Have you googled your farm?
Many have done it once or twice. Others have never even thought of doing it. The Ag industry is a fruitful business based in tradition. SEO isn’t traditional yet, but the benefits are oh-so pretty. Now is the time to learn some SEO tips to benefit your Ag business.
1) Define the “I Want to Know” moments
Customer search intent can be defined one of four ways. Either they want to find something, learn about something, learn about something they want to buy or buy something. Everything else doesn’t exist.
The end user is defined by the constant need to know. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be on Google searching for an answer. These intangibles are fun to talk about, but how can a farmer or Ag business person translate them to reality?
The answer is by being conscious of these moments. Go to Amazon, Wal-Mart or any retailer site. Try to buy a bag of fertilizer. Take note of the steps it takes to find what you want, confirm what you want and then purchase it. What steps existed along that journey? Did anything bother you about the experience?
When you can start thinking like that, you can start winning at recognizing the I Want to Know moments.
2) Understand your market
The Internet erases the geographic boundaries that keep you firmly in the rural world. But, just because you can reach out to the wide world, it doesn’t mean they are interested. Does that make sense? Well, let’s try it another way.
If you sold John Deere products and everyone loved it in your neck of the woods, you don’t go online to compete against New Holland search terms. The people searching for New Holland gear are after New Holland gear for a reason. Does the potential for crossover exist? Sure.
However, it’s not wise to force yourself onto a market that might not exactly be warm and welcoming. That’s why we suggest lateral and niche moves. Using the John Deere example, you might have a ton of equipment and not enough of a consumer base.
What about moving universal tractor seats? There is always related merchandise and mechanical parts that fit many related vehicles. See what happened there? New markets are being defined, while also taking care of your base.
This is the crux of developing SEO strategy. Optimize what you excel at and then begin branching out into terms you can win.
3) Know your search terms & keywords
This sounds rather simple. However, a ton of businesses end up with a terrible mix of keywords. It’s not their fault. Most business owners approach new prospects this way. We have something you want to buy. In the traditional brick and mortar sales sense, that worked for ages.
Now, the customer is calling the shots online. Transportation, access, and general temperament aren’t concerns, as the next store is a click away. If you don’t have Reel Mower Blade Sharpener 1138, the customers are going to move on. Does this mean you break your back to order a part that maybe 2 or 3 people will need every month?
Not exactly. What it does mean is you understand your audience. Low-traffic items in real life and online aren’t going to set your world on fire. What they can do is tell you the nature of what customers want. Very rarely is a customer firmly set on one item. Usually it means they don’t understand that alternatives exist.
Will they always go for the alternative? No. But, it’s an opportunity to test a dedicated sample audience. If they follow a certain brand or similar setup, they can be led to try out other things. This is only achievable if you know your search terms and keywords.
Every month, those working with a Digital Agency will be provided a report based on how their SEO is performing. While most SEO relates to high concept numbers and analysis models, keyword searches have a hard tie to reality.
SEO TIPS example
Example: Let’s say you get an SEO report that states searches for ATV Sprayers went up that month by 30%. That’s a dramatic boost and you might not have done anything that differently. This is called a search intent defined model.
Basically, customers will take the lead and define what drives search to your site. If mowing season is on and they have a sudden interest in ATV Sprayers, they will take to the sites that rank highest for ATV or similar terms. What does this mean for you?
Capitalizing on the other part of SEM (Search Engine Marketing), many will invest some money in a PPC campaign. That way they can buy an additional listing at the top of that keyword search. Those that think long-term will look at terms that relate to ATV Sprayers. Whether that be Sprayer Nozzles, ATV replacement seats, Sprayer Arms or even UTVs; if audiences are looking at one thing, then a sizeable chunk will be looking other places too.
4) Audit your site
A website is a value-added enterprise. However, you must know what that means. You get out of a website what you put into it. If you want a small site that offers up one aspect of your business to the public, then you can have that. However, if you want to spend the time turning your online business into a powerhouse…you better be ready to work.
Site challenges are part and parcel with an online business. The bigger you get as a site; the more issues can occur. Everything from Google issuing a now biannual update to their search algorithm to site software conflicts can occur. However, the most common problem facing SEO efforts is that most sites aren’t audited.
What’s a site audit? Well, that’s when a digital marketing team uses their tools to perform a deep analysis of your online business. On the SEO side, your backlinks are checked and validated. The e-commerce platform you choose will be stress tested to see if certain traffic loads can trigger technical collapse.
Then, there are the coding/scripting/technical issues that arise from the general wear and tear of online living. When you initially get a readout of that trifecta, the issues raised are concerning. But, don’t let that phase you. Regardless of the number, they can all be fixed by the careful hands of an expert team.
Taking stock of your site.
One question that i3 receives during the SEO portion of a site audit is how did my site get so bad? That’s such a loaded question, as most of the time…it’s not due to any neglect. An AG business website is a living thing, just like a farm or a workplace. You try out many different solutions, move people around and even gussy up the place.
