SEO 101 for Water Lab Websites

Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for running a business these days. Does your water testing website have room for improvement?

When someone in your area needs water testing services, you want to make it easy for them to find you. Simply having a website is a good start, but new customers are unlikely to directly go to your website without a little nudge. That's where keywords come in handy. By finding the right words and phrases and putting them in the right places on your website, you can help search engines like Google direct more customers to your site.

The Power of SEO for Water Lab Marketing

Optimizing your website's content makes it so that when a potential customer searches a phrase (such as "how to do Legionella testing"), your website will be one of the first answers they see in the search results. There are several ways to help Google and other search engines find your website. First, you should understand two basic terms:

  1. Paid search marketing, which involves buying your way to the front of the search results.

  2. Organic marketing, which involves using free strategies such as SEO to help clients find you.

You may be wondering which to focus on — and the answer is actually both. Successful marketing involves a mix of paid and organic, but they are both effective, so you might as well start with the free version.

There are different levels of SEO, and you don't have to be an expert to make a difference for your business. The more optimized your site is, the easier it will be for customers to find you. The majority of online traffic is from search engines, according to marketing software leader Moz. The details of SEO are ever-changing, but the basic premise is easier to understand and implement: Find the right keywords and put them on your website.

Keep in mind that water lab marketing is not the same as marketing a general consumer product or service. Try not to get too caught up in metrics such as traffic (how many people visit your website) when what you really care about is conversion (how many website visitors purchase water testing services).

Rather than aiming to get as many people as possible to your website, aim to get the right people to your website. Your time and effort will be wasted if your website attracts people who are looking for other services, such as purchasing filtered water for their home or locating water testing services on the opposite side of the country. You can use keywords to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website.

Finding the Right Keywords

Keyword research is a balancing act. You want to find terms that are used often, but aren't so common that a search would yield millions of results. The goal is to appear on the first page of the search results, as high up on that page as possible.

Start by brainstorming: Think about your existing customers and the ones you want to attract. There isn't a list of perfect keywords for water labs, because they should be specific to your lab. Try to get into the mindset of your ideal customer and imitate how they would search for what they need. Think about whether they would type in "water testing labs in Boston," for example, or whether they would be more likely to search for a particular type of test, such as Legionella testing. Check your website's Google Analytics page to find out how people are finding you now for some clues. This is a good task to do as a team. While brainstorming, ask your team members the following questions:

  • What types of water tests are people or businesses searching for?

  • Who is searching these terms?

  • What words do they use?

  • What questions do they ask?

  • Why are different customer types searching for water testing?

  • Where are your potential customers located?

After you have a list and a solid understanding of your audience, it's time to refine your keywords. Use a keyword research tool, such as Moz, SEMrush, or Google's Keyword Planner, to plug in your potential keywords and find key metrics, including average monthly search volume and similar keywords. This will help you discover other keywords and nuanced ways that people search for the services you provide. For example, "water testing" leads to:

  • Well water testing

  • Water testing kit

  • Pool water testing

  • EPA-certified water testing labs near me

Search volume varies greatly, and the higher the search volume, the more competitive it will be to rank for that keyword.

Local SEO is important for water labs because you likely aren't going to gain customers from all over the world. Keep in mind that Google has different algorithms for different types of searches. For example, if someone searches "how to prepare a water sample," they might get an answer via a snippet, whereas if they search "water testing near me," Google will show them a map with a list of nearby water testing labs.

When Google detects a search with local intent, you'll have less competition. Be sure that your website has content with local keywords (not just your city, but also nearby cities, nicknames for your region, etc.). Include your lab's name, address, and phone number prominently (on footers and your contact page, for example). Sign up for Google My Business, a free listing linked to your location, as well as listing sites and directories, including Yelp, Angie's List, and White Pages.

Using Your Keywords Wisely

The goal is to make your website "search engine-friendly" without interfering with the human experience. Think about how you can help provide the best water testing content to cultivate a community and fulfill what all those people are searching for. Avoid overusing keywords — also known as keyword stuffing — throughout your website, as algorithms may interpret it as spam, earning you a lower rank in the search results. Plus, awkward and repetitive language can be off-putting to people who read your site. In this case, they won't stick around for long, which, in turn, reduces your rankings.

Don't be afraid to delegate search optimization to an employee or even outsource it to an expert. Commit to regular keyword audits and edit your existing web copy accordingly, keeping your keyword list handy for the next time you add content to your water lab's website. Finally, remember that SEO is a long game. It's complex and always changing, but even a few hours of keyword research and slight tweaks to your content could help your website appear higher up in the search results, giving you an important edge over the competition.

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Kelly McSweeney
Science and Technology Writer
Armed with a master's degree in writing and a decade of professional work in scientific publishing, Kelly McSweeney writes about science and technology innovations. She translates complicated topics into stories that capture the curiosity of everyone from casual readers to technical experts. Kelly has degrees from Emerson College and the University of Vermont, and has worked on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics publications at Wiley, In Compliance magazine, and Pearson. Her articles about the latest research are published by ZDNet, Northrop Grumman, and Wiley.