by Troy Bishopp
FAIRLEE, VT – “Have you Googled your farm lately?” was the opening question by Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund’s Communication Manager Kelly “The Optimizer” Nottermann. The query was a homework assignment for farmers attending her SEO (search engine optimization) workshop at the 2019 Vermont Grazing and Livestock Conference. The mission for savvy farm marketers: Be on page #1.
Nottermann knows what she’s talking about, as she has held various marketing, writing and social media positions in New York and Vermont for companies including the Williston Observer, Japan-Link Translations, Data Innovations, Quinlan & Company and most recently the global media agency Gelia as a senior social content strategist. Her clients included Caterpillar, Dana Inc., Honda Motor Corp. and currently her husband’s family farm website for Snug Valley Farm (www.snugvalleyfarm.com) in East Hardwick, VT.
Using her computer, internet access and quick wit, she showed the positive attributes of being on the first page of a Google search and the key words and phrases that bring customers to your virtual farm site. She detailed the definition of SEO as “the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as ‘natural,’ ‘organic’ or ‘earned’ results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page) and more frequently a website appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. These visitors can then be converted into customers.”
There’s a joke that says if you want to successfully hide, go to the second page of Google. Nottermann led farmers through a fascinating look behind SEO marketing strategies and how search engines work. “Google has over 200 ranking factors, mysterious algorithms, user queries and fetch-data to determine who goes to the front page. Think of all these as spiders, crawling around and building nests of indexes and providing search users with the most relevant ranked lists of websites,” said Nottermann. “It’s important because 97 percent of consumers use the internet to search for local services, like farm-based enterprises, and 55 percent of all ‘clicks’ go to the first three search results. You want to be there.
“The spiders generally recognize truth and appreciate real websites and Google pages that have some history to them,” Nottermann continued. The basic do’s for farmers is to write natural content useful to readers, fill out description fields for videos and pictures, use keyword “rich” words on your website and work on getting coverage outside of your site and about your farm (local news articles) – like this article! She suggested not filling your webpages full of keywords that make no sense that will confuse the SEO spiders and don’t duplicate content in multiple places.
She opened Google and other platforms and showed farmers how to populate with your “free” content and location. “There are four game-changing moments that really matter to your potential customer: ‘I want to know’ moments, ‘I want to go’ moments, ‘I want to do’ moments and ‘I want to buy’ moments. You have to customize your marketing platforms to capture one or all of these,” said Nottermann.
The presentation implored farmers to take some DIY steps: “Create or update your Google places account; make a list of keywords relevant to your business; regularly update your website (and avoid letting it die a slow and painful death); if you create video content, take advantage of YouTube and include keyword rich descriptions and titles; sign up for Google Analytics to monitor traffic; and check your social media sites and make sure you’ve fully filled out the ‘About’ page with information and links to your website.”
Nottermann offered farmers a free e-book resource titled “How to Increase Your SEO Traffic in 30 Days” (offers.hubspot.com/how-to-increase-website-seo-traffic). If interested in connecting with Nottermann on specific questions or on future events, she can be reached at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802.828.3753.