You might pop a few bulbs in the business sign when working on the day-to-day. On a website, you might test out a plugin that your nephew swore would speed up your site and then it crashes your front page. Both are a nuisance, but both are fixable.
Think about an SEO site audit this way. If you own a business, you usually get there first. You walk around the parking area, maybe clean up some trash. Sometimes, you might even feel like breaking out the pressure washer and really cleaning up the place. An SEO site audit is the same kind of thing, but for your website.
5) Plan the shopping journey
No shopper is scared to abandon a cart. These customers have thousands of businesses fighting for their hard-earned cash. That’s why you need to plan out the ease of using your site’s commercial applications. If they can’t successfully complete a purchase, then they have no reason to come back.
This is another tenet that sounds incredibly simple. Yet, somewhere between a site’s fancy sliders and not being mobile friendly, things get lost. The worst example of a business owner getting in the customer’s way is designing a site that only appeals to them.
You might have that perfect shade of Purdue Yellow picked out, but what good are bright colors if it takes 5 minutes to check out? Earlier we talked about user experience and the Shopper’s journey. The results remain the same. Think about what you like about checking out at your favorite online store.
Now apply it to your site. What can you do as a business owner that makes it easier to complete an order for a site visitor? Our SEO team has found a simple way to work it out.
Arrive – Discover – Order- Complete
If the process of making a purchase requires more than that journey. Something has gone wrong. Take a step into the customer’s shoes and play with your own website. Trace again and again to find out how to minimize deep clicking and keep them on the buyer’s journey.
6) Be seen
This is the most direct of i3’s SEO tips. Visibility is your friend, but it’s not necessarily the easiest one to make. Whether it’s online directories, review directories, Google My Business or related maps…you must fix your off-site visibility.
A lot of this ties into Off-Site SEO efforts. To spare you a mini-essay on the subject, we discovered a graphic at Moz that answers those initial efforts. The most important point remains BE SEEN.
7) Answer questions before they are asked
An Ag business website needs to be a one-stop answer depot. As we’ve discussed in this guide, you know your business. While you don’t need to force your site plan on customers, you need to be able to answer questions when asked. But, how do you do that? Check out our next SEO tip.
8) Create content that showcases answers
Creating content might sound like a ton of work to most non-web dwellers. However, it’s quite easy. As a farmer or Ag business owner, you are a treasure chest full of information. Think about all that you know that might feel like insider talk. Guess what? Those on the outside want to hear that kind of expert information only you have.
Many websites usually dive deep into blogging. While that is insanely helpful, certain industries don’t have large hordes of followers that sit around reading blogs all day. So, what can be done?
The answer is usually found in a mix of testimonials and case studies. The random stranger searching online wants to trust you, but they don’t know if they can. While you can plead all day with them, nothing sells you like the praise of others. Don’t believe me?
According to Moz, online reviews have been shown to impact 67.7% of purchasing decisions. These reviews take the form of everything ranging from testimonials to Yelp reviews and even comments left on major sites/blogs. It’s not just the people leaving the reviews that draw concern, it’s the thousands of people reading them anonymously that should get your attention.
Whether it’s a customer leaving praise or your business showing how you solved a problem in a case study, these are content items that answer questions. Online users want to be assured that their problems will be solved. Give them that reassurance.
9) Define your Ag focus
The Ag world is wide. Just because you feel like you’re the world’s greatest tractor salesman, that doesn’t mean you can compete with OEMs and international brands. What you can do is find the niche in which you excel.
When our SEO team prepares a plan of attack for a client, many questions arise. Sometimes, our SEO experts wonder what an Ag focus might be for a site. It seems to be that many Ag businesses will try to be something for everyone without ever pinning down what they do best.
As you begin your SEO plans for creating a thriving online business, it’s an important step to remember. What can your Ag business do that is better than anyone else on the market? Build to that strength.
10) Learn from the mistakes of others
Websites don’t begin perfect. The same goes for business and farming. When you start working on an enterprise, you will see successes and many failures. What does that mean for you?
The simplest answer is that they are all teaching moments. Nobody begins any pursuit knowing everything they must have by journey’s end. We learn as a community that grows together. SEO supports that.
After all, it has taken over 22 Google updates to create RankBrain. That’s the magical AI that helps craft Google operations and determines what’s relevant or not. The point being is that much like SEO, learning and growing in the business world is an investment in yourself.
Start today to plan for a brighter tomorrow.
11) Analyze your results
The grand takeaway from this exercise is that SEO applies fundamentally to all industries. But, to know what’s working…you must analyze your results. The i3 SEO system uses three master suites, a variety of smaller tools and insights gleamed from direct use to best create an SEO plan to best support your needs.
The i3 SEO team in turn, studies what they find from all these platforms and compares to readouts from Google and independent sources. All forward decisions are made on best practices and recorded studies of how customers respond to your site and keywords.
Whether it’s i3 or another marketing agency that works on your SEO, we want you to better understand that report we place in your hand on a timely basis. Those are real, living numbers that symbolize the relationship between your customers and your business. That is the heart of SEO.
Take these tips and be informed about what options are available to you.