Time to Read: About 8 minutes
Imagine having loads of people who need and want your products or services coming to YOU.
That’s every online business owner’s wet dream, right?
Only problem is, according to Technorati, over 2.5 million blog posts are published every day.
To make matters worse, the top 5 links on Google page 1 get 67% of the clicks.
You want content that ranks highly in Google search results and attracts clicks and shares from potential clients and customers.
But how do you actually accomplish it with that kind of mind-blowing competition, especially if you’ve got no traffic, no money, and no idea where to start?
The answer is by optimizing your content so that it gets served up to the right people at the right time.
Here’s why SEO is important:
(Image courtesy of HubSpot)
Google alone gets a mind-blowing 40,000 search queries EVERY SECOND. So it only makes sense to leverage your top sales tool – your website – to capture as much of this giant pie as possible.
See, search engines need your help so they can provide better results to their users, who then readily find what they’re looking for.
Without it, your site can get lost, buried deep in the back pages of Google. And that’s no good for anyone’s business.
In this post I’ll show you:
– What SEO is
– How Search Works
– The Two Types of SEO
– Whether this is something you can do yourself…or not
– How to Do Simple On-Page SEO
– Essential SEO Tips
No time to read right now? Click on the section you want to jump to in the table below.
|Table of Contents|
|What Is SEO?|
|How Search Works|
|How to Do SEO: The Step-by-Step Guide|
|Essential SEO Tips|
What Is SEO?
According to Wikipedia, “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is 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 plain English?
SEO is the process of making sure search engines love your online content enough to show it as a top result for specific keyword searches.
And the way you do that is by optimizing.
SEO isn’t just about building search-engine friendly content and websites. It’s about creating content that’s better for people too.
This blog post will cover how you can optimize your web content to improve your Google search results.
Why focus on Google, when Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL and other search engines are still alive and kicking?
That’s easy. Google gets 80.6% of search traffic globally.
Do I need to say more?
How Search Works
Traffic is a result of SEO, but not how SEO works. To best understand how websites show up on Google’s coveted page 1 search results, you need to first understand how it even works.
Since I’m no Google tech whiz, I’ll hand this section off to someone who is:
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of how Google’s search works, it’s time to talk about how to do SEO in a little more detail.
But here’s something to remember:
There are 2 ways to “do SEO”. And you need to carefully choose which road you want to follow with yours.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Search Engine Optimization
There are two ways you can do SEO for your site: using “Black Hat” or “White Hat” tactics.
The difference between these two is how you go about trying to improve your search engine ranking.
While “Black Hat” tactics may be a faster way to improve your search engine ranking and traffic, black hat techniques are a great way to get your site penalized or even banned from results pages.
“White Hat” techniques are the above-board methods of improving your rankings through good practice and compliance with search engine guidelines. They take a little longer, but in the long run, research suggests it’s a more effective long-term strategy.
I explain the “Do’s and Don’ts” of SEO here:
Can I Do SEO Myself?
Short answer: Yes!
While SEO is complex, you can implement simple strategies that will make an impact on your search ranking and traffic, rather than not doing anything at all.
How To Do SEO Rule #1: Write for People First, Search Engines Second
SEO-only content is boring. People-only content doesn’t get you traffic. But when you combine the two?
Here’s how many people view SEO and content marketing:
But in actual fact, here’s the correct way to view them:
In short, SEO lays the technical foundation of a successful content marketing strategy. Without quality content – one of the top 3 criteria Google looks for – SEO won’t work.
And without SEO, your content won’t work.
Even though we ideally want to get Google’s attention and increase our page ranking, it’s important to remember that content needs to be written for people first. Search engines second.
When writing content that people AND search engines love, you need to pay attention to:
➔ Creating an attention-grabbing headline that captures the reader’s interest
➔ Choosing keywords that are relevant and will bring people to your site
➔ Unique, quality content that users can’t readily find elsewhere
➔ How fresh or current your content is. Google loves to see new, updated content on a consistent basis from publishers. This doesn’t mean you continually have to create new content. Brian Dean from Backlinko, has only published about 30 posts in the last 2 years, but he keeps his content fresh by updating it and adding new information.
Want help creating killer posts? This blog post shows you how to write blockbuster content, every time.
How To Do SEO: The Simple Step-by-Step Basics
This is NOT an exhaustive list by any means, nor is it super technical. These are just a few simple basics of on-page SEO to get you started.
Step 1: Do Your Keyword Research
Knowing what keyword you want to rank for is crucial to improving your traffic and search ranking.
Problem is, this is how most people approach keyword research:
(image courtesy of Backlinko)
If that’s how you’ve done it until now, that’s okay. I did it that way for a long time too.
Problem is, it’s wrong.
Think of keywords in terms of how people would search for something they want to know about. For example, if you want to rank for “blue widgets”, chances are good the perfect customer for you isn’t actually searching for the generic term “blue widgets”.
Their search might look more like, “best blue widgets”, or “best blue widgets 2018”, or even “how to install blue widgets”.
When it comes to keyword research, think more like your customer and what they’d be searching for online.
Here’s how you can use the free Google Keyword Planner Tool to do your keyword research.
