I’ve been performing online marketing for a little over eight years now. When people ask what I do for a living if I tell them “SEO” I usually get a strange look. The fact is that your average person has no idea that SEO stands for search engine optimization let alone what it entails. Some of my friends refer to my job as offering Google SEO Services which is better because at least people draw the association that I do something online. Once they find out what I do I usually get the following questions:
1) How do I get a website to show up on the first page of Google?
2) Can you help me?
Below I will provide you the basic information on how to preform Google search engine optimization. This is not a complete guide but a good starting point for someone that wants to do it themselves. Don’t read this and think you can get your website to rank for very competitive keywords, at least right off the bat. If you really want to increase your organic Google traffic you may want to consider hiring a professional SEO.
The first step is to decide what keyword you want to target. A great tool to use is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. In order to get an accurate picture of the monthly searches performed be sure to click the “exact match” box located on the left hand side. Any other number here will just provide you will false hopes.
Pro Tip: Don’t get caught up on the larger keywords. Sure they will bring more traffic but if you are new to SEO you probably don’t have the experience to achieve the rankings. Stick with the longer keywords as they will be easier to achieve at least for starting out.
Choose carefully the keywords you want to use. To start I would plan at least 3-4 medium size keywords and then another 4-5 longer keywords associated with each main keyword. Here is an example:
Big Red Widgets
Red Widgets Online
So essential you are starting off with 15-25 keywords to target for your website. Each page should target the 3-4 medium size keywords you picked. Do not make the mistake of trying to cram all your keywords onto one page. It is much easier to target a handful of related keywords to a page verses too many.
Now that you have the keywords picked out you need to write quality content for your pages. In this step it is important to write for the readers and try not to stuff your pages full of your keywords. Use your keyword phrases once and that’s really all you need.
The title of your page also known as the “title tag” is a very important aspect to on-page optimization. I usually choose my main keyword that encompasses the next highest search term.
Red Widgets Online
This will help me rank for “Red Widgets” as well as “Red Widgets Online” so we are killing two birds with one stone.
If you have accomplished this so far you have won half the battle. (for on-page) Now there are so many more things that go into on-page optimization and so much is dependent on the content management system (CMS) you are using. It would be impossible to cover all of them here. It’s a good idea to do some research about how to make your CMS a little more search engine friendly.
No matter what type of website you have it’s a great idea to add a blog. Blogs are a great way to create an audience and in order to rank in Google it’s almost mandatory. Search engines give extra weight to those that are resources within their industry. By blogging it gives you the opportunity to write great articles that are related to your niche. You want to become a content authority the “go to blog” where you answer questions and provide information. Writing great articles by themselves will not make you an authority in Google’s eyes. You need people to share your content via social media and link to it from their websites.
Pro Tip: The singles biggest myth is create great content and people will find it. Don’t except to write the world’s greatest blog post on your subject and expect people to find it. If you are not active on social media it will not happen. Or at least the chances are slim to none.
As an Orange County SEO Consultant one of the first things I recommend to clients is to get active on social media. SEO for Google works best when it’s complemented with an effective social media strategy. Social media is one of the factors that the major search engines are using to evaluate the quality of a website. How they measure can get really complex but it really boils down to how much your content is getting shared on websites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and others.
When your content gets shared it can expose you to people that have a website and blogs. It’s common to have a great piece of content that gets shared enough it will pick up mentions and links in other blogs. You want this more than anything! Every time a quality website links to you it helps increase the ranking of that page and can help the overall domain authority. Not all links are created equal but the ones from high traffic websites will usually provide more of a boost compared to a website with little to no traffic.
Google has made a huge push towards authorship. I bet you are starting to see pictures next to articles that appear in the Google results. You probably saw my picture right next to the link on the search page. This is a feature that is part of Google+. They provide a code to place on any article you write to identify that you wrote the article. I could go on about it but rather I will just point you to The Definitive Guide to Google Authorship.
Building quality links to your website is still a major ranking factor. There are so many ways, tricks and techniques on obtaining links. Some are spammy and can get your website penalized. I wrote an article about how to identify good links that you should check out here.
Link building can be difficult and time consuming. We are now at a point with the search engines where quality trumps quantity. On top of all that you have to be smart about the anchor text you obtain for your website. Anchor text is the name for the words that are actually linked to your website. Webmasters for too long were building links that had their keywords in them and hardly any other anchors. Some webmasters focused on this too much and the search engine got wise and devalued the rankings of these websites.
Pro Tip: If you are going to build links make sure your brand is used in the overwhelming majority of the anchor text.
At this point if you have started all of these steps you are on your way to increasing your rankings. This is not the definitive guide to search engine optimization if you want to dominate you will have to learn lots more. This is a good starter’s guide to help point those wanting to tackle their marketing themselves. I still suggest if you are serious about increasing your search traffic to hire a professional expert or plan on reading for articles on techniques for months on end.