I have reviewed a lot of MSP websites over the last few months. A lot!

Every time an MSP books a review with me – I send them a few simple questions. One of those questions is for them to list the keyphrases or key words that they would like to be found for in Google.

I get four types of response.

  • “I don’t know”.
  • I will get sent a wishlist of phrases which it’s clear has been made up on the spot – as there is no attempt around the site to reflect these keyphrases in any form.
  • I will get a list of business-related keyphrases, where some thought has gone into the logic behind them, yet there is no understanding of whether they are correct.
  • I will get a perfectly researched list of keyphrases, alongside their monthly search volumes and questions why they aren’t ranking highly for them.

*** The fourth response has yet to happen. ***

In most cases – I get wishlists of keyphrases sent to me, with no real understanding of what they mean and what it would take for that business to be ranked for them

In this article, I wanted to provide a simple plan for MSPs who are mystified by the ‘keyphrase’ word and to show just how important this concept is to your business.

Whether you employ an SEO agency or have no idea what a keyphrase is – this article could save you $000’s.

STEP 1: Understand importance of keyphrases

Your website is there to do one thing and one thing only – to start a conversation. Getting someone there in the first place is an achievement. Getting them to read the page(s) and become engaged with it is SIMPLE! There really is no excuse for getting that wrong. My programme will help you with that.

A person will arrive at your site by one of three ways. They will have clicked a link from somewhere … they will have gone there directly OR, the holy grail – they will have found you via a search engine. That free organic traffic is an amazing thing and not to be ignored. Getting it is incredibly hard.

The only chance someone can find you via search (aside from your company brand name) is if you’ve actively been thinking about what you what to be found for.

“A search engine listing rarely happens by accident.”

What are the keyphrases that you want your business to be found for? Ask your customers. Ask your prospects. Ask your employees. Find out what people would search for to find the sorts of services your offer and write them down.

STEP 2: How to choose the right keyphrases.

Once you’ve a list assembled of say 20 phrases – now comes the magical part.

Spending a lifetime of $000’s optimising your site for “VOIP” or “Microsoft Surface” or “managed it services England” is the biggest waste of time and resources for two reasons. (I’ve been sent all of these phrases before now and many more like them.)

Firstly, even if you could rank on page 1 for one of these types of phrases (which you couldn’t), the search “intent” is so vague, the chances of someone clicking through and booking an appointment with you is zero.

The second reason is that with that last keyphrase, “managed it services England”, there isn’t a single search each month of that phrase. It’s therefore pointless trying to rank for it.

Time after time, I see equivalent keyphrases being sent to me and it’s making me cross!

This post is therapy. I’m currently typing this in a hammock.

When ticking off your list of keyphrases, you need to know that the phrase has some kind of intent and secondly, the phrase is being searched for each month.

It’s time for MSPs to stop wasting their precious time optimising for keyphrases with no traffic or not intent. Imagine what else you could put that time and money towards?

STEP 3: How to find keyphrase search volume and ratify your choice

There are a LOT of tools available and some can be expensive. I’d like to recommend one of the simple ones. For $10/year – I really don’t think it will break the bank either.

The service I use is Keywords Everywhere and it’s showing in the screenshot above.

It’s a simple browser addon. Download it from the Chrome store … grab your API and make the payment. You won’t regret it.

Once installed, whenever you do a search in Amazon, Google, Bing etc – you’ll see a set of numbers under the search bar.

Just start typing – and your eyes will be opened as you refine your searches.

The first number is the most important. It shows average volume (over the previous 12 months) of searches each month.

Whilst you could argue that these two searches are very similar in the mind of an MSP owner – you have to know that a dentist or manufacturing company has no idea what Managed Services or Managed IT is! It’s therefore not a surprise to see more searches for the consulting genre …

Note I’ve immediately started searching for a geographic area.

For me, this is key. Your prospects typically are searching for a service within a local area. If they live in Phoenix, it is unlikely they will search purely for “IT Consulting” – they typically need some context and to show intent with a geographic area.

Also, look at the average Cost Per Click (CPC) price! This is a great indicator of intent.

These are valuable keyphrases. Sure, you’d be happy to pay $70 for a lead – however we know it never works like that in practice. it takes dozens of clicks. Wouldn’t it be better to get that traffic for free?

What next?

Once you’ve identified the right keyphrases – you can then go ahead and start optimising your homepage and other pages too.

If you’d like to get the basics right and get more detail and walk throughs on keyphrase focus – take a look at the Website success 101 programme.

There’s a screenshot from this module shown below:

In my experience, a customer is only too willing to help a business they enjoy working with, to be successful.

That’s a really good starting point to remember as you think of the right way to approach a customer, with what might feel like an onerous task.

Providing a testimonial for you as an MSP, can be viewed as an anoying, onerous task by a customer if you don’t frame it correctly and take all the pain away. So often people dislike working with ‘clean sheets of paper’ – they struggle to know what to say or write when put on the spot to come up with something creative.

Go out of your way to make it easy for them.

Use your helpdesk team

Your MSP’s helpdesk is one of your best sources for testimonials. 99% of the time, to an untrained eye, ad hoc compliments (marketing gold) get buried 1000ft down inside ticketing systems and are lost forever. It’s time to make your team aware of the importance of those ‘throw away’ customer comments, when a technician has really helped someone out or gone out of their way to solve an issue.

Have a process in place to recognise a compliment. Snip the text out. Send the words back to a customer and ask them whether you can use that comment on your website and attribute it to them.

If the comment isn’t quite fit for purpose – perhaps ask them to expand on it or expand on it for them (yes really) and ask them to sign it off.

Let them know you’ve added to it or edited it a little (keep the meaning and sentiment of course) and ask them whether they’d put their name to it. Providing it’s truthful and doesn’t change their original meaning – it’s unlikely they will say no.

Be consistent with your process

All too often, I see MSPs have gone on a review campaign. They’ve grabbed a few reviews and then they’ve languished for a couple of years.

Have a process in place to publish a testimonial on a monthly basis. It does two things – it keeps eyes trained for ad hoc comments. It also ensures your team are going out of their way to serve customers brilliantly on an ongoing basis.

So here’s a real timesaver.

If you are a power WordPress user – particularly when you’re building / doing a major revision for your site, there’s a lot of page updating.

Quite often you’ve scrolled down to the bottom of a long page and your scroll finger gets a real workout as you head all the way back to the top to click the update button, which by default appears at the top of the post or page.

We’ve all become so used to using CTRL-S to save documents over the years (although auto-save is now of course, a tremendous innovation). That function doesn’t work out of the box when you’re working with WordPress. If you use CTRL-S, you’ll find Chrome prompting you to save the HTML page you’re working on – which is clearly not useful.

My recommendation is to install the “Save with Keyboard” plugin.

You can do this from within your Plugin admin screen. Click “Add new plugin” and then search for “Save with keyboard”.

There’s nothing to configure.

When you’re next working on a post or page – it’s quite magical to use CTRL-S and watch the page refresh. If the page is long – using CTRL-S really is a great habit to get into. This will stop you losing any unsaved edits.

Give your scrolling finger a break and install it today!