Author’s note: This is a guest interview with Brianna Young, whom we’ve featured here before. She recently gave a great talk at Socialize Sapulpa about optimizing your website for search engines, and when she mentioned this neat success story, I knew we needed to share the details with our readers. Below, Brianna shares the vitals and gives us tips that all businesses can use in order to grow their organic SEO.
What’s the name of the company and how did you meet them?
Astra Solutions is an IT staffing company based in Tulsa, OK. We are owned by an IT professional and we staff only IT positions. This allows us to focus on matching IT professionals to the needs of some of Tulsa and Oklahoma City’s fastest growing companies. I responded to an ad they placed for an associate recruiter. SEO was not something they were looking for, but because I have an SEO and web development background, I was able to put an SEO plan in place when I came aboard.
What was the state of their SEO prior to you coming on board?
When I came aboard, Astra was experiencing a period of growth and therefore everyone was extremely busy. There had been very little involvement in social media since 2009, and although Astra has a lovely website with good content, it had not been optimized for keyword phrases. This resulted in Astra being placed deep into the search results pages on Google and Yahoo, and it would not appear high in the results for anything but the company name.
What improvements were you able to make immediately?
The first step was to research keyword phrases that we wanted to rank high for. I scoured competitor’s sites to find out the state of their SEO, and found that many staffing agencies in Tulsa either do not know what they are doing with regards to SEO or have done nothing at all to optimize their sites. I knew this would give Astra an edge.
Once research was complete, we optimized the website’s title tags for our chosen keyword phrases and incorporated those phrases into the text of the site.
We also installed a WordPress blog and have posted no less than one blog post per week since it launched. I reopened the Twitter account and set up a Facebook company page, which is slowly gaining a following. I also ramped up our LinkedIn presence to include company info and blog post links. I believe social media is an important part of a balanced SEO plan and should not be neglected.
How are they doing now?
He mentioned that he had never heard of us and was surprised to see us in the search results.
Astra now appears on page 1 or page 2 (it fluctuates) for two of our chosen keyword phrases. We recently got a phone call from a local business owner who found us via Google. He mentioned that he had never heard of us and was surprised to see us in the search results. He sent us a job order, which was fantastic.
How quickly were they able to see a change? Should everyone expect these types of results?
We were able to see a change within a week of changing our title tags, but I chalk that up to the fact that our local competition isn’t doing much in the way of SEO. It was easy for us to rise quickly through the ranks without a great deal of competition. This is why keyword research is helpful. Google’s keyword tool will tell you the level of competition for phrases. The lower the competition, the faster you will rise in the search results. Sometimes it can take 6 months to a year to see results, so don’t get discouraged. There are other phrases we would like to rank highly for but it will take time because those phrases have more competition.
Do you have a long-term strategy for this company?
The long term strategy includes building content on the site via the blog, which will be one of our greatest assets. We are also working on building our social media following so the increased sharing of links to our site can help build our incoming links for SEO purposes. Now that the site is optimized for the proper phrases, I am working on building backlinks so we can hang on to our high ranking.
Did you learn anything new?
I learned that the bigger the company, the more likely they are to have an SEO and social media strategy in place. SEO takes time, and therefore, money. But I believe it’s time that small businesses embrace the power of search and social media.
What’s the biggest thing new businesses need to do to get their SEO off to a good start?
Research. Research your competition to find out what they’re doing. Look at their title tags and website content. Do they have a blog? Search for them on Google (both logged into your Google account and not logged in) and see where they rank. Research the phrases you want to rank for and find out if your competitors are also trying to rank for those phrases. Research will save you time and will give you a good place to start before you actually make changes to your website.
The second most important thing is blogging. A blog keeps your site updated and fresh and will trigger Google to index your site. Blogging is a surefire way to rise through the ranks. Also, don’t neglect social media. Open a Twitter account or Facebook page and update it regularly. The links back to your site will help Google and Yahoo see your site as an authority on the subject and will therefore help you rise in the search results.