Step 2: Update Your Page Titles
Now that you’ve done your keyword research and have nailed down what you want to rank for, it’s time to use your keywords in your page titles (also called title tags). They’re what identifies your site.
Fake News Online Magazine
That’s the name and main emphasis of the site. Anyone searching for this website would most likely search for “fake news” or “fake news magazine”.
The problem with this approach is that unless you know the name of the website you’re searching for (ie. Fake News), you won’t easily find it.
Now let’s take a look at what a keyword-rich, optimized version of this title might look like:
Best Source for Fake News Right Now
See the difference?
A quick note about titles and headlines:
According to this study , the top-ranking sites have shorter page titles, around 8 words in length. So if your web pages tends to have lengthy titles, you may need to get a little creative here.
Step #3: Update Meta Tags
Next, you want to update your meta data or tags to include your keywords.
This is how your meta data appears on a search results page:
It’s that little snippet of text that appears below the main link that tells people a little more about what they’ll find when they click on the link.
You’ll notice that some meta data or snippets include an elipsis, or the (…) at the end. This indicates that the meta data copy is too long to display the whole thing.
The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress makes updating your meta data easy-peasy, and helps you keep your copy short and to the point so the whole thing displays.
Go ahead – do a Google search for your competitors and yourself to see what appears on the search results page. And then do a better job writing your meta data to include your keyword.
Step #4: Use Keywords In Content Headings
Content that’s well-written will have an attention-grabbing title or headline that magnetically attracts readers and gets clicked.
Content that has an attention-grabbing headline AND your keywords will rank better, and therefore get more traffic. Which means more potential customers seeing and clicking on your content.
Headings are your content’s headline and subheads, starting at H1 (headline) and moving in descending order on down to H2, H3, H4, and so on.
Your blog or page headline is generally formatted as the H1 heading, and should include your keywords.
Subheadings are designated as H2, H3, H4, etc., and not only help break up your content to make it more inviting to read, they’re also the perfect place to include keywords (be careful not to overuse!).
Step #5: Image Alt Tags
Google loves content with images. And images with alt tags that include your keyword will help your content rank higher than that without.
Comb through your content and add keyword-rich alt tags to all your images.
Step #6: SEO-friendly URLs
According to this study, top-ranking Google pages have shorter URLs, with position 1 URLs around 59 characters in length
Which makes arm-length urls like this one out of the question:
The entire url is this:
That’s well past the 59 character limit – in fact, it’s 99 characters long.
Here’s what a SEO-friendly URL for this link might look like:
Note: Incidentally, that particular link is appearing at the bottom of page 1 at the time of writing this article, which speaks to the overall authority of the site and other factors not covered by this post.
Step #7: Domain Name
This last step can be optional, but needs to be included here because domain name is part of the criteria considered by Google for ranking purposes.
If your keyword is part of your website’s domain name, your content will almost always rank higher than if it isn’t.
And that’s partly because a) it contains your keyword, and b) more people will find your content making it more popular, and Google ranks popular content higher.
That doesn’t mean you have to run out and change domains. It just means you need to ensure the rest of your content is optimized as much as possible.
Additional Technical Considerations For Optimizing Your Site
Now that I’ve covered the basics of how to do SEO for on-page optimization, there are other technical aspects you can change to further improve your results.
I’m not going to go into detail on in this post, but these include:
● Submitting a sitemap
● Paying attention to site structure
● Ensuring fast page load time
● Having a responsive site so mobile users can navigate it easily
● Have a website that uses the https:// designation. This indicates a trustworthy site and positive correlation that is rewarded with higher rankings than its http:// cousin.
Essential SEO Tips
Here’s a list of essential tips in no particular order that will help you get the most from your optimization efforts.
1. Commit. SEO is an ongoing process. Test. Tweak. Repeat.
2. Be patient. Results can often take months
3. Become a student of SEO. Just like learning anything new, enjoy the process. Never stop learning.
4. Install Google analytics or another analytics platform right away
5. Build a great website – or hire an expert that knows what they’re doing and not just great at making things look pretty
6. Use SEO-friendly URLs
7. Create unique, valuable content
8. Write better – Learn how to write better copy, and produce error-free work. Not only do spelling and grammar errors hurt your credibility, turns out search engines don’t like ‘em either.
9. Get good at keyword research. And use them.
10. Build quality links
11. Use the free tools available to you, like Google Keyword Planner, Search Console and more
12. Avoid poor-quality links from spammy or irrelevant websites
13. Avoid the temptation to buy text links (this can get you banned)
14. Links in content have more clout than sidebar or footer links
15. Sites related and relevant to your industry that link to you are better than those that aren’t
16. Use the keyword you want to rank for in anchor link text
17. Keep your content fresh and updated
Your Action Plan
I hope this article provided helpful information about the importance of SEO and what it means to you as an online business owner, as well as simple ways of how to do SEO yourself.
Search Engine Optimization is not optional anymore – not if you want to stay in business.
Even getting just a few basics in place like the ones I’ve shared here is better than ignoring SEO and doing nothing.
The key here is to commit to getting started right now, today. Give it a try with your next blog post: do your keyword research, optimize your title tags and use your keywords in your article and meta description.
Then, take a look at your results, and keep testing, tweaking and creating.
So now tell me: How has this step-by-step guide changed how you see SEO and content marketing?