G2Crowd, a business-software rating service that features hundreds of thousands of reviews on all sorts of software, penned by business users:
• SEMrush: With 4 million users, SEMrush is one of the most comprehensive website optimization tools on the market. It offers a full suite of SEO tools. Plus, it includes other tools to help with web advertising, content marketing, public relations, social media marketing and competitor analysis.
• Conductor Searchlight: A major competitor to SEMrush, Conductor Searchlight also offers a full suite of SEO tools. You’ll also find help with competitor analysis and overall marketing.
• Moz Pro: An industry stalwart, Moz Pro primarily focuses on SEO and offers scores of SEO optimization tools and strategies.
• Serpstat: This solution offers more than 20 tools to help you home in on SEO optimization, as well as optimization tools for your use of Google Adwords and similar programs.
• SpyFu: SpyFu is designed to optimize your SEO as well as your use of Google Adwords and similar advertising services. Its tools include keyword optimization, pay-per-click keyword optimization and SEO reports.
• SE Ranking: Check out this package if you’re looking for optimization of your SEO and your social media marketing.
• Ahrefs:. This package has a singular focus on improving your SEO and has a great reputation for helping you discover keywords for your site that deliver home runs.
• Siteimprove: Siteimprove offers numerous tools for SEO, website analytics, content performance analysis, content readability, GoogleAds and similar advertising optimization and improving website download speed.
• Netpeak Spider: This package focuses solely on SEO optimization and offers a number of tools. Included are apps that perform a rigorous analysis of each of your webpages and how SEO there can be improved.
• Yoast: This is an SEO-only plug-in for Wordpress websites only. It’s great for beginners looking to get a basic understanding of SEO before they delve deeper into the technical.
One caveat: Despite the plethora of tools available, getting serious about SEO requires patience.
“It’s our experience that SEO optimization is not an overnight success,” Werner’s Thayer said. “It takes time for the site to enhance its reputation through the optimization before the search engines recognize its improved credibility. While we might notice slight improvements over weeks, it takes months to get the full effect.”
Megan Magnus, marketing manager at NFI, added: “Successful SEO strategies take time.”
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